“Backlash” 17 & 18

This entry covers “Backlash” issues 17 and 18 by Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Mel Rubi, John Tighe, Mark Irwin and Mark Pennington.

backlash_017Slayton is feeling odd ever since he woke up to save the day against that space-vampire. Where can a guy go to see what’s up with his crazy bod? Why not the guy who’s been like a doctor to you for the last several years? That’s right, Slayton drops in on his old pal Link from StormWatch. Link is happy to oblige, as well as meet Jodi and Amanda.

As soon as the tests are concluded StormWatch shows up to… well I guess to take Slayton in for being a wanted felon. Not only that, but they’re none too keen to find out that Slayton had, at some point, been funneling information about StormWatch to I/O. They even accuse him of being glad that LaSalle is dead because she was on to him. But ultimately the StormWatch team cannot take down the man who trained them.

While Slayton was taking down the StormWatch kids, Amanda and Jodi were busy stealing their transport ship. As soon as Slayton is finished with Jackson, Link tells him to get the heck out of there, so Slayton, Amanda and Jodi fly off in their ill gotten jet. The flight doesn’t last long as Slayton gets a call from Cray to meet up with the other Team 7 members in New York. Now if Slayton had thought to ask Cray, he would’ve known that kids were invited to this party, but he didn’t and so he drops Amanda and Jodi off at the nearest payphone and leaves.

backlash_018Amanda calls up CyberJack to get back to the safe house and hears that he’ll be staying in Gamorra longer than previously thought, but they are free to stay at the safe-house as long as they need. Amanda immediately picks up on the fact that there’s something wrong with this message. In it, Jack calls her Taboo. Jack never calls her Taboo. This can only mean one thing: Girls Weekend Trip in Gamorra!

I wish I had more to say about these issues, but really, unlike other “Backlash” stories there isn’t too much going on plot wise. Character development wise? Yeah, it’s in there. Seeing Slayton have to take on his former students? It’s rad as hell, especially when we have Rubi and Booth drawing it for us. But when it comes to a the type of recaps I do here, it looks a lot more slight than the book actually is. I have to say, it was really fun to see StormWatch vs. Slayton before we get to “Fire from Heaven” and it’s StormWatch vs. Everyone for a bit. It’s like a preview of what’s to come.

Continuity Corner:

  • When Link is examining Slayton they find that Slayton’s Kherubim blood has mostly burned out all the Gen-Factor in his system, which explains why LeGauche couldn’t get much off him in “Deathblow” volume one issue 23.
  • Slayton will catch up with Cray, Lynch, Cash, Dane and the Gen13 kids near the end of “Deathblow” volume one issue 24.
  • Seeing the stealth suits that StormWatch put on for this issue made me angry that they don’t really stick around. For the most part they are just streamlined and better looking versions of their current outfits. Except for Fahrenheit. That isn’t a good look, it’s far too basic and boring. Her original outfit is awesome and I’ll forever miss it when she abandons it completely after “Fire from Heaven.”
  • After their beat down, the StormWatch team heads back to the U.N. StormWatch base in “StormWatch” volume one issue 34.

NEXT (if you need to get back to “StormWatch” 34): “StormWatch” volume one issue 34 by H.K. Proger, Renato Arlem, and Joe Pimentel.

NEXT (if you already finished “StormWatch” 34): “WildStorm!” issue 4 by Michael Jan Friedman, Merv, Sarah Becker, Ryan Odagawa, Tom Raney, Randy Green, Mark McKenna, Randy Elliot, John Tighe and Rich Ketchum.

Advertisements

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 34

This entry covers “StormWatch” volume one issue 34 by H.K. Proger, Renato Arlem, and Joe Pimentel. Best reading order is to read the first 18 pages of this issue, then read “Backlash” issues 17 & 18 and then coming back to finish off this issue. Then again, that’s pretty wonky and it works just as well to read this then the “Backlash” issues.

stormwatch_v1_034This book is basically several short stories, chopped up only giving us a few pages of each, before flipping to the next. They all converge on the last page with StormWatch heading back up to the newly completed SkyWatch 2. This issue is also getting a few more things in place for “Fire from Heaven” besides the team being back home. I’ll basically be breaking down these stories individually instead of flipping back and forth between them.

We open with Christine and Fahrenheit training. Then showering together. There’s some girl talk followed by a lot of work talk, but it is all pretty normal stuff that you’d expect. Just a nice way to open the issue, I guess.

When checking in with Jackson we find him hanging out with his mother. She forgives him for killing Despot, as that was no longer the man she married. Jackson also finds out that his mother didn’t authorize the release of his brother Malcolm as he was previously told. On top of all this Jackson has been going through the late Diane LaSalle’s StormWatch diary/reports and had found that she suspected Slayton of sharing secrets with I/O. When Jackson questions Bendix about it, Bendix basically says “yeah, I knew, so what?” which only serves to further piss off Jackson. Now Jackson is super angry and wants to hunt down Slayton, I mean he’s an enemy of the U.S. Government, so why not?

Fuji is worried about how Cannon is doing. He’s taking the death of Diva pretty hard. It’s not like he didn’t have Uzi from Team Aleph throwing herself at him in Tel Aviv, but he’s not ready to move on, no matter how forward other women are. Cannon is sharpening his skills by fighting combat droids that look like himself. This is a red flag, and Fuji sees it as such, but Cannon isn’t ready to talk about it. Instead, they meet up and head to find Jackson to go beat on Slayton.

(Here’s where you could jump to “Backlash” issues 17 – 18 by Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Mel Rubi, John Tighe, Mark Irwin and Mark Pennington.)

While Flashpoint is busy getting chewed out by Bendix for killing too much, Winter comes back the U.N. StormWatch base with Scythe. In “StormWatch” volume one issue 33’s epilogue there was the murder of a StormWatch council member. Bendix tells Flashpoint to take care of it, as he’ll have to go to Russia to find out this info. Bendix informs him that Winter is Suspect Number One! Uh-oh!

Off to Russia Flashpoint heads, and who does he run into? Right where it looks the most incriminating? Yup, it’s Winter. Turns out there’s no way Winter killed that council member because that was the guy that was supplying Winter with all the info about what’s going on in Russia. The info that leads him, Cannon and Bendix into that fight against M.A.D. 1. Flashpoint isn’t sure about this until they’re attacked by “the Death Patrol” because really, what this run of “StormWatch” from issue 28 through 34 does best is introducing us to scads and scads of new and disposable characters. Flashpoint and Winter barely escape with their lives.

Nautika and Sunburst are having a tough time. Neither wants to leave the team, but both have kinda been ruined by it. Sunburst can’t walk, and Nautika feels guilty about their part causing his disability. At the same time, they’re both watching over the body of Undertow in his incubation tube. They both agree to stay with StormWatch, even though Sunburst feels like a burden.

Bendix finally gathers the whole team at the U.N. building and they all take a mini-spaceship up to SkyWatch 2. I mean, why didn’t they beam up? They just used their beaming tech in the last story arc, so… never mind, it’s a cool page, I’ll let it stand.

SkyWatch2-FirstLook

Continuity Corner:

  • We’ll find out in “Gen12” issue 3 about how Slayton got hooked up with joining StormWatch. It was a favor to both Slayton and Craven by Bendix on account of them all being old Team One buddies.
  • We get our first ideas that Flashpoint isn’t anywhere near a kind of good guy when he starts thinking out the “real reason” he killed Kilgore. This will all come to a head when he sees the Mercs again in Gamorra.
  • When Jackson’s raid on Slayton ends, the characters come back in different uniforms than we saw them in earlier. This is to match the special stealth suits that they wore in “Backlash” 17 – 18.
  • When boarding the mini space shuttle there’s a dude that looks like Link, but can’t be, because that means he beat Jackson’s raid team back to base, and they were raiding his house and late returning. I mean Bendix was getting mad because they were running behind. The timing, it doesn’t add up!
  • On SkyWatch 2 we first see the “eye in the lightning bolt triangle” that will become StormWatch’s logo for much of Ellis’s run.
  • On the last page we see that Bendix has an incoming message from Kaizen Gamorra, explaining StormWatch’s presence on the island at the start of “Fire From Heaven” issue 1.

NEXT (if you didn’t dip out to read it yet): “Backlash” issues 17 – 18 by Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Mel Rubi, John Tighe, Mark Irwin and Mark Pennington.

NEXT (if you already read “Backlash” 17 – 18): “WildStorm!” issue 4 by Michael Jan Friedman, Merv, Sarah Becker, Ryan Odagawa, Tom Raney, Randy Green, Mark McKenna, Randy Elliot, John Tighe and Rich Ketchum.

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 30 – 33

This entry covers “StormWatch” volume one issues 30 through 33 by H.K. Proger, Renato Arlem, Brad Vancata and Robert Jones as well as the “Synergy” back up story by Barbara Kesel and Mike Miller in issue 30. Best reading order would put the “Synergy” back up story from issue 30 as the first thing you read, followed by the rest of issue 30, then issues 31 through 33.

stormwatch_v1_030I’m going to start off by saying this. I don’t like these issues. I don’t like them at all. I find them a chore to get through. In fact, I think issue 31 was the issue that made me drop this title when I was a kid. I remember reading issues 28 and 29 and being “Uh… this isn’t exactly the book I’ve been digging… but, it’s still good.” Even then I could tell quality, and those issues were ok, but then this run followed. Ugh. It just seems so all over the place, and oddly paced. Also, there’s a bunch of art mistakes as well (See most of the Continuity Corner below). That and we’re just bombarded by new character after new character, it gets to be a bit much. There is one thing I did like, and that’s the “Synergy” back up story in issue 30, but, sigh, even that has a bit of a problem.

We see Christine Trelane being asked to activate a former StormForce member. Apparently, she’s a seedling. Providence came to the girl that if she isn’t activated, her and her family won’t be around in a year. Christine doesn’t trust Providence at first, but Providence comes to tell her that what she told the girl was true, but also because of the forking nature of the future there are two possibilities. The first, the girl is unactivated, something happens and the girl’s family will be killed, but if the girl is activated it sends her on a road that ends up in super-villainy. Providence leaves this choice to Christine, and Christine comes up with a solution. The solution is… to be continued. We never get any resolution to this short story. It’s a shame too, as it could’ve been interesting. With Barbara Kesel on the writing duties, it could’ve gone far. Dare I say, between this backup and the “Fuji” backup in “StormWatch” volume one issue 29, she has a much better handle on the characters than H.K. Proger (whoever that may be) and might’ve been a better choice to take on the rest of these issues.

stormwatch_v1_031Ok, on to the rest of these 4 issues… A lot happens, a lot. All of our rookies from last issue, along with less recent rookie Pagan, are with Christine Trelane helping the U.N. move some nuclear weaponry that Saddam Kussein has willingly surrendered to the U.N. The StormWatch team is mostly there because the U.N. requested them to, and these losers could use a simple mission after the last on in Germany. Oh, and there are two new rookies as well, Blitz and Damascus. Don’t get too attached to them, they’re going to be dead soon by the hands of Heaven’s Fist, a group of terrorist super-powered beings. Heaven’s Fist works for a terrorist known as Abu Fawaz, whom few people have laid actual eyes on. Heaven’s Fist is stealing these nukes to be used later to blow up various places in the name of, well, terrorism. Heaven’s Fist also kidnaps all the StormWatch members that survive their attack.

Henry Bendix gets the old crew back together, including a recently found and new bodied Hellstrike and a recently released from prison Flashpoint. Henry hooks them up with Unit Aleph, an anti-terrorism group of super-powered beings that work for the Isreali government. Unit Aleph has captured a man they believe to be Abu Fawaz but cannot prove it is him. He has a lot of documents that state he is Jawad Anani, and because he’s only been very rarely seen as Fawaz, they’re having trouble proving him wrong. After StormWatch and Unit Aleph gets some training in, they get the word as to the locations of the nukes that Heaven’s Fist stole. Turns out they’re proto-type neutron bombs that will destroy humans but leave buildings and landscapes intact.

stormwatch_v1_032The teams are split to do some good in the world. StormWatch headed towards Yugoslavia to stop a bomb, Cannon and Unit Aleph towards Tel Aviv to stop a bomb and Flashpoint to the kidnapped StormWatch members. Cannon and Unit Aleph make quick work of the Heaven’s Fist members they find in Tel Aviv. Likewise, Flashpoint has zero trouble saving Christine and the rookies from the scrubs that Heaven’s Fist leaves behind. Our regular StormWatch team isn’t so lucky while flying into Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia does not want StormWatch there. At all. Even though they are trying to help. They keep trying to chase off StormWatch’s jet. Eventually, StormWatch just leaves, but they play it sneaky and manage to leave Winter behind to stop the bomb. Not so sneaky it turns out because former StormWatch member Scythe is aware of Winter right away. She’s quit StormWatch to help her country, but unlike the rest of the military, she’s not dumb enough to let a bomb go off, killing people, over politics, so she agrees to help Winter. Winter of course succeeds but the Yugoslavian authorities are still pissed, so Scythe helps Winter get outta there.

stormwatch_v1_033With two of the bombs stopped and the rookies saved, what’s left? Just a single mystery bomb out there, and trying to get to the bottom of if the guy they have in holding is Abu Fawaz. Heaven’s Fist makes their play with the final bomb, and the action is all going down in Paris. So the OG StormWatch save Paris. It’s kinda boring and kinda silly at the same time. Meanwhile, Heaven’s Fist’s sneaky Assassin, Hassasin, is trying to free Kinda-Maybe-Probably-Fawaz from lockup, but he’s stopped Unit Aleph returning from Tel Aviv. Here’s the problem, Bendix has put together that four men have seen the man they have in holding plan the terrorist attacks as Fawas, but all four of these men have ended up dead. One by Flashpoint while searching for the rookies and finding info about the Paris attack. One by Swift while the rookies were breaking out of their kidnapping. One by Jackson while saving Paris. Finally, the last one was by Unit Aleph, in shooting Hassasin. Ergo, Fawaz walks free. So, while StormWatch has won the battle, the war still rages on.

The biggest part of these issues, besides pacing, is the pure glut of new characters introduced. Especially because most of them end up dead as soon as they are introduced. We get Unit Aleph, which could be cool to see again, as well as Scythe, who brings in a new dynamic with the whole “I quit StormWatch, but I’m kinda back now” thing. I think that Abu Fawaz was set up to be a new StormWatch archvillain, which would work well against a U.N. superhero group, so in the end, it is fine when we see him walk. We expect to see him back, but next time with all new terrorist super-baddies because of his huge crew, only three managed to survive. I really think that if Ellis hadn’t’ve come on and taken the book in a wildly different direction we would’ve seen a lot more of Fawaz and Friendz.

Continuity Corner:

  • I had always had these issues running between “Backlash” 16 and 17, but upon rereading I realized that there are a few panels of Diane LeSalle still alive… Dammit… looks like I’ll have to rearrange these to have happened after she left Backlash, but before we hit that arc that she ends up dead.
  • I like to place the “Synergy” story before the main action for two reasons. First of, if we don’t, then this story can’t have happened until after issue 33, and that seems like a long time to wait for so little. Secondly, it gives us an idea of what Christine does between big StormWatch missions. Even “off-the-clock” she’s a company gal, which sits perfectly with her character as it gets more defined by Ellis.
  • I still wonder what happened with that girl the Christine was sent to help in her backup story. I can’t even “no-prize” it out like I enjoy doing because we just have so little to go on!
  • When Fahrenheit is hanging out in Brazil she gets called back to StormWatch, she’s with a woman named Mayinga. Mayinga also seems to be an employee of StormWatch. Were we supposed to know who the hell she is?
  • For some reason, except for the ponytail, Cannon and Flashpoint switch hairstyles in issue 30 for Cannon and 31 for Flashpoint.
  • Trelane, while kidnapped has a costume change from her purple leotard to her red and black thong with shoulder pads between issues 31 and 32.
  • In issue 31 Undertow is suddenly a kidnap victim even though we see him laid up in issue 30 while the other rookies are getting kidnapped. We’ll see him still his recovery chamber again when we get to issue 34. Don’t worry, after issue 34 he gets better pretty quickly, just in time to meet his demise in issue 37.
  • Malcolm King is released from StormWatch lockup in issue 32 and Bendix seems pretty angry about it. Oddly, it seems that Jackson thinks Bendix is the one that had Malcolm released in issue 34. Someone got Malcolm out and now he’s on the loose, that’s about all we know.

NEXT IN THE READING ORDER: “Backlash” issues 12 – 14 by Sean Rufner, Brett Booth, Chuck Gibson, Al Vey and Mark Pennington

NEXT ON THE BLOG: “StormWatch” issue 24 by H.K. Proger, Renato Arlem, and Joe Pimentel

“Grifter” Vol. 2 issue 1

This entry covers “Grifter” volume two issue 1 by Steven Grant, Mel Rubi, and Richard Friend.

grifter_v2_001Somewhere in Colorado, a crazy man is kidnapping some kids from a school bus. Lucky for those kids, Cole Cash is nearby and is contracted in to save the kids. You see, Cash is hanging out with an old Team 6 buddy when the local sheriff comes by with news of the kidnapping. Cash decides to do what he can to help the situation and save these kids.

Cash gets some info on the kidnapper, a former Army Psych Corp. Lt. Col. named Bo Thane, now going by the name Odyssey. Odyssey’s plan is to use his military knowledge to brainwash these kids and build his own militia that only knows him as their leader. We all know Cash won’t stand for that and moves in to bust up that tea party.

Cash first has to break through Odyssey’s original militia which is made up of grown ass men. Lucky for Cash, only one of them can put up a real fight, but this is the Grifter we’re talking about, that dude still went down easy. On to the kids. Yeah, Cash saves them, but he doesn’t get to take down Odyssey. See, Cash knows, if these kids see wanton violence at the age they are, and the mental state Odyssey has them in, it’ll wreck them for life and cause them to believe in an unjust, ultra-violent and messed up world. Cash just can’t let that happen to good kids, so Odyssey gets to walk.

The kids are all safe thanks to Cash, but the sheriff has some questions. Mainly, why would Cash help when he wasn’t tied to anything or anyone involved in this situation? Cash can’t answer that and walks away a bit grumpy. The readers and the sheriff know why, Cash, for all his faults is a hero, and will always look out for the disadvantaged. Despite whether he realizes this or not, Cash’s will to always “do better” is as much of defining trait of his as grim outlook, red mask, and VADs.

Continuity Corner:

  • When we last saw Cash he was near the Rocky Mountains helping out Slayton fight with Beck. I realize that this issue was published WAAAAAY after that, but volume two of “Grifter” seems pretty evergreen as far as continuity, and heck, if Cash is already in the area, this seems like the perfect place for this issue!
  • Cash gets his info about Odyssey from a friend at I/O. I figure that it’s Alicia, but I could be wrong.
  • What the hell are Sam & Twitch doing in a Colorado police station? I thought they stuck to New York?

NEXT: “StormWatch” volume one issue 34 by H.K. Proger, Renato Arlem and Joe Pimental

“Backlash” issues 15 – 16

This entry covers “Backlash” issues 15 & 16 by Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Mel Rubi, John Tighe and Mark Irwin.

backlash_015This issue opens with CyberJack being all “Peace out, Imma go to Gammora and hope they don’t screw me over while you, Marc Slayton, my best friend, deal with yr dead ex-fiance, later yo!” I know they’re supposed to be hardened badasses, but Slayton literally just saw his ex get murdered right in front of him! So, Jack, maybe stick around for your buddy, a least a little bit before taking off. That’s such a jerk move that I really wish that Cray had drunk all of Jack’s Zimas. We’ll get back to Jack’s adventures in Gamorra in a bit, first, we have to talk about hard-luck Slayton.

As stated previously, Slayton’s former fiance is dead and he’s bummin’. Then his friend with benefits, Amanda, starts to put the moves on him, only for the whole thing to be interrupted by Jodi. Slayton, in a huff, decides to go and get a beer at a local dive. Of course, he ends up befriending a man who is sitting in the in the seat of local tuff Beck, who is all set to beat Slayton and his new “pal”  down for this infraction along with the help of his posse. When Beck calls “seat save” he means it. While all of Beck’s buds go down easy, it turns out that Beck is much more than he first appears and it doesn’t look good for Slayton.

Also not looking good for Slayton is his daughter Jodi hitting on his best frenemy Cole Cash. Wait, what? How does Cole figure into all this? Well, it turns out Cash needed a part for his bike that he is cruising cross country on. He called his old pal CyberJack about it and sure, Jack could help, and if he’s not there, one of his “roommates” would be happy to hand over what Cash needs. Amanda is a bit distrustful of Cash, but Jodi is completely and totally enamored with the man. Amanda sends Cash on his way with his fixed motorbike and mentions that Cash can get a bite to eat at the dive in town, which is when Cash meets up with Slayton.

backlash_016As it turns out, Cash’s arrival is not a moment too soon! Beck has turned into a huge lizard creature and is starting to thrash Slayton and the back up certainly helps. My personal favorite bit of this story is the little old lady who is happy to see someone kicking Beck’s ass. Apparently, she’s been harassing StormWatch to send someone to deal with him. Doesn’t she know that StormWatch isn’t allowed to take care of American problems? At any rate, Cash makes quick work of Beck, save Slayton’s bacon and then it’s time for each of them to move on. Cash to find more trouble in Colorado and Slayton back to Amanda and Jodi.

Meanwhile, in the exciting adventures of CyberJack, we have our old pal Jack Rhodes meeting up with an old cohort in Gamorra. Makoto used to work with Jack and he even stayed there working after Jack left. The reason Jack left the first time was mainly that he saw his work being used to create things like Hunter-Killers and he wasn’t about that life, fam. Based on what Jack had left behind Makoto was able to keep working from Jack’s plans and he wanted to show them all to Jack. I mean, this is Gamorra, of course, Makoto was going to double cross Jack! But why? Kaizen wants Jack back in Gamorra to invent more stuff and Makoto was the willing lure. Kaizen says that Jack skipped out on their contract, and he means to have Jack back by hook or by crook, and yeah, that even means siccing the Mercs on Jack to keep him in line. Looks like CyberJack’s stuck in Gamorra now, he certainly is in a pickle!

Continuity Corner:

  • Cash must’ve picked up his bike in Vegas. Not sure if he or Halo had it stashed there or he bought it, but I figure that’s where he got it, as the last time we saw him, he was hoping a bus from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
  • In human form, Beck looks an awful lot like the form of Richard McNamara from Team 7 took when he popped up in “Grifter” volume two issue 3. Coincidence, right? Eh, Mel Rubi drew them both so maybe not too big of a coincidence.
  • When the little old lady asks if Cash is Cannon or Flashpoint he joking says that he’s Condition Red. I mean, us the readers get the joke, but how did he know that was Max’s code name in the new WildC.A.T.s? I don’t think we’ve seen them speak yet.
  • At the end of issue 16, Kaizen confronts Jack and he’s flanked by a guy in big ass eff-off armor. His name is Aries. He’s apparently Jodi’s twin brother and thusly Slayton’s son. I always forget this because I can’t remember if this was ever stated in the actual comics or not. I came across this info in “WildStorm Universe ’97” issue 3 when I was trying to look up his name real quick.

NEXT: “Grifter” volume two issue 1 by Steven Grant, Mel Rubi and Richard Friend.

“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 23

This entry covers “Deathblow” volume one issue 23 by Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner, Jeff Johnson, Scott Kolins and Trevor Scott.

deathblow_v1_023Don’t you hate it when uninvited guests show up? Especially the kind that help themselves to your food? Well, that’s the pickle that Marc Slayton finds himself in when he encounters Michael Cray and Jackson Dane helping themselves to the contents of his fridge. Ok, to be fair it’s CyberJack’s fridge, but Slayton totally lives there too. And goddammit, Slayton bought those Cheerios for the house, not for people who just pop by!

The actual reason the Cray and Dane are crashing in on Slayton is that they’re sure he is next on the I/O hit list. While Slayton knows that Craven and his goons won’t be able to get at his Kheribum altered Gen-Factor, Cray and Dane know that that isn’t going to matter. The Brethren will come for them on Craven’s orders no matter what. Slayton and CyberJack are worried that Cray and Dane are being less than truthful and have either been sent after them either by Craven or StormWatch. And wouldn’t you know it, right when the boys are all starting to get along again Slayton gets a phone call. It’s a call from his ex-boo Diane LeSalle.

zimas
Cray, such a kind guest, leaving you your own Zimas for later.

LeSalle has been at a StormWatch base working while the new SkyWatch is being built. Somethings went wrong, hence the call to Slayton. Slayton sees it as a way to have Cray and Dane prove that they are on his side, and they agree “Let’s go save Diane!” This isn’t easy, and little did any of them know, but there’s a new member of the Brethren, a shapeshifter type known as Double Take. Yeah, she’s posing as Diane to lure in Slayton. LeGauche and JackHammer don’t do much but stand around and taunt Slayton and Diane for each being captured so easily, while StormForce finally shows up to the StormWatch base to defend it, and mistakenly takes Cray and Dane for the jerks that wrecked the place.

Eventually, the real Diane gets free from her restraints to try and stop the Brethren from getting away with what little of the Gen-Factor they got off Slayton. LeGauche, being the psycho that he is, unloads his gun on Diane killing the poor woman. The Brethren bug out just as Cray and Dane are getting to Slayton to save the day. They saved diddly. Way to go boys!

deathoflasalle

As Slayton, Cray and Dane exit the StormWatch station they surmise that Cash will be the next one. Is this because they all kind of know where Cash is generally at? Hanging with a bunch of aliens in New York? Or is it because he maintains a relationship with Alicia Masters? They figure if they can track Cash down I/O certainly can. They don’t seem to be concerned with Fairchild or Chang, and maybe because those guys went underground a lot better than them. Speaking of Alicia, Craven has finally cottoned on to her workings with the Team 7 members that he’s been after. He’s none too pleased with it, but he’s ready to use this information as he sees fit. Probably for evil stuff, this is Craven we’re talking about!

Continuity Corner:

  • Halfway through this issue, Cray gets a call from that lady doctor who had the hots for him. She tells him once again that he should be looking up her pal Dr. Tsung. The threads for “Fire from Heaven” are starting to pull together tighter!
  • At the end of this issue, we have Slayton telling Cray and Dane that there’s some stuff he has to take care of before he can meet back up with them to stop Craven in “Deathblow” volume one issue #24. This mostly involves ignoring his feelings for Amanda and drinking in “Backlash” issues 15 and 16. But hey, he gets a run in with Cash before the rest of the boys! Bonus!

NEXT: “Backlash” issues 15 & 16 by Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Mel Rubi, John Tighe and Mark Irwin

Backlash issues 12 – 14

This entry covers “Backlash” issues 12 – 14 by Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Chuck Gibson, Al Vey and Mark Pennington.

backlash_012Get this everybody, Amanda Reed is pissed off! Say what? Is she acting sassy, too? See, she is on the hunt for Gilbert Branum. Gilbert is the guy that can set her clear her name so she can officially be a free woman again. Of course, Slayton is going to show up and help her, it’s what friends do. Especially friends who are newly single and happened to have hooked up with other said friend in the past.

Slayton already has the inside scoop on Branum’s whereabouts, because Slayton called his old friend Giavonni at the government agency Paranormal Search & Investigations (P.S.I.) and got the skinny. After getting reacquainted, Reed and Slayton make a stop at CyberJack’s latest safehouse to get ready to capture Branum. Amanda also gets to meet Slayton’s daughter, Jodi, which was new to her (and still pretty new to us all.) The duo then jet off to the Florida Keys on their self-serving mission.

backlash_013So, how can Branum help Slayton and Reed? Well, it turns out that he was a mole for the government in the Cabal. In fact, he helped stage the murder of Professor Hoagland, which Reed was wrongly accused of just so he could rise up the Cabal’s ranks and get further embedded for his spy work. He is the only guy that can say on the record that Reed is innocent, not only that but if Reed is innocent then Slayton breaking her out of Purgatory Max can’t be illegal because she was never supposed to be imprisoned in the first place. Getting close to Branum is the hard part, this is due to the government getting him round the clock protection, you know, due to him being a spy while being in the Cabal. Sure, the Cabal really isn’t a thing anymore (I mean the WildStorm Universe seems to still think it is, but it doesn’t really write to it being truly active anymore) but there’s Pike and the Cabal’s pet Coda still running around, so an order of protection is sensical. Heck, those two fantastical futuristic mercenaries Serge and Mahkinot are helping protect Barnam.

You know what happens. Reed and Slayton come up against Serge and Mahkinot and they all start to fight. It takes some crazy event for them to all see that they are on the same side. In this case, it is space monsters. Specifically a space vampire and a space mummy. I kind of wish this was a joke because of how silly it sounds, but with the drawing talents of Brett Booth, it works. In an instant Mahkinot takes Barnum away to safety, Reed and Serge get stunned by the space vampire Lilitu and Slayton… well… he dead.

backlash_014The action relocates to Arizona where Lilitu has a pyramid built. Slayton’s “dead” body is be monitored by Lilitu’s people, Serge is in her thrall and Reed is some sort of transfixed. This is all due to Reed’s body armor. There was some deal between Lilitu’s space vampire big daddy Calobis and Helspont. Helspont was supposed to cure the space vampires of their space vampirism. Helspont failed, but they apparently built Reed’s suit with DNA that the Cabal had taken from Calobis. Complicated, sure, but this is comics, and this is why we LOVE comics. Well, at least it is why I love comics. Oh, ready to get more complicated? Turns out Calobis is still kinda sorta alive in this suit, but he’s too bonded with Amanda for anyone to remove it and not kill him. Turns out there’s another suit like this out there, and if Lilitu can find it, she can smoosh them together and Calobis will be free of Reed. Neat.

Through Calobis puppeting Reed, a small beat down is happening against Lilitu and her space mummy sidekick. Even Serge is coming in and out of his thrall to through a few punches in the correct direction. CyberJack and Jodi are on their way to save Marc and Amanda when they encounter Mahkinot and decide to team up. Meanwhile, newly re-alive Slayton is playing out an old memory of him being in ancient Japan. It works wonders and he ends up where all the action is going down until he snaps back into the real world. Before he can do anything heroic to save the day, Mahkinot Kool-Aide Man’s it and bursts through the wall. This throws sunlight everywhere and even though she’s a space vampire, Lilitu can’t be in sunlight. Thusly, our heroes manage an escape on Mahkinot’s jet.

Arriving back at CyberJack’s safehouse Jodi notes that a proximity alarm has been tripped. Slayton commands everyone to stay back as he goes to investigate. Who’s waiting for him? Turns out it’s his old pal Cray, fixing himself a bowl full of Cheerios. Hell of a time for a drop in Cray.

Continuity Corner:

  • The end of this story picks right up in “Deathblow” volume one issue 23. We’re presented with only Cray in the kitchen in “Backlash” 14, but both he and Dane will be present in the “Deathblow” issue. It doesn’t seem like more than a few seconds have even passed, that’s why I’m not a fan of the reading order in the back of an issue of “Deathblow” that has Dane return to Wetworks to do a training exercise between the two issues. It just doesn’t work as well as my somewhat wonky way to read issues 14 and 15 of “Wetworks” volume one.
  • Next time we’ll meet Lilitu is in “WildCore” issues 5 and 6, so keep her in the back of your mind.
  • While it is never specified in the comic which government agency Branum was working for, he eventually goes on to work for P.S.I. as does the entire cast of “Backlash” after “Fire from Heaven.”
  • We’re getting our first vision of Slayton’s long life with his memories of old Japan. It is 1642 and he’s in the Edo area of Japan as a ninja, fighting other ninja and samurai because he was betrayed by the current warlord in charge, Lord Tokugawa. Edo is now known as Tokyo, and the year lines up with when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate. Score one for historical accuracy (for once).
  • Serge and Mahkinot have that cool jet, I figure that’s how they got from one paying job in LA in “Grifter” volume one issues 7 through 10, to the Florida Keys in “Backlash” issue 12 so quickly.
  • Something’s been bugging me… how did Serge & Mahkinot get to the mid ’90s? I’ll admit, I may’ve missed it, but they’re from Mars and from the year 2017, right? So how did they get to Earth and in their past? Is it ever explained?

NEXT: “Deathblow” volume one issue 23 by Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner, Jeff Johnson, Scott Kolins and Trevor Scott

One fanboy's chronological journey through the Wildstorm Universe