Monday, 8 April 2013

Review Month - Stormwatch.

Stormwatch 'Is Dead'.

Issue 19.

Writer - Jim Starlin.
Artist - Yvel Guichet.
Inker - Jonas Trindade.
Colour - Richard and Tanya Horie.

Publisher - DC Comics.

'Is Dead.' Is a pretty brave title to put on the fold out cover? (Which I loved incidentally.) The only small problem I have is that I think that the fold out interior section would have made the best cover just on it's own. But Starlin is the man in this arena and looks great. We get the probably good / possibly evil faces of the main players.

But come on DC if you are going to do a double page spread cover just bite the bullet and make it fit all the way round the book. Be brave and get rid of the advert on the back?

I go into the book being not completely up to date on the Stormwatch team. I read some of the 1990s series and most of The Authority but didn't bother with the New 52 relaunch - mostly because it felt a little too 1990s. So I come to the book with little knowledge and hopefully fresh eyes. Spurred on to read it by the fact that Starlin in involved.

Having missed most of the advance publicity I thought that Starlin himself may be drawing it. This may explain my disappointment at the art in the first five pages. Yvel Guichet has a 'New 52 house style'. I usually hate such generalisations but it does share the glossy 90s style brightness along with a lack of broody shadows. Everything seems a little 90s Image comics or maybe a little bit CrossGen? Just get Mr Starlin to draw it for fuck's sake!?

Once the reader gets past the intro pages the book builds up a good head of steam and we see The Engineer (or as one character calls her 'Robo Bimbo') attempt to recruit a new member. We get a run down of characters (Yay - The Weird!) and get presented with a couple of mysteries.

'And keeping my identity secret from the rest of the group.'

'I utilize him chiefly to bodyguard my secret treasure.'

We also get a cool guide to the Stormwatch Universe. That may seem unnecessary to regular readers but that I personally valued. The Forecaster is a great old school sci-fi idea. A non humanoid alien who seems to be part of the ship's systems and an early warning alarm.

Also good to see that the Apollo / Midnighter relationship is still intact.

But it's The Weird who may hold the most promise for me. He holds the attention of the reader and speaks in calm measured tones. His relationship as a mentor / companion to Jenny should also prove interesting.

The book reads a little bit like a zero setup issue. But accomplishes all it seems to aim to do. I know who the team now comprises of and their general power set. We get a sense of their motivations. We can also see where the book is headed (in general terms anyway). And we get a great ending to lead in to the next issue. For me the art and colouring could use a tweak here and there (but that's a pretty common complaint throughout DC Comics at the moment - from my view anyway). But the writing is top notch. I just hope that DC keep hold of Mr Starlin - but these days that is anybody's guess.

By the end of the book (no spoilers) I knew that I would be sticking this title back into my pull list for the first time in almost a decade. And not just because of the surprise guest at the end. The book has all the best qualities in writing and concepts that we saw with Dreadstar and the cosmic stories that Jim Starlin has been involved with at both DC and Marvel over the last four decades. All books that I loved at the time and still revisit now.

This is what the New 52 should be doing. Taking chances at creating new areas of the Universe and letting guys like Jim Starlin play about in them.

Nicely done!


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