The first six issues of “Stormwatch” (under the care of Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda) were slightly uneven, but at the same time clearly leading towards something greater. Now that a forgettable two-issue fill-in is over, “Stormwatch” has picked up writer Peter Milligan to its roster and fans of “Stormwatch” #1-6 will be pleased to see Milligan picks up where Cornell left off.
On the plus side, I appreciate that Milligan is following the threads Cornell had started to set into place. The Vitruvian Man is a great idea for a past member of Stormwatch; it fits the pattern of characters being products of their time and from all over the world. More importantly, the Vitruvian Man serves as a warning that’s even more of a red flag than the sudden dispatch of Adam One in “Stormwatch” #5. It’s a nasty little revelation about what Stormwatch members are and aren’t allowed to do and Milligan spins that idea out carefully.
On the minus side, Milligan brings in a Red Lantern this issue. With Milligan already writing “Red Lanterns” it’s not that much of a surprise, but there’s a lot that doesn’t work with its appearance here. The appearance of the Red Lantern feels grafted on, slightly out of sorts with the Vitruvian Man’s appearance and revelations. It also doesn’t work in a logical sense. We’re reminded (thanks to the Vitruvian Man) that Stormwatch has existed for centuries, and yet somehow they’re just now sensing for the first time an appearance of a Red Lantern ring? Ignoring the coming and goings of Red Lanterns in recent comics, the “Blackest Night” event alone (which is still in continuity) should have been a big red flag on that front, pardon the pun. It’s a plot point that wasn’t thought through terribly well and it stands out.
Sepulveda is back on the art this month and he’s also just as variable as ever. There are some good scenes, like the initial tussle between Midnighter and those he’s fighting in the training room. But more often than not, his characters look stiff and posed. The panel on page 4 where Jack, Martian Manhunter and Jenny appear through the door look like three mannequins rather than people moving. The coloring is also at times a little too glossy for its own sake; it makes the finished product look a bit garish and out of place.
“Stormwatch” remains a book that I want to get behind 100%, but from issue to issue it’s still wildly unpredictable. Hopefully as Milligan and Sepulveda continue to work together they’ll find a good rhythm. For now, though, it’s a book that you should keep an eye on — there’s enough quality material here to definitely warrant that — but it’s not going to be the top of the to-read list.