Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Stormwatch #0

"Crash Course"

Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Will Conrad
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Sean Mackiewicz
Editor: Pat McCallum
Stormwatch created by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi

The cover is by Tyler Kirkham, Batt and Wes Hartman. It's your standard zero issue cover DC did last September, and it shows the whole team displaying their powers. It's simple and to-the-point, but it is pretty nice.

According to legend, a promising young artist at Marvel named Jim Lee decided to team up with a few other big names in the business to form their own company to rival Marvel and DC — Image Comics. This new universe needed a lot of new characters and teams, and one of them was Stormwatch, sort of like a parallel to the Justice League. Eventually, Jim Lee sold out to DC and worked his way up to be co-publisher. He now has major influence to ensure his original creations remain alive and well in the New 52 universe. This current Stormwatch is a mix of classic superhero elements, magic and sci-fi. I honestly don't think there's need or room in the DC universe for this team, but that's not what this post is about. I am here to review issue #0, which should be the perfect starting point for new readers. And since this is a Flash blog, I am going to focus on his appearance here, which is another passive, not-really-there showing.

Our story starts now in hyperspace aboard the Eye of the Storm, Stormwatch headquarters. Four members of the team — Engineer, Apollo, Jack Hawksmoor and Midnighter — are all using their powers to investigate a strange alien they just picked up. The fifth member of the team, the young Jenny Quantum, is in her room, receiving an unexpected visit from Adam One. Adam was last seen being sucked into another dimension by a Shadow Lord in issue #5. Jenny asks how he got back, but he instead teaches her that she is a Century Baby and what that exactly means.

Adam shows Jenny flashbacks of his own life, and we learn that he is really Merlin and ages backwards very slowly. The first Century Baby he shows her is from 1013. Merlin recruited this girl to join Demon Knights and she helped them defeat an army of evil dolphins in mechanical suits. Later, though, this girl misused her powers and was taken away by the Shadow Lords.

Merlin found another Century Baby in 1340, and she joined the team as it shifted its focus to battle extra-terrestial threats and changed its name to Stormwatch. Adam shows Jenny two more Century Babies and helps her hear and feel what the others have felt. He then shows her something that's been troubling him for a long time — the beginning of the end, basically.

He says the arrival of the Justice League and superheroes is a sign that the final, cataclysmic battle is at hand and Stormwatch will soon turn on itself. Jenny, naturally, is the only one who can save the team.

The Good:

An editor's note. I'm a sucker for editor's notes that send me to other issues, and here, it sent me to Stormwatch #5. It begins with a Shadow Lord killing Adam, partly as punishment and partly so he could join the Shadow Cabinet. The Shadow Lord then goes through each member of Stormwatch, including Martian Manhunter, and explains why they can't be the leader of the team. It then ends on a cliffhanger with a traitor destroying their headquarters. Issue #0 was a good origin story for the general idea of Stormwatch and Jenny Quantum, but it didn't tell me much about the others. Issue #5 helped fill in some of those gaps, so I was happy to have the reference to it.

The Bad:

No Flash. He's only in one panel, and it's not a particularly impressive one, either. It also comes with a very standard doom and gloom message about the Justice League. Like at the end of Flashpoint, Pandora said they needed to team everybody up and merge the universes to gain strength to battle the biggest, strongest, vaguest threat to all existence. Here, it was: the formation of this team only means that awful, cataclysmic events are immanent. We won't say what, or when, just know that it's going to be huge and terrible and it will change everything forever! Which DC is now saying about Trinity War. Can't the formation of the Justice League ever be a good thing filled with hope?

Evil dolphins. That is just one example of some of the weirdness that occurs in this title. To some people, I'm sure an army of evil dolphins is awesome and exciting. I, however, can't help but think about the Simpsons episode where evil dolphins conquered the land. I didn't really care for it in that episode, and I absolutely do not care for it in this issue. That, combined with the title's sense of uselessness, really turns me away from Stormwatch. I'm not saying it's a poorly written book, I'm just stating that it doesn't appeal to me, personally.

Final score: 4 out of 10

Next time: I will take a look at Flash's "appearances" in the Throne of Atlantis crossover and provide an updated chronology list.

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