After months of waiting, DC’s resurrection of an old line of comics rises from the ashes with “The Wild Storm” #1. If that wasn’t enough to make fans curious, acclaimed WildStorm writer Warren Ellis paired with artist Jon Davis-Hunt likely will be. While this newly aligned roster of properties may not be enough to convert fans of only characters from The Big Two, there’s a legion of comics fans who still remember the twilight years of “Stormwatch” and “The Authority” with fond memories. Will the comic be able to entice new readers with the reintroduction of classic characters? Will this series still capture the heart and soul of the original series some 25 years after the debut of WildStorm?
The Wild Storm #1
Written by Warren Ellis
Illustrated by Jon Davis-Hunt
A troubled woman, barred by her employer from continuing her research, walks miserably through New York City. It takes her a moment to notice that everybody else is looking up. A man has been thrown from the upper floor of the Halo skyscraper.
And that woman-Angela Spica, sick from the transhuman implants she’s buried in her own body-is the only person who can save him.
What she doesn’t know is that the act of saving that one man will tip over a vast and secret house of cards that encloses the entire world, if not the inner solar system. This is how the Wild Storm begins, and it may destroy covert power structures, secret space programs and even all of human history.
New York Times best-selling writer Warren Ellis (TRANSMETROPOLITAN, RED, PLANETARY) returns to DC to curate Jim Lee’s WildStorm world, with this debut issue resetting the WildStorm universe with new iterations of Grifter, Voodoo, the Engineer, Jenny Sparks and others.
“I couldn’t be more excited to see these characters that are so near and dear to me reintroduced under the guiding hand of Warren Ellis. WildStorm represents an incredibly fun and exciting period in my career, and I can’t wait to see what Warren and Jon have in store for fans in February.”-Jim Lee, DC Comics Co-Publisher
“The Wild Storm” #1 hits the ground running with a violent introduction to a key player. After zooming the focus on a certain character and hinting at how they got in the situation in the first place, the series zooms out in scope, unveiling just how big this comic’s cast is. Instead of having one character serving as an anchor for the entire story, Ellis seems dedicated to a cocktail of cast members popping in and out of the narrative. Thankfully, Ellis remembered to bring a very distinctive voice for each cast member. Ellis also wisely introduces readers to the sprawling cast of characters outside of costume. Ellis seems to be dedicated to showing readers these individuals as people first, which is important as new and old WildStorm readers will be reading this story.
It would be silly if I talked about the comic for this long without mentioning Davis-Hunt’s work. Davis-Hunt makes sure the debut isn’t too quiet or exposition-heavy by utilizing unique page layouts. In the moments where Ellis takes the time getting readers introduced to the cast, Davis-Hunt depicts the characters with vivid facial expressions and poses that make this comic look like nothing else on the stands. Davis-Hunt makes the most of New York City with attention to detail in rendering so many tall buildings throughout the city while also framing panels in a very unconventional manner. Early in the book, there’s a scene where he transitions from one of group of characters into the next seamlessly. This book is filled with unique flourishes of art, even if Davis-Hunt’s pencils can be a little rough at times with certain figures not looking realistic. While the first half of the comic mostly includes people interacting with each other, Davis-Hunt brings a new approach when a lead character springs into action. The way the artist switches up the panel layout is a shocking to switch up the pacing of the issue, and a great way to infuse energy in an issue that some readers may accuse of being too boring.
Readers who were expecting a more conventional approach to the WildStorm roster of characters are going to be shocked by this comic. The story introduces a shadowy government agency and takes a subtle approach to possibly exploring the political ramifications of what being a government-based vigilante would actually be like. This comic breaks the show and not tell rule held by visual mediums. While there is action shown, the only way we know why the action is important is because of characters adding perspective on why what happened matters. However, with so many perspectives on what seems to be a single act of heroism, this issue does deliver on the promise of being something a little different.Continued below
Unfortunately, there’s not quite enough glue here to hold each of these interactions together. The cast feels disconnected from each other in a manner that is almost jarring. While accusing this issue of containing any sort of fan service may seem reductive, perhaps Ellis should have saved character debuts for future issues to make this debut faster paced. The series tries to line these characters up and Ellis has plenty of time to show that the cast is in a shared Universe, but don’t expect each and every plot thread to converge in this narrative. Ellis seems to be playing the long game in how each of these characters are just barely introduced here. There’s also quite a lot to read into in marketing materials and solicitation information shared with the book.
“The Wild Storm” is a highly unconventional take on a group of characters who were once criticized as being a vehicle for artist Jim Lee back in the 90’s. Ellis and Davis-Hunt separate this take on the comic from any other WildStorm series with making this debut issue a grounded, adult look on a franchise bursting with potential but needing reinvention. This issue signifies a major shift in how superhero comics can be told, illustrating that capes and cowls aren’t always required for a thrilling superhero story. As a line-wide debut, “The Wild Storm” also succeeds in showing how committed the creative team is to the series with so many characters in the story. Davis-Hunt makes sure you won’t be mistaking this issue from any other superhero comic with the breathtaking cover and layouts like nothing else on the stands. Unfortunately, this issue only offers the slightest tease at what’s next for the comic.
Final Verdict:7.8: “The Wild Storm” #1 succeeds where others have failed with great character interaction and dynamic art, but the creative team arguably bit off more than they could chew with a huge supporting cast of characters.