Tag Archives: ’90s Comics

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 0, 4 & 5

this entry covers “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 0 as well as issues 4 & 5.
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“StormWatch” is a book that never seemed to give a damn about any marketing gimmick that it was supposed to participate in. Take the concept of a 0 issue. Image comics came up with this strategy, their first comics published would be a number 1 issue, but it wouldn’t burden you with backstory, instead it would get right to the action. The backstory would come at a later date via the 0 issue, and they would also be set before the events of the number 1 issue. But no, not “StormWatch,” “StormWatch” is too good for all of that! While the 0 issue of “StormWatch” would have a boat load of backstory in it, it also couldn’t be read prior to the events of the first two issues (and due to the writing, issue 3 as well) lest you spoil the death of Mr. Windsor.

This book opens with Jackson and Fuji fighting in a Danger Room-Holodeck kinda thing. “StormWatch” at its worst is just a mash-up of “X-Men” and “Star Trek : the Next Generation.” Which is another reason I probably liked it so much as a kid, because both those things are super rad! I say “worst” because it is taking a lot of those elements and not doing anything really interesting with them. Also, Danger Room’s for anyone but the X-Men are super lame. Hell, I even think the one the X-Men have is lame, and makes for lame story openers. I can only suspend my disbelief so far before I feel insulted, and the Danger Room/Holodeck in “StormWatch” is one of them. Just let the X-Men be the X-Men and have their Danger Room, and even though you’re super sci-fi “StormWatch” leave the Holodeck to ST:TNG. Smack each other around in a gym or something, I dunno, just always comes off as super lame.

While this lameness is going on there’s a group of terrorists on a small space ship approaching SkyWatch. They have a cloaking device; they attach their ship to the side of SkyWatch and then literally break in. The main dude, Tony, of this group, has a grudge against Jackson for messing up his brother during a StormWatch mission years ago. We cut back to the ’70s where we see StormWatch in its younger days, presumably not long after John Stone left when the organization was known simply as S.T.O.R.M.

We meet Jackson on a treadmill talking smack with another early StormWatch member known as Flashpoint. This is all being egged on by Windsor. Jackson mentioned how great Windsor was, and we know he died a hero, but he comes off very douchey here. We also learn that Flashpoint has the same bad attitude as Canon, there’s always one on every team. We go to a wider shot and see another member of StormWatch Prime, Nautika, not just the team girl, but also the team member without a nose.

We see the mission in which Jackson, Flashpoint and Nautika are being lead by Backlash against a group known as the Third World Liberation Front. Of course this is the group that Tony was in at the time with his brother Pedro. They were breaking into a government facility to steal information for Ivana Baiul, who is trying to get her “Project Genesis” started at I/O, for now looking at “seedlings” before switching to “gen-actives.” Jackson freaks out at Pedro and pretty much mind wipes him. This was the reason why Tony was out for revenge. This issue was the first that let us meet other older StormWatch members other than Jackson and Backlash. One more will get squeezed in soon, so be prepared to add one more member to the family tree.

When we get back to the present in issue 4 we see a StormWatch scout ship checking the perimeter of SkyWatch as we wouldn’t want any more space jock terrorists breaking in! The scout ship finds a piece of a Daemonite ship that got partially through to Earth’s atmosphere due to the events of “Reunification Day” AKA “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 0 – 4. It should be noted, these Daemonites are tough, they’ve been floating in space from April ’92 – Sept. ’93. Of course the Daemonites take over the SkyWatch workers and infiltrate SkyWatch.

Meanwhile we see Backlash trying to work up the nerve to propose to his girlfriend Diane LaSalle. He wusses out, way to go Slayton! Wouldn’t you know it, the Daemonites run into LaSalle and one of them takes her over but not before she sounds the shipping alarms. While “riding” LaSalle the Daemonites find out about the WarGuard. The WarGuard was a group of scientists that were on a satellite when the magic comet passed by the Earth. Being so close to the comet they got stronger powers and went crazier than seedlings on Earth. The WarGuard were locked up on SkyWatch for the safety of humanity. With the Warguard now on the loose, hosting Daemonites, we know StormWatch is in some serious trouble.

While StormWatch goes up against the WarGuard, Backlash is trying to figure out what had gotten into LaSalle. Hint: it’s an alien (I mean besides… wait… I’m too mature to make this joke.) He electrifies her with one of his little whippy things which separates LaSalle and the Daemonite. The blunt separation sends LaSalle into a coma. The WarGuard tumbles out of a SkyWatch window and for some reason everyone just assumes they’re going to burn up on re-entry. Not sure why, but we have to get to seeing a super sad Backlash with LaSalle in the medical lab of SkyWatch, so no time for worrying about possible future plot lines.

It’s important to note that the public at large has no knowledge of the Kheribum and Daemonite war, or even their existence. This is all a shock to StormWatch, who usually deal with human and super-human problems on Earth, not aliens in their space home. We know a bit more about what’s going on with LaSalle than the team, and that’s cool. Tight continuity and world building is front and center as well as seamlessly integrated for both of WildStorm’s lead titles.

Where to find these stories:

Next : “StormWatch” Vol. 1 Special issue 1 by Ron Marz, Dwayne Turner, Richard Johnson and Kevin Nowlan.

“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 0 – 4

this entry covers “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 0 and “Deathblow/Cybernary” issues 1 through 3 and “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 4, but only the “Deathblow” stories from 1 – 4, the Cybernary stories don’t happen until later, despite what the letters column states. Note: the first 9 pages of “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 0 originally appeared as a short story in “Darker Image” Vol. 1 issue 1.

DeathblowVol1_00-04The “Deathblow” book mainly follows the “adventures” of Michael Cray, whom we already know from the “Team 7” books as having been on, well, Team 7. We also know that he agreed to stay and work for Craven at I/O after Team 7 broke up. We’ve seen 2 of these I/O missions before. One in “Team 7 : Dead Reckoning” and one in the “WildStorm Winter Special” story “Deathblow Gets Dusted.” The mission he is taking on in the 0 issue doesn’t go much better.

Cray is found on a mission in Costa Mesa seemingly attempting to avenge a fallen comrade form a prior mission. Cray feels he is responsible for this this man’s torture and death, and Cray means to take out General Manuel Ortega by way of assassination. We learn most of this due to a mission briefing our old friends Miles Craven and John Lynch are giving to Lieutenant Conrad, as they are asking him to take out Cray before he can kill Ortega as a matter of national security. When Conrad asks why Cray has gone rouge, as well as over of the edge, the response is that Cray had been recently diagnosed with cancer, and that he’d like to right a few wrongs before his ticket gets punched. Conrad is instructed to put together a small group, get into Costa Mesa, take out Cray and hightail it back home. It’s a Craven mission, so of course it can’t be that simple!

We, the reader, find out that the mission to stop Cray is just a false flag to establish plausible deniability. The government wants Ortega dead, but politically they’re still aligned with him. Cray was actually sent on that mission to take out Ortega, but officially he’s a rogue agent. Craven does not care what happens to anyone involved, just as long as Ortega is dead by the end of it. Lynch, really isn’t on board with this plan at all, and we’re starting to see some serious doubts on his behalf. Cray takes down Ortega, most of Ortega’s men take out Conrad’s team, Cray himself has to take out Conrad so that he can take out Ortega too. Also, there’s a bit of human sacrifice and a minotaur-like demon that was summoned, because comics. We also see a man going by the name of Mr. Trickle who’s making sure everything goes according to plan down in Costa Mesa as well, not too much is known about him at the time, but he seems to be working for I/O as well.

Once Cray gets back to America he meets up with Lynch and he’s totally pissed off that 4 good men had to die on that mission. Meaningless deaths. Cray socks Lynch and reprimands him for what he’s become under Craven at I/O and states that he’s quitting. The next mission I/O has is for Mr. Trickle’s team. We find out that Mr. Trickle has a first name, it’s Travis and he is apparently Cray’s best friend and one time I/O partner. Lynch is insistent that Cray accompanies Trickle’s team on the mission. I mean, I thought we just saw Cray quit I/O, what’s he doing back? And why is he buddy buddy with Lynch again? Maybe there was an off panel conversation that took place at a bar, and over beers it comes out that Lynch is unsure of everything Craven is up to, and I/O has gone too far. Cray is all “told ya, and so did all the other guys too. Except for Slayton, that jerk” so Cray came back to I/O to be an inside man for Lynch. At least, that’s how it goes down in my mind. A little bit of head-cannon can go a long way, but if anyone else has a good idea why Cray came back, explicitly at Lynch’s direction, lay it on me!

The mission, Kussein (get it) has been causing trouble in Iraq again, so I/O is tasked with getting in there, gathering info on their weapons supply and blowing stuff up if they have to. Exactly how much Lynch knows about what is going to go on here is debatable. He’s been seeming wary of Craven early in this book, as well as with what went down in “Wetworks,” but we have Craven commending him on “quite the little show” he set up for this mission. Then again, Lynch seems to be just talking about the straightforward aspects of the mission, it’s Craven who gets all Mr. Burns about what is being said.

The mission is more than just kicking some Iraqi butts, well it isn’t for the I/O team at least. Someone working with the Iraqis is having them dig up what they were told is a stash of Scud missiles. It infact is a seal of the long buried temple of the Black Angel. The Iraqi troops in charge are then shot so that their blood will open the seal and then reawaken the Black Angel and its minions. Oddly, there is a monk that was working with the Iraqis too, who is trying to make sure this all this doesn’t happen. About the time the monk is realizing that it is all too late he happens to be the bunker that the I/O team is breaking into. All the Iraqis end up dead, they think they got Kussien, but it turns out to be a body double, and Cray is a bit spooked about how that monk was fighting. Cray ends up taking out the monk and gets really upset once he finds out it wasn’t just a disguise and he really is a man of God, to be clear he’s a member of the Order of the Cross. As the monk is dieing he’s begging Cray to go after the Black Angel and stop him at all costs. Then, while the I/O team is leaving the scene (and bombing it to hell) we see the Black Angel calling out to Cray stating that Cray’s nightmare is just beginning. Cray can’t catch a break, first cancer, now evil angels are after him.

And that’s where we drop off for a bit. I know, it’s a bit cliff-hangery, but issues 5 – 12 of “Deathblow” offer no break in the story, and there is a passage of time between issues 4 and 5 that becomes clear when you start in on issue 5. I have to commend the art of this book, I know it is basically the “Image style” as heavily influenced by Frank Miller’s “Sin City” but that’s what sets it apart from all the other WildStorm books at the time. Some WSU books take on a true style at this time, but none more so than “Deathblow” being so moody and “Gen 13” being so bubblegum. Not only is it fantastic that both these books are coming out from the same company at this time, but also that they books that are quite closely related! I must commend Tim Sale for picking up where Jim Lee left off so flawlessly. Sale really make this book his own.

Now it’s time for me to admit that I never read “Deathblow” growing up. I was never interested in military themed comics, nor violent ones. This is also why I never got too into “Wetworks.” “Gen13” was goofy comics fun, “WildC.A.T.s” was a sci-fi comics saga, “Union” was a post modern take on “Superman,” “StormWatch” was, well, it was something different, but “Deathblow” was dark and violent, and I just couldn’t hang with that as a teenager. Now? Now I dig it. Sure, I blow past the military stuff, and the violence doesn’t bother me so much, but a lot of this rests on the character of Michael Cray. This guy just gets more lovable as his series goes on. Maybe “lovable” is the wrong word, but “relatable” doesn’t work either, who can relate to the life that he’s been through? He’s a tough bastard that develops a real sense of humor. Well, he had one in the “Team 7” book, but lost it by the time we met him in “Darker Image” and “Deathblow/Cybernary,” I guess that cancer will do that to a guy. Michael Cray just might be one of my favorite characters of this time in the WildStorm Universe when I look back on it, he’s the WSU’s drunken cranky uncle who cracks you up at Christmas. He’s awesome and salty, and you can’t believe he’s at the party, but you never want him to leave.

Where to find this story:

  • the “Deathblow” hard cover and trade paperback contain all 5 issues’ Deathblow stories
  • the older “Deathblow : Saints and Sinners” trade paperback does not contain the 0 issue
  • Comixology: “Deathblow” vol. 1 issues 1, 2, 3 & 4

Next : “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 0, 4 – 5 by Brandon Choi, Jim Lee, Brett Booth, Sean Ruffner, J. Scott Campbell and Scott Clark

“Union” Vol. 1 issues 0 – 4

this entry covers “Union” issues 0 through 4

UnionVol1_00-04Where to start with a book like “Union.” Well, I guess issue 0 falls in continuity first, even though it is just a fast paced explanation of the world that Union and Regent (last seen in “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 3) come from, and their particular histories examined. It can kind of be a dry read when you place it in continuity, as you only really know Regent and here’s this book about his past, and for some reason another character named Ohmen. Perhaps reading it after immediately after “Union” Vol. 1 issues 1 through 4 might work better, as you’d have more of a vested interest in both characters. Either way, the book moves fairly swift and straightforward, all the while cramming in a lot of information. This is at a contrast with the rest of the series, which is never as straight forward as this, but to it’s credit, the rest of Vol. 1 certainly has much cooler artwork.

The art for “Union” Vol. 1 (issues 1 through 4) was done by Mark Texeira and it is fantastic! I’m not saying that anyone else that ever drew Union didn’t do a good job, they mostly did, but Texeira killed it so hard, that every other artist was just playing catch up. When I was younger I wondered how WildStorm convinced Texeira to do this comic, because all I knew of his work was the cover of “the Outsiders” by S. E. Hinton that the upperclassmen were carrying around (which, sad to say, I can find no image of now, but I know that it existed, it was ubiquitous!) I always figured him for a big time commercial artist, so to see him on a comic blew my mind. I learned later that he was mostly known for comics, but that still doesn’t stop me from being in awe of the art on this book to this day.

Back to issue 0 we see two young men growing up on opposite sides of a war. One is Rigian, price of the ruling class known as the Directorate, who is practically disowned by his father when his little brother Darnel is born. The other is a baby born the same day, known as Ohmen of the underclass known as the Protectorate. We see both boys grow up and find their places in their home planet of Aegena, though Rigian finds most of his place in his culture while spending time on Earth away from his family. Earth you say? Oh yeah, the Directorate have a way to get back and forth from Aegena to Earth, and the Protectorate has no knowledge of this, and it allows the Directorate to plan their battles in secret, as well as have a hidden place to retreat to. The two boy’s stories start to come together when some Directorate soldiers attack the school where Ohmen’s father teaches, and Ohmen’s father dies. Schools were supposed to be in a safe zone and not to be attacked, so the Directorate kind of feel bad about war going too far, so Rigain, his mother and brother are sent to address the Protectorate and apologize for the actions of the Directorate. Before he can say too much, a few Protectorate at the gathering go crazy and attack the Directorate. Rigain’s mother and brother parish in this attack and Rigain swears off his stance of peace and takes the name Regent and vows revenge against the Protectorate. Ohmen on the other hand is upset by what the Protectorate did at that rally, and is talked back into doing his duty by his kinda girlfriend Eliya. This leads Ohmen into a battle where two Directorate soldiers trick him into flying through the portal to Earth, where he crash lands in Maine and issue 1 begins.

That’s the basics of the plot, but there’s one more thing you should know about, and that’s the justice stones. The justice stones are Aegenan technology that gets implanted on Aegenans when they reach a certain age, and it becomes one with their physiology. It ends up looking like a small done on their chest, and from it they can pull an electric rod to beat people with. It also gives them the power of flight while holding it. The color of the rod, at least for the Protectorate, reflects their rank in their military hierarchy. Pretty fancy ass tech! While we only see the weapon in rod form here, we later see a justice stone user shape his into a sword. The justice stones are also tied into the electromagnetic field of the planet they are on, so it must be recalibrated before moving to a different planet, lest it malfunction and either kill or inhibit the user. So that’s most of the backstory, all that you need really. There’s a bit more of the relationship between Ohmen and Eliya, as well as Rigain and his father, but, meh, whatever, on with the actual content!

We meet Ohmen as he is being rescued from atop a frozen lake after he crash lands on Earth in a remote area of Maine. That rescuer is Jill Monroe, an artist who moved up north from New York to escape the big city and give herself more time to create and take in nature. She doesn’t know she’s rescuing an alien, just a guy she saw try to fly away after crashing. After being saved Ohmen takes up residence on Jill’s couch and proceeds to sleep for a few days to literally recharge his batteries. Ohmen and Jill spend 6 months in seclusion while Ohmen learns everything he can about Earth as well as start to utilize his justice stone. It is during this time that Ohmen takes up the name Union, as the word “union” is basically a simple way to express “cold fusion” which is what is going on in his justice stone. Uh… yeah, sure Ohmen, you’re Union now, whether or not that makes a lick of sence. While at a bar Jill and Union see a report about a few aliens flying around upstate New York and Union immediately recognizes them as Directorate soldiers. Before Jill can ask Union anything about it he’s off and flying to the town of Chichester, NY, secret headquarters of the Directorate on Earth.

Union arrives in Chichester and instantly gets his booty kicked by the Directorate. Union mistakenly believes that the Directorate has sent a few soldiers after him and had no idea of this town belonging to them. The Directorate have no idea the Union accidently found his way to Earth so they are thinking he is some kind of spy for the Protectorate. Oh these Aegenan scamps and their comical misunderstandings! Eventually King Darian (Regents father) shows up during Union’s torture and as he’s smacking the hell out of Union with his justice stone rod, Union goes full nuclear and somehow destroys all of Chicester, NY. Union, feeling mighty horrible about this, you know, accidently taking out an entire city, Directorate soldiers and families or not, decides to commit suicide by jamming Darian’s justice stone rod into his justice stone. Union passes out and somehow survives and as far as justice stones go, he levels up.

When Union awakes he is finds that StormWatch has surrounded Chichester and is trying to save any survivors and find the cause of the disaster. They also notice traces of a familiar energy that they’d like to find out more about. The energy is that of Regent, who just kicked their asses earlier, and this town was full of Directorate tech, so that makes a certain amount of logic. Too bad they’ll never discover anything about the Directorate or Regent here, as Union is going to cover everything up out of further guilt. At the same time he is doing everything he can to buy the trust of Jackson King, even giving his fingerprints so he’s in the police system and has a record on file as a super powered being. In any other story, blowing up a town and tricking the authorities wouldn’t be seen as a positive one, but Union pulls it off due to his down right Duddly Do-Right sense of honor. In fact, “Union” the book pulls it off by dividing the story up so we see Union helping out StormWatch as much as possible before finding out 3 issues later that he was the cause of the destruction in the first place. Very clever writing Mr. Heisler.

Before we are bookended with the full story of what happening Chichester we do get a few issues of Union going to New York City for a little vacation with Jill. He takes down a super powered villain known as the Quickness. In the course of this action he pisses off Jill by stranding her, but also finds the being behind the Quicknesses super-speed, a being known as Mnemo. Mnemo is a crazy looking, highly intelligent, alien or mutant something-or-other. He captures Union and means to figure out what makes him tick. Why is he so interested? Because he’s found a Protectorate soldier before, but this one didn’t survives his trip through the gate, and Mnemo wants to find a way to revive this man, or at least his justice stone. What does Mnemo get out of this? Turns out Mnemo is a weapons contractor for the feared Kaizen Gamorra. What? That name doesn’t strike any fear into your heart yet? Well, it will soon enough! In fact, you’ll get down right sick of that name after a while, but it all evens out in 10 years once “the Authority” starts being published.

Due to Union running off to go fight the Quickness, Jill gets stranded in NYC by herself. When he catches back up to her they get into a fight and she storms off back home to Maine. What a great guy that Union is, save the world, lose the girl! Of course this is when Union is captured by Mnemo. After Union gets free he goes back to Jill’s place to find she isn’t alone. In fact, she’s chilling with Union’s sorta ex-girlfriend Elyia! Elyia means to bring Union back to Aegena, but Union makes a compelling case to stay on Earth. First, he feels guilty about what he did to Chichester. Second, his justice stone is not only calibrated to Earth, but due to its upgrade who knows what’ll happen with it back home. Third, he doesn’t say this, but he digs on Jill and besides it looks like Elyia has herself a new man anyway. Before Elyia leaves, she lets Union know that Regent could not be found back home or in the rubble of Chichester, so odds are he is on Earth someplace and to look out for him. I still call this a bold move for “Union,” to have a big bad set up, and our hero is not even confronting him in its own limited series!

These books are still very entrenched in the then Image Universe. There are several references to Supreme and Youngblood throughout the book. We even get a cameo from Velocity from “Cyber Force.” The StormWatch appearance was great, but this was a WildStorm book, so that carries pretty well. Also, to have had Regent make his debut in “StormWatch” was a pretty bold move. If you only ever read “StormWatch” you see them almost get wiped out by a guy you never see again in that series. Then to find out he’s related to the goings-on in “Union” and to hardly see him in that book kind of infuriated me as a kid! I really wanted to see Regent and Union through down in “Union,” but the powers that be had other plans.

Next : “WildCats Trilogy” issues 1 through 3 by Brandon Choi, Dafydd Wyn and Jae Lee (with a short story from Steve Seagle and Travis Charest)

“WetWorks” Vol. 1 issues 1 – 3

this entry covers “Wetworks” Vol. 1 issues 1 – 3 and the “Wetworks” back-up story from “WildC.A.T.s : Covert Action Teams” Vol. 1 issue 2.

WetworksVol1_01-03I’m not going to lie; I was never a “WetWorks” reader growing up. I picked up the first issue when it came out due to curiosity, but it didn’t catch me like the rest of the WildStorm books did. Luckily for me when going to read this, the back issues were pretty damn cheap to find, I guess I’m not the only person that wasn’t too into this series. Oddly, I really dug “WetWorks” Vol. 2 when that came out a decade later, so reading the backstories and origins for some of these characters was kind of fun… kind of. I guess I always regarded the WetWorks team as characters that had a few cross-overs with the normal WildStorm Universe but I didn’t really need to follow them all that closely, more like the “Cyberforce” characters, less like the Savage Dragon.

I’m not even joking when I say that “WetWorks,” while having deep historical ties to the WSU, rarely has anything to do with the rest of the WildStorm books during its Volume 1 run. Aside from Dane we really don’t see much of the other characters outside of their own book. Even during the two big cross-overs “WildStorm Rising” and “Fire from Heaven” the other members of the team aren’t seen much even in crowd shots. Dane, the leader of WetWorks we all know as Jackson Dane from Team 7, so whenever those geezers get back together we know that Dane will have a thing or two to do with that adventure. The WetWorks team is also the modern incarnation of Team 7 at I/O. So yeah, a second Team 7, led by one of the former members. The one that went crazy. This was a good idea.

We don’t know how long this “new” Team 7 has been working for I/O, or for how long Dane has been able to lead a team, or even how long he’s been shaving off that exquisite beard. What we do know is that Miles Craven is sending them all on a mission, a mission to Transylvania. Another mission from Craven, that Craven knows is doomed from the start, much like the first Team 7 mission that we saw over in “Team 7.” The only thing is that this time Craven doesn’t expect the team to survive, in fact he wants to be rid of them, and the targets he sent them after, so he can have those sweet sweet golden symbiotes, that he knows are contained there, for himself. How does he know about the symbiotes? He’s Miles Goddamn Craven; dude knows everything shady going on in the WSU, always, count on it.

Luckily for Dane and the rest of his crew, this mission has another backer and a few mysterious allies. The backer is Mr. Waering of the Waering Institute of Higher Werewolf Learning. Or something like that. He’s a werewolf, but it’s supposed to be a secret for now, even though from his very first line it is obvious that he’s a werewolf. Either way, he’s the one that’s apparently been pulling the strings on Dane’s professional life for a while. He got Dane onto Team 7 (the first or second version, we aren’t told) and made sure that Team 7 would be taking care of this Transylvanian mission. Waering wants Team 7 to find the symbiotes and take control of them, kill all the vampires (duh, the Transylvanians Team 7 were sent out to kill are vampires) and then come work for him. He even installs one of his own people, Mother-One the cyborg, as a pilot of one of the I/O ships.

Team 7 has no idea what is going on, or why some of these vampires are hard to kill, because they don’t know they are vampires yet. After everything that Dane has seen and done he doesn’t think there are vampires? Eh, small quibble, because he and the rest of the team seem to accept that they’re killing vampires pretty damn quickly. But there’s more vampires coming, and Team 7 is running low on fire power. What is there to do? Hey, look at these pretty tubes full of gold liquid! Now, it isn’t Team 7’s initial idea to get those tubes open and dump them on themselves. Nope! Persephone, a vampire from a rival vampire faction, shoots open the glass on one and it gets all over Team 7 member Claymore. The team figures out pretty quickly that this new golden skin is protecting Claymore and they bust open the rest of the tubes to “suit up” and take down the rest of these vamps. See, Persephone is the right hand lady to the Blood Queen, ruler of the vampires, and this Transylvanian faction means to take her power from her to rule the vampire nation. Persephone is sent to make sure the Transylvanian dorks are taken out by Dane’s group, and if the symbiotes are the way to go, so be it. The Blood Queen has been messing with Dane’s mind for years. The book says it has only been 6 years, but from what we later see in “Gen 12” we know that it has been a bit longer than that (unless this book takes place several years earlier than it seems.) So the Blood Queen kind of gets what she wants, her thrall/secret weapon is now in possession of a powerful weapon, which is now on a personal mission to take down other vampires that might challenge her rule.

As all this craziness is going on inside where the symbiotes were stored, outside I/O copters wait for Team 7 to be done with the mission. But like I said earlier, Craven means for this to be Team 7’s final mission, so when Team 7 is exiting the building, Craven tells his men to take out Team 7. This is when Mr. Waering let’s Mother-One know to put his secret plan into action and she shoots down the other I/O helicopters and takes out the I/O agents in hers. She suits up with her own golden symbiote and gets the team out of there to go and meet Mr. Waering and find out his plan for them. Dane really doesn’t trust him all that much, but he’s no worse than his previous employer, so what the hell, we need cash to fight vampires, so no more I/O and Team 7, bring on WetWorks!

The next mission is overly complicated for what is a pretty simple story. Some vampires want to release a virus at a concert that will start to take down humanity. They also hate the Blood Queen. We find that the Blood Queen long ago brokered a truce not only between vampires and humans, but also between the other Night Tribes, including werewolves, trolls and creatures of that nature. Maybe. Sometimes the phrase “the Night Tribes” is used for all those kinds of creatures, sometimes just for vampires and sometimes just for a certain group of vampires. It’s all jumbled up and kind of a mess. Anyway, the reason the “evil” Vampires pick the concert of Johnny Savoy to target is because he is the Blood Queen’s brother, so you know, kill two bats with one stone.

The WetWorks team takes down the bad vamps and become buddies with (and a little star-struck by) Johnny Savoy. The team member Pilgrim is saved by a mystery man going by the name of the Wilder, and we see Mother One kick some ass. Unfortunately the Wetworks team loses two of members; Crossbones and Flattop. The thing about the Wetworks team is that outside of Dane and Mother-One we don’t get to know any of the other characters well enough to care for them. We’ve just lost two of them and you don’t care because there are still so many more. It doesn’t help that they are not too differentiated in look from each other, in or out of gold covering. The team consists of Dane (the leader), Mother-One (the cyborg), Dozer (soon to be the “big guy”), Grail (the ass kicking loner), Jester (the wisecracker), Crossbones (the other guy) and Pilgrim (the girl). I don’t know if it is too many characters, or because this title actually devotes too many pages letting us get to know Mr. Waering and the Blood Queen, that none of the characters come across as deeper than a bowl of soup. Even after reading all the “WetWorks” books I only ended up with an attachment to Dane and Mother-One. Later in the future when a few more team members die I actually thought “good, not enough room in this book for them anyway!”

Back to the story. Craven is super pissed that not only did Team 7 survive and that Mr. Waering double crossed him, but that those awesome super powered suits got away! Also, after everything went down Lynch warned Craven that Dane will be gunning for him now. Craven means to have his revenge and gets presidential approval to reinstate one of his best operatives to hunt down the former Team 7. This man’s name is Raymond LeGauche and he’s a right bastard. Even the other members of the National Security Council think it’s a bad idea, but when the Commander-in-Chief says it’s cool, you let that maniac out of prison to do the dirty work! Also in the “we didn’t really think this out” department, a television reporter and camera man find out that vampires can’t be caught on tape, ruining what they assume will be their big break. Even few secret agent types still confiscate the video in question from them, which is basically just a video of a concert hall ceiling. The very next page has the Blood Queen spying via video camera on the vampire faction that means to dethrone her. So we’ve learned that vampires won’t show up on video playback, but can be clearly seen on live video. That reporter and camera man should’ve gone live with their story!

We end this entry with what was a four page preview of “WetWorks” from the back of an early issue of “WildC.A.T.s.” It takes place as the team is starting to work together and understand their suits, so I’d put it just after these first three issues of volume one. Its main focus is on Dane being the leader as the team takes on a small enclave of vampires. For what it is, it’s a nice little story, the main thing is how much better the coloring team got at WildStorm. Seriously, in the series proper they really look like they’ve been coated in gold, where in this story they look more like they’ve been coated in urine.

Where to find this story:

  • the “Wetworks : Rebirth” trade paperback contains all 3 issue, and the short from “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 2
  • Comixology: “Wetworks” vol. 1 issue 1

Next : “Union” Vol. 1 issues 0 – 4 by Mike Heisler and Mark Texeira (with Ryan Benjamin)

“WildC.A.T.s : Covert Action Teams” Vol. 1 issues 0 – 4

this entry covers issues 0 through 4 of “WildC.A.T.s”

WildCATsVol1_00-04Here we are at the true beginning of the WildStorm Universe, ground zero if you will! Set in 1992 and released in 1992, we are finally in “real time” with the books as they are released. Not that this will always continue, but more or less the rest of the WSU titles will occur in the years they are released, of course there’s odd compression, sure a year or two will pass and only be reflected as a month or two and will be referred to as either in text, depending on the situation, but that is just standard comics nonsense. It is nonsense that we all accept due to suspension of disbelief, because if we’re already onboard with super strong meta-humans and aliens running around, why can’t we accept chronological oddities as well?

Let’s get issue zero out of the way first. It adds up to very little. It mostly takes place in the time between pages 6 and 7 of the first issue of “WildC.A.T.s.” In fact, all that ends up being something more than filler is the few pages depicting Void’s origin and the one page that establishes second string villains Gnome (as well as Alberto Cassini’s relationship with him) and the Triad. It also tries to top how each of the individual WildC.A.T.s members are introduced, but it cannot top the first issue of “WildC.A.T.s” as Jim Lee was on top of his game when he drew that and while being awesome in his own right, Brett Booth just can’t match up with that kind of awesome.

So, the first four issues of “WildC.A.T.s” are… uh, kind of a mess. I really hate saying that too. I hate that I will say it again as well in regards to WildStorm stories, especially WildC.A.T.s stories. There is so much going on here, yet, at the same time it seems like such a small story. Oddly compacted in a way. All the main players in this story are after either the Orb, “the gifted one” or both.

The main players you ask? Well, there’s Jacob Marlowe a wealthy man who’s past is a mystery to himself, but is told he’ll do great things (turns out, he’s an alien lord), leading a team consisting of Void (silver coated teleporter), Spartan (super tough android), Warblade (shapes limbs into sharp objects) and Maul (obligatory big strong guy). This team is looking for “the gifted one” as well as being interested in finding out more about the Orb. Our next team is a small one consisting of Zealot (alien Coda warrior) and Grifter (our old buddy Cash from Team 7) who are looking for “the gifted one” as well, but don’t give a fuck about the Orb. Next up is our main bad guy, an alien named Hellspont and his crew of evil doers which consists of Pike (mercenary), a nameless Coda assassin, Alberto Cassini (done in by Pike in half a page), M’Koi (alien scientist), B’Lial (alien posing as Dan Quayle), Providence (think a younger Void in a flowing robe), two suits, and a dude that sports both a monocle and an eye patch! We don’t see much of those last three unfortunately (which sucks, I want to know a lot more about monocle/eye patch dude!) but we also know that Hellspont has multiple Coda and various other aliens working for him too, these guys are after both the Orb and “the gifted one.” Finally we have Gnome, who we don’t know too much about and his band of a Coda warrior and the Triad, consisting of Slag (lava monster), Attica (cyborg) and H.A.R.M. (robot). Gnome knows all about “the gifted one” but he doesn’t care, in fact he’s selling that information so that he can get closer to his true desire, the Orb. Not only do we have these 4 groups running around, but we also have the I/O Psi-Ops department getting involved, so we get to see Lynch (yay!) in his current role in international espionage but also we meet Youngblood for a bout of inter-company crossover synergy for Image! Yeah, that’s a lot to keep track of, it’s easier reading the issues of the comic than hearing the explanation, then again knowing that it all makes some kind of sense in the end does make it a little easier to read.

Ok, above I used the generic term “alien” more than a few times, and for the WSU “alien” really is a generic term as there are so many different kinds of races of alien here, I’m going to help sort this out a bit. The main aliens in the WSU are the Kherubim and the Daemonites. Lucky for the artists Kherubim look mostly like humans! Jacob and Zealot are full-fledged Kherubium. On the other hand Daemonites look monstrous, with huge heads and an extra set of tiny little T-Rex arms. Daemonites usually possess other creatures such as humans, or in the case of Hellspont who has possessed an alien from the Acuran race. Mostly Daemonites can’t survive outside of their hosts while on Earth, but this rule goes back and forth so it isn’t always true. Daemonites sometimes kill their host when they are separated, sometimes not, depends on what is more dramatic in the situation it seems. Daemonites can also shape shift when needed, this remains pretty consistent through-out the run of the WSU. Our Daemonites with hosts are Hellspont, M’Koi and B’Lial. We also have Maul who is half-alien and half human with his alien half being Titanthrope, which is a Kherubim race in name but not genetics. Warblade is usually referred to a half-breed as well, with half being Kherubim and being part of the Shapers Guild, but at least once his parents are both referred to being of Kherubim heritage. Pike is called a “half-breed traitor” by one of the Coda, so one can suspect that he is half Kherubim as well, but this is never expanded on beyond that off the cuff remark in “WildC.A.T.s #3.” All these half human half aliens are also referred to as “gifted ones” so who is the main “gifted one” that so many folks are after? That would be an exotic dancer known as Voodoo.

Voodoo is more than just half Kherubim and half human. In fact, halves would be a misnomer, thirds would be more accurate. She’s part Kherubim, human and Daemonite. It’s true! This is elaborated more in a future “WildC.A.T.s” annual that I can’t seem to find a good place for in continuity! Seriously, the 1998 annual just can’t have happened in any time line I construct! None the less, it deals with Voodoo’s heritage, and that heritage bears out in the rest of the comics, so it’s cannon whether or not the book itself is at odds with the reality of the WSU timeline. So what is so special about Voodoo being a tri-breed? What powers does that imbue her with? Why the power of “sight” for starters. That is to say, she can tell Daemonites are Daemonites while they are in possession of other hosts or are shape shifting. Also this power can affect people looking at her in some way that makes her seem super amazing. She can also develop Daemonite clawed hands while in hand to hand combat too.

As you can tell, a lot of cool comicy sci-fi fun is getting all set up with these first few issues, but so much so that it feels overstuffed, as this is a story of Jacob Marlowe’s team meeting up with Zealot and Grifter and adding Voodoo to their crew. All while keeping Hellspont and his minions from activating a space bridge that would link Earth to the Daemonite home world so they could invade. Oh yeah, the Kherubim and Daemonites have been in a war since forever and a handful of each race have spent the last several thousand years duking out on Earth. Sometime in the ‘60s the Daemonite’s gained the upper hand in the war and getting their hands on the Orb would give them the power to finally end the conflict by overwhelming the limited Kherubim forces on Earth with limitless Daemonites. Sounds like a good plan, except for, duh, the good guys are going to win and also (future spoiler), no one on Earth knows that the war has been over for a long long time and nobody bothered to tell the forces on Earth, as Earth is in the backwoods of the universe. All the other aliens laugh at it and call it Earthtucky. But yeah, this is a “how the team got together and defeated their first bad guy” story which is good, but with everything else going on, it is a bit overly complicated.

Everything with I/O seems a bit tacked on. Don’t get me wrong, I love that Lee and Choi started world building this early on! I mean, we’re seeing Lynch and Turner (and even Santini, kinda) as well as establishing I/O a central interest in the WildStorm Universe titles. And while it feels a bit tacked on, it doesn’t feel as out of place as the involvement of Youngblood. I get that Youngblood works for the U.S. government and I’m pretty sure that both Stormwatch and I/O were created to deal with the rest of the world, and not the U.S. specifically because the WSU didn’t want to create conflict with in the greater Image Universe, but man, the look of those characters sticks out like a sore thumb. Yes, the WildC.A.T.s team looks oh so ‘90s, but in that “classic cool ‘90s” way, while Youngblood comes across as ‘90s in the “good lord, that is so ‘90s!” You get what I’m saying? Also, Youngblood just doesn’t seem to jive as well with what the WSU is setting up for me; oddly the “Cyberforce” and “Savage Dragon” crossovers that are to come have always worked fairly well in my eyes and feel much more organic than any of the others. Maybe I’m on my high horse and being an elitist about it, but Lee and Silvestri’s early Image work equals good, while Liefeld’s equals laughable. The Image Universe will fracture more and more as time goes on, and it is kind of cool to see what they were wanting to do before tossing in the towel on that front. After this we don’t get more than a few name checks toward the Extreme Studios side of Image comics in WSU books.

Another thing I might as well mention here is the use of super hero aliases in the WildStorm Universe. Sure, everyone has them, but in most cases they are hardly used. Many of the meta-humans go by their given name in most cases. There are always a few exceptions, but first names are pretty much the status quo here. Some of their code names stick longer than others, but it feels odd for me to type Maul when most characters start to just call him Jeremy on a regular basis as time goes on. I think Void and Warblade are the only two that are regularly called by their code names after a while. Even Zealot starts to be called Zannah more and more in the later issues, granted it never becomes as common as calling Grifter by either Cole or Cash, or Voodoo going by Priss, but it is none the less done fairly often. Then there’s Spartan, the robot with too many damn names! Spartan, Hadrian, Jon Colt, Yohn Cohl, Jack Marlowe, Metavac, and I’m sure there’s more I’m not remembering right now! These ended up being comics produced in the “post-ironic” age, so super hero names seemed both necessary, but also silly and needless. Not to mention that a team like the WildC.A.T.s are, by name, covert. Code names would only really be needed on missions and not so much the rest of the time that team is together, you know, hanging out or whatever.

The newly formed WildC.A.T.s saved the day with Youngblood by… well, let’s see… the day was saved… hrmmm, how do I put this… they all did heroic things, they saved Voodoo from being killed &/or drafted to Hellspont’s side, and… they exposed B’Lail as a mole in the U.S. government… and they kept the Orb away from Hellspont and Gnome. Now, they didn’t exactly stop Hellspont, Gnome blasted him with the Orb. Also, Gnome only “lost” the Orb after Jacob shot off his arm off his body causing him to drop it, then Gnome dives down a deep shaft after it. Not knowing anything about Gnome we don’t know if that would hurt him or not. For all we know and Jacob know, Gnome could survive that fall, and still have the Orb and a new hook hand. What is sad is that neither Hellspont nor Gnome come back in a real meaningful way after this. They were both seemingly set up as major villians here and then next to nothing. We do see Gnome later as part of a DV8/Gen13 cross over where he and the Orb play a small roll. With Hellspont we get a few glimpses of his rise to power in the pages of “Team One” as well as later “WildC.A.T.s” stories before we finally see his return in “Gen13.” Ugh, the less said about that return the better (really Lobdell, Hellspont channeling Deadpool?) The best use of Hellspont was in “Majestic” Vol. 2, but unfortunately that story came with a big reset button. Finally, Hellspont on an asteroid w/ Kaizen Gamorra in “Wildcats” Vol. 4 could’ve been rad as hell, but nothing really became of that as far as we ever saw. That might’ve been the problem, Hellspont should’ve been the big bad of the entire WSU but they always wanted to bring him back in a truly badass way and never quite got to where they wanted to be to prove that badass-ness! In a lot of ways I think that Tao overtook the roll of ultimate villain, because evil scheming smarts is more fun to write and read than badass alien overlord. But such is serialized media with a host of different creators working to build it bit by bit over the years, a few characters get left on the sidelines.

At the end of the day this was a very over-reaching story that was trying not only establish a team of very different characters, but also it’s own sub-universe and tone. It succeeds in the end due to it’s fresh feeling and refusal to stop. Sure, the books always shipped late from early Image, but we kept picking them up anyway. Well for me, I picked these up out of back issue bins, all story, no waiting, as next week I’ll cover the first WildStorm book I ever got my hands on, that started my love for the whole crazy mess!

Where to find this story:

  • The “WildC.A.T.s: Cover Action Teams Compendium” collection (the trade paperback was originally packaged with the 0 issue, the hardback version includes issue 0 as part of the book)
  • The “Absolute WildC.A.T.s by Jim Lee” hard back
  • “WildStorm: A Celebration of 25 Years” contains a black and white version of first issue
  • Comixology: “WildC.A.T.s” vol. 1 issues 0, 1, 2, 3 & 4

Next Week : “WildC.A.T.s” Special issue 1 (by Steve Gerber, Travis Charest and Scott Williams)

“Team 7 : Dead Reckoning” 1 – 4

this entry covers “Team 7 : Dead Reckoning” (aka Team 7 series 3) issues 1 – 4

Team7series3Here it is the final series of Team 7… kinda. More on that later, but first up; Lynch finally loses that pesky eye! So, there we go, one Wildstorm Universe mystery totally solved! Unfortunately this series is a bit of a letdown because it moves so fast and so herky jerky in time that it seriously could’ve been at least 2 if not 3 different mini-series. The biggest problem is that we have no sense of time outside of flashbacks to Team 7’s final mission.

The team’s final mission is a trip to Leningrad to rescue a young scientist who is at work for a superhuman program in Russia. This is the program that was set up by the Old Russian dude on crutches that bought it in the last “Team 7” series. When Cray, Slayton & Zig Zag took care of Old Dude, Fatty & Girl in Cambodia it more or less wiped out the fruits of the Russian superhuman program. Now the Russians are trying to get back in the game and it is up to our old buddies in Team 7 (minus Dane who was banished to Level 9 at the end of series 2) to stop those Evil Ruskies and gain a brilliant scientific mind in the process. Of course the mission goes pear-shaped almost immediately.

First things first, Team 7 finds Russia’s one new super-powered being and Lynch takes it on to give the rest of the team time to find the young scientist. Lynch is using all the psi-power he can muster to fight this being. The being is kicking Lynch’s ass, and Lynch tries to pour it on as much as he can to fight back. The drawback is that Lynch’s psionic powers are creating such a pressure on his skull that Lynch knows that he has to tear out his own eye to release a torrent of a psi-blast to take on his enemy. Time being of the essence, and with Lynch literally being the Clint Eastwood of the WildStorm Universe, he goes for it, explodes the other dude’s head and then passes out while the rest of the team meets their objective. While the team his having better luck, they certainly aren’t all that happy.

The team easily finds the man they’re after, a man by the name of Dbovchek, who wants to defect to America with all his scientific knowledge. They grab him, wrap him in the flag of the Soviet Union, grab Lynch and get the hell out of there. One twist, now that Lynch is down for the count Slayton is in charge and this pretty much pisses off the rest of the team, primarily Cash, who thinks he should be in charge. They rest of them don’t like Slayton either, but Slayton doesn’t care. He has secret orders and those orders are to get rid of Dbovchek when he has a chance. He sees his chance when Team 7, after a harrowing chase through the sewers of Leningrad, is being airlifted to safety. This is when Slayton shoves Dbovchek out the door of the helicopter to his death. Cash tries to save him, but has no luck. Why would Slayton do what he did? Because the powers that be want to keep the Cold War running, and a man like Dbovchek on either side threatens that balance. Who would give Slayton that kind of side mission? You guessed it, Miles Craven!

Ok, go back and re-read those last two paragraphs up there, go ahead, I’ve got time. Ok, you back, realize that those paragraphs, that single mission in the USSR, take place via flashbacks throughout the four issue run. You might think to yourself “What? But the actions of that mission inform the whole rest of the series, how can we get a feeling of what is going on when we don’t know how that mission resolved?” And I’d say to you “You’re damn right!” Reading this is kind of like a fever dream, a lot of things happening at once and you’re not sure how it folds altogether in a single satisfying story. Well, it doesn’t, but the structure is only half of the problem, the rest is a lack of year sign posting on the story in progress as well as trying to squeeze in a bunch of references to the WildStorm Universe at large.

Alright, back to that evil bastard Craven. Apparently when the most recent Presidential Administration took charge they reinstated Craven back into his former job as head of I.O. The members of Team 7 are very upset that Craven is their boss once again and most of them quit Team 7 and I.O. in protest, just like at the end of the first series. Much like that time when most of them quit Lynch, Slayton and Cray stay with I.O.. Cash and Callahan both quit I.O. and end up going to work for other military agencies. While Chang and Fairchild also quit I.O. they both go back to work for I.O. at some point. I’m not sure when, as we see them quit, but then we see them working for I.O. again, so without any more information (like when things are happening) it gets a bit confusing. Dane remains locked up down on Level 9 of I.O. and is starting to get along with his C.H.U.D.-like roommates down there.

Now, as we’re moving quickly through the late ‘70s we’re also starting to get more connections to the WildStorm Universe that is occurring, more or less, in the real-time of the ‘90s. We find out about Callahan’s first wife who he knocked up. When she had her baby the doctor, under orders from Craven, told Callahan both his wife and his baby died. Craven wanted to raise this Gen-Factored baby for his own (evil) ends. Callahan’s wasn’t nearly as passed out as the doctor things, and she gets wise to things, knocks out the doctor, takes her baby and high tails it to an Indian reservation in Arizona where her family lives and convinces her uncle to raise it. Thus we see the secret history of Sarah Rainmaker of Gen13. We see Lynch pissing off either his wife or Christy Blaze, not quite sure which, with his suicidal actions. Cray, under Craven’s direction finds and kills the man supposedly responsible for the death of his parents, which we’ll find out more about later in the “Fire from Heaven” crossover story. Slayton almost biffs a mission in Germany and we see that Craven wants him to infiltrate the U.N.s emerging super-group as a spy for him and I.O.. While Slayton initially balks at the idea, he eventually decides to sign up for Stormwatch anyway. We also see baby Grunge as well as baby Threshold and Bliss when we check in on Callahan and his new wife. Heck, there’s even passing mention of former Team 7 members Diaz, Johnson, MacNamara and Rhodes, but oddly nothing on Breckmann. But what of Dane?

Dane, mind-wiped and all from the Old Russian in series 2 is locked on Level 9, and has been getting brainwashed by his buddies there. He knows he can break free with their help. He also knows that when he breaks free he should warn his friends; because somehow Dane knows that Craven is after all of their kids. How does he gather his best buds back to I.O. to tell them this? He makes them glow. They all come running, and Cray brings along Zig Zag who was just getting settled in at college. Dane busts loose with his Level 9 buds, Team 7 takes care of them, the armed forces of I.O. show up, Zig Zag scares the hell out of them, most of the team then make their escape with a Team 7 members left standing around with Craven. The Team 7 members that ran off are all the parents (Callahan, Chang, Fairchild and Lynch) along with Cash, because he just plain ole hates Craven. Dane is passed out on the ground and Slayton knocks out both Zig Zag and Cray to join Dane.

This is pretty much how it ends, Zig Zag is now in service of Craven and I.O. along with Cray. Slayton is working for the U.N. and Stormwatch, but is spying for I.O.. Callahan, Chang, Fairchild and Lynch want to protect their children and Cash says he has an idea, but first, get all the kids into hiding. Where do we go from here? Well, it’s going to take even more time for that story to be told. We have to wait until the first issue of “Gen13” to start to put it together, and that isn’t too long, but for all the real answers we have to wait until the “Gen12” series which is so much farther down the line. Why not review it next? Well, because unlike the “Team 7” series, the “Gen12” series is told in flashback to an investigative government agent while he is dealing with the after effects of “Fire from Heaven.” So I can’t get ahead without spoiling too damn much, besides, it really is worth the wait! Oh, and no, we never really find out how Dane gets better enough to kick ass leading Wetworks, so don’t expect to ever really solve that mystery.

Next Week : “WildStorm Winter Special : Deathblow Gets Dusted” Preview by Allen Warner, Carlos D’Anada and Carrie Strachan

Issue 0 : Introduction

As I’m getting packed up and ready to head south to go to SDCC I thought I’d take the time to introduce myself and what I hope to accomplish with this ongoing column. I first got into comics when I was in high school in the early ‘90s. I had a few buddies who were more of the collector type at the time, and that didn’t interest me so much. Comics and comic talk were all around me, but it was still a year before I started picking them up for myself. When I started off, I was mostly picking up some Marvel and DC stuff just to see what clicked with me, this being the early ‘90s also meant that I eventually picked up some Image and Valiant comics as well. Not a lot of that did anything for me either, except for the books coming out of the then named Homage studio from Image.

When I look back, I’m pretty sure that “WildC.A.T.s Special #1” was my first official Wildstorm comic, something worked for me in that book. The art and coloring were nothing like what I was seeing in “The Infinity Crusade” or the “Death of Superman” stories that I was also reading. Sure, the writing wasn’t as good, but there was a certain appeal that stuck with me. I’m sure initial appeal was that these characters were as new to comics as I was. The secondary appeal of the Wildstorm comics over other Image books was that I didn’t actively dislike any of the characters. I could never get into “Spawn,” “Youngblood” or “Pitt” despite how much I tried as a kid (looking back I think I would’ve enjoyed “Savage Dragon” had I given it a shot.) I voraciously consumed the Wildstorm books for several years before getting into more independent comics, quitting comics, getting back into comics, getting a job at a comic shop, leaving said job and quitting comics again, getting back into comics again, moving across the country, quitting comics once more, then getting married to a woman who had a small interest in comics and has slowly dragged me back into the habit.

The Wildstorm universe has always had a big place in my heart and mind when I think about comic books and I really wanted to revisit that, as well as find out what happened during all those vacations away from comics that I took. So, armed with my well-traveled long box, a bunch of trades, Comixology, a dozen trips to various comic shops around the Los Angeles area and the Valley (and I’ll admit, a few unsavory websites) I’ve just about gathered all the titles that took place in the Wildstorm U. My first goal was the read them in the order of release. While reading I thought it would be interesting to arrange them in order of continuity. I got really excited about this idea because the writers at Wildstorm (mostly Brandon Choi) seemed to make sure that these books were all very closely related to each other. For the first several years of Wildstorm there was a very solid backbone running through the books that I didn’t notice as a kid that I’m seeing and appreciating now!

I started talking about how excited I was to “put Widlstorm in order” and Tim at Comic Nerds Unite suggested that I write about it. Now I love doing things purely for fun (like reading comics), but more so I love doing things for fun and then doing something with the information that I’ve taken in (like putting said stories in continuity order then telling people about it). Writing about revisiting my youth and re-reading the comics that made me love comics was too good of an offer to pass up. I knew I needed to be prepared so I went ahead and re-read them. I read them all. I’ve put them in order of events (for the most part) and now I’m reading them again and commenting on them, seeing how well they hold up, teasing out all the in-universe connections and reflecting on an 18 year shared universe that took a lot of odd turns before folding.

I’ll tackle the history of the Wildstorm universe several issues at a time, usually by story arc or mini-series, not so often by oversized one-shot or cross-overs. It may be harder to keep up at some times than at other, but I hope you’ll find it interesting, none the less.

Next: “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 10 backup story : “Soldier’s Story” by H.K. Proger, Ryan Benjamin and Tom McWeeney