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Are you ready to get political?
This trio of issues of Stormwatch play up the geopolitical aspects of the team in a big way while also serving satisfying action and backstory and fantastic arc. Despite some 90s tropes along the way, the title has hit its stride as a high-quality comic.
The opening two-issue arc of this run is firing on all cylinders. Issue #6 is the heftiest WildStorm comic I’ve read so far. It has political intrigue, finally gives the team around Battalion some depth, and continues Stormwatch’s genius streak of nodding to its implied deep well of personnel and their accompanying stories.
Then, #7 is a well-paced battle that limits the amount of reversals and people back from seeming KOs. Thanks to the lack of see-sawing, it has a legitimate “hooray!” moment at the climax, especially when the dispassionate Weatherman joins in piling on the enemies.
Brandon Choi wisely leans heavily on the caption boxes in issue six, helping us get reacquainted with the team – who we haven’t seen together outside of the special since the opening of the first issue.
This is at once a strength and weakness of Stormwatch. It has a large enough cast with multiple teams, historical personnel, supporting staff, and enemy mercs that sometimes I can go issues without ever being entirely sure of someone’s name or power.
That’s emphasized by the fact that we’ve stayed almost entirely with Battalion (and, briefly, Backlash) as our POV characters so far. At this point we know enough about Diva, Fuji, and Winter, but past that trio things get hazier – especially as Choi seems intent for us to pick up on their countries of origin from a few spare foreign words, which is a bit less than we had to go on in Giant Size X-Men.
Issue #8 adds a few surprising names to the credits – H. K. Proger co-scripts, and Jim Lee contributes layouts along with Scott Clark for Trevor Scott to finish. It’s also surprises on just about every page, which makes for an engrossing single issue.
Amidst a lot of great material, two things stick out in a big way:
One is Ripclaw and Rainmaker as indigenous characters without a lot of stereotyping attached. Sure, we get the opening monolog about the Apache Warrior, but otherwise they’re two heroes who the story happens to focus on in a clear callback to the first issue. It’s not “A Very Special Indigenous Episode of Stormwatch.” It also gets the politics right, by identifying the US forces as rogue agents on sovereign land (an interesting contrast with Stormwatch’s role in the prior issue).
Two, is that we get a great, brief training session with Battalion and Backlash that actually deepens their characters and advances the plot! It leads to another strong conversation with Backlash. Sure, it’s just setting up Backlash’s spinoff series, but why can’t Choi manage that on WildCATs!
Want the play-by-play? Keep reading for a summary of these two teams going head to head. Here’s the schedule for the rest of this month’s WildStorm re-read. Though both Kindred and Gen13 are referenced in today’s read, we’ve got some more WildCATs ground to cover first, starting with #8-9 tomorrow. Enjoy the light reading day!
Need the issues? You guessed it – never before collected! You’ll need to purchase single issues – try eBay (#6-8) or Amazon (#6, 7, 8). Since further Stormwatch series hit these same issue numbers, be sure to match your purchase to the images in this post.