By: Paul Cornell (writer), Miguel Sepulveda (artist), Alex Sinclair & Pete Pantazis (colorists)
The Story: Cloudy, with a chance of meteors that may devastate the planet. Bundle up!
The Review: Whenever you have a band of super-powered individuals banding together to fight evil, comparisons to the Justice League are inevitable. Since the League is universally regarded as the primo superhero team in the DCU, and often includes the most recognizable icons, every other team has to not only distinguish its mission statement, but its members as well. It’s a challenge, all right: how do you beat characters like Superman or Batman?
Stormwatch doesn’t make it easier on itself with such obvious analogues to the World’s Finest in Apollo and Midnighter. This issue has Apollo flying into space, where direct exposure to the solar radiation that fuels him puts him into overdrive mode. Good thing, since he does the heavy lifting, destroying a massive asteroid singlehandedly. Meanwhile, Midnighter has to get over his loner methods to work with a whole gaggle of extraordinarily empowered people, and he feels out of place fighting space creatures when the only thing he can really bring to the table is his tactical mind (“I know how to kill anything.”). Sound familiar?
That said, we also get plenty of evidence Stormwatch is nothing like the League, especially where power sets are concerned. Here, you finally get a better understanding of how some of the team’s more bizarre gifts work, like Jack Hawksmoor’s. As it turns out, when he says he talks to cities, it means he literally sits down among them—elegant Paris, modern It-girl Metropolis, and demonic, rambling Gotham—and has a pleasant chat (“Paris sends her love.”).
Fascinating stuff, but Cornell would be wise to avoid calling too much more attention to their powers, as it may prove a detrimental distraction in the long term. Already, the repetition of certain buzzwords (“media,” “city,” and “dark matter,” to name a few) wears thin, soon to be as much an irritant as Superboy’s “tactile telekinesis” was back in the late nineties. As is, the non-principals already come off a bit dull and shrill compared to their abilities, and that’s a problem.
Another problem: Adam One’s perpetually breeziness conceals an ancient genius, but as events grow more dire, he shows cracks in his accumulated knowledge. When Engineer asks if he has a backup plan, he replies, “What? Oh. Not especially.” Not the best response to someone who already has her eye on leadership, but then again, she has competition from Harry Tanner, now revealed as a blackguard on the team, and a bit crazed at that. Prince of Lies, indeed.
But it may very well be that none of this will matter. For all the powers at Stormwatch’s disposal, they can’t even seem to touch the monster rampaging across Colorado. If they manage to somehow survive this, this sets a pretty high bar—dare I say League-worthy—for the threats they’ll have to deal with in the future.
Sepulveda’s ability to draw pretty much anything credibly means this title always looks first-class. His lines strike a nice balance between being light enough to incorporate a lot of fine, textured detail, yet also has the weight to give depth to the figures. But the breakout stars, in my mind, are Sinclair and Pantazis’ colors, whose glow and crackle shocks energy into every scene, making this comic look like a modern, high-octane action flick by every standard.
Conclusion: Stellar action and plenty of fun moments, but it’s still missing that bit of oomph to really drive it into the cream of the DC crop, besides being rather repetitive at times.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – A great, ancient city buried beneath the Colorado landscape? Well, I’m sure the populace had its reasons.
– Projectionist’s big task is to prevent all the world’s communication, news, and information networks from reporting a truly life-threatening story. I’m not sure the media needs the help.