“Stormwatch” was a title where, over time, it became increasingly clear that no one knew what to do with it. After Paul Cornell and Peter Milligan’s New 52 runs, Jim Starlin took over with “Stormwatch” #19 and wiped the entire series out of continuity and started over with a brand-new team. I mention this if only because with “Stormwatch” #30, Sterling Gates and Jeremy Roberts return the favor and bring back the team from issues #1-18. Quite frankly, it’s a huge improvement.
The restoration of the previous continuity is more or less hand-waved off to the side, resolved between issues and only obliquely referenced by some of Jenny Quantum’s narration. But that’s a good thing; rather than spend this final issue dwelling on their return, Gates instead shows the new/old status quo in action. Considering how quickly the characters were wiped out before, their even more sudden restoration works surprisingly well; it’s akin to slipping on an old comfortable pair of shoes.
It doesn’t hurt that the core of the team — Apollo, Midnighter, Engineer, Jack Hawksmoor and Jenny Quantum — is once more composed of characters that fans of “The Authority” should know. I suspect if you jumped right from “The Authority” incarnation to “Stormwatch” #30, you’d find it easy to follow. Right there, that’s half of the problem that’s plagued “Stormwatch” as of late solved. The other half — good news, the comic is once more fun to read. Gates’s interpretation of the team as a surrogate family of sorts works well; these are people who aren’t just saving the world together, but ones who care about each other. There’s a good rapport between them, and their connections being deeper than just a jumpsuit comes into play to help bring that idea home. It’s a strong take on the “Stormwatch” concept, and it’s frustrating to see this roll along just as the series is wrapping up.
After winning the talent search to draw a page in “Harley Quinn” #0, it’s great to see Roberts being given a full comic to draw from DC. Based on what he’s done here, I suspect he’s going to be in demand before long. His art is clean and well-composed; pages are easy to follow, the action is crisp and attractive, and he can handle everything from a punch being landed or debris crumbling and falling, to faces coming out of the sides of buildings or awkward moments between teenagers. I like his art, a lot, and I want to see him drawing many more comics in the months and years to come. He’s a great find.
“Stormwatch” #30 ends the series not with a bang, or an explosion, but just a solid re-establishment of the characters. At this point I think letting the title rest for a while is a smart thing, but if it ever comes back, call up Gates and Roberts. Their one-issue stint here is enough to convince me that they understand this book.