By the time DC Comics purchased Wildstorm from Jim Lee in 1999, their title The Authority by writer Warren Ellis and artist Bryan Hitch was already one of that imprints hottest properties. But The Authority became even hotter still once writer Mark Millar and artist Frank Quitely took over the title on issue #13 in 2000.
Despite the fans loving it, DC Comics had issues with some of the changes that were brought to the table and began censoring the title.
Actual news in 2000 reported the crimes President Habibe committed against the population of Jakarta. Millar began writing scenes straight out of the headlines and put them in the book, but DC Comics apparently felt this was going too far and censored Millar’s writing.
Colorist of The Authority, David Baron said this about DC Comics in a recent interview:
“They didn’t quite like it. This was no secret, I’m not spilling any beans or anything like that. It was no secret that DC had a problem with The Authority, and it was a little bit shaky at times.”
Editor of The Authority, John Layman chimed in:
“All these issues were in the pipeline including this issue where they go in and they’re going to kill some dictator in some little country no one’s ever heard of. Turns out that was a real person, and that was a real country, we’re just dumb Americans. We didn’t know that. Somebody up the DC chain figured it out and flipped out. And now, these scripts had all been approved and art was in motion. Everything was approved, but in this game of musical chairs, I was sitting in the chair when DC suddenly noticed this book, and all the shit fell on me, and they’re like, “Well, how could you let this happen?”
The censorship went beyond politics and current events. Similarities of The Authority to Marvel’s Avengers and DC’s own Legion of Superheroes caused DC Comics to begin censoring the artwork as well.
DC’s Senior VP – Creative Director, Richard Bruning said:
“There were just things about it that made Paul uncomfortable, and I know to some degree, it was that Mark Millar was doing a take up on the Legion of Superheroes in this one issue of Authority. Paul saw that, and he literally didn’t want to do that because Legion of Superheroes was like his baby. He wrote [it] for so long and so identified with it. And in the story, they were making buffoons out of the characters.”
It’s been nearly two decades since then and the censorship occurred in multiple issues, but DC Comics has finally decided to at least print issues #13 and #14 uncensored and in their originally intended form. This decision was made to be part of the upcoming hardcover book Wildstorm: A Celebration of 25 Years.
With any luck (and high sales) this will inspire DC Comics to publish the rest of the issues that were censored.