Tag Archives: Brad Vancata

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 30 – 33

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continuity Corner:

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

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

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

Advertisements

“Wetworks” Vol. 1 issues 12 – 15

This entry covers “Wetworks” volume 1 issues 12 – 15 by Francis Takenaga, Whilce 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. The best reading order would be issues 12 and 13 in full, followed by the main story in issue 14, then skipping to issue 15 and reading both the main and backup story “Fly on the Wall” before getting back to issue 14’s backup story “Fieldtest” AKA “Fire from Heaven Prelude.”

Wetworks_v1_012The team wants to save Claymore, but no one has any ideas on how to do that. Whatever Drakken tossed at him during their last big battle, really seemed to do a number on the poor guy. The team is running out of steam, not knowing what to do. Hell, even Mother-One is only sleeping a single hour a day and is trying to use all her computery bits to figure out the mystery of Claymore’s disease. Then, suddenly the whole team has a dream. A crazy dream. A dream about a pyramid. A pyramid with werewolf statues standing outside of it on each corner. Because they all had this dream, they figure it must mean something. For now, that’s on hold as they head out on their next mission.

What’s the mission? Seems like the dwarves and the little hippo dude Night Tribes are out in the Marshall, Minnesota aiming to cause some trouble. This gets shut down pretty quickly, and we even get to see Dozer in a lot of action. Of course, he damages his new robotic outfit so much as he and the team take out the threat, that he has to have Waering’s people get him back to base separately from the rest of the team. Which means Dozer misses out on the next big batch of fun. That fun is trying to find out where the dream pyramid is!

So yeah, the team flies from Minnesota all the way to Egypt! As Grail says to the team “Egypt is a large place” how the hell are they going to find a single pyramid amongst all that sand? Lucky for everyone, Mother-One has a feeling, a feeling that will tell her where the pyramid is! And low do they find it! Not as easily as you’d think, apparently it was hidden by a cloaking device from the naked eye, but that won’t stop our Wetworks team, boy howdy!

Pyramid Time

Wetworks_v1_013The team get in the pyramid and find a sarcophagus with a mummy Egyptian prince in it. How do we know all this? Well, we find it out later when it’s dying golden symbiote starts to communicate with Dane’s. Pretty intense story, the prince was a werewolf. Not sure where he got a symbiote, but he did, so good for him! Turns out he died of the same thing that is affecting Claymore back home! We find most of this out while the team is battling some rock monsters in the pyramid. It takes some paying attention, but the team figures out how to defeat them. They then head home, now with the knowledge they need to defeat Claymore’s infection.

It is a tough job, but the team ends up creating what is needed to cure Claymore. When I say tough job, I mean that there is there is considerable damage to Waering’s facility, the team, and Dane in particular. There’s also some business with his arm splitting open, and the infection being alive and then quarantined, but I really didn’t follow it exactly. I mean, hell, it is drawn way awesome, but I don’t get EXACTLY what went on.

Wetworks_v1_014The Blood Queen is out whooping it up in NYC, killing folks left and right. She keeps carving a serpent in the chests of her victims. Long-suffering Persephone has already had an ass full of the Blood Queen’s nonsense but has to take it in stride, as it is her royal duty to stick with the notorious T.B.Q. Queeny is just reveling in the murder and mayhem she’s causing only pausing for a bit to talk about her love for Dane. I’m pretty sure this is the first indication that the Blood Queen personally knows anyone on the Wetworks team other than their benefactor Mr. Waering.

Time for a training session with Dane! And Dane tells them they all suck. He’s schooling the whole team left and right. He’s worried that they’ve started to rely too much on the power they’ve gotten from the symbiotes and are getting lazy. He orders more and more training sessions to get the team back up to snuff. We get a touching (get it) moment between Mother-One and Grail, we see Jester once again unwittingly use his power, and we Dane confused, hearing a voice in his head. The voice is the Blood Queens, and we all know, that lady ain’t right in the head! Look out, Dane!

Worried Dane

Wetworks_v1_015Well, Dane isn’t feeling well, so he goes on a break. Of course, this isn’t going to be a joyous vacation for him to think and collect himself. Nope, poor Dane stops at a diner and is accosted by a creature trying to steal his golden symbiote! The creature was once a man named Paul, whose soul was bound to his body even after he was killed. He must have some kind of low-level psi-powers as he can command flys to cover his body and keep he decaying body mobile. He made a mistake that afternoon going after Dane, and may’ve paid the price. At the end of their battle all that is left if Paul’s skull, still containing Paul’s eternal soul.

Time for a training session without Dane! And Waering tells them they all suck. He has a point, without Dane around the team is coming across as next to useless. OK, it isn’t that bad, but it really seems that Mother-One is the only team member to get how serious the team needs to get if they are to function without Dane leading them. Without Dane you say? Yup! Mother-One is worried about his health and wants to be prepared if worse comes to worse and Dane isn’t around. Well, where’s Dane this now? Turns out he’s made it to Battery Park in NYC at the Korean War memorial, where he runs into his old friend Michael Cray.

Dane Remeets Cray

Continuity Corner:

  • One of the reasons for the unorthodox reading order is this: issues 12, 13 and the main story from 14 all concern the teams desire to cure Claymore. The backup story in 14 ends with Dane meeting up with Michael Cray, whom he pretty much stays with up through the events of “Fire from Heaven.” In my head, it makes no sense for him leave Cray to go back across the country to do a training exercise with the team in the “Fieldtest” story and then leave them to meet right back up with Cray again. If we read the book in the order I’ve laid out we get the entire arc of the team saving Claymore, then Dane leads a training session, followed by seeing Dane on the road in “Fly on the Wall.” After that, we see the team do a training session without Dane while he meets up with Cray for “Deathblow” volume one, issue 22 and next big “WildStorm” cross-over. It has a better narrative flow, but I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a tortured order to have things in.
  • Also, at the end of the training session in issue 15 we see Dane drop his gold. After the events of “Deathblow” volume one issue 22 he can’t really do that due to the lack of Gen-Factor in his system. The symbiote is the only thing holding him together at that point, sooooooo… my crazy order stands! Suck it, doubters!
  • Alright, I’ll admit it, maybe “Fly on the Wall” doesn’t go here. I just thought that it would be pointless to pull it out, as we know that Dane is on the move, so why not. But frankly, I just can’t think of anywhere that is a desert between where Waering’s place is and New York City. Then again, it seems like he’s kind of wandering in this story, so maybe it wasn’t exactly a straight line from point A to point B in this case.
  • It’s a bit of a retcon, but we’ll find that the Blood Queen has been messing with Dane for years in the pages of “Gen12.” Issue 15 of “Wetworks” volume one was our first hint of something going on between the two of them.
  • You’d think the Blood Queen killing folks in NYC would gain the attention of some of the other New York City-based WildStorm characters. I guess StormWatch is busy rebuilding and the New WildCats are trying to get themselves established keeping them away from the action. I guess the real question is, where the hell is Union?

NEXT: “Deathblow” volume one issue 22 by Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner and Trevor Scott

“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