By: Paul Cornell (writer), Miguel Sepulveda (artist), Alex Sinclair (colorist)

The Story: This alien apparently never learned not to scarf its food.

The Review: In my mind, the big appeal of Stormwatch is their incredible scope.  Between their ages-old mandate and their huge variety of abilities, nothing seems off limits to them, not even the boundaries of time and space (that tends to be the case when one of your members comes into existence at the start of the universe and is destined to end it as well).

So having the team defeat a massive extraterrestrial creature by resurrecting an ancient city beneath the surface of Colorado and using its alchemical powers to transform the creature into glass?  That seems to be a typical day for Stormwatch, but thrilling reading for us.  Initial issues hinted at the kind of power this team possesses, but here, for the first time, they really come together and deliver some fairly epic feats—not too shabby for the first story arc.

This rallying of the team comes at a cost, though.  Adam’s erratic behavior renders him completely impotent at the climax of the crisis, and Engineer finally takes lead in his stead.  But she also reveals her actions aren’t truly motivated by a thirst for power: “…I’m an engineer.  I fix things.  And this was so not working.”  It’s unclear if she’ll take point permanently, but from the looks of things, she seems perfectly suited to do so, even earning street cred with Midnighter.

And getting that dark knight’s approval is no easy feat, since he apparently only gives it to those who reach his high standards (“Good,” he remarks of Engineer’s orders, “That’s how I’d have called it.”).  Despite earlier claims of being a lone wolf, he quickly insinuates into the team as a master tactician, singlehandedly devising a strategy to free the absorbed members of Stormwatch from the creature, with a bit of legwork from Projectionist and Apollo.

Speaking of which, Midnighter and Apollo share a fairly significant moment in this issue when they find that it’s up to the two of them to save the day.  Cornell doesn’t go overboard with it, but when he has Midnighter place his hand on Apollo’s face, asking, “Do you trust me?” and the other man replies, “I—yes,” the exchange has a tenderness that definitely represents more than just a rapport between fighting partners.

Not all is well and good by the end, however.  Harry Tanner remains a ticking time bomb within the group.  How can you trust a man who stays smiling while facing the imminent threat of being dissolved by a monster, especially while his “teammates” scramble to escape?  Then you have a star-imbued representative of the Stormwatch Shadow Cabinet, showing up to declare Adam’s death.  And that’s before you hit the mysteries of the alien horn they picked in #1, and what to do with this risen city they’ve abandoned in the middle of the Western United States.

Sepulveda is absolutely critical to this series.  It’s hard to think of many other artists within DC’s ranks capable of translating Cornell’s far-reaching ideas with such glorious slickness (bolstered as well by Sinclair’s dazzling colors and special effects).  Yet Sepulveda never lets that take his focus from smaller, equally crucial details.  Good example: when he draws Midnighter taking Jenny Quantum by the hand to help her cross the ruins of Alba Umbra, this gives you a lot of information about the type of person Midnighter is, without the script having to tell you at all.

Conclusion: This series’ potential finally reveals itself as the title where quite literally anything can happen—and probably will.  The action goes nonstop, with plenty of great character beats along the way.

Grade: A-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – You have to love Midnighter describing Apollo as “a big threat…like Superman, only better-looking.”  He may be an obvious Batman analogue, but you’d never hear Bruce make reference to Clark’s handsomeness.

– On that note, I do find it highly entertaining that Apollo spends the rest of this issue fighting in what are essentially denim booty shorts.  Classic.