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Every Member Of DC's The Authority Ranked By Ruthlessness

Of all the projects announced for James Gunn and Peter Safran's new DC Universe, "The Authority" may be the most cryptic. If you've never heard of them, the DC/Wildstorm superhero team known as The Authority essentially answers the question, "Why don't superheroes simply tell people what to do?" In a world plagued by terrorists, monsters, and threats from space, someone has to call the shots and save the world, even if their methods aren't very nice. 

Working from an interdimensional craft called the Carrier that allows them to instantly appear anywhere on Earth, The Authority's mission expands from taking out bad guys like aliens and monsters to toppling fascist dictatorships and the interests that prop them up around the world. Acting with absolutely ruthless efficiency, The Authority gets results because the Earth's governments know they mean business. They also run rescue and repair operations, their methods remain highly unpopular with those who believe The Authority shouldn't be allowed to change the world as they see fit. What gives them the right? The answer, essentially, is their own over-the-top power-levels combined with what they believe is a clear moral and ethical compass. 

Whether or not their actions are justified, one thing that's apparent is that their might-makes-right philosophy has led them to make some ruthless decisions. Some members are more ruthless than others, however, and the moral grey area in which the team exists is exactly what makes "The Authority" a passion project for Gunn. Before you meet them on the screen, let's rank every member of their classic lineup in order of ruthlessness, from least to most. 

Rose Tattoo

The least ruthless member of the team, surprisingly enough, is Rose Tattoo. The Authority's UN-backed predecessor, Stormwatch, was run by a murderous, psychotic genius named Henry Bendix. Prior to the rest of the team discovering his genocidal bent, "Stormwatch" Vol. 1 #37 sees him bring on a deadly new member of the team in Rose Tattoo. This beautiful and mostly silent woman becomes Stormwatch's deadliest assassin. 

It's not just that she's a cold-blooded killer that makes her so formidable. Like Jenny Sparks, who is the Spirit of the 20th century, Rose Tattoo is the living embodiment of murder. She's bound to a fellow homicidal spirit in Bendix, and he uses her as a deadly, focused weapon. After her status as Bendix's personal assassin is revealed, Jack Hawksmoor kills her in issue #50.

But it's impossible to kill an idea, and like the various Jennies and Doctors, Rose Tattoo is reincarnated and returns to serve Bendix in "The Authority: Revolution" #9. She's up to her old tricks, killing the Doctor so that Bendix can trap his spirit. In the final battle between The Authority and Bendix's team, the new Doctor decides not to kill her. Instead of the Spirit of Death, he uses her powers to transform her into the Spirit of Life in issue 12. Healing the sick and bringing the dead back to life, she's as far from ruthless as possible. Of course, things quickly go sideways when she's later transformed back into her original state, but for a short time, she's on the side of the angels. 

The Doctor (Habib bin Hassan)

The successor to the long-time Doctor for The Authority, Habib bin Hassan, is a teenager on the verge of becoming a suicide bomber in "The Authority: Revolution" #9. Right before he detonates, he receives the spirit of the original Doctor, a shaman whose purpose is similar to that of the various Jennies throughout history (which we'll get to in a moment). When taking on the role, he receives the knowledge and memories of all the other planetary shamans throughout history. This not only allows him to understand the interconnectedness of all things, it also gives him a control of nature at a molecular level. 

When Habib takes on the power, he begins to see all people as one, and turns bullets turned against him into harmless flashes of light. The next day, he's able to negotiate a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. After escaping from the clutches of Henry Bendix, he joins The Authority. He heals Swift and turns Rose Tattoo from evil to good. While he takes bold, direct action, he's all about mutual understanding instead of ruthless imposition of his will. 

Jenny Quantum

Every era on Earth has its protector, and some eras last longer than others. This protector is known as the Spirit of that era, and her job is to do what's necessary to protect the planet from global threats. Jenny Sparks is introduced as the Spirit of the 20th Century, and when she sacrifices herself, she's immediately reincarnated into a newborn infant in Singapore in "The Authority" #12

She's immediately adopted by The Authority and is named Jenny Quantum, reflecting the 21st century's shifting possibilities. Even as a baby she's able to protect herself, blasting an evil team of superhumans when threatened. Her two dads, Apollo and Midnighter, raise her together, and when she's eight years old, she imagines being a teenager in "The Authority: Revolution" #9. Her teenage self comes back through time to warn her about a resurrected Henry Bendix manipulating The Authority. 

This Jenny is every bit as outspoken and headstrong as her predecessor, but she's not yet as ruthless. She doesn't do the dirty work in taking down Bendix, although she does conceive of the master plan. She's also perfectly happy to kill Rose Tattoo, but is fine with taking her on the team when the new Doctor changes her in "The Authority: Revolution" #12. As she grows older, she will undoubtedly become more ruthless. 

The Doctor (Jeroen Thornedike)

Jeroen Thorndike, The Doctor for much of the comic's run, is a junkie from Amsterdam. He's not exactly the first person you'd consider for the role of Shaman of Earth, but that power always chooses its targets for a reason. He's overwhelmed at first in his role as Earth's most powerful magician, but he comes to embrace it and understands how crucial he is in helping protect and then change the world. 

In his first major mission against super-powered Gamorran terrorist clones in "The Authority" #4, he demonstrates his magical control over matter at a molecular level by turning a number of them into pieces of glass. The only problem is that he nearly cuts his teammates to shreds doing this, so he changes tactics by turning thousands more of them into trees, reforesting Los Angeles. 

He devises a nasty plan for his evil predecessor as Doctor in "The Authority" #20. He gives his power back to the evil Doctor in order to help save the Earth for one hour, knowing that the villain would gain the one power that would stop him: super-empathy. Lacking a desire to kill, he loses his powers and The Authority takes him out. 

Perhaps his most ruthless action comes against John Clay, a villain who creates a cult of personality via psychic virus. Initially under his control, The Doctor breaks free, cuts his power off, grows huge, and swallows a beaten Clay whole in "The Authority" Vol 2, #9.

The Engineer

The Engineer we meet in "The Authority" is a scientist who receives information from the first Engineer before his death, and combines his nanotechnology innovations with her own biotechnological fusion research. She creates nine pints of liquid machinery filled with nanobots and replaces her own blood with it. She has total control of this liquid, using it as armor, for instant information integration, weapons, and anything else she can conceptualize and build on the spot. She's a one-woman think tank and armory.

While she's just as likely to work behind the scenes to solve a problem as she is to engage the enemy in battle, she's demonstrated her own ruthless streak. Recalling a personal violation at the hands of the evil Doctor, she kicks his head clean off his body when he's defeated in "The Authority" #20. Fighting against the super-terrorist clones of Gamorra, she creates a "web of knives" that are atoms-thick and slices through dozens of them. When she confronts a villain who's part of The Americans (a team that's an analog for the Avengers) in "The Authority" #13, she nearly defeated by their Hulk-analog. Then she calms down, flies him into outer space, and watches the process of explosive decompression unfold in front of her. The Engineer is more of a scientist excited about all of the cool things she can do than she is a ruthless tactician, but she can certainly do her share of damage. 


Apollo is another creation of the monstrous Henry Bendix, a Superman-like being who draws his abilities from exposure to solar radiation. He can fly, he's super-strong, and he can kill things just by looking at them with his heat vision. He's the lover and eventual husband of Midnighter, and they spend many years on the streets after fleeing from Bendix. 

Apollo is the team's tank, and while he isn't as vicious as some of his teammates, he is capable of extraordinary levels of destruction. He's not above smaller, more personal executions when pushed too far. For example, after getting depowered and kept alive to be a punching bag for the government operative Last Call, Apollo disintegrates the villain's head when he gets his powers back in "The Authority: Revolution" #12. After the evil Doctor loses his powers, Apollo is there to once again fry his face in "The Authority" #20. After Kaizen Gamorra wreaks havoc with stolen technology, Apollo once again uses his killing stare in "The Authority" Vol 4 #16.

In larger battles, Apollo is set loose to cause massive losses, be it against Gamorra's terrorists in "The Authority" #2, an entire air force of Shiftships of Sliding Albion in issue 8, or against the antibodies of god in issue 10. He's less of a ruthless schemer and more of a weapon turned against enemies by his leadership. 


Swift, Jack Hawksmoor, and Jenny Sparks first became a team as part of Stormwatch Black. They were the black-ops unit sent to deal with operations that Stormwatch couldn't legally take on, and their existence was disavowed. Swift is a flying metahuman with talons on her hands and her feet, and her top speed puts her in the same class as super-fast metahumans. One of her signature moves is picking up an opponent and slamming them into the side of a building. She does this to assassins and to the super-terrorists of Gamorra in "The Authority" #2

When the government and various corporate interests conspire to overthrow and punish The Authority, Swift is kept as a slave to a media mogul and a billionaire software engineer. After she's freed from her servitude, she rescues the Engineer from her nightmare scenario, then produces the heads of the mogul and the software engineer to show to the man who was torturing The Engineer, in "The Authority" #29. However, the most ruthless thing Swift does is come up with a particular strategy in dealing with a difficult foe. In "The Authority" #16, the mutated scientist Dr. Jacob Krigstein has the world on the ropes using the power of baby Jenny Quantum to create scores of metahumans. Swift simply convinces him to stop menacing the world and join The Authority, inviting him to do his research on the Carrier. Despite him trying to kill and then kidnap the baby, everyone agrees.

Jack Hawksmoor

Jack Hawksmoor is another bioengineered former Stormwatch Black agent. He was built by beings from the future to be the ultimate urban commando. He can talk to the spirits of cities, and even use entire cities as weapons. He can also disappear in any metropolis, and simply being there gives him strength. On top of all that,e's a tough, agile, and strong fighter with a take-no-prisoners style. Shortly after receiving his powers, a being from the 70th century merges with Kansas City and is out to destroy the world. 

Hawksmoor turns Tokyo into a giant robot, merges with it, and destroys the Kansas City being in "Jenny Sparks: The Secret History Of The Authority" #3. When The Authority is at war with Sliding Albion, Hawksmoor is at his best. Even when he's ambushed on the Carrier by a contingent of soldiers in "The Authority" #7, he savagely wades into them, rips off an arm from a soldier and uses it as a weapon. When confronting the leader of Sliding Albion, the human-alien hybrid Regis, he merges with this alternate-world London and eventually bursts right out of the alien, killing him instantly in issue 8.

When he takes over leadership of The Authority after Jenny Sparks dies, he's every bit as committed to building a better world. He's happy to threaten world leaders to do so, once telling Bill Clinton to behave or else in "The Authority" #13

Jenny Sparks

Jenny Sparks, the Spirit of the 20th Century, is the leader of The Authority. As such, she's often forced to make tough calls, badger her teammates, and put people in impossible situations. When the Doctor refuses to join the team, Jenny shoots herself in the head, forcing the Doctor to use his powers and heal her in "Jenny Sparks: The Secret History Of The Authority" #1

As the public face of The Authority, she often breaks into worldwide communications, telling people to behave after informing of them of some extinction-level threat. She's not just a bold leader — she's also a deadly metahuman who can harness the power of electricity. When Sliding Albion invades Earth from another dimension, she takes the Carrier over there and obliterates the seat of government with her lightning in "The Authority" #8

In her final act, she leads her team against the alien creator of the Earth, who's come back after millions of years disgusted to find a plague of humans. The members of The Authority invade this giant creature and fight their way to its brain, and then Jenny kills the god by electrocuting its brain in "The Authority" #12. It's the last act of a woman who frightens even the Midnighter. 

Jenny lived for a hundred years and a lot of different roles. She was a hard-boiled private eye in the 1950s and electrocuted a reporter friend of hers for trying to shut down an orphanage in "Jenny Sparks: The Secret History Of The Authority" #4

The Midnighter

The killing machine of The Authority is The Midnighter, another creation of Bendix. He's given implants that allow him to predict and plan for virtually any combat situation. He's already beaten you before you've started fighting — "you just don't know it yet," as he tells a Gammoran supercop in "The Authority" #3. Not only is he a nearly unbeatable fighter, he's also known for his highly creative ways of killing opponents. 

When he learns that Kaizen Gammora has built a clone factory that's pumping out super-powered terrorists, he realizes that he doesn't have enough firepower on his own to stop the operation. So he goes back to the Carrier, rematerializes it inside the city, and then rams it into the factory, destroying millions of clones in "The Authority" #4

When he encounters The Commander, a supervillain based on Captain America, Midnighter gets especially angry because he's assaulted his boyfriend Apollo. He batters his brains out using a jackhammer in "The Authority" #15. He brings back the same power tool when gets similar revenge on Teuton, a government operative who tortures Apollo, in "The Authority" #29

After he's freed from the mind control of Bendix in "The Authority: Revolution" #12, The Midnighter literally rips his creator's head and spine from his body. However, his most ruthless move of all may be telling Tank Man that he's never known love and has probably never been held. The villain surrenders and leaves in "The Authority" #13.