“Black Ops” issues 1 & 2

This entry covers “Black Ops” issues 1 & 2 by Shon Bury, Dan Norton, and Sandra Hope.

blackops_001I’m just going to get this out of the way, the premise of this book is that there’s an undercover I/O Black Razor team out there doing missions. The only person at I/O that knows about them is John Lynch. Lynch is no longer with I/O so there’s no one to either call them back home or vouch for them as I/O employees. Also, Miles Craven is doing business with the main dude they are going after, so this book is pretty much I/O vs. I/O. Why do I want to get that out of the way? Because, maybe it’s just me, but I kept getting this confused the first few times I read it.

The I/O Black Ops team is who we are concerned with. The team consists of Shire, GQ, Redbird and Jason Takomi with Geek back at the safehouse. Don’t get attached to Takomi, he bites it right away on the big I/O mission against a company called Spectrum. Spectrum is a company that manufactures machines of war and is selling them to the highest bidder. The man that runs Spectrum is Gennady Markov and he’s pissed that all the CEOs of Spectrum have been murdered by this black ops team. He goes running to Miles Craven because Spectrum is I/O. Of course, it is! It is an evil corporation profiting off war, damn straight Craven is involved. Craven makes it a point to let Markov know that whoever did this will be dealt with.

An aside: I’m wondering if Lynch knew that Spectrum was involved with Craven and I/O? Is this one of his last few acts as an I/O employee trying to take down the bad elements of the company he works for? We all knew he was paying a visit to the Gen13 compound because he was wanting to see what they were up to, and that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. If the Black Ops team found out that they were fighting I/O and reported that to Lynch would he have taken flight from I/O with them instead?

So the undercover Black Razor team (our heroes) get a visit from an I/O Black Hammer team. While this is going on, Geek is getting an encrypted file from a mysterious someone inside I/O. The Black Ops team now knows they are on their own as they just fended themselves off from other I/O agents. While jetting away on their plane, the Talon, Geek cracks the code and it is leading them to a former I/O Black Razor leader named Donovan J. Crane, currently residing in Montana.

blackops_002Meanwhile, Miles Crane is telling the new I/O director, Alejandro Rios, that he wants the terrorists who shot up the Spectrum CEOs found and eliminated. Director Rios puts together a small group of I/O talent to talk it over, in attendance is Ben Santini as well as two women, one named Cathrine Kwan and one named Rose. Rios assures the room that he’s dealing with the situation, but if anyone in the room could be of help he’s ready to hear it. Not much happens here other than some I/O director drama.

The Black Ops team are getting a boatload of drama of their own. Namely, one Col.Crane who doesn’t want to be bothered. Things cool down so that they can eventually tell Crane their hard luck story. He kindly decides to train them, because the only reason he took them out so easily is that they’d become too reliant on their I/O gadgets and technology. Speaking of technology, while the rest of the team is training, Geek is building and upgrading a robot that he found in Crane’s backyard.

Just about the time that Geek is showing off his invention, named HERB, he also lets it slip that I/O has located the team and another Black Razor team is coming after them. Brace for a new fight Black Ops! Meanwhile, we see that Gen. Markov’s plan all along was to get enough I/O tech to build his own Black Hammer suit in order to make Russia great again.

Continuity Corner:

  • This book has a tough placement. The first two issues happen before “Deathblow” volume one issue 25 (the death of Miles Craven), and issues 3 through 5 happen after “Fire from Heaven” is over (Jack Lynch is back in La Jolla). When you get down to it though, the time in the WildStorm Universe from “Deathblow” volume one issue 24 through “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 34 is only really a matter of a handful of days, like a week, tops. The problem is, is that there is a whole mess of books between issue 2 and issue 3, and it’s very easy to forget about these characters when you get to see them again.
  • It doesn’t help when there’s a reference on the first page of this book referring to Laslo making a heroin drop off the day before, a nod to “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue #21. Not sure if we are to suppose that Laslo got away as well after the events of that book, or that Laslo is already out on bail after the events of that book and back to his old drug slinging ways. Or if we are to suppose that this book takes place the day after “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue #21. If so, then damn… I think this may be a time where my head canon/no prize explanation of the story makes it fit a little bit in the wider scheme of things.
  • We do have a reference that the last time the Black Ops team got a money drop was four months prior, so it’s been at least that long since Lynch left I/O.
  • Still not sure who that Rose woman was that we see at the I/O meeting. It wasn’t Rose Grady from the Black Razors. This book sure throws a lot of new characters at you, and pretty quickly, too!
  • I’m willing to buy that the time it took Col. Crane to train up the Black Ops team and the time it took I/O to find them that a week or two could’ve passed fitting this all into the timeline pretty well.
  • Lynch has twice left people out in the field. First with the Black Ops team then later with Holden Carver. Get your head together Lynch!

NEXT: “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issues 23 & 24 by Alan Moore, Ryan Benjamin, Jason Johnson, Art Thibert, Terry Austin, Tom McWeeney, Hakjoon Kang, Andy Owens and Harry Thuran

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“WildStorm!” issue 4

This entry covers “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.

WildStorm_004This issue of “WildStorm!” is all about StormWatch. It features three pretty inconsequential stories regarding different StormWatch personnel. One for Sunburst and Nautika, one for Malcolm King and one detailing the time Fahrenheit discovered her powers. These stories get better as the issue progresses.

Sunburst is feeling all down. Poor dude feels useless now that he’s confined to a wheelchair. His wife, Nautika, is trying to cheer him up and let him know that he can still be a useful member of StormWatch. As he is doubting her two fully suited jackasses board his boat and start to attack him and Nautika. After Sunburst gives these two rapscallions what for, he goes to save Nautika and she reveals that she’s fine and points out to him how much fight he is displaying. Turns out the terrorist bros are only Pagan and Undertow, who were asked by Nautika to help her with her little ruse to prove to Sunburst that he still has what it takes.

Malcolm King is being an asshole at a bar. The boy is trying to figure out if he should be more like his brother or more like his father. This is a mental crossroads that Malcolm has and will go back and forth on for his entire history. Today the coin comes up Despot side, so it’s time to be a jerk. In fact, it’s time to mac on a lady at the bar. A lady who is uninterested. In fact, her boyfriends seems more interested in Malcolm than she is, so he starts a brawl with Malcolm. This just leads Malcolm to torch the whole place using his Strafe powers, then steal the guys motorbike. Yup, Malcolm King is certainly being an asshole right now.

In our final story we find Fahrenheit and Cannon sparring in the “totally-not-the-Danger-Room-from-X-Men” as Flashpoint and Christine observe. Flashpoint makes some comment about how Fahrenheit must be a real pyromaniac. Christine let’s Flashpoint know that that’s rather unlikely. Turns out Fahrenheit’s father and sister both died in a fire. It all started when Pops Pennigton fell asleep in his recliner, dropped his lit cigar on a stack of newspapers and then spilled his 151 run across the floor. Suddenly he was on fire freaking on Fahrenheit, then due to the fire raging around them, the floor gave way and her sister fell down. Then Fahrenheit laid down, not thinking she’d make it out, and besides, her only family are now both dead and gone. This is when her powers started to kick in and flames didn’t harm her. She’s lucky nothing else fell on her. Young Fahrenheit made the news and Christine went to go meet her, in the hopes that she’d found another seedling. They met at the hospital and then Christine brought Fahrenheit to StormWatch and she started her illustrious career.

Continuity Corner:

  • This book mainly gets the placement it does because of the first story starring SunBurst and Nautika. After the “Fire from Heaven” crossover both Undertow and Pagan are fired from StormWatch. So, you know, they can’t come to the emotional rescue of SunBurst as members of said team. It is rather odd to see Undertow suddenly up and about, but let’s just say that aboard SkyWatch II they had the tech to make the boy great again!
  • Malcolm’s story could happen any time after he was released in “StormWatch” volume one issue 32 and when The Changers capture him in issue 48.
  • Fahrenheit’s story could have happened sooner than this placement, and might even be better read prior to “StormWatch” volume one issue 20, but only to keep Flashpoint and Cannon’s hairstyles consistent. Also, it can’t have happened any later due to Flashpoint’s status as a team member of “StormWatch” after “Fire from Heaven.” Ultimately, other than art, it has a fine placement here.

NEXT: “Black Ops” issues 1 & 2 by Shon Bury, Dan Norton and Sandra Hope.

WSU vs. The Wild Storm 10

The Wild Storm (2017-) 010-000I know, the main point of this blog is to talk about the continuity of WildStorm Universe as it was from ’92 – ’11… but I really like doing this compare and contrast thing! Admittedly, I have no idea where Ellis is going with this new series, and honestly, I couldn’t be more on board with what he and his team are bringing. I just thought I’d have some fun, point out some of the references/differences from the old WSU to the new book “the Wild Storm” that came out earlier this week.

 

New vs. Old

Weatherman
I think this is the first time that Bendix has been referred to as “Weatherman” in the comics. Still more of a position than a code name, but that was a nice touch.

the Mayor / Jack Hawksmoor
Hawksmoor_WSUITheMayor‘ll admit, I honestly didn’t see this one coming! We’re introduced to a character named the Mayor. He’s barefoot and standing outside a bodega, willing to talk about cities to anyone around. Much like the original Jack Hawksmoor he has ridged feet and wears a suit. Unlike the original Hawksmoor, he has long hair and can get through cities faster. In the old WSU when Hawksmoor didn’t have a Door to call on, he would curl up in a ball, the street would form a ball around him, and swallow him. A few hours later a new ball in a new city would rise out of the street and Hawksmoor would burst out. Diving into a street like it’s a pool seems much easier!

New & What We Don’t Know

What Angie Was Going to Say to Cole
AngiesQuestionCole wants to ask Angie if she can attach bombs to her little flying robot, and if they can use them to hack I.O. Before Cole asks her this, Angie says she has a question for Cole too, but after he mentions Kenesha is involved she clams up. Angie just doesn’t trust aliens.

Reptilians
Twice in this issue, we have references to Reptilian aliens. Shen correctly knows this as the Daemon. When Bendix brings this up it frustrates Lauren. Bendix states that knowledge of alien life is a core part of SkyWatch. Lauren still isn’t buying it. It seems Shen and Bendix are the only non-aliens to believe in the Daemon. Seems as if Jenny is coming around on it, and Lauren still thinks it is the imagination of Bendix’s drug-addled brain.

Answers

Event Shielding
We’ve had event shielding mentioned a few times, but we now finally have a better idea of what is going on.
StaticTimeBitch

Cray’s New Job
Henry Bendix gets a report from Christine Trelane about Michael Cray. He says that Trelane has Cray do jobs similar to what the SkyWatch Ground Division usually does, and that is taking care of superpowered beings. We saw Lucy do this in the first issue of the series, well, we caught her in the aftermath of that.

Cray’s Tumor
Bendix reveals that by looking over Trelane’s reports that he knows that Cray doesn’t have a tumor. He thinks it is something put there by reptilian aliens.

Ivana’s Leaky I.O. Group
Henry bitches to Lauren that he can’t get more info out of Jackie King’s I.O. group. It seems as if everyone knows what is going in Ivana Baiul’s group. We’ve seen her talk very candidly over the phone with people about the goings on of I.O., so this is hardly surprising.

Jenny’s Age
120ishAlright, in this new universe we need to stop seeing Jenny Mei Sparks as a “Jenny” or a Century Baby. She’s 120ish and stated in past issues a Techne, and her “lineage” or “line” includes a woman named Joan. But yeah, she says shes 120yrs old, give or take a few years. We also see that Jenny Mei Sparks isn’t too different to the old Jenny Sparks as they both disappeared into drunkenness for a time and lost track of the world.

Where Jenny Comes From
Swift reveals to Jenny that she comes from a machine developed by an alien. And her purpose is to protect the Earth.

Pris Didn’t Know Things, But She Does Now!
PrisGetsACluePris sees the Mayor dive into the street and it freaks her out, but not for the obvious reasons. We’ve suspected that Pris knows some of the secret stuff that has been going on around her, based on her music videos. We have now found out that Pris didn’t think any of that was “for real for real.” It was just interesting conspiracy theory stuff that she was into, but she didn’t think there were really aliens. But now… now she believes, and now, finding out that what all she’s learned is true, she’s knows there’s a war coming!

DCU Connections

DJ Beast Boy
There is mention of a DJ named DJ Beast Boy. It is unknown if it is this universe’s version of Garfield Logan as a DJ or if it is a DJ that named himself after the character from the “Doom Patrol” TV show we saw advertised on the Galaxy Network in issue 3. Either is plausible for such a passing comment.

One Last Thing
The story is starting to come together. Jenny was created by the Daemon to save the Earth. The Khera are stranded on Earth during a mission that they have not been forthright about. We’ve seen Lucy and the Daemon together, and they’re not exactly on good terms. Did the Daemon set up the Techne machine to create beings to save the Earth from Khera invasion? Is Jenny predisposed to fight against our fledgling WildCATs team? Is this going to be the line drawn in the sand that will move Angie from Jacob’s team to one with Shen and Jenny, her dislike of aliens? When will the Mayor meet up with those women? Will Jackie King and Christine Trelane meet up, fall in love and go to work for Shen & Jenny, pooling their secret knowledge into this makeshift Authority? Will Lucy and Pris ever meet up with and join Jacob’s team? I’m kind of super excited!

More issue comparisons of the old WildStorm Universe to “The Wild Storm.”

WSU vs. Michael Cray 3

The Wild Storm - Michael Cray (2017-) 003-000I know, the main point of this blog is to talk about the continuity of WildStorm Universe as it was from ’92 – ’11… but I really like doing this compare and contrast thing, and frankly, looking at the view numbers, you readers do too! Admittedly, I have no idea where Hill, Harris, and Ellis are going with this new series, and honestly, I couldn’t be more on board with what this team is bringing. I just thought I’d have some fun, point out some of the references/differences from the old WSU to the new book “Michael Cray” that came out last week.

 

New vs. Old

Cray’s Battle Souvenirs
greenprizecrayisahalfdaemonitelordIn this issue, we see that Michael Cray keeps a trophy shelf of sorts. It looks like it is mainly from folks that he has battled before. The old WSU version of Cray wasn’t too big on collecting prizes from fights fought, but he did once. Quite famously too! A little something that he picked up in the wilds of Nicaragua that became important in the “WildStorm Rising” crossover.

Answers

Dr. Shahi / Cray’s Powers
Getting to know a bit more about Dr. Shahi as well as Cray’s powers in a single scene. He’s trying to manifest his explosions by thinking of Oliver Queen from the last issue. It isn’t working. Then he starts to think about hooking up with Dr. Shahi and boom goes the dynamite. This tells us that there must be some kind of emotional component and maybe on of proximity? Also, Dr. Shahi gets a recording of what Cray was thinking of… when she sees it is her she smiles. Not sure if it’s a sinister smile or a sincere one. We’re keeping an eye on her.

Michael’s Relationship with His Father
We have another scene of Michael and his dad and his dad offering him advice. The old WSU version of Cray didn’t have as much time with his dad, so it is nice to see them interact as full grown adults. This scene is my favorite in this issue, and I’d add a panel, but you should really just pick up the book and read it.

DCU Connections

Barry Allen / the Flash
itsaspeedsuitdeanOk, gone is the bright red suit, replaced with something more akin to a scuba diving get up. Not only that, but this version of Barry takes drugs along with using the tech of his suit to achieve super speeds. Also, this version of Barry seems to have a split personality and is legit crazy from those drugs he’s taking.

Boston / Central City
We saw this in the last issues too, but it is worth pointing out, “Michael Cray” takes place in “the real world” as opposed to one with fictional DCU cities. While San Fransisco is very similar to Star City, Central City is supposed to be a Midwestern town, not so much Boston. Not that it matters, just something worth pointing out.

One Last Thing

lootcloset
Ok yeah, the trophy case! Am I the only one having trouble figuring out all those items? We have the obvious green arrow from Oliver Queen, and I figure that’s a boomerang from Captain Boomerang and that the noose and bag-head mask are from a Scarecrow-like character (that or Michael Cray found a way to kill this universe’s version of Astro City’s Hangman.) The wristbands remind me of those of the Wonder Woman analogue from “Planetary” issue 10, and finally, I’d like to think that mechanical foot used to belong to Marc Slayton. I’m 100% sure that some of my guesses are wrong, but that’s what makes it fun. Also, I have no clue about the gun, the eye, the belt or the mechanical bit in the upper left. The blade could be a coda blade maybe? And both masks look almost too familiar, but I’m not placing them! See, fun!

Other comparisons of the old WildStorm Universe to the new one found in “The Wild Storm” & “Michael Cray.”

“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.

“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

One fanboy's chronological journey through the Wildstorm Universe