Category Archives: I.O.

“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.

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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!

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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

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“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 28 & 29

This entry covers “StormWatch” volume one issues 28 and 29 by Jeff Mariotte, Ron Lim, and Robert Jones, and of course the “Fuji” backup story from issue 29 by Barbara Kesel, Mike S. Miller, and Randy Elliot.

StormWatch_v1_028What we have here is two really interesting issues of “StormWatch.” To be honest, it really feels like they’re trying to reboot the series with both a new StormWatch team and a militaristic team of non-superpowered people known as StormForce. It’s an odd road to go down, throwing a lot of new characters at the readers once the last big story arc ended and we finally got Jackson King back.

This story revolves around the Dr. Martin Krug. He’s not only cooking up horrible viruses, but he’s also creating superpowered beings, as well as hiring them to cause international incidents that may tip the whole world towards war. Henry Bendix sends StormForce to find Krug’s lab to find his latest virus so that StormWatch and nutralize it as well as create vaccines for it. Bendix sends the new StormWatch team to find a man who set off a bomb in Berlin, who somehow survived that blast. That man is called LittleJohn, and he works for Krug. LittleJohn also has superpowered evil asshole friends named Tripwire, Vise and Jackrabbit who are ready to defend both him and Krug from nosy U.N. strikeforce types.

The new StormWatch team consisting of Swift (fast flying bird-gal), Flint (skin hard as a rock and muscles to match), Comanche (shapeshifter) and Blademaster (uh… a master of blades) go to confront LittleJohn and pals, while a photo-journalist named Nick Chaplin is hired to follow and snap pics of their first adventures. Seems that StormWatch and the U.N. are out for a little good PR after Despot, Spartan and Jackson did a number on NYC a few weeks back.

During the fight in an isolated forest in Germany, Chaplin gets bored and starts to wander. I can see why, seeing a bunch of characters fight that I have zero investment in is kinda boring. In his wandering, he comes across a building. He first thought is to find a way on top of it to get some good distance shots of the super-fight, but once he steps inside he sees that this old farmhouse isn’t exactly what it seems to be. You guessed it, it is the lab of Dr. Krug and he has a lot of failed experiments lying around. Not just that, but he’s got a couple frat guys from I/O telling Chaplin all about how Krug has been helping I/O work on creating superpowered beings for them. Craven, will you stop at nothing to get your own supergroup?

StormWatch_v1_029Eventually, a fight breaks out with Krug and the I/O goons versus Chaplin. For some dumbass reason, Chaplin picks up a beaker full of fluid and threatens to toss it in Krug’s eyes. Krug basically shrugs his shoulders and says “No, you.” and shoots the beaker causing all the liquid to fly into Chaplin’s eyes. The now “blind” Chaplin now has light bending powers and can still kinda see, just not like normal. He’s basically a mash-up of Daredevil and Dazler. He takes out the I/O goons, Dr. Krug and the four jerks that were kicking the ass of the new StormWatch team. He’s given the name Prism and joins StormWatch.

Meanwhile, StormForce does their job, gets the virus sample, captures all the mad scientists for interrogation and destroys the compound killing off all the remaining virus samples. Done so easily. That’s what you get when you send in professionals, no one needs to be bailed out by an accidentally superpowered photo-journalist.

In the backup story, we see Fuji up on the SkyWatch II as it is being built. He encounters a man going by the name or title Black Knight who is either trying to break into SkyWatch II or attach some fancy machinery to the hull. Fuji or course stops him and turns him over to the StormForce personnel on the satellite. Then he looks towards the Earth, recalling why it is all worth fighting for and stating that Fuji’s strength will always be a part of StormWatch.

Continuity Corner:

  • I have to say, not a lot of this new StormWatch team had sticking power outside of Swift and Flint. And even with Flint, she kind of disappeared after “StormWatch” volume two ended until “StormWatch : Team Achilles” started several years later.
  • We do see Blademaster, Comanche, and Prism all get fired in “StormWatch” volume one issue 28, and that’s the last we see of Comanche but the other two do pop up again.
  • Blademaster went deep into comic book limbo before coming back only to die in the first issue of “StormWatch : PHD.” Eventually, his title and blades were taken up by a young woman who would work along with the old StormWatch team in “StormWatch : PHD” and “The Authority : Prime.”
  • The next time we see Prism he’s become a drunk hobo on the streets of Los Angeles in “Hazard” issue 7.
  • StormForce also seemed to have continued on in some fashion but unseen to us comic readers, as they also figure into Blademasters death in “StormWatch : PHD” issue 1. Although this could be a consequence of the slightly altered WildStorm Universe after the end of “Caption Atom : Armageddon.”
  • Seeing as how the name of the operative that Fuji stops is “Black Knight” I think that he might have been an I/O employee. What with their Black Razors, Black Hammers and such. I/O spying on StormWatch, I mean, it’s a thing, it’s why Craven wanted Backlash as a part of StormWatch, makes sense that now that he’s gone and a new satellite is being built that Craven would want to know what’s going on up there still.

NEXT: “Union” volume two issues 7 – 9 and “Union : Final Vengeance” issue 1 by Mike Heisler, Pop Mahn, Allen Im, Carlos Mota, Jim Lee, Travis Charest, Whilce Portacio, Scott Clark, Chuck Gibson, John Lowe, Gary Martin, Mark Pennington, John Tighe, Mark Irwin, Rene Micheletti and Sal Regla.

 

“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 20 – 21

This entry covers “Deathblow” volume one issues 20 and 21 by Brandon Choi, Trevor Scott, and Tom Joyner.

Deathblow v1 020Last we saw John Lynch he was being captured by a bunch of Black Hammers in Japan. Now we find out where he’s been taken. It’s a secret I/O base in San Diego where he’s being tortured by LeGauche. LeGauche is going to take his Gen-Factor. Yup, that can be taken right out of someone. Don’t you mind how! Craven even dipped in to give Lynch some shit. Craven wants all the Gen-Factor and is mightily pissed that Ivana took off with a bunch of frozen Gen-Factor pops and Lynch doesn’t know where the rest of the Gen13 kids are. Still, some Gen-Factor from a for realzie Team 7 member is more than good, and LeGuache extracts it.

Meanwhile, coincidently, Cray is thinking of Lynch. After the quick save he had in Gamorra from a bunch of Black Razors, Cray is pretty surprised to find Lynch not there. Colby informs him that Lynch no longer works for I/O which confuses Cray even further. You know things are bad when John “Company Man” Lynch defects from I/O! Cray explains to Colby about some of the stuff he saw on Gamorra, all the information about Project Genesis and Team 7 that Kaizen Gamorra had laying around. Cray tells Colby that he needs some help finding Lynch, but says he can put him in touch with someone who can.

The someone that can help Cray out is none other than Alicia Turner. She got a call from Colby and Cray, found out where to find Lynch and went to check it out before Cray joins her. Although she worries that this is either a trap or a means to draw out Lynch, she heads inside the La Jolla estate. Just about know the Gen13 kids finally show up after a long flight from Rome, and they are not happy to see a stranger in their home. Predictably, a fight breaks out between the kids and Alicia. It gets even worse once Cray is on the scene! Before too much damage can happen, Anna comes home from grocery shopping and is curious why the Gen13 kids are beating up on friends of Mr. Lynch.

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So yeah, time for some explanations! Cray learns that these kids are all the children of Team 7 members. Alicia discovers the location of Lynch. They learn about Operation Rebirth and that Kaizen Gamorra is mixed up in it, and that LeGauche is the man running the operation. And by “running the operation” I mean hunting down Team 7 members for their Gen-Factors at the behest of Miles Craven.

Deathblow v1 021On their way to rescue Lynch, Cray and Grunge come to a bit of a head. Grunge has been giving Cray a tough time ever since he showed up, but as soon as Cray mentions Grunge’s father things change. Grunge wants to know all about his Pops. It’s kind of sweet in a really sad way. Dude is just curious about his roots.

On to the actual rescue… it goes pear-shaped pretty fast with everyone but Cray and Grunge getting captured pretty quickly. Lucky for everyone that even a diminished John Lynch is still the definition of bad ass because he wipes the floor with all the I/O goons coming at him with what’s left of his Gen-Factor. He is even trying to use the Gen-Factor to try and locate the kids to save them. This isn’t as smooth as one would hope because Lynch’s Gen-Factor bugs out like we’ve seen before. This time Cray pops in to calm Lynch down and get a handle back on things.

LynchFactorOverdrive

Lynch, Cray, and Grunge regroup and put the hurt on LeGauche and the rest of Craven’s lackeys while saving all their captured friends. LeGauche gets away, and our heroes manage to get the hell away from the I/O base before backup arrives. Cray says he’s going to do what he can to prevent the other Team 7 members from having to deal with LeGauche alone like Lynch did. Lynch promises Cray that he’ll look through all the Project Genesis data he has to try and find out the latest scheme that Craven is up to. As Cray leaves Lynch and the kids he takes a page from their book and decides to stop Craven he needs to get Team 7 to regroup and work together again, like the brothers they are.

Continuity Corner:

  • How did Alicia know where to possibly find Lynch in La Jolla? I assume this is from the information that Trance gave to Craven back in “Deathblow” volume one issue 17.
  • Oddly enough, Cray knows who LeGauche is, but doesn’t know him well enough to realize that he was fighting him in “Deathblow” volume one issue 15. He still thinks LeGauche is locked up until Alicia tells him otherwise in issue 20.
  • Cray makes the same mistake I always used to make, assuming that the Gen13 kids are the children of Team 7 because Team 7 were the only Gen12s. Nope! LeGauche and his team of bastards (which we’ll start meeting soon) are all Gen12s, too! It’s just a coincidence that the Gen13 kids all have Team 7 poppas. The DV8 team seems a bit more realistic with only a handful of them having Team 7 dads.

NEXT: “Wetworks” volume 1 issues 12 – 15 by Francis Takenaga, While Portacio, Jonathan Peterson, John Ruzum, Tom Raney, Terry Shoemaker, Ryan Odagawa, Roy Martinez, Rick Bryant, Sal Regla, JD, Brad Vancata, John Nyberg, Gerry Alanguilan, Danny Bulanadi, Randy Elliott and Jeff Whiting

“Gen13 : Ordinary Heroes” issues 1 & 2

This entry covers “Gen13 : Ordinary Heroes” issues 1 and 2 by Adam Hughes and Mark Farmer.

Gen13_Ordinary_1This story starts off with Caitlin finally picking up her stuff that she left at Princeton, from before she going to the Gen13 Program. She runs into the boyfriend of her former roommate, and he doesn’t really recognize tall, buff, confident Caitlin at all. She manages to shame him in the most hilarious way as she boards an airship meeting back up with the rest of the Gen13 crew. Something’s off and Lynch is acting like a dick, well more than usual anyway.

Rainmaker fills Caitlin in on what happened while she was away as the team is flying into action. See, Lynch gets a call, and this call leaves Lynch frightened. He tells the kids to suit up, something very bad has happened and he needs to make sure it is set right. Lynch is taking this job as personally as he is angry.

I/O’s Black Hammers are all about this town and the blast the Gen13 aircraft out of the sky. Roxy and Bobby save Grunge and Rainmaker while Caitlin and Lynch are left to fend for themselves. Caitlin survives the long fall, and just as she’s thinking that good luck is shining upon her, she encounters a Black Hammer. There isn’t too much time to fight as soon enough the real threat rears its… head?

It’s a giant silly putty monster that is devouring everything in its path! Even the Black Hammer that Caitlin was just in battle with. The other kids manage to save Caitlin while they assess the situation. They all decide that they need to find Lynch and get the bottom of this all. Oh, and Rebecca Hawkins of the Black Hammers shows up and is all “Hey, help me find Lynch so we can stop this, mmm-kay?” I mean she’s not wrong, but she’s also holding back a lot of information she knows from the kids, because, you know, I/O and all that.

They find Lynch, broken ankle and all, and he fills them in on the history of the flesh colored blob monster. See, it is the child of Gen12s that I/O captured. Why? Well, come on, this is I/O and a super powered being, of course Craven wants to get his filthy hands all over it! It was just a baby and they all did such horrible experiments on it.

Gen13_Ordinary_2As the kids go to do battle with the putty monster, Grunge gets a look in his eye and dives into monster voluntarily. This catches everybody off guard and they all watch in horror as the goop recedes to leave a dead looking Grunge laying on the pavement. But hey, guess what? He’s not dead! Woohoo! You see, old Eddie did some thinking, and figured out that this poor little dude didn’t know anything save for being poked and prodded and experimented on. Hell on Earth since birth. Grunge figured that if he merges with the creature and shows him nothing but love and happiness it could change the crazy puddle’s mind. Yes, Grunge beat the gum creature with the power of positivism and friendship. It’s the kind of plan that only Grunge could have and only Grunge would enact. I think there’s a real reason why he didn’t run it past the team, none of them would’ve let him try it.

What is left of the goopy-goo-killy-poo is what looks like a baby with electrodes all over its body. The Gen13 kids consider it as one of their own because much like them, they are all children of Gen12 parents. Caitlin alone buries the poor little guy in a secret location, they all thought it best if hardly anyone knew where it was, as some crazy I/O spook would dig it up if it was more public for “research” and such. While they did the right thing and saved the city, Caitlin can’t help but feel bittersweet at the loss of life that was caused by and to the “monster” she was just fighting hours ago.

Continuity Corner:

  • Look, it’s Rebecca Hawkins back from “Gen13” volume one issue 5! Never thought I’d see her again!
  • Lil Angry Slime Baby was held on I/O’s level 9, with all the other I/O misfits.
  • In this story we start seeing Caitlin doubt the motivations and trustworthyness of Lynch. When we start “Gen13” volume two issue 3 we see Caitlin very much still in the mindset of doubt. I see “Ordinary Heroes” leading to that paranoia in issue 3 quite seamlessly, one of the reasons why I place this mini-series here.
  • Because Caitlin and the kids are based in La Jolla we know this issue has to take place after “Gen13” issue 0.
  • Honestly, I just want to see Gen13 going on more adventures before the next big crossover. From volume two issue 3, until “Fire from Heaven” has either the kids separated from Lynch or is related to the Team 7 drama that kicks off “Fire from Heaven” so there’s no time for this book much later.
  • Lynch doesn’t seem to know that Bobby is his son yet, and vice-versa, so that puts it firmly before “Fire From Heaven” (issues 10 & 11 of volume two) as well.
  • Oh, and Grunge still has his long hair, so it had to happen before “Gen13” volume two issue 8.

NEXT: “Wetworks” Vol. 1 issues 9 – 11 by Whilce Portacio, Francis Takenaga, Steven Grant, Dan Norton, Mark Pacella, Tom Raney, Mike S. Miller, Dan Panosian, Sal Regla, Scott Williams and Sandra Hope

“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 17 – 19

this entry covers issues 17 through 19 of “Deathblow” volume 1.

Deathblow_Vol_1_17Reporter Karl Woodbern has info on Kaizen Gamorra. It’s information that Kaizen does not want to get out, in fact, the Gamoran leader wants him dead. Who’s a hotshot reporter supposed to turn to for protection? Why Rayna Masters of course! Not that Woodbern wants Rayna to protect him, or even her main dude the Sergeant-Major. Nope, Woodbern wants the protection of Micheal Cray more than anything! Here’s the kicker, Cray and Woodbern have a past and in the past Woodbern’s actions resulted in the death of one of Cray’s soldiers. Thusly, Cray hates Woodbern and does not want to work for him. Woodbern gets Cray to come around once Woodbern mentions that the information he has concerns Cray and is tied into files about Project Genesis.

Alright, then we get into some business with Woodbern needing to get his computer disk of information, but it’s all kind of too much. I mean there’s a strip joint and a stripper involved after all. And then Kaizen’s goons show up to shoot up the joint and kidnap Woodbern. While the goons get away Frank Colby and the Black Razor’s show up to spoil the fun. Rayna manages to intimidate Cobly into leaving them all alone, and the stripper hands off Woodbern’s info disk to Cray. Cray hits up his information buddy Henri Rothchild for help reading the disk, and finds more information on it than Woodbern let on! Not just information on Project Genesis but also about an organ harvesting program, Gabriel Newman and Cray’s Pops! Uh oh! Time to high-tail it to Gamorra!

Deathblow_Vol_1_18Rayna and the Sergeant-Major get into Gamorra by plane as Cray parachutes in, because that guy is bad ass always takes the hard road. Rayna pretty quickly gets taken in by more of Kaizen’s goons. And while the Sergeant-Major thinks he’s hot on the tail of these kidnappers, it turns out he’s been faked out too. Time to break into Kaizen’s compound. Not that he’s alone in that action.

As Cray descends down into the ocean to then swim to Gamorra after the skydiving (see, dude’s bad ass!) he recounts a previous mission in Gamorra where he met up with a freedom fighter named Mai-Li and took on a round of Hunter-Killers. Wouldn’t you know it that twenty years later, Cray’s contact for the compound infiltration happens to be Mai-Li! And damn if they don’t have to hunt down some more Hunter-Killers! While breaking in Cray and Mai-Li come across the Sergeant-Major. Ou boy Kaizen, trouble is headed your way!deathblow_18_trio

deathblow_v1_19So the Sergeant-Major, Mai-Li and Cray are hacking into Kaizen’s system to try and find exactly where Woodbern and Rayna are being held. First hurdle, they’re not together. Second hurdle, they’ve been noticed and the chief of security is throwing his big guns at the three of them. The Minotaur, Borgia, and Gila have been dispatched. They are the toughest of the tough, and come with their own Hunter-Killer army!

While things are looking dire for all our heroes, at least the Sergeant-Major has gotten Woodbern, and they’ve all converged on where Rayna is being held, the problem is the same as it has ever been. Mainly these: Kaizen, Kaizen’s goons. After the Minotaur kills Mai-Li, who was sacrificing her life for Crays, Colby and the Black Razors show up again. Seems as if they were sent by Craven, who was instructed to save Rayna and her employees by the First Lady of the United States. Rayna and the First Lady were old college pals, and Rayna used her influence to help wrap the mission. Though it could’ve gone sideways at any point, everyone is really lucky that Colby can get a job done. Too bad Woodbern is so brain damaged from his torture during his kidnapping that he can’t remember a bit of the information he wanted to protect.

Continuity Corner:

  • While it doesn’t weigh on our main character much in this story, we see Craven getting in trouble with Senator Killory about Project Genesis being reactivated. We’ll see more of Senator Killory later in the pages of “DV8.”
  • deathblow_17_tranceWe clearly see that Trance is in the shadows of Craven’s office. Posed much like when we saw him during “Gen13” Vol. 2 issue 2. And just like in that appearance he’s willing to give out information on the whereabouts of John Lynch. This time he’s seeking information about Kaizen Gamorra from Craven, where as before he was asking for information on Craven from Defile. Because he is in silhouette I’ve never really put together it was Trance before, but yeah, it’s totally Trance and I’m totally dense.
  • We’ve had a few references to some big operation that went down in Gamorra years back in a few past issues and here we have some flashbacks to it. Cray is with his Seal Team 6 team, so Tom Archer is accounted for, but I don’t see Armand Wearing at all! Maybe he was one of the kidnapped scientists?
  • No word if Mai-Li Tsung is related to the Tsung family we meet later on during “Fire from Heaven” but I’m going with a pretty strong “maybe” and am thinking it probably goes back a few generations. Third or fourth cousins at best for Mai-Li and the Doc.
  • deathblow_19_cybernaryWe have a small cameo by Cybernary in this run. While it was originally intended that when the “Deathblow/Cybernary” flip-book was coming out, they were occurring at the same time (this was in the letter pages) we now see that that cannot be the case. Those issues open with a Cybernary free of her creators running around before being captured by other curious parties and having her origin recounted. It’s not until her proper series begins that we even see the conclusion of her story concerning her escape from her creators. She recounts the escape story as happening in the not too recent past, which means for best reading, we should still put her books off a bit more to build some time between this appearance and the next. But how cool was it to see her and Cray in the same book again?
  • This story line starts laying out a lot of what is to come in the WildStorm Universe. We learn about Kaizen and Craven working together. We also see that they’re working on a project concerning Gen-Actives. And we have Craven laying out his plan to hunt down the Team 7 members as well. Not to mention the first hint of what happened to Cray’s parents. We even have a doctor examine Cray and then start to refer him to genetics expert Dr. Tsung! There’s a lot of set up that slowly starts to pay off in the pages of “Deathblow,” “Gen13,” and the “Fire from Heaven” crossover.

NEXT:  The “Cybernary” stories from “Deathblow/Cybernary” volume one issues 1 through 3, the “Cybernary” story from “Deathblow” volume one issue 4 and “Cybernary” volume one issue 1 by Brandon Choi, Jim Lee, Steve Gerber, Nick Manabat, Jeff Rebner and Richard Friend.

“Grifter” Vol. 1 issues 2 – 6

this entry cover issues 2 through 6 of the first volume of “Grifter”

Grifter_v1_002The story picks up in Nicaragua, right in the aftermath of the “WildStorm Rising” cross-over. StormWatch is headed back to SkyWatch, supposedly with Slayton, and Wetworks is headed back to the States, supposedly with Cray. Dane not only offers Cole a ride home with him but also offers him a position on his team. Not being one for charity Cole turns him down. Dane forces some cash on Cole so that he can at least get home, and Cole considers it a loan.

It doesn’t take too long for Cole to find trouble in a small Nicaraguan town. This trouble is named Luiz Pacheco, and he calls a bunch of armor-suited hooligans on Cole. Pacheco is a member of the Nicaraguan secret police, and he’s calling in these hooligans for Neo who studies and tries to replicate fancy pants weaponry. The armor suits are evidence of Neo’s work, they’re close, but not quite. Turns out that Neo has had his eyes on Cole’s VADs and needs them stolen so he can study them. Neo totally gets away with the VADs after Cole is knocked out by previously mentioned hooligans.

Even though Cole was knocked down and couldn’t move while his VADs were being stolen, he could still hear, so he knows enough to follow Neo to Taipei, Taiwan. He is still recovering from the beating he took during “WildStorm Rising” as well as from Neo’s hooligan force. After passing out on the plane ride, he is woken up and proceeds to head to an old girlfriend’s place. Her name is Yim, an ex of Cole’s and boy is she a sass machine! She gives him a hard time, but ultimately she takes care of him… in more ways that one. Oh my!

After a rest, Cole steps out while Yim naps and is on the look out for Neo. Neo, being a very subtle kind of chap has a building with his name plastered all over it. While Cole is checking out the place from a nearby tea house he is stopped by Zaijian. Zaijian turns out to be Yim’s current boyfriend, and he saw Cole leave her place! Uh oh! Cole talks his way out of getting a beatdown (or worse) from Zaijian and then proceeds to break into Neo’s warehouse. Cole manages to find his VADs and encounter Koko, the fattest cat in the WildStorm Universe. As he is taking his VADs back an alarm goes off, while he’s searching for a place to hide, he spies a warhead trigger. Cole’s got a bad feeling about what Neo’s been up to.

So Neo is making a warhead trigger for an evil jack-wagon named Diabolik. Diabolik wants to blow up all of Japan because he had a bad time with a Japanese doctor. Alright, to be fair to Diabolik, this Japanese doctor did make him the abomination of a man he is today. Sure, he can now live on land as well as water, but the cost was too damn high in the end. So Diabolik, in a pretty much racist fashion, decides all of the Japanese are evil and must be blowed up. So Diabolik shows up at Neo’s warehouse, but before Diabolik can get away that warhead trigger from Neo, Cole makes his presence known. Diabolik not sure what to do starts using his crazy ass weaponry and hits some barrels full of explosive material, bringing the whole building down on himself. Also, Cole was on the balcony at this time, so you know, he gets hurt from a fall due to the explosion but doesn’t get a ton of rubble landing on him.

Zaijian, ever the nice guy, doubles back to save Cole. Not because he’s talked with Yim, but because he heard the explosion and just knew Cole was involved. Zaijian seems like a pretty stand up guy in the end. Also, it turns out he’s totally a secret agent too! He’s a member of the Temple of Confucius and they’ve been after Diabolik for awhile. The Temple decides to hire Cole as a contractor to help Zaijian take down Diabolik once and for all because of course Diabolik survived the explosion. Cole has a plan and a good idea what Diabolik is up to. He needs to get that trigger back to where ever the warhead and missile are located.

Cole has the idea that the rest of Diabolik’s plan does not take place in Taipei, and surmises that Diabolik will be heading off to wherever the show is supposed to go down via a helicopter. There only so many buildings that have a helipad in Taipei, so that’s where Cole sets up his sting operation. It’s at the Sun and Moon Bank and while chasing down Diabolik a woman gets caught in the crossfire and is injured. As Diabolik is getting away, the Temple of Confucius are on him. Turns out that the helicopter was all part of the plan and they can use it to track Diabolik. Cole tells Zaijian to use his paycheck to make sure that the woman who got injured is cared for, then he and Zaijian take off in jet pack/glider thingies and land on the island Diabolik has set up for his missile launch.

So, Diabolik is ready to pound Japan with a gigantor missile. On this island is an old friend of Diabolik’s named Dr. Denning. It looks like Dr. Denning is being held captive by Diabolik. Not so, the good doctor is already dead. Diabolik just kept Denning around because he technically owned the island, and Big D thought that Denning actually understood his hatred of the Japanese. Cole and Diabolik spar and Cole eventually gets the upper hand. He also figures out where the missile is so that Zaijian’s T. of C. buddies can take care of it. With the battle all but over, and the island starting to blow up for… reasons… Zaijian and Cole find only one of the jet pack/glider things in working order. Cole is ready to let Zaijian have it when Zaijian grabs Cole’s arms and flies off the island with him. Eventually, the weight is too much and with the explosions over Cole tells Zaijian to drop him and come back later with help. Zaijian complies, and drops Cole into the ocean with the warning “Watch out for the sharks.”

Grifter_v1_005Cole ends up being caught in a Japan tuna fishing boat net. The Japanese sailors get him back to Japan and the first place Cole heads is the Tokyo I/O office. He confronts the head of the office, a man by the name of Crenshaw, and asks for help getting a passport. This being I/O, there’s a string attached to everything. Crenshaw wants Cole to help in getting back Regiment, a Team 1 member that was sold to the Japanese for research and assumed dead. Turns out, he just woke up and is on a Hulk-like rampage. Cole says no dice, and storms out. He’s never working for I/O again. He then heads to a bathhouse and massage parlor. While taking his much-needed shower (he smelled like ocean water and fish) Regiment tears down the wall screaming for Craven. Like it or not, Cole is now doing a job for I/O.

Cole goes about kicking Regiment’s ass as well as he can. He gets the promise from Crenshaw that he’ll get everything he needs to get back to the U.S. as well as some background information on Regiment. Cole soon realizes how outmatched he is, and requests some bigger, badder weapons to out the big boy to sleep. While I/O is coming up with that tech, Zaijian shows up to help Cole. Apparently, the Temple of Confucius was called in to aid Cole until that requested VAD cannon could be delivered. VAD cannon in hand, Cole knocks Regiment out and takes his passport and cash with him as he heads back to Taipei with Zaijian. What’s Cole up to? Well, he wants to see the young woman that got injured during his fight with Diabolik at the Sun and Moon Bank.

Continuity Corner :

  • I don’t think Cole ever paid Dane back for that wad of cash.
  • We finally see the fate of Regiment after the disastrous Team 1 mission. He rode that missile towards New York City but was able to steer it off course to upstate New York. Not only that, he absorbed all the radiation. His passed out irradiated body was then sold to Dr. Tei in Japan, which is where he resided until I/O decided they wanted him back and he subsequently woke up and was brought back into the WSU narrative.

NEXT: “Union” Vol. 2 issues 5 & 6 by Mike Heisler, Pop Mhan, and Chuck Gibson

“WildStorm!” issues 1 – 3

this entry covers issues 1 through 3 of “WildStorm!” an anthology of short stories, some which were longer stories divided up between issues 

I’m just gonna start off this entry by letting you all know that I’m just going to break it up into the individual stories. I’m not sure if there is very much to tell as some of these stories are rather short. When it comes to short story collections, they sometimes work better if you divide all the stories up so that they can occur better with their respective titles, but in this case, the first three issues work pretty great all together like this for their respective titles.

In the Gen13 story, “Now Departing from Gate 37” we have Roxy and Grunge shipping a package for Lynch at the San Diego airport. While on this chore they witness two shady individuals try to kidnap a child. Of course, they save the kid, by crashing a helicopter, and also find out that the would-be kidnappers are from I/O! They figure the boy must be gen-active and that’s why I/O was after him. Roxy and Grunge tell the family, due to no one seeing them cause the helicopter crash, a freaking helicopter crash, it would seem that anyone from I/O would assume that the boy died in the crash along with the agents. Since the family is going to Chile, Grunge just tells them to stay there and hide, no one knows the boy survived, so if you keep a low profile you shouldn’t be bothered again by any secret government kidnappers.

The “Deathblow” story isn’t so much a story of Michael Cray, so much as it is something that happens while Cray is around. This seriously could’ve happened to any of the WildStorm heroes, but it happens to befall Cray. So there Cray is, stuck in traffic and there’s a crazy guy yelling in a Celtic language who rode a stolen horse over Cray’s car and busted the windshield. I’m not being rude, the dude is legitimately crazy. Of course, Cray has no idea of this until after he’s done kicking this dude’s ass and the guy’s doctor fills him in. Not that Cray seems to care, he just wants to know who to bill for his car repair. To be honest, this doesn’t really feel much like Cray at all. It feels a lot more like Brock Sampson, to tell the truth.

In the “Spartan” story we find the titular Spartan scoping out a factory that’s producing Hunter-Killers. In fact, they’re new improved Hunter-Killers! Also, Spartan’s not the only one, Ben Santini and the Black Razors are there too. No one is really happy about this “team-up” to stop a bigger bad and spend more time bickering amongst themselves rather than investigate the factory. Worse comes to worse and Santini is knocked out and the Razors aren’t sure who to follow. First, they follow Fleming, until they all decide he’s a dink and they start taking orders from Spartan. During all of this Spartan is having a crisis of conscious as to why anyone would follow him, a robo-man. In the end, the Hunter-Killers are stopped, the factory is in ruins, Santini is fine and Spartan learns a valuable lesson about himself and teamwork. Gag.

In “Taboo” we finally learn how Amanda Reed ran afoul of the Cabal and ended up in Purgatory Max. I’ll admit I had my doubts about this tale, but the creative team pulled it off fine. See, the Cabal was trying to trick Amanda into killing the doctor that first bonded her symbiote suit to her. Amanda, didn’t want to, she fled, and Pike finished the job. Once the doctor was found dead, the authorities reviewed the security footage from the doctor’s office and found Amanda all over them. They hunted her down, captured her, had her stand trial. She was found guilty and then sentenced to Purgatory Max for life. Well at least up until Slayton came to break her out.

Finally, we get Union starring in “My Enemy, My Monkey” a short little yarn that is… well, it’s about the dumbest story in these books. Union sees a giant cyborg gorilla being ridden by some kind of samurai lizard man in the middle of New York City. Union dives in to stop this crazy occurrence, only to find out he’s on the set of a movie. How hilarious. For me, it doesn’t track, simply for how damn long the fight goes on before the director yells “Cut!” Also, throughout the whole story Union is still treating the man in the gorilla suit as if he is an actual gorilla, and Union has never seemed that dense or ignorant before. Hell, he just saw the lizard samurai take off his mask, he should’ve put two and two together like we’ve seen him do before! Also, there’s a crazy fan that wants revenge on the actor playing the lizard samurai, revenge by shooting, and Union stops him because, hell, he’s there. Man, this is dumb. I’d almost rather see this lizard samurai/cyborg gorilla movie!

Continuity Corner :

  • I’m basing the Gen13 story placement off of that fact that it was reprinted in the “Backlist” trade along with other early adventures of the team. In that book, it occurs between issue 0 and issue 1 of volume 2. From a storytelling perspective, you need something in between those issues to justify the time jump that occurs between issues, most noticeably seen with Rainmakers hair length. “Now Departing from Gate 37” is just another one of the things they did in the period. With us reading this as part of the WildStorm Universe, on the whole, we have other titles showing us time progression to account for that.  So, yeah, we’re keeping it in the early days where it is needed, but we are having a different placement than if we were reading it as just a perfect progression for “Gen13”
  • For the placement of “Deathblow,” I think this is the time that Cray spent in New York telling Rayna about the Los Angeles job, in “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 13 and 14. It also explains why he’s so close to Virgina before we see him in “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 16.
  • From the way that Spartan talking about Marlowe, it’s pretty clear that the little guy is still around, so it has to take place before “WildStorm Rising.” Also, Spartan isn’t wearing his StormWatch gear so it can’t have happened after “WildStorm Rising” at all. And because Marlowe basically disappears after he gets back to Earth during “Fire from Heaven” there’s no place for this story to take place at any other time.
  • I also like to think that this is what Spartan was up to when Warblade was off in “Warblade : Endangered Species”.
  • It is nice to see the Black Razors as depicted in WildC.A.T.s Vol. 1 issues 15 & 16… well pretty much. Coleman isn’t really the right skin color, but everything else is close enough.
  • There’s a member of the Black Razors being referred to as simply “Fleming.” No word on the first name being either Alex or Cyril.
  • While everyone wants to seem to place this Taboo story much earlier in the timeline, because it is her origin, both parts are clearly labeled “Five years earlier,” so it’s a flashback. Also, having this story take place right before she’s on the lam again in “Backlash” issue 7 adds a certain sense of tragedy to that storyline. She’s not good at running on her own. Also, “Backlash” issues 1 through 5 are so tightly strung together there wasn’t room to put it closer to her introduction.
  • When Slayton was breaking into Purgatory Max to get Taboo in the first place there was such a big deal made about him both breaking in and out, as if no one had ever done that before. Obviously, Pike had, or else how could he have been there to taunt Amanda? I just don’t see the authorities letting Pike just come and go as he pleases.
  • I think this is a good place for “My Enemy, My Monkey” as well, because Union is still in New York at the end of “Union” Vol. 2 issue 2. He goes to Chicago in “Union” Vol. 2 issue 3 and we don’t see him leave that city at the end of the issue. Also, there’s no real explanation as to how he got onsite to start fighting with Majestic by the time issue 4 rolls around, he’s just there. There’s not a lot of decent windows for this story to take place, honestly. I was surprised I found this one!

NEXT : “Union” Vol. 2 issue 3 by Mike Heisler, Ryan Benjamin, and Tom McWeeney