Or – “Will It Work Without Warren?”

Younger Spoilerites may not recall that Stormwatch began as part of the Image Comics revolution in 1993, but the title probably found its most critical acclaim under the pen of Warren Ellis with a run that eventually mutated into The Authority.  Part of the reason that book became famous was it’s willingness (and, honestly, it’s ability) to look at certain archetypes of comics history in a new light.  Will new characters based on Superman and Batman be as much fun in a world that already has the real thing?

Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Miguel Sepulveda
Cover Art: Miguel Sepulveda & Nathan Eyring
Colorist: Allen Passalaqua
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Pat McCallum
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, on Stormwatch:  Initially created during the Cold War as Team One, Stormwatch was a government task force of multinational superhumans whose mandate was to protect the world.  Many of their members eventually went other places (some to The Authority, some to The Monarchy, some to WildCATS, some through the large intestines of alien xenomorphs) and eventually their world ended.  When Barry Allen made his fateful trip to the land of Freudian Intentions, he merged their world into the mainstream DCU, and now we are about to be introduced to the all-new, all-different Stormwatch!

The New Amalgam Universe!

Having not gotten around to reading my copy of Static Shock, Stormwatch is the first of the New 52 that I’ve read that didn’t originate fully in the DC Universe (not counting Animal Man, who migrated over to Vertigo and back.)  As such, I expected it to be my first real test of the concept of the trifold universal theory.  We open with The Engineer and a couple of new heroes discussing a giant threat to their world, with some slightly awkward expositionary dialogue telling us the 411.  We find that two Stormwatch teams are already in the field, one looking into rumors of a Superman-level hero while the other investigates a growing menace on Earth’s moon.  Jack Hawksmoor makes an appearance, as does the Martian Manhunter and a new hero known as the Projectionist.  If Action Comics felt like 30’s nostalgia, and Justice League International felt like 80’s nostalgia, this book is pure 90’s flashback (and not necessarily in a bad way.)

In Space, No One Can Hear You Monologuing…

We also meet a new hero, one whose name may be elegant and brilliant or goofy, I haven’t decided, The Eminence Of Blades.  EOB’s lunar investigations find him being captured by an unknown alien menace who speaks ominously of a coming threat to the new Earth.  The creature gives us a much more workable chunk of backstory by telepathically ripping it from EOB’s head.  The Earth mission goes even less swimmingly as the metahuman called Apollo has no interest in joining Stormwatch.  Once again, I feel that the dialogue is aimed at a younger reading group, as the battle turns into a one-on-one match between Apollo and the Martian Manhunter, with both men mentioning their relative power-levels in relation to Superman.  The battle ends more quickly than it should, as a new player enters the field and offers to partner up with Apollo:  a man called The Midnighter.

The Verdict:  Interesting, But Odd…

The first question in my mind is, “Are they still going to be a couple?” as ‘Daddy Apollo’ and ‘Daddy Midnighter’s’ interactions raising young Jenny Quantum were one of the highlights of post-Warren Ellis issues of The Authority.  The giant threat to the new world has been hinted at as being important (Foreshadowing: Your clue to quality literature!) in the greater scheme of things, and may have something to do with the mysterious glowing woman’s words to Barry Allen about making their world stronger before something happens.  (She appears in the background of panel 1, page 24, if you’re keeping track of such things.)  The art in this issue is quite good, even though the book is saddled with a VERY unattractive cover, as we all get to look up the nose of a Julius-Caesar-looking Apollo.  This book promises to use some of the most interesting characters of the combined universe, which makes me worry that none of them will be able to shine, as Apollo, Jenny Quantum, Martian Manhunter, and Midnighter all have a history of some pretty badass moments behind them.  The issue feels a little bit slight, more like a preview than a launching point, but all in all I’m intrigued enough to come back next month.  Stormwatch #1 earns an optimistic 3 out of 5 stars overall on the strength of the art, the foreshadowing and the first workable redesign of the Martian Manhunter in 50-odd years.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Is it possible to play with the Superman and Batman archetypes in one title while playing them straight (so to speak) in another portion of the new universe?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Randallw
    September 8, 2011 at 11:35 pm — Reply

    I may be a bit spoiled by Bryan Hitch, and even Frank Quitely, art but I didn’t find the art all that interesting. I’ll keep getting it but I’m not overly impressed. As for the Moon being a threat, are we redoing the return of ‘God’ or are they just being unoriginal?

    • September 8, 2011 at 11:40 pm — Reply

      Well, it’s certainly not Hitch or Quitely, but the art was nicely done, in my book.

      • Damascus
        September 16, 2011 at 4:45 am — Reply

        Agreed. Both on the art being good and the cover being um..not-so-good. Some panels were amazingly done, I thought. Whether it’s entirely computer effects for some, like the teleportation scene, or that awesome page spread of the giant horny beast thing. I did hate that line though, it was such a cool picture and they throw that dumb line in there.

        Did anyone else see the giant horny, toothy, worm thing and immediately think of the Doom Titan and imagine there are some people in there shaving some staticite from some ribs. lol

  2. Randallw
    September 8, 2011 at 11:49 pm — Reply

    I’ll admit it isn’t as bad as House of M What-If, which has the worst art I’ve ever seen in a comic :)

    • JacinB
      September 9, 2011 at 11:54 am — Reply

      If that’s the worst you’ve seen, you ought to pick up some 30 Days of Night stuff that came out last year.

      I’m not sure how that ever got published.

  3. September 8, 2011 at 11:56 pm — Reply

    The tone of the book reminded me more of The Monarchy than any other Wildstorm title. That’s a good thing for me as I love The Monarchy. The Projectionist, for example, seems to be playing a lot of the same notes as Christine Trelane did in that book. The downside, however, is that this book is no where near the quality of The Monarchy. I’ll be sticking on for a few issues yet to see where this is going.

  4. September 9, 2011 at 4:05 am — Reply

    Reminded me of Planetary, which could be a good thing, depending on where it goes. One gripe, Cover showing those three together, so… kind of annoying to play the “I won’t join your group!” game, I know it’s to help set the characters, but it bugs me.

  5. Ian
    September 9, 2011 at 6:05 am — Reply

    You mentioned a workable redesign of J’onn. Can you elaborate? Do we get his backstory? Does he still have a history with the league?

    • September 9, 2011 at 11:18 am — Reply

      Can you elaborate? Do we get his backstory? Does he still have a history with the league?

      There is mention of his having been in the League in the past, but I was referring to the visual take on the character, combining bits of previous looks into a pretty neat whole (with unecessary line work in his body rather than his boots, as befits a shape-shifter.) Check out the issue for more…

      • Jimmy
        September 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm — Reply

        I loved the way he morphed. That’s how a Martian should battle.

      • Damascus
        September 16, 2011 at 4:52 am — Reply

        I have never really cared about his appearance in much of a negative way, I’ve always liked the character, so round head, cone head, normal Martian long swept back head, it’s all good. I only thought one thing though seeing his head in this one; the ridges on the sides of his head made me think of Alan Rickman’s character Dr. Lazarus in Galaxy Quest. Could we get him to say, “by Grabthar’s hammer… by the Sons of Warvan… you shall be… avenged.”

  6. TaZ
    September 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm — Reply

    This was one of the releases this week that I just couldn’t get into, especially since the only thing I know about Wildstorm comics are thing’s I’ve picked up on this site and a session “on the Wiki”.

  7. ElusiveJoe
    September 9, 2011 at 10:15 pm — Reply

    I was really dissapointed by this book. The art is serviceable at best, the colours are all over the place, with lots of dark, muddy backgrounds. And the story is just straight-up by-the-numbers superhero fare and shows none of the subtlety or flair that marked Warren Ellises run. Worst of all the core-concept of the book, a special team that handles all the real threats while the justice league plays at being “super-heroes”, undermines everything else going on in the DC universe.
    This is the first time I’ve ever gone out and bought the single issues, and had I not also picked up Gail Simone’s Batgirl, Stormwatch #1 might well have kept me from coming back.
    Based on this first issue, I’m hoping this series will quietly go away and someone will come by to give the Martian Manhunter a hug and a quiet place to sit untill another series has a place for him.
    Maybe Detective Comics? A street-level Martian Manhunter Noir would probably be my most favoritest thing ever.

    • Damascus
      September 16, 2011 at 4:47 am — Reply

      I don’t think it undermines anything, wouldn’t you imagine that every team considers it’s own importance and impact to be greater than any other groups? Especially if this group can trace it’s existence back for centuries. That doesn’t mean it actually is better than the Justice League, just that it’s been doing it for a long time and they’re obviously going to look differently at the world and at what needs to be done to protect it.

  8. brenton8090
    September 11, 2011 at 8:24 am — Reply

    I liked it. I’ll give it 6 issues to see where it goes. I’m a little concerned about the Midnighter being so very “Batman” when Batman exists already. We’ll see how they play it. It could be bad, but there could be a sweet Batman/Midnighter throwdown, who knows. I like the forshadowing, I like where it’s going, but all the “something big is coming” stuff bothers me. It’s too soon. I’d like to see these books get their footing first, independent of any looming events. I feel that dropping these hints towards DC’s next big event (ALREADY. GEEZ) sort of n-sells these books. It’s like DC is writing a back door out of this universe in case in doesn’t sell. That said, I am having fun playing Where’s Waldo? with the hooded lady in all these books.

  9. Bane
    April 28, 2012 at 11:33 pm — Reply

    Well I have been less than impressed personally with the stormwatch title the art has not been all that great and the story line has been not all that entertaining as well and I see stormwatch going the way of miestone comics after the worlds collide crossover, and maybe one or two of there characters will survive in DCU with the exception of maybe on or two of their flagship characters, but who knows maybe the story will get better and the art will improve

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