To my mind, the first modern superhero book showed up in 1999 when Warren Ellis (Planetary) and Bryan Hitch (Justice League) unleashed The Authority. Effortlessly wiping away the shallow, extreme ‘90s era, they provided the thrilling widescreen template that would go on to influence not just superhero comics, but their cinematic counterparts as well. However, seemingly overlooked is Ellis’ precursor, Stormwatch. Before Ellis arrived, the book was just another forgettable Image/Wildstorm book. Ellis, in conjunction with Tom Raney (Outsiders) and, later, Hitch, breathed snarky, violent life into the book. Crafting tales that mixed subversive superhero clashes with black ops intrigue, Ellis turned the book from perpetual quarter bin dweller to a must read. His characters participated in high stakes international operations and then got together to have drinks together afterwards. Introducing fan favorites like Midnighter, Jenny Sparks, and Jack Hawksmoor, Ellis laid waste to the mainstream superhero status quo, eventually paving the way for Stormwatch to morph into The Authority and its discussion of responsibility, power, and morality. Much to my excitement, Ellis has recently returned to a rebooted Wildstorm universe with The Wild Storm. Check that series out to see how some of the same themes are being explored by an older and wiser (but no less acerbic) Ellis. Also, for you completists and collectors, Ellis and Columbus resident Chris Sprouse (Tom Strong), crafted the crossover one-shot WildC.A.T.s/Aliens that takes place near the end of the run and truly cleared the decks for The Authority. It is not included in either collection due to licensing rights.