Tag Archives: Renato Arlem

“Fire from Heaven” Chapters 12 – 14

This entry covers “Fire from Heaven” chapters 12 through 14, which include “StormWatch” volume one issue 36, “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 30 and “Sigma” issue 3 by Drew Bittner, Alan Moore, Brandon Choi, Renato Arlem, Ryan Benjamin, Travis Charest, Kevin Lau, Jose Pimentel, Richard Friend, Sandra Hope, Mark Irwin, Sal Regla, Luke Rizzo, and John Tighe.

Up front, sorry for being MIA for a bit. I’ve moved (not too terribly far from my last place) and a celebrated a birthday, Vegas style. It doesn’t seem like much but it’s been pretty busy for me and I didn’t have time to give this blog my full attention. But now, well now is a different story! Now we’re diving back into the gigantic “Fire from Heaven” crossover!

stormwatch_v1_036We join back up with Kaizen Gamorra reminding StormWatch that they need to do their damn jobs and take out the metahuman menace on his island. He even threatens to call in the UN to rat them all out personally. Even as StormWatch and StormForce are uneasily agreeing to get with the Kaizen program do the Mercs show up wanting to join forces with them. While the team doesn’t quite trust them, Deathtrap reminds the heroes that the Mercs live on Gamorra, why wouldn’t they want to defend it? The uneasy pairing takes off to track down the combined forces of  the WildC.A.T.s, Gen13, Team 7 and WetWorks (along with Union.)

So everyone is all caught up with each other and as the fight goes on the StormWatch and StormForce members want less and less to do with fighting. In fact, the only “good guy” interested in the fight at all is Flashpoint. Here, in the heat of the battle Flashpoint finally lets it slip that he has been working with Deathtrap all along! He lured StormWatch Prime to Kuwait to be captured. It’s pretty evil, then again it’s Flashpoint’s always been a bit of a jerk, so yeah, he’s an evil jerk. Might as well add stupid to that list too, because he takes on Jackson and gets his head exploded. What an evil stupid jerk.

FlashpointExpoldy

Alright, now we have StormWatch back on the side of the angels, ready to take the fight to Kaizen. But he keeps throwing things at them. First, it was Hunter-Killers, then some high-tech drones, now it is a bunch of these Omnibots. Mother-One figures out a way to hack into their shared signal of the Omnibots and force them to self-destruct. It doesn’t work on all of them, but it thins the heard enough to give the heroes an upper hand in taking out the rest. With that crisis over another one is on its way, that huge wave that we saw getting going at the end of our last chapter of “Fire from Heaven” is now right off the coast of Gamorra!

wildcats_v1_030Meanwhile, back in New York City, the Crime War is heating up between the New WildC.A.T.s and NYC’s organized crime families. The StormWatch rookies are not the help Savant was counting on. In the middle of the fight, Mr. Majestic just up and leaves, further pissing Savant off. Why did Mr. Majestic leave? Well, he saw something on television he didn’t like and had to get away to take care of it.

Back on Gamorra while a huge tsunami looms over Gamorra City, the Cybernary and her crew are breaking into Kaizen’s main base of operations. They manage to knock out his power and the combat drones protecting him. At this moment the wave crashes into the city, but Cybernary is lucky because Slayton is there to save her like she did him earlier in the crossover.

EasySaysYouMrMags

The wave hits, but not as hard as everyone assumes that it should have. It turns out that Mr. Majestic saved the day. He’s a smart one for sure, but now it is time to get down to business, time to confront Kaizen Gamorra… or is it? That’s right readers, the Kaizen Gamorra that we’ve known so far in WildStorm comics is not the real Kaizen Gamorra at all! In fact, it is an impostor that imprisoned the true Kaizen and took his place. This impostor is none other than (insert drumroll) Yon Kohl AKA John Colt from Team One… the one that Majestic killed by request back in the ’60s.

You know, the John Colt that had his memories uploaded into Spartan? So yeah, basically there’s two of this guy running around. The way fakey Kaizen sees it is that Spartan is no more than a cheap Yon Kohl knockoff. At first, Spartan wasn’t sure to believe all this, but he had been getting flashes of memories that he didn’t quite remember so it started to add up. Spartan sees himself as what Yon Kohl stood for, and takes Kaizen to task for being a fallen version of Kohl. Not so surprisingly, they are pretty evenly matched and Mr. Majestic steps in again to finish the job he’d started 30+ years ago, and kill his former friend and fellow Kherubim Lord.

OGKohlDed

With Kaizen killed and there being only one Yon Kohl left standing, the heroes start to speak of what Damocles could be doing on the moon. There’s a problem, morale is extremely low. Lucky for everyone, Spartan has just the speech to get everyone back into the ass-kicking spirit! That’s right, it’s time to head to the moon, bitches!

ShootTheMoon

sigma_003And that’s it for straightforward storytelling! This issue of “Sigma” and all the Finale issues are all jumbled in time/happening at the same time. More on the Finale issues when we get there, but this issue picks up shortly after Ethan, Dr. Tsung and Cray teleport away from Gamorra and back to California all the way back in chapter 8. We see a replay of Damocles’ abduction the Victoria and Celia Tsung. Other than showing us what we already know, we also find out about Dr. Tsung’s past including his previous wife and daughter, as well as his how he found the wee baby Ethan and how he started working for I/O.

Ethan, Cray and Dr. Tsung get their asses to the moon by way of Qeelocke to take on Damocles. The fight is just getting started when Damocles gets his helmet knocked off revealing to everyone that he’s an alternate universe version of Dr. Tsung. While this is shocking and surprising to everyone, even The Sword, it doesn’t stop the battle. What does put a big ole cooler on the fight is that Ethan uses too much power and accidentally engages a safety mode on his suit that basically turns him into a protected lump, unable to hurt anyone or be hurt himself. With Ethan out of the way, Damocles is pretty sure he’s got this fight won with no one else to stop him. Oh yeah, things are looking bad for Earth right about now!

DamoclesWins

Continuity Corner:

  • When Maul approaches Jackson King they make mention of the bad blood between them. This being Maul “killing” King which in a roundabout way kicked off the last big WildStorm crossover “WildStorm Rising.”
  • After Flashpoint is killed, the Mercs are taken down easily, Razor even officially surrenders. I’m sure they were supposed to be taken into custody by StormWatch, but they must’ve escaped quickly because after this they’ll join the Crime War in the pages of “WildC.A.T.s” and that’s only a matter of days after the conclusion of “Fire from Heaven.”
  • We have a few pages in “StormWatch” volume one, issue 36 where a doctor lands on Gamorra with a plan to work for Kaizen. He has a new kind of Hunter-Killer with him! This experiment turns out to be bounty hunter named Alexander Hutton and he will be the star of  the forthcoming book “Hazard.”
  • Finding out the depth of Flashpoint’s traitorous ways never quite fit well to me. Mainly because if he was working with Deathtrap, then all their dialogue near the end of “StormWatch” volume one, special issue 2 seems like it doesn’t fit. Unless he thought somehow that StormWatch was listening in on that conversation. Sorry, that’s the best I can come up with!
  • While there are a bunch of small continuity errors here and there throughout “Fire from Heaven” there’s a moment in “StormWatch” volume one, issue 36 where Mother-One loses her arm. In the next chapter in “WildC.A.T.s” volume one, issue 30 we see Caitlin Fairchild retrieving and giving Mother-One her arm back. A nice small moment in this massive and messy crossover.
  • Okay, I gotta mention this, somehow, somewhere Maggie Monroe and Capt. Lucius Morgan get off of Gamorra. Around this time some odd lights from the sky start to shine down onto the Earth and disintegrate anyone who it touches. Maggie, Lucius and some other bit players from “Sigma” get caught up in this. I could be wrong, but these characters are all dead now, right? What a lame way to go out for Maggie and Lucius!
  • Speaking of lame ways to go out… this is a pretty big revelation with Kaizen Gamorra actually being Yon Kohl and then being savagely beaten so quick! It just feel like a real loss of story opportunities.
  • Even though Pris is on the cover of “StormWatch” volume one, issue 36, she doesn’t appear anywhere inside this book. It was nice to see her though.

NEXT: “Fire from Heaven” Finale chapters 1 through 3, which includes “The Sword of Damocles” issue 2, “Fire from Heaven” issue 2 and “Deathblow” volume one issue 28 by Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner, Randy Green, Jim Lee, Trevor Scott, John Tighe, Richard Friend, Luke Rizzo, JD, Sandra Hope, Troy Hubbs, Danny Miki, Sal Regla, Edwin Rosell, Art Thibert and Tim Townsend.

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“Fire from Heaven” Chapters 4 – 6

This entry covers “Fire from Heaven” chapters 4 through 6, which include “Wetworks” volume one issue 16, “StormWatch” volume one issue 35 and “Sigma” issue 2 by Jonathan Peterson, Drew Bitner, Brandon Choi, Cedric Nocon, Renato Arlem, Randy Green, Chuck Gibson, Danny Bulanadi, Jose Pimentel and Sal Regla.

wetworks_v2_016Welcome back to the ongoing coverage of “Fire from Heaven” here at Weathering WildStorm. The thing about this crossover is is that it seems to jump around in time a lot more often than I remember. A lot of times we have books that are trying to present to us how their main characters got involved in the mess on Gamorra. So that’s not really a big deal if we keep rewinding in time to find out what certain groups were up to before they join a big fight with the other characters. Other times there’s some through stories that aren’t adding up correctly and that’s the kind of thing I point out in the “Continuity Corner” at the bottom. Right now the big fight everyone is heading to is in Kaizen’s lab where he’s just awoken his greatest feat, the Gen-Omega!

But first, there’s trouble on the moon! The Sword and several of Damocles’ crew are attacking the StormWatch moon base. They are trying to secure even more power to fully bring Damocles to this universe. Not only are they doing that, but they’re also readying a gigantic pulse cannon to fire at SkyWatch II! Yeah, this sure isn’t StormWatch’s day. SkyWatch II gets blasted, and it isn’t too terrible except for their communications array. They only end up being cut off from the Earthbound teams for a short time, but for a few pages there it could’ve been big big trouble!

Time to talk about “Wetworks”. This book doesn’t feel like it wants to be part of this crossover. It seems like “Fire from Heaven” is just getting in the way of the story they want to tell in that book. Now I’m not saying that “WildC.A.T.s” doesn’t encounter this to a small degree, but that book doesn’t go out of its way to show off far too much stuff that doesn’t relate to the overarching crossover. “Wetworks” just… well, they show us Armond Waering going to a party. We also see a population of fish people that aren’t too happy about what’s going on among the Night Tribes. Also, the team doesn’t do much before they decide to escape to find Dane after Mr. Waering takes off. Oh, we do see Mother One mack on Grail. Alright sure, finding out that Mr. Waering has a business rival is kind of cool, and we finally get full on confirmation of Waering being a werewolf, but man, those both could’ve waited until after the crossover. I want to see how the rest of the Wetworks team managed to find out where Dane was and how they snuck their way on to Gamorra, and that stuff is all sidestepped… frowny face is me.

stormwatch_v1_035Speaking of Dane, we catch back up to him and Amanda run from a StormWatch jet trailing them. They lose the jet by jumping off a waterfall. The StormWatch operatives must’ve never seen an action movie because they swear both Dane and Amanda couldn’t survive that drop and they fly off. Dane and Amanda are of course fine and after they come to they are confronted by a bunch of hunter-killers. After making short work of the HKs they run into Jackson King, who after a hard fight, including Amanda going super nuts, sees King best them and take them both into captivity.

TurncoatMageeElsewhere on the island, we see Flashpoint getting some drinks at a local bar. While he’s having a pint he’s recognized by Brutus of the Mercs. Brutus is still pissed about Flashpoint having killed Kilgore right before the last big WildStorm crossover. A fight breaks out, and Flashpoint is the eventual winner. Razor then shows up and starts to make out with Flashpoint!? What the heck? Turns out Flashpoint is working with the Mercs, but not all the Mercs know, just Razor and Deathtrap apparently. Flashpoint tells Razor that he needs to meet with Deathtrap soon.

Alright, before we get to our next few big happenings, here’s a few small things that have happened over the course of these issues. Slayton and Cybernary agree to join forces to take out Kaizen Gamorra. Fahrenheit, Cannon, and Battalion all wonder when Winter will be well and what happened to him. We check in with Ethan’s nerd friend hanging out with Ethan’s jock friend while they get coffee and are gawked at by the ladies. And finally, without telling us how, Wetworks finally arrives on Gamorra.

sigma_002Outside of Kaizen’s compound Bobby, Jodi and Aries arrive. Aries is expecting Kaizen’s guards to take out Bobby and Jodi but is surprised to see them all dead. It seems the DV8 crew did a pretty good job as they gained entry. Once inside Bobby finds his friends and joins the fight immediately. Jodi, unsure of what to do, let’s Aries go, as he actually ended up helping them get to where they wanted to be. While Aries walks right out the front door, Alex Fairchild and Capt. Lucius Morgan walk right in and join the fight alongside their Team 7 pals.

While we have all this action with Team 7 and Gen13 fighting the DV8 crew, there’s still a matter of what is going on in the basement, and that’s a Gen-Omega Craven! Fortunately, it is having no luck taking down Ethan, Dr. Tsung or Secret Agent Maggie, even w/ LeGauche’s help. Cray comes to even the score, but the fight doesn’t last too much longer. The Gen-Omega Craven starts to deteriorate. Craven claims this is because Kaizen forgot to account for the virus in Slayton’s Gen-Factor. The reborn Craven burns away into nothing and Ethan absorbs the Gen-Factor into his own body. Dr. Tsung reveals that Ethan is the source of all the Gen-Factor in the world. He said his original plan was to get some of the Gen-Factor out into the world to give superpowers to various people so they can help stop the madman he dreams about. But it was taking too long, so he redoubled his efforts into making Ethan the strongest and best wielder of the Gen-Factor so that he can single-handedly defeat Damocles.

CravensLastStand

Around this time The Sword and his minions have generated enough power to bring Damocles to the moon. Once there Danocles feels an overwhelming source of Gen-Factor on Earth and knows it to be his mortal enemy, Sigma AKA Ethan. He gets to Earth to find Kaizen hiding from all that is going on. After a quick scan of Kaizen’s mind to find out where Sigma is, he goes to confront Ethan, Dr. Tsung and Secret Agent Maggie in Kaizen’s basement lab.

DamoclesArrives

Continuity Corner:

  • We have a page out of no where of Lucius and Alex parachuting… wait Lucius and Alex are parachuting? Into where? We’ve already seen them on Gamorra twice! Once at the end of “Gen13” volume two issue 9 and in issue 10. If they needed to cross the island there has to be plenty of easier ways than to fly up in controlled airspace and parachute! I mean their pilot got vaporized right after they jumped out of the plane! They could’ve easily gotten to where they needed to go without that risk.
  • Lucius ever the cool dad tells Rainmaker that Daphne says hello, remembering their bond from “Gen13” volume two issue 5.
  • So Lucius is Team 7? We saw in “Gen13” volume two issue 10 that guy Pigmy calls him and Alex Team 7, but also that guy also didn’t know Alex, meaning he only really knows that Lucius was Team 7. Then when they join in the fight, all the other Team 7 dudes know him. Also, that’s when we find out Lucius has powers too. Oh, there was also that giant 7 on his pirate boat… At any rate, it’s odd they never retconned him into any of the old stories somehow. They still had the “Gen12” book to finally squeeze him in with and they didn’t even take the opportunity.
  • When Craven’s Gen-Omega body is burning up he blames Kaizen for not accounting for the virus in Slayton’s Gen-Factor. Is it not a virus, is it due to Slayton being Kherubim, so he has different blood? Did Kaizen not notice this because [SERIOUS SPOILER THAT WE’RE SO CLOSE TO GETTING TO FINALLY REVEAL]?

NEXT: “Fire from Heaven” chapters 7 and 8, which include “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 29 and “Deathblow” volume one issue 27 by Alan Moore, Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner, Travis Charest, Ryan Benjamin, Trevor Scott, JD, Richard Friend, Mark Irwin and Luke Rizzo.

 

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 34

This entry covers “StormWatch” volume one issue 34 by H.K. Proger, Renato Arlem, and Joe Pimentel. Best reading order is to read the first 18 pages of this issue, then read “Backlash” issues 17 & 18 and then coming back to finish off this issue. Then again, that’s pretty wonky and it works just as well to read this then the “Backlash” issues.

stormwatch_v1_034This book is basically several short stories, chopped up only giving us a few pages of each, before flipping to the next. They all converge on the last page with StormWatch heading back up to the newly completed SkyWatch 2. This issue is also getting a few more things in place for “Fire from Heaven” besides the team being back home. I’ll basically be breaking down these stories individually instead of flipping back and forth between them.

We open with Christine and Fahrenheit training. Then showering together. There’s some girl talk followed by a lot of work talk, but it is all pretty normal stuff that you’d expect. Just a nice way to open the issue, I guess.

When checking in with Jackson we find him hanging out with his mother. She forgives him for killing Despot, as that was no longer the man she married. Jackson also finds out that his mother didn’t authorize the release of his brother Malcolm as he was previously told. On top of all this Jackson has been going through the late Diane LaSalle’s StormWatch diary/reports and had found that she suspected Slayton of sharing secrets with I/O. When Jackson questions Bendix about it, Bendix basically says “yeah, I knew, so what?” which only serves to further piss off Jackson. Now Jackson is super angry and wants to hunt down Slayton, I mean he’s an enemy of the U.S. Government, so why not?

Fuji is worried about how Cannon is doing. He’s taking the death of Diva pretty hard. It’s not like he didn’t have Uzi from Team Aleph throwing herself at him in Tel Aviv, but he’s not ready to move on, no matter how forward other women are. Cannon is sharpening his skills by fighting combat droids that look like himself. This is a red flag, and Fuji sees it as such, but Cannon isn’t ready to talk about it. Instead, they meet up and head to find Jackson to go beat on Slayton.

(Here’s where you could jump to “Backlash” issues 17 – 18 by Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Mel Rubi, John Tighe, Mark Irwin and Mark Pennington.)

While Flashpoint is busy getting chewed out by Bendix for killing too much, Winter comes back the U.N. StormWatch base with Scythe. In “StormWatch” volume one issue 33’s epilogue there was the murder of a StormWatch council member. Bendix tells Flashpoint to take care of it, as he’ll have to go to Russia to find out this info. Bendix informs him that Winter is Suspect Number One! Uh-oh!

Off to Russia Flashpoint heads, and who does he run into? Right where it looks the most incriminating? Yup, it’s Winter. Turns out there’s no way Winter killed that council member because that was the guy that was supplying Winter with all the info about what’s going on in Russia. The info that leads him, Cannon and Bendix into that fight against M.A.D. 1. Flashpoint isn’t sure about this until they’re attacked by “the Death Patrol” because really, what this run of “StormWatch” from issue 28 through 34 does best is introducing us to scads and scads of new and disposable characters. Flashpoint and Winter barely escape with their lives.

Nautika and Sunburst are having a tough time. Neither wants to leave the team, but both have kinda been ruined by it. Sunburst can’t walk, and Nautika feels guilty about their part causing his disability. At the same time, they’re both watching over the body of Undertow in his incubation tube. They both agree to stay with StormWatch, even though Sunburst feels like a burden.

Bendix finally gathers the whole team at the U.N. building and they all take a mini-spaceship up to SkyWatch 2. I mean, why didn’t they beam up? They just used their beaming tech in the last story arc, so… never mind, it’s a cool page, I’ll let it stand.

SkyWatch2-FirstLook

Continuity Corner:

  • We’ll find out in “Gen12” issue 3 about how Slayton got hooked up with joining StormWatch. It was a favor to both Slayton and Craven by Bendix on account of them all being old Team One buddies.
  • We get our first ideas that Flashpoint isn’t anywhere near a kind of good guy when he starts thinking out the “real reason” he killed Kilgore. This will all come to a head when he sees the Mercs again in Gamorra.
  • When Jackson’s raid on Slayton ends, the characters come back in different uniforms than we saw them in earlier. This is to match the special stealth suits that they wore in “Backlash” 17 – 18.
  • When boarding the mini space shuttle there’s a dude that looks like Link, but can’t be, because that means he beat Jackson’s raid team back to base, and they were raiding his house and late returning. I mean Bendix was getting mad because they were running behind. The timing, it doesn’t add up!
  • On SkyWatch 2 we first see the “eye in the lightning bolt triangle” that will become StormWatch’s logo for much of Ellis’s run.
  • On the last page we see that Bendix has an incoming message from Kaizen Gamorra, explaining StormWatch’s presence on the island at the start of “Fire From Heaven” issue 1.

NEXT (if you didn’t dip out to read it yet): “Backlash” issues 17 – 18 by Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Mel Rubi, John Tighe, Mark Irwin and Mark Pennington.

NEXT (if you already read “Backlash” 17 – 18): “WildStorm!” issue 4 by Michael Jan Friedman, Merv, Sarah Becker, Ryan Odagawa, Tom Raney, Randy Green, Mark McKenna, Randy Elliot, John Tighe and Rich Ketchum.

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 30 – 33

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continuity Corner:

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

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

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

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 26 & 27

this entry covers issues 26 and 27 of “StormWatch” volume one including the epilogue in issue 27

stormwatch_v1_26Alright, time to find out who the mystery man that shot Despot in the back was! Woo hoo! Aw yeah! And… uh… what? Huh? So turns out that blast didn’t happen? What? We get a full page rerun of Despot yelling at Timespan, word for word, and then… no blast? We even get the same “You may’ve beating Battalion, but you don’t stand a chance against me old man” line but no blast from behind before it is delivered? HUH? REALLY! All the text is line for line replicated but none of the action is!? That’s B.S. man! Ok, now that I’ve said my peace it is time to move on.

Looks like the mystery shooter is Battalion! I mean NOT the mystery shooter because he DIDN’T SHOOT THIS TIME! Ugh! For realz! Yes, I’m still on this! AGH! So, so, so frustrating! Ok, deep breaths… yeah, it’s Jackson King, back from the dead to kick his dad’s ass again. He took what he learned in his past when he was brought to issue 25 and trained in exactly in how to beat Despot. We also learned that Jackson faked his own death so that he could devote all of his time to his new mental training. I’ll admit, it was nice to see Jackson back, but man, I wish it could’ve waited a bit more. Warning, fanboying out time: I wish it was Malcolm finally overcoming his father and being the one to put him down. In issue 25 we saw him break away from Despot for a few minutes when he saw Jackson. I would’ve had Malcolm take down Despot (much the way we see in the comics already) but he’s channeling some unknown source of power. At the end of issue 27 or even later we find out that it is Jackson supplying that power to Malcolm somehow. Special King brother power or something. Jackson knew that he can affect Malcolm to break Despot’s hold, so we have them team up to take him down, only we keep Jackson’s involvement a secret for a few issues because it is way anti-climactic the way it actually ran. Oh, I wonder who the badass that just took out Despot after Jackson left. Oh, it’s Jackson… sigh… OK.

The fight goes on, it’s Despot vs. the New Battalion (he actually calls himself that), and he’s pulling out all the old tricks, getting in his head, using StormWatch and the WarGuard as puppets to bash Jackson up. Standard Despot stuff. Jackson eventually uses his new increased powers in conjunction with the downed SkyWatch circuitry to wrest Despot’s control over everyone near by. Jackson then starts to do a real number on his dear old Pops, right before Henry Bendix teleports in to pop Despot in the back of the head with a standard gun.

stormwatch_v1_27A standard gun you say? That’s not going to work on Despot! You fool! But it buys StormWatch enough time to teleport all of their personnel out of there and back to the U.N. building. Not that this is going to stop Despot for long, he gets to NYC from Death Valley, CA pretty quickly for an old guy that just almost got his head blowed up. It’s then that it is decided that Jackson and Spartan, the two StormWatch members that Despot cannot control, are going to fight him to the death. And to the death it is, for Spartan and for Despot. So yeah, that’s it for those two!

Before we leave, Timespan just has to dick around with Jackson again. Jackson is pretty pissed about it all despite it working as well as possible, and better than if he didn’t see exactly how the threat of Despot would rear its head. Before Jackson can give Timespan “what-for,” Nadia, the Traveller, pops in to give Timespan chrono-spankings or whatever. Timespan gives her the slip, then takes Jackson several months into the future and then leaves. If you’re sitting there thinking “WTF?” well buddy, I’m right there with you!

Continuity Corner:

  • For all my pissy-pants-ness I’m glad to have Jackson back! I just think it could’ve been handled better/different. When we do get him back he is noticeably less buff than we’re used to, which is how he’ll pretty much look from now on. I wonder if this was intentional or not. Not that he’s not muscular anymore, but he looks more like a regular tough guy than a body builder now.
  • In issue 27 we see several people watching the fight between Jackson, Spartan, and Despot on television, which means, I have some reading order rearranging to do!
  • Union home with Jill and not fighting, so that has to come after “Union” vol. 2 issue 6.
  • We see Slayton and Jack Rhodes watching from one of their safe houses. Since we know that Marc and Jack were staying together when Jodi started to live with them we can assume this is after “Backlash” issue 11 and they just went back to that safe house, no reason not to. We can’t really wait until the end of the next “Backlash” story arc in issue 14 because Marc finds Cray in his kitchen and Jack is on his way to Gamorra. So yeah, this all tracks, go me!
  • Cole is just hanging out with the television off. That’s my boy, making it easy on me!
  • Gen13 hanging out watching TV, yeah, this works too. As long as they’re in La Jolla, this is a pretty regular sight. Seeing as how they’ll be leaving La Jolla soon to visit Coda Island in “Gen13” Vol. 2 issue 3, this slots right in.
  • What kills me is we see the new WildC.A.T.s watching, which means this has to happen after the Ladytron special, “WildC.A.T.s” vol. 1 issue 21, and if we’re going to be fair also issue 22. I hate to push that up only because I like to keep the mystery of the final fate of the original WildC.A.T.s team for as long as possible, but it looks like it can’t be done. Issues 23 – 27 of “StormWatch” vol. 1 take place over the course of a night, while these issues of “WildC.A.T.s” take place over weeks at best. Looks like I’m going to have to push those up, too.
  • Whoa, Bendix is ready to take out Despot with a gun to the back of the head! Looks more like the evil bastard we’ll all come to know and loathe in the Ellis run of “StormWatch!”
  • With Jackson landing in the future we’re going to have 2 months of… ehh, pretty dull “StormWatch” until he pops back up in issue 30. The best things we get out of them are Flint and Swift.
  • Because of the crash of SkyWatch and the fact that we only saw StormWatch members rescued, this leaves a whole lot of evil bastards on the loose that didn’t bite it in that battle. This is why Slayton eventually runs into Talos in “Backlash” issue 23. Did the U.N. just assume everyone they didn’t teleport out died?
  • At the end of “WildStorm Rising,” it seemed like StormWatch was taking Helsponts body because they could properly confine it. I guess now we know how he got free to go back in time when we later see him “WildC.A.T.s” vol. 1 issue 45.

NEXT: “Gen13: Ordinary Heroes” issues 1 – 2 by Adam Hughes and Mark Farmer

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 23 – 24

this entry covers “StormWatch” Volume one issues 23, 23 1/2 and 24, as well as the short story “Defile & Strafe : Homecoming” from “Overstreet Fan” issue 2 which occurs between pages 10 and 11 in issue 24.

StormWatch_vol_1_023We kick off this storyline with Spartan joining the team. While a few have some misgivings about it, he eventually becomes an accepted member of the team. And what a time too, as the team is getting ready to head off to StormWatch’s moon base (MoonWatch? LunaWatch?) to find out where Despot and friends are doing over there. They have pretty much been killing… oh, everybody! Just because StormWatch has shown up these bastards aren’t about to stop that killing either! Look out StormWatch!

Speaking of killing, we all know that it’s coming, that is, of course, Diva biting it. We also see Despot hit Malcolm with the psychic whammy causing Malcolm to turn on StormWatch, probably faster than he would have. Let’s face it, Malcolm has always been bad at running with the right crowd, in and out of StormWatch. But yeah, Diva she is trying to sacrifice herself to give the team the time to get away from the moon base, but that doesn’t happen. With her down Despot threatens the entire team and who steps up to challenge him? Lil Mr. Spartan of course!

StormWatch_vol_1_023halfMeanwhile, back on Earth, the UN council begs Henry Bendix to come back to StormWatch. He relents before agreeing, but this time it’ll be on his terms. Those terms being that there is no more UN council telling him how to run his team! It’s a big ask, but due to the circumstances, they agree. He’ll answer to the UN but not a bunch of bureaucrats. He has a plan, but it’s a doozy!

With the team all back on board StormWatch, Bendix gives Christine a little ringy ring to tell her what’s up. It goes something like this, “You’re a good Weatherman. Hey, I’m your boss again! And oh yeah, I gotta plan to finish off Despot! Whee! Get everyone off of SkyWatch.” That’s right, the plan is to stick around on SkyWatch just long enough to lure Despot and the WarGaurd (with Doreen & Stricture featuring Malcolm King) and then crash the whole thing into Death Valley because Henry is nothing but poetic in his large scale murder.

StormWatch_vol_1_024It’s a crazy plan… but it works… it actually works! Hellstrike stays behind to be the one that goes down with the ship. Actually, he volunteers for the job remember that he’s survived out in space before and heck, this is already his second lease on life, might as well use it to take out the worst villain he’s ever known. And like I said, it works! Despot and his cronies board, notice Hellstrike is the only one around, they go to rough him up and he sets SkyWatch on its way down! They seemingly kill Hellstrike and then start to panic like little babies.

Meanwhile, back on Earth (hey I got to say that twice in this write-up, rad!) Battalion shows up with Timespan. Time for issue 25 of “StormWatch” volume one to happen… again…

Continuity Corner:

  • Spartan expected his consciousness to get uploaded to another body after his current one got destroyed during “WildStorm Rising.” We all know Marlowe has a back-up with him on board the Kheran spaceship and the only other reason I can think that Spartan didn’t upload to any others was that he was out of them. I mean he did burn off 3 back-up bodies during “Spartan : Warrior Spirit” so maybe he was in his last official body and didn’t know it at the time. Luckily Link had his back to fix him up!
  • I’d always had the “Homecoming” short story falling in between issues 23 1/2 and 24 until I noticed what Despot told Malcolm on page 7 of issue 24 to remove his StormWatch uniform and find some other attire as he sees the uniform as offensive. Later when the two of them show up again Malcolm is wearing a dark navy blue jump suit. When we look at “Homecoming” we see that’s exactly what Malcolm is wearing. So, while “Homecoming” can narrative fit earlier (like I thought) the art in questions means it has to occur after page 7 of issue 24 and before they reappear on page 16.
  • Why exactly should “Homecoming” be read between pages 10 and 11 of issue 24? Well, pages 7 through 10 are detailing Christine’s report to Henry about the team’s escape from the Moon base. Pages 11 – 16 are all part of a scene that narratively would be hard to break up. It’s pretty much the only place to squeeze it in at all!
  • Oh, what is “Despot & Strafe: Homecoming” about? It’s a little two-page story of Despot trying to bond a bit with his son, Malcolm. They fly to Earth and go back to Despot’s hometown. Despot monologues and then kills two kids. It’s not much, but it does bring up the question of why didn’t Despot fly off of SkyWatch once it was in crash mode.
  • While this all leads to “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 25, I’ve always found it best not to re-read it again. Or if you do, put plenty of time between it and reading issue 26. For real, the recap on page 1 of issue 26 makes you feel foolish for spending time re-reading 25.

NEXT: “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 26 & 27 by H.K. Proger, Jeff Mariotte, Renato Arlem, Ron Lim, Keith Champagne, Rich Faber, Robert Jones, Dan Panosian and John Tighe

“WildStorm Rising” Chapters 8 – 10

this entry covers “WildStorm Rising” Chapters 8 through 10, which includes “Backlash” issue 8, “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 22 and “WildStorm Rising” issue 2

Alright, let’s wrap this crossover up! Slayton gets a call from Diva at StormWatch. He gets into his Backlash gear and meets up with her at Jackson King’s grave. She catches him up on the plot of “WildStorm Rising” and states that someone needs to take down Helspont. So off Slayton goes, solo even, without even thinking much about it. Turns out, it’s trick! A tricky trick! That was actually Mr. White posing as Diva and it’s all part of a plan from Defile to keep Helspont too busy to be nosing around for that Daemonite ship in Nicaragua.

So Slayton is fighting Helspont. Turns out, he’s not as easy to beat the hell out of, like every other weak ass Daemonite that Slayton’s fought. Slayton’s no slouch either, but despite surprising Helspont a few times, Slayton basically gets his ass kicked on Helspont’s submarine and gets left in the drink. Lucky for Slayton he gets saved by StormWatch, who is consisting of StormWatch teams 1 and 2 as well as members of StormWatch Prime. StormWatch just got permission from the U.N. council to try and stop Helspont so they’re going after that jerk as well. Even though Diva is confused at first when Slayton tells her that she asked him to fight Helspont the first time, she takes him along to go and kick Helspont’s booty as part of a team. StormWatch loses that fight. Helspont’s tough, yo!

In the midst of the ill-fated fight against Helspont, Christine is trying to justify going after him to the StormWatch UN Council. None of Council think that the team can take down a mean bastard like Helspont. I mean, they’re not wrong… The Council, in their infinite wisdom, decide to release WarGuard and Despot to deal with Helspont. Because having the WarGuard run free has always worked so well in the past. Despot and the WarGuard immediately fuck right off of SkyWatch saying “Ain’t my fight, bro, laters. Hey, formally frosted fiendish friends, let’s go hang out on the dark side of the moon for a bit. From there we will plot the future demise of StormWatch!”

The StormWatch team isn’t done licking their wounds before they decide they still need to pursue Helspont. Helspont’s in his submarine headed toward Nicaragua, as soon as he gets out to get the lay of the land StormWatch is getting ready to pounce. But what’s that? On the horizon? Is it? Could it be? Yes, it is! The WildC.A.T.s and WetWorks teams along with Cole and Cray! And in the middle of them all, is Savant, Majestic, and Union unearthing the spacecraft. Only, uh-oh, it’s not the Daemonite ship, it’s the Kherubim ship! Whomp whomp.

So now, everybody fights. Well, to be fair, the good guys aren’t fighting each other this time. They’re just taking on the Daemonites. Hightower’s goal is just to get on board the ship and peace out, but he’ll kill anyone to get on it. Defile and Helspont still want the ship to use it to dominate Earth. Spartan is having those same thoughts and boards ship to use its weaponry to help in the fight. Defile shows up to stop Spartan and orders the brainwashed StormWatch Prime members to kill Spartan, then each other. They’re successful in taking down Spartan, but Sunburst starts to kick Defile’s control and Nautika breaks his spine before she comes out of the fog. Meanwhile, Cole kills Hightower, rushes to the ship and lands a hit on Defile. Defile has had enough of this noise and messes with ship’s core and takes off. Whatever he did to that ship has made it so that it’s gonna blow-up. Big time. Right in the middle of our heroes.

Jacob is not having this blood on his hands. He’s going to board that ship to get far enough off planet to save everyone on the ground. Jacob is no dummy, he knows it’ll take a Kherubim Lord’s authority to launch the ship, but he needs some help because he’s lost the rest of his Kherubim technical know how to street livin’ and booze. Zealot is the first to volunteer as she remembers a lot and is the only one who knows how to pilot the ship. After that, all the rest of the WildC.A.T.s opt to get on the ship. The ship takes off, Void promises to teleport everyone off if something goes wrong and they can’t keep the ship from exploding. Then the ship explodes. No WildC.A.T.s members are found teleporting out. Everyone leaves upset except Cole, he’s just upset.

Continuity Corner :

  • Spoilers, but the Kherubim ship didn’t explode, it made the jump to hyperspace or whatever. As far as anyone on Earth knows, they’re dead, luckily for us readers, they’re about to go on a pretty rad adventure.
  • Helspont has a damn submarine? What is he? Some kind of G.I.Joe villain?
  • There’s this moment when Helspont is fighting over the Kherubim ship and he’s all like “Oh, great, here come the half-breeds!” and he’s shown facing Maul, Warblade and Winter. We’ve seen that Helspont can recognize Kherubim ancestry on sight from his battle with Slayton in “Backlash” issue 8. Him recognizing Winter as part Kherubim is a fun easter egg, and one I’m glad didn’t get fully retconned with his intended lineage in the planned and canceled “WildC.A.T.s : Ground Zero” book.
  • This is the last we’ll see of Defile, Helspont and Hightower for quite some time. Most immediately some of the WildC.A.T.s will go time traveling and run into the three of them, but seeing as how Hightower’s dead, that’s it for him. Defile pops up here and there not doing too much, but comes back in a big way years down the road in “StormWatch PHD” and then keeps up appearances from then on out in the WSU. I’m pretty sure the next time we see Helspont is when he’s acting like a goofy perv towards Caitlin Fairchild and getting his ass beat by Tao in “Gen13” Vol. 2 issue 50. Then he goes back underground until the ill-fated Lee/Morrison team up in “WildCats” Vol. 4 issue 1.
  • StormWatch took the remains of Spartan, which explains why he’s on that team during “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 25.
  • Majestic wonders if StormWatch got anything of value from Spartan’s remains, as usually by now Spartan would’ve downloaded into a new body. The only reason I can think he doesn’t is that Jacob has the Spartan backup copy on his person, so it’s out in space with the rest of the original team. Sure, this means there’s two Spartans in the universe now, and it won’t be the last time either.
  • StormWatch also took Helspont saying they had the means to imprison him. Majestic doubts this, but we’ll never know because it isn’t long before SkyWatch comes crashing down and I have to assume Helspont escapes.
  • Cole stays stuck in Nicaragua, which kicks off his solo title that’ll have him ending up in all sorts of places before getting back to New York pretty much in time for “Fire from Heaven” to start.
  • We do get a two-page epilogue to the whole thing, with Savant and Majestic at the Halo Building talking about the end of an era. I have to admit, it is a pretty nice ending, and it doesn’t lead you to think what must come next. I had no idea at the time that “WildC.A.T.s” would even keep going, or that there would be a new team on Earth, or that the original team was alive at all! I appreciate that. It was a pat ending. A rarity! It seems like these big events just chain themselves together and go on and on with fuzzy endings at best these days. I know this makes financial sense, but a true ending like this feels pretty damn great as well as earned!

NEXT : “Grifter” Vol. 1 issues 2 through 6 by Steven T. Seagle, Ryan Benjamin, Randy Green, Cedric Nocon, Tom McWeeney, Sal Regla, John Lowe and Norm Rapmund