In the waning days of the ‘90s, Wildstorm Comics, which operates under the DC banner, debuted a team comic called The Authority, created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch. The outfit itself was billed as the anti-hero super team, and the stories reflected a darker vision that was taking over the comic book industry. They got the job done by whatever means were necessary, unlike The Justice League and Avengers. The book was violent, dark, morally questionable, and absolutely thrilling to read.

Spinning out of Jim Lee’s Stormwatch, The Authority consisted of no-name heroes Jenny Sparks, Jack Hawksmoor, The Engineer, and Apollo and Midnighter, one of the first openly gay couples in comics. While the Justice League and Avengers were designed to appeal to movie studios, toy companies, and parents around the world, The Authority was happy to spit in the face of the norm and challenge the preconceptions of the genre.

The Authority’s brand of totalitarian control might not sit well with traditional superhero fans, but, similar to what Alan Moore did with Watchmen, the book turned an entire industry on its head for a brief period of time.