Just in case you are new to this column, you should know that my main comic book upbringing took place in the 90’s. While I have gone back and discovered older stories, it was the 90’s where I started buying brand new comics on a regular basis. The Image creators were the biggest things going at the time, despite not making deadlines or producing particularly well-written books. At the time, the art and the energy more than made up for it. As I’ve documented in previous columns, I was a big fan of Rob Liefeld (still am to a certain extent) but I also liked the looks of what Jim Lee was doing with his Wildstorm universe, especially WildCATS.
WildCATS is one of those books that had a great premise and even though it wasn’t written well for a long time, there was something interesting about a secret war between alien races on our planet. But then WildCATS mutated… several times actually. Alan Moore came on board for a short run and turned it into an allegory about race and how soldiers can get forgotten when the war is over. While not the best of Moore’s career by a long shot, it is an example of some of his best mainstream work from that period. Then Joe Casey got a hold of the book and turned it into this weird espionage tale which was excellent (and will hopefully have a new trade printing sometime in the near future).
In the meantime, the rest of the Wildstorm books were pretty bad takes on the same thing. Deathblow had some interesting ideas as did Stormwatch but overall, they weren’t very good and fairly forgettable. Then Warren Ellis came along.
Ellis took over writing duties on two books: DV8 and Stormwatch. While he did some interesting things on DV8, he began pressing the pedal to the metal with Stormwatch. He added characters, making the book have a bigger scope and more cinematic feel. He changed Stormwatch to The Authority and made it even better.
Then Ellis left and the WildStorm universe slowly started to fade away. Eventually, it would get brought into the DC universe with the New 52, but even Grant Morrison couldn’t get it to work. Other than Apollo and The Midnighter, most of the Wildstorm characters disappeared.
It is now 2017 and the Wildstorm universe is returning with Warren Ellis is at the helm!
I got excited as soon as this was announced. I love the concept of a lot of the Wildstorm books but if any comic book universe needed a full retool and reboot, it’s Wildstorm. As it had been part of the Image universe, there were a few characters involved in the Wildstorm’s characters’ history that were not owned by Jim Lee and therefore, not available. So part of the characters’ histories no longer made sense. Add in their attempt to add to the DC universe and it gets even more confusing. But the core ideas and characters designs for the Wildstorm universe were still cool.
Warren Ellis is a writer that can take a good idea and make it better. Give him the bare bones of a house, he will build you a mansion. Most recently, he did a great reinvention on Moon Knight. In between work for the bigger companies, he’s been doing excellent creator owned work at Image on books like Injection and Trees.
Which begs the question, “Why would he want to sign up for two years of work on Wildstorm?”
The great thing about Ellis is he tries not to repeat himself. He usually does that by not going back. I doubt we’ll see him on Moon Knight again. There will be no sequel to Transmetropolitan. Sadly, he will never go back and finish Desolation Jones. But oddly, he has felt that maybe by not going back, he might be missing out on something. Jim Lee called, and Ellis decided to try come back but by his rules.
He’s starting Wildstorm from a new foundation that still brims with the ideas of the past.
The first issue of The Wild Storm is part science fiction, part conspiracy with a peppering of super heroes. We are instantly introduced to a number of new versions of Wildstorm characters including Zealot, Jacob Marlow, The Engineer, Void and a group of people who work for Stormwatch (I’m betting we have met the new versions of Apollo and Midnighter although only briefly). We don’t learn much this first issue other than the basic setting for the world. The Halo corporation exists and seems to be driving science and technology forward and someone has tried to kill Marlow.
While we don’t learn much, the first issue does its job to hook you. Normally I’m a “wait for the trade” kind of guy but this may be added to my pull list. I want to know what’s going on and I’m not sure I can wait six months to find out.
And let’s talk about Jon Davis-Hunt.
I wasn’t familiar with Davis-Hunt or his art before I picked up this book. Now, I want to see everything. While his style is not like theirs, it reminds me of when I first saw David Aja’s work or Chris Samnee or Travis Charest. He has a very clean style to his art that really strikes a cord with me that appears to fit Ellis’s story to the letter. I’m very curious who he ends up working with after this book becasue I think he may have his pick. He’s definitely one to watch.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!