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.
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?