Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!
For our 100th installment of a Year of Cool Comics, let’s take a look at Warren Ellis’ run on Stormwatch.
This bit contains some major spoilers about Warren Ellis’ Stormwatch run. Be forewarned!!
Okay, so let me note that yes, eventually, Warren Ellis did, indeed, kill off most of the cast of Stormwatch and then replace them all with a new team, The Authority, consisting of mostly his own creations (Jenny Sparks, Jack Hawksmoor, Apollo, Midnighter, The Doctor and The Engineer, with only Swift being a pre-existing character).
However, I think most readers were expecting something like that right from the get go, and instead, Ellis did one of the most respectful “revamps” of a major superhero team that I can think of.
Not only did Ellis keep almost all the main characters from the previous creative team, but Ellis even made a point to use the characters’ past histories to build his characterizations.
He added three notable characters in Jenny Sparks, Jack Hawksmoor and Rose Tattoo, and he did shuffle things around, but none of that took away from the book before him. He took the large Stormwatch cast and split them into three different sub-groups.
Stormwatch Prime – the “main” team
Stormwatch Red – a group of the most destructive members of the group (for deterrent purposes)
Stormwatch Black – for black ops, basically (this is the team that eventually became The Authority)
Here is Harry Bendix, the “Weatherman” (the guy in charge of Stormwatch), delivering the news in Ellis’ first issue…
In that same issue, Stormwatch comes across a bad guy who Bendix decides to get some background on – using some…iffy methods.
In one of the coolest issues of this early run, Ellis has the Stormwatch Prime discover an act of genetic terrorism…
Bendix discovers that it was an act from the nation of Gamorra…
Once the trauma was over, Bendix showed off his edgy side once again by showing how he wanted to get revenge…
The art during this run was handled by Tom Raney (as the “official” artist of the book), Pete Woods and a few other fill-in artists.
Then, of course, things changed with regards to Bendix towards the end of the run, and he went from being the driven but righteous leader of Stormwatch to being, well…still driven!!
After #37-50, Ellis launched a new volume of Stormwatch with artist Oscar Jimenez. But Jimenez had deadline problems and Ellis grew tired of the book pretty soon, but then Bryan Hitch, who had signed on to do fill-in work, ended up re-invigorating Ellis (Hitch’s first arc introduced Apollo and Midnighter), who then decided to take Stormwatch Black and make it its own book.
So he then killed off most of the cast and gave Stormwatch Black their own title, which was The Authority, which was very good.
But Stormwatch #37-50 is very good on its own, as well!
Other standout issues include spotlights on Jenny Sparks (showing her through history) and Jack Hawksmoor (a really twisted issue where he fights against a government cover-up).
Plus a good one-off issue where Jackson King gets taken prisoner by some white supremacists (or some other sort of racist group).
The last arc of the first volume, which later helped influence a lot of later characters for The Authority, was particularly strong. That one arc by Ellis has influenced a great number of later stories in the Wildstorm universe – heck, the current “Post-Apocalyptic Earth” story spun out of a story involving the main villain from Ellis’ last Volume 1 arc.
All in all, it’s definitely good enough for me to feature it as the 100th installment of a Year of Cool Comics!