Silverwolf’s Den: Stormwatch Volume 1: The Dark Side

Stormwatch is a series initially released in 1993 under Wildstorm, the imprint containing the creations of the renowned Jim Lee and other creators including Hank Kanalz and Ben Abernathy. Eventually, DC absorbed Wildstorm as Jim Lee became a Co-Publisher and, with the advent of the New 52, Wildstorm’s characters found new footing in several “Edge” titles. One of these series is known as Stormwatch and focuses on an ancient organization that has safeguarded Earth against external threats of all kinds from demons to aliens. I didn’t have any interest in Stormwatch when it was relaunched with the rest of The New 52, but given that positive word of mouth, coupled with Paul Cornell of Demon Knights fame as its writer, compelled me to check out the first volume.

Stormwatch is a Sci-Fi Adventure extravaganza that focuses on the titular team. Membership consists of the long-lived Adam One, the ingenious Engineer, Projectionist with her ability to manipulate media, Jack Hawksmoor (aka The God of Cities), The Eminence of Blades called Harry Tanner, Jenny Quantum who embodies the Spirit of the 21st Century, and the well-known Martian Manhunter. Soon they are joined by Apollo and the Midnighter, better known from a series called The Authority; to quickly familiarize yourself, think Superman and Batman, respectively, only willing to kill and their “friendship” is a bit more…romantic…to say the least. The team is quickly thrown for a loop as an alien threat seeks to attack the Earth, while meanwhile the team has internal troubles of its own. Can this band of disconnected divas work together well enough to prevent Earth from becoming an alien stomping ground? And even if they do, can they continue to function in a reasonable manner?

Paul Cornell, the writer of my beloved Demon Knights, is responsible for these six issues of Stormwatch (after which he, regrettably, left the series). Cornell’s voice shines through again, blending great moments of action and suspense with wry, witty humor. I’d find myself smiling at one page only to have my jaw drop upon seeing a wild revelation or intense battle scene. I also like the connections Cornell drew with Demon Knights, such as the city of Alba Umbra (which I’m guessing is connected to Alba Sarum in some manner) and revealing that the Demon Knights themselves were some of the original members of Stormwatch. Cornell’s talent for writing a team of fleshed out and balanced characters shone through in this Sci-Fi epic, and it was easy for me to connect quickly with most characters (though I did find Adam One a bit banal…but that’s sort of the point of his character). Despite coming in with no knowledge of these characters or this team, I felt Cornell expertly introduced some developed characters and complex plot elements in the span of six issues.

Harry Tanner, the Eminence of Blades, showing his mad skills

Miguel Sepulveda was the principal artist for this run of Stormwatch. His art…well let’s just say it’s beyond amazing. The futuristic technology he draws is highly detailed, making one almost believe it’s all based on real machinery. The character designs are very cool and range from the simplistic yet effective Apollo to the wildly detailed armor of the Midnighter. The fight scenes, especially any involving Harry Tanner, are exciting and pulse-pounding. My only complaint is the design for Martian Manhunter; for some reason, I’m not a big fan of the frills on the sides of his head, and I also feel like his costume needs a bit of an update (after all, most other classic DC heroes got a least a decent revamp for the New 52). The coloring, handled by Alex Sinclair, Allen Passalaqua, and Pete Pantazis, is remarkable. The colors add a surrealist, eerie edge to the scenes shown. The flashing blue of Harry Tanner’s blades is probably one of the most eye-catching comic coloring jobs I’ve seen in recent memory, and I won’t soon forget it.

I’m not a huge Science Fiction fan (Fantasy is more my area of interest) but this title pulled me right in. That’s definitely thanks to the combination of stellar writing and art. I regret not buying this title when it first came out, but am glad now I got it all collected in the nice volume format. As a bonus, the volume has some character design pages at the back, a great way to look at how some of the central players evolved. Stormwatch Volume 1: The Dark Side is a solid comic collection. It’s a bit rapid in terms of pacing at times, but if you aren’t a fan of too much exposition pick it up.

Rating: ★★★★★

Brett Simon is a twenty-two year old comic enthusiast. He’s really wishing Harry Tanner would get his own spin-off comic. 

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