In the latest of our comprehensive series of reviews of DC Comics' 52 relaunched titles, we take a look at Stormwatch #1.
Who's it by?
Stormwatch #1 is written by Paul Cornell and drawn by Miguel Sepulveda.
What's the history?
Stormwatch was an original flagship of the now-defunct WildStorm Universe, a team of superheroes created by Jim Lee in the early '90s. Stormwatch was officially sanctioned by the United Nations to counter threats to the Earth.
Under the pen of writer Warren Ellis, popular characters including Apollo and Midnighter were introduced, going on to star in Stormwatch's highly successful successor The Authority, which debuted following the destruction of the original team.
Stormwatch is back, and now integrated into the newly tweaked DC Universe continuity alongside other WildStorm properties including Grifter.
The lineup owes more to The Authority than the original Stormwatch series. Former team leader Weatherman is so far absent, with Ellis's creations including Apollo, Midnighter, Jenny Quantum, The Engineer and Jack Hawksmoor taking centre stage alongside new characters The Projectionist, the Eminence of Blades and Adam One.
Another entirely new inclusion on the team is Martian Manhunter, a founding member of the Justice League of America who now plays a role in newly integrated Stormwatch, tying the series firmly into DCU proper.
Stormwatch #1 introduces readers to the entire team very quickly.
From their interdimensional headquarters, The Engineer, Adam One, Jenny Quantum and the Eminence of Blades investigate a mysterious threat which takes them from the Himalayas to the Moon.
Meanwhile, Martian Manhunter, Jack Hawksmoor and The Projectionist are in Moscow, attempting to convince an unwilling Apollo to join their team.
It is established that Stormwatch has a longer history than it did before, dating back centuries and apparently rooted in Cornell's forthcoming Demon Knights title.
What's the verdict?
Cornell goes straight for the jugular in Stormwatch #1, throwing a whole cast of characters and three strands of storytelling at the reader at once. There will certainly be no accusations of slow-pacing levelled against this team book.
The introduction of the various characters meets with varying levels of success. The appraisal of Apollo's recent appearance in the DCU is cleverly made using The Projectionist's powers. The new character's description of her own abilities is delivered a bit clumsily - surely Martian Manhunter knows how her powers work already. Similarly with Jack Hawksmoor, he might take a slightly different tone when introducing himself to a potentially deadly threat like Apollo.
In other cases, Cornell largely neglects to introduce his new characters. Adam One is immortal and the Eminence of Blades is a man with a sword. It is not clear what the reader is expected to know and what they are not, and this could be a barrier particularly for readers new to DC Comics.
This issue also fails to establish the character of Stormwatch itself. We are told that the team is different from all the others, but there is no explanation of how or indication of what sets this team aside. At this point, all the reader knows is that they are a group of superpowered beings and scant else.
There is a strong sense of threat in the issue, from the creature possessing the moon and its huge, reaching claw, to the moon monster's own promise of a greater threat facing the DCU (possibly that alluded to in Flashpoint #5). Cornell and Sepulveda capture an atmosphere of impending disaster, and coupled with overall pace of the issue, this somewhat makes up for the flaws in establishing the team.
Sepulveda's art is a fine fit for this title. The occasional awkward-looking facial expression aside, he delivers dark and realistic artwork that recalls the style The Authority.
Stormwatch #1 is a mixed bag. The fast-paced, action-packed storytelling is tempered by the inconsistent establishment of the characters and their team. Older fans will be eager to see how these WildStorm properties fit within the relaunched DCU, and after this issue it remains unclear. This is a flawed debut, but there is enough intrigue and excitement here to draw readers back for a second helping.
> Buy the digital version of Stormwatch #1
> Read our review of Swamp Thing #1
Watch the teaser trailer for Stormwatch #1 below: