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52apolooza: Stormwatch

Wildstorm crosses over into the DCnU in Stormwatch #1!  Is it any good?  Click and find out?


Welcome to 52apolooza, the Outhouse feature focusing on DC's September Relaunch.  All of DC's 52 titles will be reviewed by our pool of reviewers to point out the best and worst that DC's new comic book line has to offer.  To see how this book ranks among the other new DC titles, be sure to check out our 52apolooza Rankings!

Stormwatch was originally a Wildstorm title that migrated over to the DC Universe after Flashpoint.  How is Stormwatch's first appearance in DCnU?  Let's find out!

Marvel Reviewer: SuperginraiX

Welcome, Wildstorm, to the DC Universe! I hope you survive the experience!

Stormwatch1image8While I come down on the Marvel Zombie side of things more often than not, I used to love the Stormwatch comic back in the nineties. Having recently reread the first two number ones, I can tell you that the title took itself far too seriously but there's still some fond memories from that first run, especially when Warren Ellis took over the book with artist, Tom Raney. The idea behind the first team was that it was the United Nation's super-powered force. Their base was in orbit on a hi-tech satellite, Skywatch, and they took orders from Weatherman-One, usually a bald dude who connected himself to world events through complicated cybernetics.

This book is not that book. In fact, this book is more like Stormwatch's successor, The Authority. You'll recognize characters from the Authority (Jack Hawksmoor, The Engineer, and Jenny Quantum, to name a few) and Stormwatch HQ has more in common with the Authority's Bleed ship than with the orbital headquarters used by the original team. Hell, the United Nations super-team is Justice League International so this team will have to fill a different role.

And they totally do. These are the professional world savers. They don't do their jobs in awesome, primary colored spandex. They do it in secret. And I guess they might collect a paycheck. There's still a lot of mystery as to how this team does their thing.

Stormwatch1image10Writer Paul Cornell takes this straight into wierd territory on almost every page. I'd say he's channeling his inner Ellis but maybe it's just a British thing to write the strange in a compelling way. Whatever the case, there's a lot to love about the high concept missions that the various members of Stormwatch take part in. An Attack Moon! Some wierd Horn thing! Big time threats in the realm of the wierd. He's juggling a lot of plot elements here.

I'm especially intrigued by Plot "A." This one involves Martian Manhunter, Jack Hawksmoor, Apollo, and Midnighter (and the Projectionist but... meh). There are some great moments in this storyline and it ends the book with a great cliffhanger.

Miguel Sepulveda drops some grounded artwork that contrasts the strange stuff with something approaching the real world. I remember Sepulveda's work from the recent Thanos Imperative and while this doesn't look as polished as that work, it does bring a more real world feel to the stories. The Martian Manhunter looks like a plausible alien. The Emminence of Blade's Moon adventure has the feeling of actually taking place on the Moon. When Hawksmoor starts altering the city of Moscow, everything has that weighty sense of realism. Some good stuff.

Stormwatch1image3But there's also some bad things to say about it. One of the drawbacks of having no real costumes (except for J'onn J'onz and Midnighter) is that it puts the burden on the artist to make the characters distinguishable at a glance. That doesn't always work. Sure, there is some brilliant art going on but most of the characters have the same face and the clothing options don't help out at all. This is further compounded by the haphazard introductions happening throughout the book. Sometimes, the intro is so ham-fisted that it makes you cringe (as is the case with the Projectionist). Other times, a character is introduced half-way into the book in a different costume than he was wearing earlier and you're left wondering if it's a new character or if you've seen him before (Adam). It took a second read-through to figure out who everyone was and that's probably not a good thing when you're trying to gain new readers.

Storytelling in general is sloppy. I'm not sure if this is the fault of the writer or the artist or a combination of the two. I've read work from both of them and it's usually very clear what's happening. Cornell, in particular, is capable of some brilliant work. So I take this as an anomoly from the two that will be cleared up by the end of the first story arc. Suffice it to say, there's a lot going on in this book and if you aren't paying close attention, you can get lost in the details. I'm also not a huge fan of having an event happening in this book referenced in another book that's not out yet. I believe the Horn will "first" show up in September 22's Superman #1. This is mentioned on the first page and already makes me think I'm missing something because I don't have a book that's not on the shelves yet.

But despite my nitpicks, I'm totally intrigued. This isn't the Stormwatch I knew and that's not a bad thing. While I'd love for some more familiar faces to show up and for a couple more costumes to appear, I'm happy with the current cast and can't wait to see what trouble they get into. I just hope that the next book has some tighter storytelling.

Stormwatch #1, you get a 79/100
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About the Author - Christian Hoffer


Christian Hoffer is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Hoffer is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.

 


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