Sep 1, 2009

[Comics] Stormwatch Vol. 4 - A Finer World

Stormwatch Vol. 4 - A Finer WorldI've never been very exposed to the Wildstorm universe apart from catching a few episodes of the WildC.A.T.s cartoon. Thus it was an interesting experience when my partner started getting pretty obsessed with getting me into The Authority. Of course in order to do that properly, he first needed to introduce me to some of the prior books that built up to the comic.

In order to understand The Authority, one has to make a detour through the universe of Stormwatch. Now this group seemed a little confusing to me since I'm not very big on government-sanctioned superhero groups, what more a multinational group given it was sponsored by the United Nations, of all things. It did make for an interesting premise although it was a tad tricky to catch up with the story since I started reading pretty much towards the end of Stormwatch as a comic book.

Stormwatch: A Finer World is the fourth compilation of Storwatch comics and it collects issues 4-9 of the second (and last) volume of Stormwatch. It covers two main story arcs that are pretty well-connected to the main concepts that eventually result in The Authority.

Henry BendixImage via Wikipedia

The first story arc is "A Finer World" and the main claim to fame with this one is the revelation that there's been a secret Stormwatch team operating independently after it was created by previous Weatherman Henry Bendix. Most of the team is believed to be dead except for two unknowns - they're eventually revealed to be Apollo and Midnighter, who are clearly analogous to Superman and Batman respectively. Thus the Stormwatch team sets out to find these rogue superhumans and figure out whether or not they can be trusted.

The second story arc is "Bleed" which introduces the interdimentional concept of The Bleed, sort of the fluid between dimensions. The core Stormwatch team figures out how to observe an alternate Stormwatch with Jack Hawksmoor as the Weatherman. Ultimately the alternate universe is set to be invaded and the core Stormwatch group needs to determine whether or not they should intervene in the fate of an alternate Earth.

Stormwatch itself was sort of "meh" at this point it seems and I didn't really get the point of the group. Sure, I understand it's purpose on paper but in a larger sense, the group didn't really have a clear direction or identity and it felt like just another superhero group. Thus it's completely understandable why fans latched on very strongly to Apollo and Midnighter since they were fresh takes of classic superhero archetypes that certainly makes for interesting storytelling potential.

Ellis definitely had something going there when he first introduced the concept of The Bleed. Transdimensional stories have a high potential for coolness despite and equally high potential for being overly convoluted and complicated if managed badly. Thus it makes perfect sense why this eventually became a springboard for The Authority later on.

This volume of Stormwatch really was only worth it for the concepts and characters introduced but not so much for the interplay between the characters themselves. I probably need to read the earlier books to get a better understanding of Stormwatch as a group, but that doesn't stop me from really appreciating where Ellis went with all of this afterwards.

Stormwatch: A Finer World gets 4 alternate realities out of a possible 5.

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