I have a long and troubled history with “StormWatch.” In a lot of ways I always wanted to like it more than “WildC.A.T.s,” I’m not sure why. Point of the matter is, “WildC.A.T.s” can get fun when it the storytelling gets messy, and boy, does it gets messy, but “StormWatch” just gets boring later in its run. Until Warren Ellis start writing for it, “StormWatch” is the underdog of the WildStorm Universe, at least of the Lee/Choi books I Guess that “Wetworks” is the true underdog of the WSU. See, I usually root for the underdog, so maybe that’s why I was attracted to it, and kept reading it far longer than I should have, because after a bit, I really wasn’t enjoying it. However, the start was pretty strong and that carried me through quite a bit!
First page is a splash page and we meet Jackson King, AKA Battalion, shooting some big ass guns even though he has super crazy mind powers. Kick ass! Turn the page and we get another splash page featuring the rest of the team! The team is a product of the United Nations, so the idea is that there is several heroes, representing several different UN member countries will work together as a team to help with global issues, as they arise. We meet Fuji (the Big Guy from Japan), Winter (energy blaster from Russia), Diva (sonic screamer from Italy) and Hellstrike (another energy blaster, this time from Scotland). The team is on a mission to stop a group of mercenaries from finding a seedling to give to Helspont’s group. Oh, and just a reminder, a seedling is someone who was granted powers by a magical comet that passed close to earth, or is the child of someone who received powers from said magicomet. This is what the merc’s were after, a potential super powered being that Helspont had paid them to track down. I’m starting to get the idea that this story takes place before the events of “WildC.A.T.s” issues 0 – 4, as we all saw Helspont bite it at the end of that story arc, and the second part of this issue takes place at a funeral. No way are they gonna keep that guy on ice for more than a few days. Okay, maybe this could take dream/memory/flashback takes place before the start of “WildC.A.T.s” as that plays out over a day or two, and then since the funeral is in America it took a few days for the body to get there from Sarajevo… I’m stretching here. I guess it should be either before “WildC.A.T.s” 0 -4 or RIGHT after it but before getting to the “WildC.A.T.s” Special.
The Mercenaries are introduced to us too, but there’s only one that is really worth remembering, and that is Deathtrap. I mean, maybe Razor is worth remembering, but I don’t think they ever expound on her former connection with StormWatch, so she’s mostly just there. I think that Slayer may be a Coda or former Coda, but she doesn’t have a clef blade, just crazy face paint, and she pops up from time to time in the background of various WildStorm titles. When it comes to Kilgore and Brutus, there’s nothing much to be said. In fact when we meet the mercs, not only is Brutus not pictured as part of their group until a few pages later, he isn’t even named until the next issue. Poor Brutus. No love for the poor evil mercenary.
On the ground helping with saving the seedling is Windsor, a simple human on the ground who is an old pal of Jackson’s. I’ve already mentioned the funeral earlier, well it’s Windsor’s. He gets blown up but good by Deathtrap, but his sacrifice isn’t in vain as the seedling is saved! Before we move on to the funeral we meet a few more of the players in StormWatch, Jackson’s little Malcolm and Synergy, or more commonly known as Christine Trelane. Malcolm got mixed up with some hooligans and Synergy got the Chicago PD to bring him Jackson’s and drop the charges. Working for the United Nations comes with quite a few perks, in this case, diplomatic immunity! This does upset Jackson a bit, that Sarajevo mission was supposed to be his last one for StormWatch, and now, with the loss of his friend, he goes out with the deep sadness of another loss in his life.
We finally get a look at SkyWatch, the base of operations for StormWatch. It’s a goddamn USS Enterprise crossed with a satellite that orbits the Earth ready to find trouble and send help. The Star Trek comparison is more than apt, as the crew wear Trek-like unitards, the beam up and down from orbit to the Earth and they’re even lead by a bald guy. This particular baldy is Henry Bendix who is on the role of Weather Man One, the general manager of StormWatch, if you will. The UN are the bosses, but Bendix calls the shots on a daily basis. He’s also hard wired in to Skywatch to better monitor the whole shebang.
Ok, Windsor’s funeral. Jackson, Malcolm and Synergy attend, but they’re not alone, the mercs are there too! Oh, sheesh y’all, no way! Also, we find out Synergy’s comet power, she can activate seedlings (this is before her power of… I dunno, world’s greatest project manager?) She activates Malcolm to keep the mercs from taking him. Suddenly Fuji is there to help punch the bad dudes, so that’s cool. Synergy calls Bendix and he agrees to send Diva and Hellstrike ASAP, but that’ll take 5 minutes. He has another StormWatch group he can send, but he elects send them to Chernobyl, where something odd is happening. This grouping consists of Winter, Fahrenheit (fire based energy blaster), Cannon (energy blaster with a ponytail) and our cannon fodder characters: Ion & Lancer. They beam down into the craziness, to see what’s going on down there. Cut back to the funeral and we see Hellstrike and Diva help drive off the mercs and then everyone goes back to SkyWatch to help out Malcolm and take stock of what just happened. While there, a very beaten up Cannon beams aboard with out the rest of his team, uh oh, this doesn’t look good!
Cannon tells everyone that his team encountered a real bad ass named Regent, who wormed his way into their demention via the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. He also says that Winter activated Cannon’s teleport to beam back to SkyWatch to grab others to help in the battle against Regent. We find that Regent has kept both Winter and Fahrenheit alive, but has inhibited them from using their powers. He is impressed with their strength; however, they won’t stop his conquest of Earth. StormWatch catches up with Regent and tries to defeat him, but the task is proving a bit too difficult. In fact this fight is going so poorly that the UN council wants to send in the Wargaurd, even though SkyWatch crew member Major Dianne LaSalle strongly disagrees with that idea. Bendix knows she’s right, but says the Wargaurd will be sent in, if needed. Luckily StormWatch beats up enough on Regent that he runs away. Don’t worry, we’ll find out more about him in the pages of “Union.” But what of Malcolm? While in hospital he has the pleasure of meeting StormWatch’s favorite grandpop, Backlash! Ok, sure we all know him as Marc Slayton of Team 7, he seems like a big deal here, and not quite the asshole we knew back in the ’70s.
I remember reading these books in my parent’s basement and my cousin Matt looking at it and saying “that book looks awesome!” He was mainly remarking on the look of Jackson King, but it was pretty true none the less. I immediately liked Winter and Fuji the best. I dunno, Winter seemed like the underdog on the underdog team and Fuji, he just seemed like a really down to Earth cool guy with a gigantic body! I’m not going to lie and say that “eventually I learned to really enjoy all of these characters” because that didn’t happen. Seriously, I never became a fan of Cannon or Diva. Hellstrike grew on me a few redesigns and a personality upgrade later (I may be a loner in digging his ’70s cop look). You can’t tell me that Hellstrike’s initial look was anything special. Hell, even Ion was only just a recolor of his very generic uniform. Admittedly, it takes years for Fahrenheit to become worthwhile in the pages of “StormWatch : PHD” but when she does, wow, and it is crazy thinking about her evolution based on this first appearance. It is also nice to see how Jackson went from a pretty bland character to a fully fleshed out one over the course of the WildStorm tenure. Hell, the evolution of Synergy is a crazy one, resulting in an entirely different look for the character, going from ’80s pin up girl to a ’00s Annie Hall.
The WildStorm Universe is really starting to gel with “StormWatch.” In it we have references to Helspont, as well as setting up the backstory for the forthcoming “Union” book. Really the only thing missing is a more overt mention of I/O, besides having Slayton appear. Still, I wanted to know more about how the UN created StormWatch, how Bendix became Weather Man One, and if Malcolm King would ever get his shit together. Also, who in the hell is the Warguard and why people pissing themselves over it, but their bosses still think using them is a sensible last ditch effort?