New 52 Review: Stormwatch #1

The Wildstorm team comes to the DCU and takes on an alien menace in the moon.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Out of all of the New 52 books coming out from DC, Stormwatch was the title I was most looking forward to. The Wildstorm characters created by Jim Lee, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Ed Brubaker and other talented creators had fallen into limbo after years of declining sales. Bringing them back as part of the DCU was a much better idea than letting them fade away into obscurity.

And although this new series is called Stormwatch, the character lineup more closely resembles The Authority; an iconic superhero team created by Ellis and Bryan Hitch back in the late '90s. The widescreen action in The Authority heavily influenced comics for the better part of a decade and the more politic slant taken by the team during the Mark Millar and Frank Quitely run made The Authority stand out from the rest of the superhero teams. These were characters who actually took on the dictators and the corrupt industrialists who were running the world into the ground.

It was a refreshing take on the genre that didn't always translate well to subsequent creators, but it could have been just the shot in the arm that the DCU needed. At their peak, The Authority could have taken on the JLA as equals.

Instead, the new Stormwatch reads like a neutered version of The Authority. The political slant is gone and this team seems to exist only to fight alien threats.   

Led by Jack Hawksmoor (a man who can control and communicate with cities), the new Stormwatch carries over a few other Authority mainstays like Apollo, the Midnighter, Jenny Quantum and the Engineer. Martian Manhunter is the lone member actually from the original DCU, with three new characters added to the lineup: Adam One, the Projectionist, and Harry Tanner, "the Eminence of Blades."

The story by Paul Cornell finds Hawksmoor, Martian Manhunter and the Projectionist trying to recruit Apollo — a hero with Superman-level powers —  to join their team in the face of his angry refusals. Early on,  the Projectionist also uses her "media manipulation" powers to investigate Apollo while clumsily explaining her abilities to Martian Manhunter. Amazingly, the Projectionist suggests that Apollo has only been mentioned online three times; which is incredibly ridiculous… even in a book with a talking moon. But I'll get to that momentarily.

Here's a question for comic fans: is it a sign of equality when even gay marriages are retconned away by the DC reboot? In this continuity, Apollo and Midnighter don't even know each other, much less have a relationship. Midnighter's lone appearance in this script is the one moment in the story that actually has some life to it. The Midnighter is still an obvious Batman analog, but his redesigned costume is unnecessary… and kind of ugly. Like a lot of the revamped costumes, it feels over-designed and the little point at the end of Midnighter's chin just looks ridiculous.

The team's recruiting mission gets interrupted by the previously mentioned alien menace that seems to have possessed the moon. And it's at this point we meet the so-called "Eminence of Blades;" who speaks only in poorly worded expository phrases. But what really annoyed me was that this master swordsman boasts that he can carve his signature on a retina but he doesn't even try to stab the giant alien eye!

Miguel Sepulveda's art is sadly lackluster. Stormwatch may not be able to get Ivan Reis or other top DC artists anymore, but it deserves someone who can deliver exciting action and dynamic characters. Instead the panels seem flat on the page and the quality of the art is akin to a children's superhero coloring book that lightly resembles actual comics without the craft.

There's really not enough here to actually hate the book, but this incarnation of Stormwatch is the very definition of average. If this is the best that DC can do with the Wildstorm characters, then they will be heading back into limbo soon enough.

Crave Online Rating: 5/10