Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Stormwatch #1 - A Review

I found myself at a complete loss regarding this book as I thought about how to review it. I enjoyed it immensely but I can see how there are parts of it that might be intimidating for new readers. This is not a book that holds the hand of the reader, slowly guiding them into the world through the viewpoint of a wide-eyed protagonist. Things are too urgent for that and Stormwatch is not your typical team book.

The best way I can think to describe this book is to say that Stormwatch is the Torchwood of the DC Universe. They are not a superhero team – they refuse that label. Superheroes wear colorful costumes, tell children to eat their vegetables and rescue kittens from trees. Stormwatch is made up of total bastards, operating in secret, who are willing to do whatever it takes to keep the world safe from unknown and unusual threats like… oh, say The Moon gaining sentience and deciding to attack the Earth.

If you’re a fan of Doctor Who or Warehouse 13, you’ll probably be able to swing with this easily enough. The script by Paul Cornell (himself a Doctor Who writer) rushes us through several scenes involving a mysterious giant horn, a giant eye-ball monster on the moon and Stormwatch’s efforts to recruit a secretive hero dubbed Apollo without pausing for breath. Concepts are thrown out but little time is taken to develop them. We are just told what things are and move on. We see characters like The Engineer, but get no explanation as to their abilities. We learn something of Stormwatch, but it’s barely a nibble’s worth of information. The only reason I could identify half of the cast to begin with was because of my previous experience reading The Authority. I can’t begin to imagine how confusing this book must be for a newcomer, who has no idea what a Century Child is and what that entails for Jenny Quantum.

Thankfully, this book has found the perfect artist in Miguel Sepulveda. Sepulveda’s previous credits include a Thanos book for Marvel and – more recently – War of The Green Lanterns for DC. He’s able to visualize the celestial oddities that Cornell’s script requires effectively enough and the more mundane oddities such as The Martian Manhunter shape-shifting from his human form to his real form to something far more terrifying. And yet, there is a certain grittiness to Sepulveda’s art that lends itself equally well to street-fights in dark alleys – a must for any book that will presumably feature The Midnighter on a regular basis.

Do I want to recommend this book? Yes. Can I recommend this book? Yes, with the warning that this book is a slow-starter that may have some of you confused at first. I get the impression, however, that this will all be worth it in the end.

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