Tag Archives: Kaizen Gamorra

“Backlash” issues 15 – 16

This entry covers “Backlash” issues 15 & 16 by Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Mel Rubi, John Tighe and Mark Irwin.

backlash_015This issue opens with CyberJack being all “Peace out, Imma go to Gammora and hope they don’t screw me over while you, Marc Slayton, my best friend, deal with yr dead ex-fiance, later yo!” I know they’re supposed to be hardened badasses, but Slayton literally just saw his ex get murdered right in front of him! So, Jack, maybe stick around for your buddy, a least a little bit before taking off. That’s such a jerk move that I really wish that Cray had drunk all of Jack’s Zimas. We’ll get back to Jack’s adventures in Gamorra in a bit, first, we have to talk about hard-luck Slayton.

As stated previously, Slayton’s former fiance is dead and he’s bummin’. Then his friend with benefits, Amanda, starts to put the moves on him, only for the whole thing to be interrupted by Jodi. Slayton, in a huff, decides to go and get a beer at a local dive. Of course, he ends up befriending a man who is sitting in the in the seat of local tuff Beck, who is all set to beat Slayton and his new “pal”  down for this infraction along with the help of his posse. When Beck calls “seat save” he means it. While all of Beck’s buds go down easy, it turns out that Beck is much more than he first appears and it doesn’t look good for Slayton.

Also not looking good for Slayton is his daughter Jodi hitting on his best frenemy Cole Cash. Wait, what? How does Cole figure into all this? Well, it turns out Cash needed a part for his bike that he is cruising cross country on. He called his old pal CyberJack about it and sure, Jack could help, and if he’s not there, one of his “roommates” would be happy to hand over what Cash needs. Amanda is a bit distrustful of Cash, but Jodi is completely and totally enamored with the man. Amanda sends Cash on his way with his fixed motorbike and mentions that Cash can get a bite to eat at the dive in town, which is when Cash meets up with Slayton.

backlash_016As it turns out, Cash’s arrival is not a moment too soon! Beck has turned into a huge lizard creature and is starting to thrash Slayton and the back up certainly helps. My personal favorite bit of this story is the little old lady who is happy to see someone kicking Beck’s ass. Apparently, she’s been harassing StormWatch to send someone to deal with him. Doesn’t she know that StormWatch isn’t allowed to take care of American problems? At any rate, Cash makes quick work of Beck, save Slayton’s bacon and then it’s time for each of them to move on. Cash to find more trouble in Colorado and Slayton back to Amanda and Jodi.

Meanwhile, in the exciting adventures of CyberJack, we have our old pal Jack Rhodes meeting up with an old cohort in Gamorra. Makoto used to work with Jack and he even stayed there working after Jack left. The reason Jack left the first time was mainly that he saw his work being used to create things like Hunter-Killers and he wasn’t about that life, fam. Based on what Jack had left behind Makoto was able to keep working from Jack’s plans and he wanted to show them all to Jack. I mean, this is Gamorra, of course, Makoto was going to double cross Jack! But why? Kaizen wants Jack back in Gamorra to invent more stuff and Makoto was the willing lure. Kaizen says that Jack skipped out on their contract, and he means to have Jack back by hook or by crook, and yeah, that even means siccing the Mercs on Jack to keep him in line. Looks like CyberJack’s stuck in Gamorra now, he certainly is in a pickle!

Continuity Corner:

  • Cash must’ve picked up his bike in Vegas. Not sure if he or Halo had it stashed there or he bought it, but I figure that’s where he got it, as the last time we saw him, he was hoping a bus from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
  • In human form, Beck looks an awful lot like the form of Richard McNamara from Team 7 took when he popped up in “Grifter” volume two issue 3. Coincidence, right? Eh, Mel Rubi drew them both so maybe not too big of a coincidence.
  • When the little old lady asks if Cash is Cannon or Flashpoint he joking says that he’s Condition Red. I mean, us the readers get the joke, but how did he know that was Max’s code name in the new WildC.A.T.s? I don’t think we’ve seen them speak yet.
  • At the end of issue 16, Kaizen confronts Jack and he’s flanked by a guy in big ass eff-off armor. His name is Aries. He’s apparently Jodi’s twin brother and thusly Slayton’s son. I always forget this because I can’t remember if this was ever stated in the actual comics or not. I came across this info in “WildStorm Universe ’97” issue 3 when I was trying to look up his name real quick.

NEXT: “Grifter” volume two issue 1 by Steven Grant, Mel Rubi and Richard Friend.

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Cybernary Vol. 1 issues 2 – 5

This entry covers “Cybernary” volume one issues 2 through 5 by Steve Gerber, Jeff Rebner and Richard Friend as well as the short story “Cybernary : the Price” by Jeff Mariotte, Jeff Rebner and John Tighe which originally appeared in “Overstreet’s Fan issue 6.” Due to what Cybernary is wearing, and where we are at in the story “Cybernary : the Price” should be read before moving on to issues 2 through 5.

cybernary_v1_003For the purposes of clarity, I’ll be referring the star of this book as Cybernary, and no longer Katrina or Yumiko. I’ll also be using the pronouns “her/she” instead of “they/them” like I did in the coverage of the previous Cybernary stories. At this point in the book, Cybernary is starting to act as more of a conduit between the two personalities instead of switching back and forth between them, so it feels more apt. Not that the independent sides of Cybernary still don’t crop up, and it seems in the stories she’s mostly called Katrina, but in reading, it seems more unified. I mean we’re opening on the story of a want for Katrina, that is, to find Cisco. There is seemingly no difference in this desire where Yumiko is against that idea, and Cybernary seems more like a whole being.

Cybernary_2_02_03

In the search for Cisco Miranda leads Cybernary to where they might be able to find some information. This is unfortunately in the Gamorran slums. Sketchy areas that have high technology by low income. Cybernary is left to wait as Miranda goes to gather information. Cybernary then stops a poor woman from selling her baby for cash to some tech experimenters. Due to the large fight that ensued, at the next stop, Miranda brings Cybernary in to meet with her friend Hiroshi to try and avoid the craziness. Too bad, a big fight breaks out here too, while Cybernary wasn’t initially involved she does some damage to many of the involved parties.

After Hiroshi tells the ladies they better run to avoid the Kaizens police squad, they end up at the home of Trantor “the Jumper” MacGregor. Trantor is a techie of some stripe and is in need of some specialty electronics to upgrade his work. He knows a man by the name of Lance Wernick that has some, and if they can get these chipsets, Trantor is happy to give them what little information he has on the whereabouts of Cisco. Yeah, Cybernary and Miranda are being sent on a fetch quest.

Wernick

Miranda and Cybernary track Wernick to some crazy kind of fetish club and use Wernick’s base instincts against him. Yeah, Wernick, stop thinking with your pants! Cybernary takes him back to his hotel and as Cybernary is casing the joint for chipsets that Trantor wants, Kaizen’s police blast a hole in the wall and are ready to arrest both Wernick and Cybernary. While they manage to get away all they’re really accomplishing is raising Kaizen’s interest into what is going on. He sets Minotaur and his best men to investigate.

You see, Kaizen has had some a particular interest in this crazy Nympho-Droid running around since he’s started talking to Dr. Vandalia. That’s right, Dr. Vandalia managed to survive his fight with Cybernary and even though he’s just a head in a jar, he persists. He spills the beans on Yumiko being a part of the Cybernary, so Kaizen means to get his little girl back. Dr. Vandalia would like to go get her himself, but Kaizen doesn’t yet trust him, that’s why Minotaur and crew are on the job.

cybernary_v1_004After Cybernary gives Trantor Wernick’s chips, Trantor turns over the information he has on Cisco. Turns out he’s part of a cyborg pig man… yeah… oh, and he’s being held on Minotaur’s crazy ass island. Before the crew can head out, Minotaur’s best gal Borgia attacks the team. She literally flies down on her Scooty Puff Jr. and starts messing Cybernary’s friends up. Cybernary isn’t having it and knocks Borgia’s jaw loose and steals her hoover scooter to go save Cisco.

Cybernary puts up a good fight, but she’s soon bested by Minotaur’s lesser goons. To be fair, there were a lot of them, firing from all directions, poor thing was just overwhelmed. She wakes up in the Minotaur’s labyrinth which leads her to find Cisco-cyborg-pig-man in an arena vs. her! When she eventually defeats this abombination of an ex-boyfriend she sets her eyes on Minotaur. Minotaur isn’t dumb, so he traps Cybernary and orders Gila to kill her. Before Gila can get a shot off Borgia shows up and tells them that Cybernary is the Nympho-Droid that Kaizen sent them after in the first place, and it’d be a stupid call to kill her at this moment.

cybernary_v1_005Kaizen has spies everywhere and doesn’t like what he sees on all his little spy cams. To get Cybernary back he puts Dr. Vandalia’s head on a new body that looks like a god damn Millenium Falcon and sets him to the task of retrieving Cybernary. Vandalia fails, and Cybernary rips him to shreds this time. Maybe he’ll really be dead this time! Cybernary makes it out onto the beach of the island and is greeted by several of her friends, and bunny with a huge brain named Bunny. They all watch Minotaur Island burn as they sail away.

Continuity Corner:

  • We won’t see the Cybernary again until she pull’s Slayton’s bacon out of the flames during the “Fire from Heaven” crossover.
  • Then again, that’s much earlier than when we’ll see Miranda and Cisco again, that won’t happen until the “Savant Garde” book starts up, and we won’t even know Cisco is there hiding in plain sight for a few issues either.
  • Speaking of Cisco, we don’t see Cybernary leave Minotaur’s island with any pieces of Cisco, how does she get him into that big green robot body later?
  • Don’t weep for Minotaur’s island, it’ll be rebuilt and DV8 will visit it in “DV8” issue XX
  • Also… Fart Man? Really? I get being a Howard Stern fan, but really, Fart Man as part of Minotaur’s entourage? Maybe have him walking the streets of Gamorra or something instead,  you know like Rebner had already done with Jay and Silent Bob in “the Price.”
  • Ok, time to talk about something confusing… the Gamorra Family, specifically Kaizen and his relationship to Yumiko. So we all know that John Colt impersonated Kaizen Gamorra for years. I mean, we don’t know when he started, but we know he started sometime after the ’60s and well before the early ’90s. When we see the real Kaizen Gamorra we find that he doesn’t look much like the fake Kaizen Gamorra, unalike enough so that no one would confuse the two. My question is, when was Yumiko Gamorra born? Is she the real Kaizen Gamorra’s daughter, or is she John Colt’s kid? Did John replace Kaizen early enough in Yumiko’s life that she’s only ever known John as her father and doesn’t notice the difference? At the very least, after the 2006 reboot, she saw the real Kaizen as her true father, but that doesn’t mean it was always supposed to be the case in the earlier version. Truth be told, there’s so much left open-ended here for us to have some wild ideas! Seriously, she looks young enough that she could’ve been John Colt’s kid and been half Kherubim.

NEXT:  “StormWatch” volume one issues 30 through 33 by H.K. Proger, Barbara Kesel, Renato Arlem, Mike Miller, Brad Vancata and Robert Jones

“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 17 – 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continuity Corner:

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

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

“Spartan : Warrior Spirit”

this entry covers the four issues of the “Spartan : Warrior Spirit” mini-series.

SpartanWarriorSpiritVol1_01-04I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t like this book when I was a kid. I didn’t like it two years ago when putting the chronology together for this website/blog. But I have to admit, I didn’t find it too bad going back to this time around. Not sure what changed. I’d always been a fan of Busiek, so there was no “later in life appreciation” or anything. Maybe it was just a case of lowered expectations. Or it is a good book and I couldn’t see past the art, because while fine for a regular book, we’re talking about a WildStorm/Image book, they’re supposed to be a bit flashier than this, right?

The story opens up with four of Spartan’s spare bodies waking up at the HALO building and flying off, cut to the WildC.A.T.s in the middle of a Daemonite battle, one in which Spartan is sacrificed. Lucky for us this means there won’t be a “but who’s the real Spartan” showdown later with Cole pointing a gun at both as he keeps switching which one he’ll pull the trigger on. The team is dismayed to get home and see the bodies are gone and they can’t reboot their team leader, pal and part-time lover.

When Spartan does wake up he finds himself in a small Tibetan village in the Alps. He’s being woken up by Dr. Able and the doctor’s daughter Allison, who is supposedly Spartan’s wife. Spartan doesn’t remember all of this, but once a Gamorran Hunter-Killer breaks into the base he remembers how to fight. This is all that Dr. Able really wants Spartan for, to fight off the Gamorrans as they continue to come after his scientific research base built into a Tibetan temple.

What is Dr. Able up to? Well, legend has it that an ancient evil was trapped deep underground long ago, and the temple was built on that spot. Dr. Able wants to bring this evil presence back out and into the world, but this time trap it in his computers so that he can control its evil energy.

Not that any of this is easy for Dr. Able to do. Mostly because Hunter-Killers from Gamorra keep crashing the gates. Why? Oh, because up until recently Dr. Able was working with the Gamorrans. He was even the creator of the Hadrian-7 android, which is the kind of machine Spartan is, and he tells Spartan to think of him as his dad. So, Spartan’s pop is basically chaotic neutral and Spartan married his own sister? Anyway, because Dr. Able backed out of his deal with the Gamorrans, Kaizen Gamorra keeps sending wave after wave of Hunter-Killers to either confiscate the research, kill Dr. Able or both.

Meanwhile, Spartan is growing frustrated that he can’t remember his life, but can remember how he’s an awesome team leader. Turns out Dr. Able tried to shield all that information from Spartan by way of memory wipes to the ole computer brain. After all, he just needed Spartan for defense purposes. Some images of his past life do come through on occasion, but nothing ever sticks long enough to make a lasting impression.

Eventually, the rest of the WildC.A.T.s team locate Spartan and go to get him. They meet a bit of resistance at first, as Spartan has no real idea who they are, and has been told they are mercenary bandits after Dr. Able. Dr. Able convinces Spartan of their “no-good-ness” when he tells them the WildC.A.T.s were responsible for inserting an override chip in his circuitry. Spartan eventually snaps out this falsehood just in time for the ancient evil to escape Dr. Able’s computer system and infect the doctor himself. Spartan, of course, saves the day and confronts Marlowe about the override chip. Marlowe admits it was for safety, but confesses it had never been used and promises Spartan there will be none in the future. Then everyone flys home. Happy ending.

Continuity Corner:

  • This book came out quite a bit later than you’d think. It was actually published after “WildStorm Rising” so it was odd to see a story with Spartan and the old WildC.A.T.s as he was leading StormWatch and the rest of the team was presumed dead/in space.
  • Falling where it does in continuity here gives us our first look at Hunter-Killers as well as Kaizen Gamorra. This is Kaizen as we’ll never see him again. Pudgy, cyborgian and of green skin. It almost makes more sense for it to be the first we see of him, as comics retcon small first appearances like this all the time. Also, it’s a flashback that could be old enough that Kaizen could’ve looked like that… I mean considering at this time we’re still not talking about the real Kaizen Gamorra. We all know that fake one had a lot of work done! More on this ridiculous WildStorm plot point in the “Fire from Heaven” cross-over.
  • In this story, the features for the Hadrian robots were said to be based on a man named Zachary Krieger. We also know just about everything that Dr. Able says is a lie, but his daughter seems to back at least that story up. We’ll soon find that Spartan’s look was more or less based on John Cole’s. Also, there’s an off-handed remark that Spartan’s face is wrong by Pris, even though it’s drawn pretty much the same as when the bodies woke up at the HALO building and flew off, as well as when the then active Spartan who perished in the opening fight. This is like that “disguise” that Taboo cooked up for Backlash isn’t it?
  • The first time we ever got any information on Spartan’s backstory, and how he was from Gamorra was in “WildC.A.T.s” vol. 1 issue 6 where Marlowe and Jules just acquired the Hadrian-7 tech shortly before finding Warblade washed up on the beach.
  • I’d like to imagine that the battle we meet the WildC.A.T.s in the middle of was the one that Void, Pris and Zealot were running off to join at the end of the “Zealot” mini-series.
  • Also, that battle featured the words “Daemonites splinter group.” This is at least the second time we’ve seen that phrase. The last was in “WildC.A.T.s” vol. 1 issue 14, and I’m wondering “a splinter from what? Daemonites are Daemonites!” Maybe a splinter group from The Cabal, perhaps? Seeing that the team was fighting Hybridroids would suggest that Hightower might’ve been behind this evil plot.
  • Oh, said evil plot was Daemonites taking over the bodies of the children of influential world leaders so that in a generation the Daemonites would be in charge. Holy heck, that’s a hell of a good plan!

NEXT : “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 11 – 14 by Ron Marz, Mat Broome, Joe Phillips, Trevor Scott, Jason P. Martin and Karl C. Story.

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 6 & 7 and “StormWatch : Deadly Tidings”

this entry covers “StormWatch : Deadly Tidings” originally from “Image 0” and reprinted in “WildStorm Rarities” as well as “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 6 & 7.

StormWatchVol1_04-07
Here we go, we’re finally getting to things I really want to discuss that happen with in the WildStorm Universe! I’m excited! Ok, these 2 issues and short story call back to “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 0. We finally see the true fate of the StormWatch Prime team. Basically they were thought dead by the hands of Deathtrap, but in reality they were captured by him and held hostage in secret after a battle in Kuwait. Also, Sunburst is added to the roster of StormWatch Prime, along side Flashpoint, Nautika, Battalion and their leader Backlash. I’m not going to lie, it is a very basic story, but a few rad as hell in universe things are happening.

First we’re getting to know a bit more about the island nation of Gamorra, it’s leader Kaizen Gamorra, and the why it rose to power. Basically there are no concerns for human safety, black market arms deals are made there, and there is a national embrace of bleeding edge technology. The latter two are the reason for the former and it means all kinds of crazy cybernetic experiments are going on in the WSU as a result. We’ll see more direct results of of this in “Cybernary,” “Allegra” and “Hazard.”

Second we see a mountaintop research facility explode. I know, not some huge deal… right? Mountaintop research facilities are always exploding around Gamorra! Actually, this explosion is the result of what is currently going on in “WildC.A.T.s” at that very moment, and I have to say, it is an event that sticks out very clearly in the minds of comic readers from the time. It was a first moment of seeing the two books come so close together that the characters could’ve met. At the point we had not idea if the heroes of the WSU had met before (other than Union and StormWatch) and we really don’t know how many other characters know of the WildC.A.T.s, I mean staying covert is in their very name. We know that the Mercs knew Helspont and the Cabal, but that’s about all we know as far as current relationships among the teams. Even the members of Team 7 don’t know the whereabouts of each other and have no idea how much their lives will start to intertwine again.

The last few issues of “StormWatch” set up the Daemonite menace as something affecting the WSU on the whole, and not just the WildC.A.T.s battle. This issue is showing us an island where more and more action in the WSU will be centered as well as introducing us to a major player in the WSU.

StormWatch battles the Mercs, saves the captured members of StormWatch Prime, WeatherMan-One blackmails Kaizen Gamorra to keep things quiet, as well as royally piss him off. Like I said, the story isn’t too much, but the action was decent and the strands are starting to come together on this universe. I’m a continuity nut, so seeing these things gets me pretty damn excited! I need to mention that Deathtrap did something to seriously mess up Hellstrike, but we’ll see more of that later. Also, we see Diva and Jackson King flirt a little bit before getting cock-blocked by Fuji. Christine Trelane thanks you Fuji.

OK, sure, we’ll still have to see a bit of the WSU’s cousin universe, Top Cow, but Lee and Choi are serious about the connectivity of their side. Speaking of Top Cow, they figure pretty big in our next entry, for better or for worse (I still say worse).

Next : “Killer Instinct” by Jim Lee, Brandon Choi, Marc Silvestri and Eric Silvestri

“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)