Tag Archives: Mark Slayton

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 8 and “the Kindred : Prologue”

this entry covers issue 8 of “StormWatch” Vol.1 and the 2 part prologue for “the Kindred,” originally printed in two issues of “Previews” and later reprinted in “WildStorm Rarities.”
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OK, here we go, diving deeper into the interconnectivity of the WildStorm Universe. Also, bonus Ripclaw! Shorty after Ripclaw got back from Gamorra he got a call from the Apache Nation that one of their own had gone missing. Ripclaw takes on the mission to hunt down this child, a girl by the name of Sarah Rainmaker, a character we haven’t seen since she was a baby in “Team 7 : Dead Reckoning.” As Sarah is telling Ripclaw why she left (government goons) they are set upon by the Keepers (more government goons.)

Meanwhile back on SkyWatch we see Jackson and Slayton talking about the mission in Gamorra and how WeatherMan One pulled Jackson’s fat out of the fryer. They both know that repercussions are on their way for that. Also Slayton let’s Jackson know that he’s quitting StormWatch. He needs to learn more about the Daemonites and the UN will only hold him back.

Then comes the call, StormWatch is called by the Apache Nation to come help with all the craziness going on there. WeatherMan One sends in the team, minus Hellstrike due to being messed up, and with Malcolm instead. Jackson is told to suck it up, this could help them out due to Sarah and Malcolm being similar in age.

The mission mostly works! The StormWatch team fends off I/O’s Keepers with the help of Ripclaw and Sarah is staying on the reservation with her family. Here’s the catch, those repercussions that were due from WeatherMan One’s actions on Gamorra strike. One of the conditions turns out to be that Sarah be turned over to I/O’s Project Genesis. So in tears Sarah enters a limo with Ivana Baiul.

OK, some questions are raised. At this time StormWatch the team and “StormWatch” the book are made up of seedlings, meaning they got their powers from that magic comet. (Except Backlash, but he’s supposed to be a mole for Craven, so he most likely lied to the UN about where his powers came from.) So if StormWatch is headed to the Apache Nation under the idea that there is a seedling, and it turns out the seedling is not a seedling but a human with the Gen-Factor what do they do? Take her in anyway? Tell her to wait for enough other Gen-Factored types to show up and start a team book with them? While seedlings still play a part as “StormWatch” continues, it stops being the common factor for why and how the team members received their respective powers.

Now, on to the prologue for “the Kindred!” You may ask yourself, why isn’t this right before “the Kindred?” Why is there two issues of “WildC.A.T.s” between the prologue and series proper? Well, we need to get Grifter into place, and we need it to make a little sense with what’s going on in both “WildC.A.T.s” and “the Kindred.”

After the events of “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 8, Backlash is looking to find out all about aliens. First he calls I/O and gets a bunch of static from Lynch. Craven must’ve never told Lynch about Backlash being a plant in the StormWatch organization. Classic Craven. After that, for some odd reason, Backlash tracks down Grifter for help. Not sure why, they kinda sorta hate each other! In fact Backlash ruined Grifter getting ready for a night out on the town, that jerk! So they fight and it’s dumb and they part ways. Backlash off to Cyberjack’s and Grifter to meet Zealot at a bar for some pool.

Where to find these stories:

Next : “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 8 & 9 by Jim Lee, Brandon Choi with Jeff Mariotte and Travis Charest

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“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. For best reading order, read “Deadly Tidings” first then issues 6 and 7.

StormWatchVol1_04-07Here 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).

Where to find these stories:

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

“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.

“Team One”

this entry covers “Team One : StormWatch” issues 1 & 2 and “Team One : WildC.A.T.s” issues 1 & 2.

TeamOneAlright, let’s kick this off with an explanation to a question that’s been posed, “Why does this come in your reading order after “WildC.A.T.s” and “StormWatch” have started? All the events take place before.” It’s a fair question, so I always refer to first page of “Team One : WildC.A.T.s” which is captioned “the Present” and features a contemporary Jacob Marlowe and Void speaking, as he says he’s thinking of his past. Then we get a caption that reads “the Past” and we flashback to a young Marlowe going by the name Saul Baxter. The use of the “the Past” captions continue through all four books showing that this is a story being told about the past from the present. Why not put it closer to when it was published? Well that is right around the lead up to “WildStorm Rising” and interrupting that storytelling inertia just seems sadistic. So basically I put it after a few issues of “WildC.A.T.s” and “StormWatch” each, so you’d know some of the main players and where their paths will take them.

If I ever got another question about the “Team One” books it might be “What order should I read these in?” The answer is, that’s up to you. I’m fond of reading “Team One : WildC.A.T.s” issue 1 first, followed by both “Team One : StormWatch” books and then concluding with “Team One : WildC.A.T.s” issue 2. There might be a better way to do this, but that’s going to include tearing the pages out of the books, mixing together and arranging them from there. It is more work than necessary (but I’d be willing to give it a go on a rainy Sunday.)

So yeah, this is the past. How far past? I’m never exactly sure, but I always think it’s 1962. Why? In “WildC.A.T.s” it’s been mentioned that there was an event that occurred that gave the Daemonites an upper hand 30 years prior to that series. I figure that since it’s set in 1992, you subtract 30 from that, and you get 1962. Also the letter pages say it’s the ’60s, I guess it could be any year in that decade, but 1962 feels good narratively.

So who is on Team One? We have a few folks we know, Henry Bendix as Think Tank, Mark Slayton as Slay, Miles Craven from I/O and Jacob Marlowe as Saul Baxter, a different side of the man that even he possibly doesn’t remember. We also meet Mr. Majestic one of the few “out” as well as traditional superheroes in the WildStorm Universe, having been a powerhouse of the Allies in WWII. Somewhat familiar to us is Lucy Blaize, because as it turns out, she’s Zealot, there is telepath Isaiah King, father to Jackson and Malcolm King, and John Colt who is [Redacted due to “Fire from Heaven” spoilers]. We do get two all new “good guys” with Regiment (musclebound guy-with-a-gun and an attitude to kick all the asses) and Mason (beat generation rebel who has a few tricks up his sleeve). There’s also Khasm, who we see for a single panel before Craven arbitrarily says she’s no good for the team. The enemies we meet are also a mix of known, new and kind of familiar. Helspont is back, looking suave in a trench coat over his armor. Slaughterhouse Smith is a mobster that can fly and shoot lasers from his eyes. Then there’s Pike, who may or may not be related to the half-breed traitor of the same name that we all love to hate!

Team 1 is put together because there’s been 2 different alien sightings right close together, but the aliens are being called U.L.F.s, unidentified life forms. One involved Baxter/Marlowe and a Daemonite attacking a submarine a military base. The second involved Slayton and a Daemonite trying to sabotage the Icarus 5 launch at Cape Canaveral. (Another tip that this story is at least likely early ‘60s, as Cape Canaveral is named Cape Kennedy in 1963, and remains so for the next 10 years.) So Baxter/Marlowe and Lucy/Zealot, both working for the American government decide that since the government is getting all hung up on U.L.F.s that they should get a task force together, not so much to stop the Daemonites but to also help cover up the fact that their are any aliens on Earth and especially the Kheribum involvement in its history.They know that I/O and Craven are going to be involved and that’s just a problem they’re going to have to deal with. Even down to his unimaginative name of “Team One.”

Throughout the short series we learn a few things about the participants. Zealot has some sort of romantic past with John Colt, and another kind of past with Slayton of the non-romantic type. We meet both a young eager Henry Bendix, but also his ex-wife for some reason, and she’s supposedly a weak telepath. Regiment is supposed to be a bit secret to everyone but Craven so he is shocked to see Regiment tapped for Team 1. Regiment needs regular shots of an experimental drug to stay as strong as he is. In fact, of the other “test subjects” that have taken the drug, all but Regiment have succumbed to psychosis. Regiment just might have be the first successful stab that Craven had at created a super soldier. Not sure what is exactly up with Mason, he seems to have a very dark side to him, and is delighted to find out he’s fighting aliens and that he gets to kill them. And I’m pretty sure that he erects a force field for himself at one point. I used to suspect that he’s the half Kheribum/half Daemonite that is Voodoo’s father, but I don’t think that history bears that out.Isaiah King goes from being distrustful participant to pants-wetting newbie once the mission starts. Hell, he just wants to get back to his wife and unborn first son, I get that, but they went overboard on how far he went from badass to baby on that mission.

To get to the mission we first need to see the bad dudes hook up. We have Slaughterhouse Smith zipping around, blasting folks and we find that he rose to the top of the mob using these powers. Helspont approaches him after this attack and offers Smith whatever he wants if they can work together to meet Helspont’s goals. Those goals, take over the Earth. After a few short words with Pike, Smith agrees and a plan is hatched. The plan, take over a missile silo, point the missiles at Washington DC and hold all of America at ransom. After breaking into the missile silo, taking it over and getting Team 1 called on them, the plan changes. The new plan is the take out NYC with the missiles and show America they’re not fucking around, so meet our demands faster to save other cities this same fate. Smith hates this new plan, but too late, all of his mob underlings have turned on him and now only serve Helspont. Do’h!

Team One shows up and starts kicking ass, but things don’t go their way. They barely manage to stop the missile aimed at NYC, and that’s the only real victory they get. John Colt sacrifices himself to give Isaiah the time he needs to redirect the missiles. In fact he has Mr. Majestic blast him and all the Daemonites and mobsters that surround him. So the missile’s navigation system is destroyed, with Regiment riding on top of the missile to redirect it, I guess. And… and… and… that’s all we really know, because the lights go out in the missile silo and the story ends there.

Knowing the WSU future, we know a few things about the fate of Team 1’s members, but what we know also gives us more questions:

  • In the last few pages we find that Lucy/Zealot is pregnant. Is she pregnant with John Colt’s baby, or some different baby? Did that baby end up becoming a member of StormWatch?
  • Is this when Isaiah King started to go crazy? How long before he is full blown nuts? We know he had to stay at least normal enough to have Malcolm and then raise both King boys enough that they know and have some respect for the man he was.
  • How did Baxter/Marlowe fall so far down from where he was, to living on the streets in 1990?
  • John Colt got a super eye blast from Mr. Majestic that was enough to kill the Daemonites, so he’s a assumed dead, but why does he look so damn much like Spartan?
  • Is this the incident that made Mr. Majestic go into hiding, or at least start working very secretly, out of the public eye?
  • Regiment survives his missile ride, but how did he get the experimental drugs that he needs to stay normal and kick-ass before we see him in the ‘90s in the pages of “Grifter?”
  • Who really was Mason, and what is his backstory?

As far as the characters we have full knowledge of, Bendix goes on to create his own superpowered team between Team 1 and his appointment to StormWatch, while Slayton stays on with I/O and joins Team 7. Craven continues to run I/O and gets much more into trying to create superhumans to fight under his command as he grows him super spy empire. Things we find out about the WSU in general is that the Russians are several years ahead of America in telepathic research in 1962, which is a possible explanation for the three powerful telepaths that battled Team 7 during the ‘70s in “Team 7 : Objective : Hell.” So here we are, a bit more of the tapestry that is the WildStorm Universe. I’m glad that this was produced later down the line when it was, I’m afraid that there’d be some Extreme Studios or more likely some Top Cow characters in here if it had been produced any earlier. In my opinion the WSU has enough compelling characters and ideas that it can fill any need and stand on its own without any help.

Where to find these stories:

NEXT : “the Kindred” Vol. 1 issues 1 – 4 by Jim Lee, Brandon Choi, Brett Booth and Sean Ruffner

“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

“Team 7 : Objective : Hell” 1 – 3

this entry covers “Team 7 : Objective : Hell” (aka Team 7 Series 2) issues 1 – 3

Team7series2Welcome back to the Wildstorm Universe. Yes, we’re still in the ‘70s. Yes, we see Team 7 come out of retirement for the first of many times. Yes, Dane still has that awesome beard. No, we still don’t know how John Lynch loses his damn eye! But we find out that Lynch has risen through the ranks in the military to be the main government liaison and blah blah blah, I’m boring myself. Basically, Lynch is in charge, Craven isn’t and Lynch needs to get Team 7 back together again to go on awesome missions!

First mission? Make sure that the Russians or the Khmer Rouge don’t get ahold of the nukes that the U.S. military left in Cambodia during ‘Nam! Also, to find out exactly how hard Team 8 got the shit kicked out of themselves. Answer: They dead. Wait, there was a Team 8? Yup! There was even a second proposed Team 8 (hell, there was even another Team 7, but we’ll get to that later in the pages of “Wetworks.”) So Lynch tracks down the prison that Cray had been incarcerated in and convinces him to help find the rest of the old crew. They head down to South America, where Cray finds a bone that’ll be important 20 years down the line and then he and Lynch team up with a few guerillas and find the rest of the living Team 7, minus Slayton. I guess minus Beckman, too, but we don’t know if he’s alive and blind somewhere or dead.

Fast forward to the actual mission and the team is parachuting into Cambodia and Slayton is with them, so it’s like the old gang is kicking it again, just in a different war torn area. Good news, this isn’t some crazy set up by Craven and his goons; bad news, that Russian on crutches that was after them in the last series is still after them, and he has some psionic agents of his own. I’m unclear why he wants to destroy Team 7; it’s either out of military strategy or just jealousy that the U.S. has weaponized agents similar to his own. Also, that old Russian dude also has psionic powers.

I don’t know why it bothers me so much that we have no idea where these Russians got their powers, but it really does. In the next “Team 7” series we will see the Russians trying to create more super powered beings, but I want to know how they’ve pulled it off successfully before that point. I typed a bit last week about trying to understand exactly how the Gen-Factor worked, and I still don’t have a concrete idea about it. It does seem like there are a bunch of folks that at some time were exposed to something that gave them the Gen-Factor, hence all the kids in “Gen13” and “DV8,” but we only really focus on Team 7 in that regard. In fact there aren’t many different ways to manifest some kind of superpowers in the Wildstorm Universe. Here they are in order of most common.

  • 1. You have been exposed to the Gen-Factor, or are a child of someone who was exposed to the Gen-Factor.
  • 2. You are an alien, have an alien parent or 2, get an alien suit or aliens messed with you.
  • 3. You were exposed to a magic superpower giving comet or the child of someone who was exposed to that crazy comet (seriously, no one believes me when I tell them this.)
  • 4. You were born on January first at the turn of a century, and are thus dubbed a Century Baby, or are the child of a Century Baby.
  • 5. You are a robot, have had robot parts put on you, hence a cyborg or own robo-armor.
  • 6. You come from an alternate dimension, or were altered by alternate dimension technology.
  • 7. You were created by a mad scientist.

I know, 7 different ways (with a handful of subsets, mostly due to heredity) to attain “super” status in the Wildstorm U seems like a lot, but look at the DCU or the Marvel U and start counting all the different ways you can gain superpowers and 7 will seem like a very short list. This limiting way to get superpowers kind of gets lost along the way, but holds up for so long in the Wildstorm U that even the outliers remain unique (the Doctor, Rose Tattoo and the Drummer).

Truth be told, the 7 numbered limit of Wildstorm U superpowers really stops holding up after the soft reboot in 2006 when we’re suddenly introduced to a bunch of superheroes we’ve never heard of before from Wildstorm’s supposed past. Up until then the only pre-1992 action we’d seen Team 7’s action in the ‘70s, got a look at Team 1 in the ‘50s, Elijah Snow and Jenny Sparks’ lives throughout the 1900s and heard a bit about the $tranger$ in the ‘80s. Only after the soft reboot is the universe filled with all kinds of crazy characters that must’ve had their superpowers come from something other than the main 7. When the Wildstorm Universe was coming together in the early ‘90s it really seemed that this was near the ground zero for superhero activity in their universe. Now it is cool to get a bit of backstory, like the “Team 7” books, but I felt they eventually over did it.

Speaking of Team 7 and the ‘70s, the team has found themselves in the jungles of Cambodia and an earthquake is erupting! But wait… is it a real earthquake? Nope! It is either a psychic projection or it is another psionic attack that is churning the ground and trees around the team. Cash twigs on pretty quickly that whatever is happening to them isn’t trying to hurt them, only scare them so he tells the rest of Team 7 to chill out and put out good vibes. Once this happens things calm down and they meet young blind girl who asks them what they hell they are doing in her jungle. This kid doesn’t take shit from anyone, and gives war back to anyone who brings war to her village. By literally peace-ing out Team 7 is saved her wraith and makes a new friend, name X’ing X’iang, and I kid you not, they end up calling her Zig Zag.

One of the many good things about Zig Zag is that she is much more powerful than Team 7, which comes in handy when the more experienced Russian psionics catch up with them. Also, she knows where the missiles are that Team 7 came to destroy, so Lynch and Cash go to investigate. Lucky break that Zig Zag knows where the missiles are! Well, maybe not so lucky because suddenly there are 3 powerful Russians attacking Team 7. The old man in crutches apparently kills Cray and then starts to work on brainwashing Dane. Callahan, Chang and Fairchild take on the Russian woman while Slayton takes of the fat Russian dude. How will Team 7 get out of this one? Don’t worry, I’ll tell you in the next paragraph!

How does Team 7 takes down the bad guys? Luck and good timing! Cray wakes up from his supposed death and shoots the old crotchety Russian. This is the first hint of Cray having any kind of powers, well before they just come out right and say exactly what those powers are at least. While fighting the fat Russian Slayton develops his trademark psionic fist whips and snaps chubby’s neck. Then the Russian chick begins to wail on them and Zig Zag has had enough and tears her apart. That’s it. Lynch sets the missiles to self-destruct and Team 7 collectively adopts Zig Zag and fly back home to the states to start working for the government. The only causality seems to be Dane’s mind, as it is a blank.

In the end this is my favorite of the Team 7 books, mainly because I didn’t have such high hopes as I did with the first series, and because of how the third series is plotted. Multiple flashbacks, things going a little too fast to keep up with, it’s an all around mess, as if they had 3 more books they wanted to do and decided to smash them all into one last series, so get ready for that. “Team 7 : Operation : Hell” is fun because it is so linear, the boys are getting or getting used to their powers, and they’re going on missions! In my youth as well as my adult hood, I could read another dozen Team 7 books like this!

Where to find this story:

  • Excerpts from Issue 1 of “Team 7 : Objective Hell” is in the “WildStorm Rising” trade paper back.

Next WeekTeam 7 : Dead Reckoning” (aka Team 7 Series 3) issues 1 – 4 by Chuck Dixon and Jason Johnson

“Team 7” Vol. 1 issues 1 – 4

this entry covers “Team 7” volume one (aka Team 7 Series 1) issues 1 – 4

Team7series1I’d like to start out saying that while “Team 7” isn’t the first book that Wildstorm ever put out, it is integral for the history of the Wildstorm Universe that we start here. The first several years of Wildstorm comics (up through the disastrous “Fire from Heaven” cross over) all, to some degree, revolve around the members of Team 7 and their former bosses at International Operations, an intelligence agency for the United States Government. Second, this book was never presented as a character telling a story to others, or even features a wraparound to set the book in the present timeline with flashbacks to Team 7’s exploits in the ‘70s. Finally, it must be said that when this series started the readers knew most of the key players already, and were excited to see their collective past together. In the end, knowing these characters going in is a bit of a hindrance, in fact, I remember hating this when it came out. I wanted answers to some of the built up mysteries in the Wildstorm U and I wasn’t getting them here at all. All I was getting was a sci-fi war story from the ‘70s and that wasn’t what I was getting hyped up to read.

When we meet Team 7 they are already in the middle of a mission that is already going wrong. The team is being led by John Lynch under the direction of Mile Craven at I.O. and consists of Stephen Callahan, Cole Cash, Phillip Chang, Michael Cray, Jackson Dane, Alex Fairchild, Andrew Johnson, Richard MacNamara, Mark Slayton and a member that we only ever get the last name of, Breckmann. The mission goes south, but we get to see how resourceful Team 7 is in saving their skin in a tough situation. The mission was screwed from the start with the team being tasked with saving some hostages that had already been killed, I’m guessing that the idea was to draw out Team 7 and pick them off. It didn’t go as well as the “bad guys” had planned, the team survives and I.O. gets revenge on the source of the bad intel.

If you were me at the time, you were thinking “Who the hell are Johnson, MacNamara and Breckmann? And where the hell are Diaz1 and Rhodes2? We’ve never heard of the first three and the last two have been mentioned as Team 7 members by both Backlash and Grifter!” Well, as an adult I see that the book needed some cannon fodder as Craven is sending Team 7 on their second doomed mission, the mission that imbued the boys with the Gen-Factor.

Let’s be honest, I’ve never been exactly clear on what the Gen-Factor means. I had always assumed that it had meant there was a structural change to one’s genes that gave the recipient super powers. It may have very well been this at one point, but as time goes on we find that you can freely give your Gen-Factor to another person, or it can be stripped from you by someone for their own use. My initial understanding always made more sense to me, as it tracked that the Gen13 kids would get their Gen-Factor powers due to the enhanced genes their fathers are passing down to them. That’s just me, I didn’t write this stuff, and I can be kind of an idiot.

Let’s talk about the Team 7 members we do know. We’ve seen Lynch in the pages of “WildC.A.T.s” before he became the mentor of Gen13, whose roster includes the children of Callahan, Chang and Fairchild. We’d gotten to know Cash as Grifter very well in “WildC.A.T.s” as well as Slayton in “Stormwatch” and also we saw him in an uneasy team up with Grifter in “The Kindred.” Cray had recently started his own solo title with “Deathblow” so we didn’t know him that well quite yet, but enough to be interested to see how he started to work for I.O. as well as why he didn’t seemingly have any powers at all. Finally we’d seen Dane in “Wetworks”, even if he looked and acted a bit different back in his Team 7 days. Oh, and Callahan had died in the open pages of “Gen13” Vol. 1 #1. During the time that “Team 7” was coming out, the only members that we didn’t know the final fate of were Breckman, Chang, Johnson, Fairchild and MacNamara. I should’ve known that if you weren’t alive in the current Wildstorm books, you were assumed dead or would be dying soon in “Team 7,” and to keep Chang and Fairchild live long enough to have kids, they’d need a few people to fall early on to keep the stakes high. The last we’d see of Breckman and MacNamara is in I.O. headquarters where they are both having trouble controlling their new powers. Breckman has torn his eyes out and sits bloody on the floor of a padded cell, while MacNamara commits suicide because he can’t control his body from sending blasts out from it, having already killed a few I.O. staff members.

Through this initial “Team 7” series we find that Craven had been trying to create super powered beings for a while under his own command, and Team 7 was the first to mostly be intact after receiving those powers. We also are introduced to Gabriel, a telepathic assistant to Craven. Where he came from, and how he gained his powers are unknown, but we do find that Craven has been keeping all his failed super-soldiers on I.O.’s 9th level, which technically doesn’t exist and Gabriel is frightened of it. We also meet Alicia Turner as a nurse where Team 7 is waking from their post Gen-Factor induced comas. Wildstorm readers had already known her from “WildC.A.T.s” and I have to say, she ages just as well as Cash & Dane do, to say, in 20 years, she really doesn’t age at all, unlike Craven, Lynch and Slayton.

Wait, I haven’t told you the final fate of Johnson yet! Johnson just goes on to be a real dick on the first Team 7 mission with Gen-Factor powers and Cash kills him for it. Johnson had pretty much become a monster, mind controlling the team’s enemies into commenting suicide with a smile as he laughed at them. Cash wanted to win, but not like this, so he takes out Johnson. This starts a real rift between him and Lynch and as a result we start to see the team fall apart. Some want to remain loyal to Craven and I.O., others want to get away from the craziness that their lives had become. Also Fairchild gets kinda rapey trying to mind control a girl at a bar and Cash kicks his ass for it. Cash really hates mind controlling. The team fraying all comes to ahead when Craven decides to send Team 7 on their final test.

Oh, the final test. I’m still not sure what Craven was hoping for. He takes all of Team 7, except for Cray, as he’s not showing any powers, and sends them on a mission to a temple in Middle East. While there the team finds that there’s no strategic reason for them being at the temple and Lynch and Cash start to have a mind battle. Then Craven launches a low yield nuclear missile at the Team to see if they’ll survive. Yup, that’s the final test; let’s see if this can destroy them. The team that without super powers was already surviving the near impossible by working together and being smart. I know that Craven is a jerk, but come on, from everything we’ve seen, even if we didn’t know they’d all survive, we’d still assume they’d all survive. Team 7 huddles and concentrates on their psionic powers to shield them in a bubble force field and protects themselves from being blown up. They don’t give a shit about any of the monks in the temple though, them monks is dead.

Predictably having a nuke lobbed at Team 7 is the final straw and the only members willing to work for I.O. are Lynch and Slayton. Cray is pretty much blackmailed/coerced in to staying with I.O. by Craven after he threatened to murder half the crew of the boat that launched the missile at the rest of Team 7. Callahan, Cash, Chang, Dane and Fairchild all retire to a small town in Nicaragua, hoping to hide from I.O. and anyone else who would try get them to use their powers for purposes they disagree with. Good call, as we’ve seen a very creepy Russian man on crutches who has been one step behind Team 7 this whole time, who seems very interested in what they’ve been up to.

That’s it, that’s the first series! As an adult I really enjoy it. I enjoy seeing what good friend Cray and Dane were back then. I enjoy seeing Cash as a brash young man, but I wish he would’ve developed his sense of humor a bit back then. It was also fun seeing Lynch as a being highly fallible, which we’ll go years in the Wildstorm U before we see a hint of this again. When I picked up this book as a kid I really wanted to know how Lynch lost his eye, why Dane acts so different in “Wetworks” as well as how I.O. was founded. None of this is really answered in this series. In the future we’ll get an answer to the first, clues to the second and some murky details on the third, but nothing all that definitive. Also most of the team winds up in a small South American town? What? Really? How do they get to be who they are? I thought this was a prequel to some of Wildstorm’s biggest names! I want more story, dammit!  As an adult comic reader I’ve learned patience, but I really wish we would’ve gotten a bit more into the personalities of Callahan and Chang, who we never really see again for any true measure of time. They and Fairchild really come off as bit players in this book, and I feel the book is suffers a bit because of that.

Where to find this story:

Next Week : Team 7 : Objective : Hell (aka Team 7 Series 2) issues 1 – 3 by Chuck Dixon & Chris Warner

1 We’ll see more with Robert Diaz in “The Kindred” mini-series
2 Jack Rhodes, also known as Cyberjack, is a supporting cast member in the “Backlash” comic.