Tag Archives: Ryan Benjamin

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 15 – 17

this entry covers the main stories in “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 15 through 17, including the backup story “Loose Cannon : Part 1″ in issue 17

StormWatchVol1_15-17Alright, here’s how it all comes down, Battalion’s death, step one in StormWatch and the WildC.A.T.s turned against each other and Defile getting pretty proud of himself. Seriously, I wish there was a lot more to say about these three issues, but that’s basically it. Either that or I’m off my game after missing last week’s entry due to severe drunkenness (I’m of Irish, Scottish and German descent, we’re also Roman Catholic, and it was a family wedding, held in Denver, Colorado, with the reception at a brewery, you try to tell me how I was supposed to escape that weekend sober!)

Ok, we have Defile siccing a huge purple monster, with a time bomb strapped to him on Hawai’i. The intent is to reactivate the Mauna Loa volcano, which not only will wipe out the Big Island but will also mess up the other Hawai’ian islands, as well as the honeymoon plans of several young couples. This cannot stand! And because it is a big purple monster, the only team to call is StormWatch.

What I like about the away team here, is it is pretty much “StormWatch Classic” plus a few. We have Battalion, Diva, Fuji, Winter and Hellstrike all together on a mission again, the first since issue 6 I believe. We also have Fahrenheit, Cannon and Strafe along for the ride. So yeah, they’re fighting this big purple monster, with horns on his back… wait, these character traits seem awfully familiar… Battalion eventually rips the bomb off the monster, and the monster passes out. He then protects himself in one of his psychically projected bubbles, says the bad ass line of “Tell Malcolm I love him” and the bomb explodes in the bubble only killing him and sparing the volcano.

Oh yeah, and Timespan shows up to watch this apparent suicide. He also ends up pissing off Diva, because he’s only really there to stall her and prevent her from doing anything to alter Battalion from blowing himself the damn up. Timespan then teleports back to shortly after the 3rd Crusade and the Traveler shows up and they fight. He manages to escape in time again. It says he’s in “New York City, four months ago” but I’m not sure if that’s a reference to his first appearance or just to another time that he hung out to heal before he first confronted Battalion.

During the fall out of Battalion’s death, we see the team in disarray. Strafe is acting out until his mama sets him straight. Cannon is getting to be a big baby again because his girlfriend got the job he wanted, which leads him to quit StormWatch altogether. And Diva and Christine are having a hard time dealing with it all together. Eventually, there’s a funeral and even Henry Bendix shows up. But the big reveal is after the funeral when we see Argos show up to the grave and act all super villain like.

Continuity Corner:

  • The big purple monster? Yeah, that’s Maul from WildC.A.T.s. Defile made him look a bit different, but not too much. He’s still big, purple and has horns on his back. This is why Mr. White was posing as Maul in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 15 and 16. Defile is just sowing the seeds to make sure the two teams hate each other. Having a member of one team inadvertently kill the beloved leader of the other team would do it!
  • The Traveler’s name is Nadia? In “Gen13” issue 1/2 (“Backlist” trade version) she says her name was Loran. Wait, are there two “The Travelers?” To be fair, when Loran shows up she does say she’s only a traveler, so maybe there are several Travelers out to stop Timespan.
  • Why call StormWatch about this huge purple monster? Well, I’ll admit, this is something that works better once the WildStorm Universe is taken out of the greater Image Universe because the WSU does not have a lot of traditional superheroes. The WildC.A.T.s by their very definition are covert, as are WetWorks, the Gen13 kids are on the lam, Union works for StormWatch on an as needed basis, Mr. Magestic hasn’t officially come out of retirement yet, and Deathblow is a freelancer who doesn’t have any powers that would be of any use anyway. If we want to look ahead in the WSU timeline we’ll know that the $trangers were broken up by this time, and Planetary, while existing, are super underground, and don’t often take active missions anyway.
  • If we look at this situation as part of the larger Image Universe at the time it really gets you scratching your head, because where was Youngblood? They work for the U.S. Government, Hawai’i is U.S. soil. Or even Supreme, he’s a Superman type, and unlike Majestic, he’s active. This is why I really don’t get into the cross-overs w/ the Extreme books, they bring up a lot more questions than they can answer. At least with Cyber Force they are also an underground/off the radar kind of team and Freak Force seems to stick around in Chicago for the most part.
  • After the 2006 reboot there’s a ton of superheroes retconned into the WSU that’ve been active since the ’50s, but as of right now, StormWatch are the only real public “super heroes” in the WSU.
  • Also, spoiler, Battalion will be back…

Where to find this story:

  • Excerpts from “StormWatch” volume one issue 16 are in the “WildStorm Rising” trade paper back.

NEXT: “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 17 by James Robinson, Travis Charest and Troy Hubbs

“Gen13” issue 1/2 and 0

this entry covers “Gen13” 1/2 and issue 0. “Gen13” 1/2 was reprinted at one time as “Gen13” issue -1, and was also in the “WildStorm Rarities” book

gen13vol2_0An alternate name for this entry could be “Five Short Stories Featuring Gen13.” As both issues are shorts that are chronicling what the Gen13 members were up to between the first volume and the second. They’re mostly small and fun stories, and they’re done by a variety of artists. I imagine one of the many reasons they were done was to give more lead time for J. Scott Campbell for the series proper and keep the “Gen13” name alive and out in front of the comic buying and reading audience.

The first story, as detailed in “Gen13” 1/2 has the kids pretty fresh out of the mini-series going on a bit of a road trip. Rainmaker has already left to be with her family in Arizona and the kids are now just driving around, supposedly they’re just killing some time before meeting up with Lynch down in San Diego, but they could just be being silly ass teens with no real direction. They have been told by Lynch to stick to the backroads to avoid altercations with local authorities or Ivana’s Keepers. They’re having some real problems with reading the map to said backroads, but that’s only the start of their troubles. When they pull over to ask directions and get some gas they also encounter Loran, a Traveler, or rather The Traveler, who shifted through time. She’s on the hunt for Langston, better known as Timespan who we’ve seen in a few issues of “StormWatch.” Loran has no time to deal with the primitives of this time, and in her little freak out bully time against some innocent bystanders, she catches the attention of Bobby, which in turn gets the rest of the kids to go after her. It’s a tough battle, but in the end, Loran gets tied up with a stop sign and left of the cops, as the kids continue their road trip to San Diego.

The next story is the first of four from issue 0, it stars Caitlin as she’s meeting up with her cousin and her family in Portland. Caitlin isn’t quite sure at this point if she really wants to go down to San Diego, and she might just stay in Portland with family. No sooner than she starts talking to her cousin (and her jerk husband) do some suited men start walking their way. Caitlin fears the worst, that they were sent by Ivana or by I/O and she does what she can to get away. This involves being hit by a train, then picking up said train and tossing it. That puts some distance between her and the rude boys, but she knows it’ll only slow them down for so long. Lucky for her a friend of Lynch’s pulls up and whisks her to the airport to catch a flight to San Diego. Did I say one of Lynch’s friends? Oh, turns out all these guys were pals of Lynch and it was all a set up to make sure Caitlin didn’t find a reason to stay in Portland and to make sure she joined the team. Oh, Lynch, it’s stuff like this that made so many Team 7 members dislike you.

We move on to Bobby picking up Sarah at the reservation she grew up at. Bobby act like a jerk, Sarah schools him and he gets all boo hoo emo boy. It’s all pretty uneventful, but a decent character moment for both. It’s nice seeing Rainmaker so excitable and enthused showing her world off to Bobby, as she pretty much becomes the cool level headed character of the book. I’m not saying it comes across as out of character either, it perfectly fits, but it’s a side we rarely see.

On to Las Vegas, where we find Roxy and Grunge trying to track down Roxy’s stepmom. Vegas was her stepmom’s last known whereabouts, but after hitting up all the major casinos they find out she’s already left and headed to New York City. Regardless of this Grunge and Roxy manage to stir up some trouble. We have some business with a hitman who looks a lot like Grunge, so much so that he gives him his jacket, in order to… I dunno, sneak out of the casino easier? Not sure what all that was about, but we do see Roxy using her power to win big at roulette. The casino notices this and sends goons out to stop the pair. Maybe Grunge had to be mistaken for the hitman so that we’ll see why the goons are using such extreme force, but come one, this is a fictional universe, where casinos always employ over the top goons as security. We’ve seen it a million times. What we see for the first time is Grunge using his power on Roxy as well as himself to evade said goons. Just as the pair is running out of the casino Bobby and Sarah pull up to help them get out of town in a hurry.

The final story concerns Lynch, breaking back into I/O to wipe records of Project Genesis and steal some files as well as some funds. Lynch knows all the secret ways in because he went over the plans when the I/O towers were build and made a few alterations. He gets all high-tech and uses a refraction suit, which basically makes him invisible. He almost gets away without being caught, but he just couldn’t shield his thoughts from Alicia Turner. We get reintroduced to Frank Colby and find that he took Lynch’s former position at I/O. Due to their past Colby and Alicia let Lynch go, but neither seem happy about it, and you can tell a bridge has been fully burned between them and John.

We get a single page wrap up, showing all the teens meeting up in La Jolla (which is a seaside community in San Diego) arriving at their new home. The kids meet Anna for the first time and Lynch lets them all know, it’s time to learn something, and he’s ready to teach! It’ll be at least a few months, comic time, before we catch back up with the Gen13 crew, heck, Rainmaker has to grow out her hair! But this was a pretty fun way to show us what the kids and Lynch get up to in their off time. Not to mention that it was a bonus for all of us to see Jim Lee and Travis Charest do some art for these stories!

Continuity Corner:

  • I mentioned this up top, but when the “Gen13” 1/2 story was reprinted in the “Gen13 : Backlist” trade the art and dialogue are completely different. The penciling is still done by Ryan Benjamin, but it’s been a few years and he’s got a better sense of the characters. It’s paced a lot better too, but the original wasn’t bad to begin with. Choi took over the dialogue on this version from H. K. Proger and makes a few small changes. In his version Caitlin wasn’t lost, Bobby isn’t so angry, Caitlin is sending a letter to her family instead of sending a payment for the stolen VW bus, and Loran is calling everyone “devols” instead of “primitives.” Oh, and Loran is named, she wasn’t in the original version. It is interesting to see the pages side by side and note the differences! Also, big shout out to John Pannozzi for bringing the two different versions to my attention in the first place!
  • The “StormWatch” and “Gen13” books have so little in common tone-wise, that it’s kind of jarring to see these books interact in any way outside of a line-wide crossover. This book is the only WildStorm book that even references The Traveler and Timespan outside of StormWatch, it wasn’t like we saw these two fighting their way through the background of “WildC.A.T.s” or “Union.”
  • Roxy does eventually find her stepmom in “Gen13” Vol. 2 issue 27 when the team is in New York.
  • Grunge says he was born in Hong Kong, but grew up in Seattle. Did he forget about all that time he spent on that Coda island?

Where to find these stories:

  • the “Gen13 : Backlist” trade paperback had a version of Gen13 1/2 with different dialogue and all new art with the same story.
  • the “Gen13 Archives” trade paperback has both stories, but is in black and white

NEXT : “Spartan : Warrior Spirit” issues 1 through 4 by Kurt Busiek, Mike McKone and Mark McKenna with Mick Gray

“Soldier’s Story”

this entry covers “Soldier’s Story” introducing Solider and was a back-up in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 10.

At long last, I’ve returned to this blog. I hope I can keep it up! There’s a ton of both personal reasons and pure laziness why I let this site languish, but I’m going to try and pull it together. And confession time, over the last week I’ve gotten some crazy traffic, as well as e-mails from fellow fans to get back to it. Also, yeah Warren Ellis, rebooting some of my favorite characters in all of comics? Yeah, I’m excited, others are excited, it’s time to get back to the WildStorm U!

This is the earliest story in WildStorm history, that is not a flash-back. Well, actually it IS a flash-back, but it only flashes-back to, at most, a few days. The scene is October, 1950, Korea and we find a young American man fighting in the Korean War. He’s kicking ass and taking names. Speaking of names, we never even learn his. Sad but true fact, the man we know as Soldier was defined by his job.

Soldier is fighting not only the War, specifically Chinese army scouts, but also his own lieutenant, slugging the dude when he tells Soldier the grim truth. Turns out things aren’t looking good, even though Soldier the soldier is fighting a brave fight, he’s been told there’s no way that his unit is going to survive. They’ll all just be causalities of war. Is Soldier gonna go out like that? HELL NO! He takes the fight right to the Chinese and then figures that he can create a rock slide to stop the Chinese army with a few well placed bombs. Only problems is is that he’s gotten a little too much damage for him to get away once everything goes kaboolee. As he passes out he witnesses his guardian angel…

Well the Angel is Zealot. Turns out he’s telling this story in a military stockade to Zealot, he’s there for decking his lieutenant. Zealot responds that she’s going to free him, it’d be a shame for such a great and noble warrior to languish in prison. Soldier digs it and is ready for what ever the future holds.

Continuity Corner:

  • This is a perfect beginning point for the WSU, we have the military underpinnings, a mysterious female warrior and hints at crazy future adventures. A good “prelude” if you will.
  • Zealot appearing here w/ white hair makes me wonder what her alias was to get into the stockade to spring Soldier. We know later she dies her hair black and goes by “Lucy Blaze” in the ’60s, but nothing of her ’50s alias. Maybe it is simply “Angel” as Soldier calls her.
  • Soldier seems like such a cool and interesting character, I would’ve loved to learn more about him, but he’s rarely seen outside of the few “WildC.A.T.s” comics that Chris Claremont wrote. It’s a real shame we don’t seem more of his and Zealot’s adventures over the years and get a real feel for their shared history.

Next“WildStorm Halloween : Trilogy of Terror” short story : “Team 7 : Blood and Faith” by Christopher Golden, Ed Benes and Toby Hubbs

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 9 and 25

this entry cover “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 9 and issue 25
StormWatchVol1_08-09_25

I originally had these much later in the timeline… then, when reading “Deathblow” I realized my mistake, so these two move up! Originally I was trying to preserve the narrative of Timespan on the run from Nadia, but, uh, they go around in time, so that was kind of silly of me. Stories involving time traveling characters work differently. So instead of reading this after “Gen13” Vol. 2 issue ½, and meeting Nadia as she curses losing Timespan, I know, complicated, but it makes more sense this way (the correct way) for the main storyline for the WildStorm Universe that what I had previously posted/though. Thankfully not too much actual time travel goes on in the WSU, just Timespan, Nadia and the WildC.A.T.s that one time… all of which impact very little as far as contradictions go, so good going WSU! Doing time travel stories pretty much right! Alright, got that? This issue opens with us seeing Timespan just after he used a “triple shift” landing in the present day. He seems to be pretty pleased with himself for out “running” Nadia.

Suddenly we are joining a StormWatch mission already in progress and things are going wrong. StormWatch Prime is there, and it seems StormWatch One has turned traitor on them. Wait… it’s all just a dream from StormWatch Prime member Sunburst. Dream? More like crazy nightmare! StormWatch Prime hasn’t done much since being rescued from Deathtrap on Gammora. They’ve just been resting up on SkyWatch One while WeatherMan One and Synergy watch and wait to see if they’re ready to be active again. Well, wouldn’t you know it, a big enough problem comes along, with multiple terrorists hitting multiple locations, threatening to blow up places of international importance, and StormWatch doesn’t have enough members to go around and just HAS to activate StormWatch Prime to help out in Rome.

The mission goes on pretty normally, but these terrorists are really giving Rome a beating. Suddenly a bomb is brought out, and it is the same as the bomb in Sunburst’s dream! Oh no! He’s even more freaked out when Battalion shows up, having completed his mission early, and wants Sunburst to turn over that bomb. Sunburst, still spooked from his dream, doesn’t trust Battalion and flies up into the air to let the bomb explode all around him. He absorbs the energy of the explosion and then channels it straight up and away from the city. He feels better about himself that he took care of the issue on his own, and gets some self-confidence back. Not so fast Burster Brown, turns out all of this, the nightmare, the terrorist attacks, the coincidental bomb, it was all a plot by Lord Defile! Turns out when StormWatch Prime was captured, it was Defile who was paying Deathtrap to keep them hostage and break down their will. I guess so that they could serve Defile, but Sunburst was bending while in captivity, so Defile invaded his dreams… why didn’t he go with Plan B in the first place? He then set up the terrorist attacks to get StormWatch to put his puppets StormWatch Prime back in action.

After the mission Battalion is just looking for some rest by himself when Timespan pops up and kidnaps him into the future. The future is in Death Valley, California, and it is a problem. Within minutes of being there, Battalion sees SkyWatch One crashing to the ground. Battalion, ever the hero, dashes forward to see what he can do to help in this situation before he’s even done yelling at Timespan for ambushing him. What he sees he cannot believe. It’s a slightly different StormWatch team, and they’re just as confused about him being there are he is.

The biggest change is that we see two new members to the team, Fiend and Undertow. We also see that Synergy has become the new WeatherMan. While it takes the team a few beats to realize that yes, somehow, this is the Battalion you know, love and miss, now is not a time for celebration. Mainly because they’re on the run from the WarGuard, Despot and they can’t find their leader. And who is this leader? None other than Spartan of the WildC.A.T.s! “What the huh? Frickin’ awesome!” Well, that’s what my reaction as a teenager, and it’s pretty much the same here. My mind filled up with so many questions, just as the book’s creative team had intended, it worked on me, big time! This was the coolest idea ever, and man, they were throwing out some big crazy changes just a few pages in! WOAH! “StormWatch” certainly is going to be a heck of a ride to get to this point!

But the big reveals just keep coming! Despot is Battalion’s father, whom we saw as a member of Team One. He went totally nuts and is bent on taking down StormWatch. Malcolm sides with his father on the issue, but during the fight, he turns to Battalion and stutters out “D-D-D-Don’t join h-h-him!” and Timespan was all “I don’t remember this happening.” Now, I’m not sure what to make of this. Has Timespan been there before observing? Is Timespan present in another way, as in, is he hiding in the shadows or a future version of one of the team? I’m not sure this is ever answered, I guess I’ll keep this on my mind as I keep reading. After the warning, Malcolm has a personality shift and starts beating on Battalion.

Turns out Malcolm was being controlled by Despot. This is a thing he likes to do. He even likes to do the puppeting with the corpse of Diva. It’s gross. Then he rips Diva apart. It’s grosser. Then Battalion goes all Care Bears and tries to defeat his crazy dad with the power of love. Before he can fail, Timespan sends Battalion back to his own time while Despot screams in his face. With the rest of StormWatch still in battle with the WarGuard, Despot pulls a Thanos and starts to kill everyone in the universe, and we see people starting to fall over dead on city sidewalks. Ok, not really pulling a Thanos, he isn’t trying to impress a chick, he just finds it easier to puppet dead folks, that’s all. Suddenly Despot is struck from behind by an unknown attacker and is told: “You may have beaten Battalion, but you don’t stand a chance against me, old man!” And we are told that the issue #26 won’t be out until over a year from now!

 

Continuity Corner:

    • The semi-destroyed Rome will be mentioned in “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 6 which officially puts it after “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 9.
    • Why did StormWatch Prime have to go to Rome in the first place, did someone give the Centurions, Protectors of Rome the day off? (See “Gen13” Vol. 2 issue 6 for more details)
    • Hey, this is the first time we actually see Defile and his be-suited zombie side-kick, neat!
    • When we get to “WildStorm Rising” we’ll see Defile’s plan for StormWatch Prime pay off. Hell, “WildStorm Rising” is the explanation for many of the new developments that we see in “StormWatch” Vol. 1 #25.
    • Also, the WarGuard are joined by Stricture (the snake monster) who we’ll see a few more times, but won’t learn much more about, and a girl named Doreen. I don’t think we see any more about Doreen at all outside of this issue. I mean, with a name like Doreen it’s hard to see how she fell through the cracks.
    • Never will another artist draw Fiend as we see him here, he’ll never look like that at all. In fact, it is off-putting to see this version of the character if you read issue 25 after reading the issues leading up to it. Also, other than this issue, Fiend is known as Pagan. 
    • Speaking of when to read this book, you totally need to read it after “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 9, because it is really anticlimactic to read it right before “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 26. Trust me, I did that once… not a good idea.
    • Frankly, I don’t mind leaving you hanging before we pick up with the “StormWatch” book again because the book itself just left you with a long ass cliffhanger with the “Who shot Despot?” mystery.
    • If I remember correctly, “StormWatch” was the only title, out of the 4 comics that participated in the “Images of Tomorrow” gimmick that actually reached their 25th issue when they were supposed to, or at all. In case you didn’t know, different Image titles skipped to the future to see what their 25th issue would be as part of “Images of Tomorrow.” “Bloodstrike” petered out at issue 22, although when the series got rebooted they started at issue 26, so that’s kinda funny. “Brigade” also only made it to issue 22. While “Supreme” officially made it to issue 25, to do that they started doing two issues a month, so just in case they fell behind a bit they’d still hit it on time, they over did it, and wound up having what was to be an issue for July 1995, coming out in February of that year. Not to say that “StormWatch” didn’t employ a bit of padding to make sure to hit issue 25 on time and make sure the story was in the right place, I mean, that’s where “StormWatch” Special issue 2 and “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 23 ½ come from! Also, the more I think about it, the more I’m curious why “StormWatch” was a part of this event, all the others are Extreme Studios books, and we didn’t see any books from McFarlane, Highbrow, ShadowLine or Top Cow join in, so why the lone WildStorm book?

Where to find these stories:

Next: “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 5 through 12 by Brandon Choi, Jim Lee and Tim Sale

“Union” Vol. 1 issues 0 – 4

this entry covers “Union” issues 0 through 4

UnionVol1_00-04Where to start with a book like “Union.” Well, I guess issue 0 falls in continuity first, even though it is just a fast paced explanation of the world that Union and Regent (last seen in “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 3) come from, and their particular histories examined. It can kind of be a dry read when you place it in continuity, as you only really know Regent and here’s this book about his past, and for some reason another character named Ohmen. Perhaps reading it after immediately after “Union” Vol. 1 issues 1 through 4 might work better, as you’d have more of a vested interest in both characters. Either way, the book moves fairly swift and straightforward, all the while cramming in a lot of information. This is at a contrast with the rest of the series, which is never as straight forward as this, but to it’s credit, the rest of Vol. 1 certainly has much cooler artwork.

The art for “Union” Vol. 1 (issues 1 through 4) was done by Mark Texeira and it is fantastic! I’m not saying that anyone else that ever drew Union didn’t do a good job, they mostly did, but Texeira killed it so hard, that every other artist was just playing catch up. When I was younger I wondered how WildStorm convinced Texeira to do this comic, because all I knew of his work was the cover of “the Outsiders” by S. E. Hinton that the upperclassmen were carrying around (which, sad to say, I can find no image of now, but I know that it existed, it was ubiquitous!) I always figured him for a big time commercial artist, so to see him on a comic blew my mind. I learned later that he was mostly known for comics, but that still doesn’t stop me from being in awe of the art on this book to this day.

Back to issue 0 we see two young men growing up on opposite sides of a war. One is Rigian, price of the ruling class known as the Directorate, who is practically disowned by his father when his little brother Darnel is born. The other is a baby born the same day, known as Ohmen of the underclass known as the Protectorate. We see both boys grow up and find their places in their home planet of Aegena, though Rigian finds most of his place in his culture while spending time on Earth away from his family. Earth you say? Oh yeah, the Directorate have a way to get back and forth from Aegena to Earth, and the Protectorate has no knowledge of this, and it allows the Directorate to plan their battles in secret, as well as have a hidden place to retreat to. The two boy’s stories start to come together when some Directorate soldiers attack the school where Ohmen’s father teaches, and Ohmen’s father dies. Schools were supposed to be in a safe zone and not to be attacked, so the Directorate kind of feel bad about war going too far, so Rigain, his mother and brother are sent to address the Protectorate and apologize for the actions of the Directorate. Before he can say too much, a few Protectorate at the gathering go crazy and attack the Directorate. Rigain’s mother and brother parish in this attack and Rigain swears off his stance of peace and takes the name Regent and vows revenge against the Protectorate. Ohmen on the other hand is upset by what the Protectorate did at that rally, and is talked back into doing his duty by his kinda girlfriend Eliya. This leads Ohmen into a battle where two Directorate soldiers trick him into flying through the portal to Earth, where he crash lands in Maine and issue 1 begins.

That’s the basics of the plot, but there’s one more thing you should know about, and that’s the justice stones. The justice stones are Aegenan technology that gets implanted on Aegenans when they reach a certain age, and it becomes one with their physiology. It ends up looking like a small done on their chest, and from it they can pull an electric rod to beat people with. It also gives them the power of flight while holding it. The color of the rod, at least for the Protectorate, reflects their rank in their military hierarchy. Pretty fancy ass tech! While we only see the weapon in rod form here, we later see a justice stone user shape his into a sword. The justice stones are also tied into the electromagnetic field of the planet they are on, so it must be recalibrated before moving to a different planet, lest it malfunction and either kill or inhibit the user. So that’s most of the backstory, all that you need really. There’s a bit more of the relationship between Ohmen and Eliya, as well as Rigain and his father, but, meh, whatever, on with the actual content!

We meet Ohmen as he is being rescued from atop a frozen lake after he crash lands on Earth in a remote area of Maine. That rescuer is Jill Monroe, an artist who moved up north from New York to escape the big city and give herself more time to create and take in nature. She doesn’t know she’s rescuing an alien, just a guy she saw try to fly away after crashing. After being saved Ohmen takes up residence on Jill’s couch and proceeds to sleep for a few days to literally recharge his batteries. Ohmen and Jill spend 6 months in seclusion while Ohmen learns everything he can about Earth as well as start to utilize his justice stone. It is during this time that Ohmen takes up the name Union, as the word “union” is basically a simple way to express “cold fusion” which is what is going on in his justice stone. Uh… yeah, sure Ohmen, you’re Union now, whether or not that makes a lick of sence. While at a bar Jill and Union see a report about a few aliens flying around upstate New York and Union immediately recognizes them as Directorate soldiers. Before Jill can ask Union anything about it he’s off and flying to the town of Chichester, NY, secret headquarters of the Directorate on Earth.

Union arrives in Chichester and instantly gets his booty kicked by the Directorate. Union mistakenly believes that the Directorate has sent a few soldiers after him and had no idea of this town belonging to them. The Directorate have no idea the Union accidently found his way to Earth so they are thinking he is some kind of spy for the Protectorate. Oh these Aegenan scamps and their comical misunderstandings! Eventually King Darian (Regents father) shows up during Union’s torture and as he’s smacking the hell out of Union with his justice stone rod, Union goes full nuclear and somehow destroys all of Chicester, NY. Union, feeling mighty horrible about this, you know, accidently taking out an entire city, Directorate soldiers and families or not, decides to commit suicide by jamming Darian’s justice stone rod into his justice stone. Union passes out and somehow survives and as far as justice stones go, he levels up.

When Union awakes he is finds that StormWatch has surrounded Chichester and is trying to save any survivors and find the cause of the disaster. They also notice traces of a familiar energy that they’d like to find out more about. The energy is that of Regent, who just kicked their asses earlier, and this town was full of Directorate tech, so that makes a certain amount of logic. Too bad they’ll never discover anything about the Directorate or Regent here, as Union is going to cover everything up out of further guilt. At the same time he is doing everything he can to buy the trust of Jackson King, even giving his fingerprints so he’s in the police system and has a record on file as a super powered being. In any other story, blowing up a town and tricking the authorities wouldn’t be seen as a positive one, but Union pulls it off due to his down right Duddly Do-Right sense of honor. In fact, “Union” the book pulls it off by dividing the story up so we see Union helping out StormWatch as much as possible before finding out 3 issues later that he was the cause of the destruction in the first place. Very clever writing Mr. Heisler.

Before we are bookended with the full story of what happening Chichester we do get a few issues of Union going to New York City for a little vacation with Jill. He takes down a super powered villain known as the Quickness. In the course of this action he pisses off Jill by stranding her, but also finds the being behind the Quicknesses super-speed, a being known as Mnemo. Mnemo is a crazy looking, highly intelligent, alien or mutant something-or-other. He captures Union and means to figure out what makes him tick. Why is he so interested? Because he’s found a Protectorate soldier before, but this one didn’t survives his trip through the gate, and Mnemo wants to find a way to revive this man, or at least his justice stone. What does Mnemo get out of this? Turns out Mnemo is a weapons contractor for the feared Kaizen Gamorra. What? That name doesn’t strike any fear into your heart yet? Well, it will soon enough! In fact, you’ll get down right sick of that name after a while, but it all evens out in 10 years once “the Authority” starts being published.

Due to Union running off to go fight the Quickness, Jill gets stranded in NYC by herself. When he catches back up to her they get into a fight and she storms off back home to Maine. What a great guy that Union is, save the world, lose the girl! Of course this is when Union is captured by Mnemo. After Union gets free he goes back to Jill’s place to find she isn’t alone. In fact, she’s chilling with Union’s sorta ex-girlfriend Elyia! Elyia means to bring Union back to Aegena, but Union makes a compelling case to stay on Earth. First, he feels guilty about what he did to Chichester. Second, his justice stone is not only calibrated to Earth, but due to its upgrade who knows what’ll happen with it back home. Third, he doesn’t say this, but he digs on Jill and besides it looks like Elyia has herself a new man anyway. Before Elyia leaves, she lets Union know that Regent could not be found back home or in the rubble of Chichester, so odds are he is on Earth someplace and to look out for him. I still call this a bold move for “Union,” to have a big bad set up, and our hero is not even confronting him in its own limited series!

These books are still very entrenched in the then Image Universe. There are several references to Supreme and Youngblood throughout the book. We even get a cameo from Velocity from “Cyber Force.” The StormWatch appearance was great, but this was a WildStorm book, so that carries pretty well. Also, to have had Regent make his debut in “StormWatch” was a pretty bold move. If you only ever read “StormWatch” you see them almost get wiped out by a guy you never see again in that series. Then to find out he’s related to the goings-on in “Union” and to hardly see him in that book kind of infuriated me as a kid! I really wanted to see Regent and Union through down in “Union,” but the powers that be had other plans.

Next : “WildCats Trilogy” issues 1 through 3 by Brandon Choi, Dafydd Wyn and Jae Lee (with a short story from Steve Seagle and Travis Charest)