I’ll be the first to admit that I really loved Christos Gage and Doug Mahnke’s “Stormwatch: Post Human Division.” It was a fun team of odd characters with their particular strengths and weaknesses, and operating as a low-budget crisis response team working with a local police station helped set it apart from most other super-books out there.
That said, I was willing to overlook “Stormwatch: PHD” having stolen the numbering and name of my beloved “Stormwatch” series, now that the Wildstorm Universe has gone all post-apocalyptic on us. After all, it certainly wouldn’t fit in with everything else happening in the line. But what we got? Well, it’s not exactly the most compelling series out there.
It’s certainly not a bad series, don’t get me wrong. The big problem isn’t so much what Ian Edginton and Leandro Fernandez are doing, but rather the set-up of the series and the line. “Stormwatch: PHD” has turned into a brutal, grim book where an old collection of “Stormwatch” characters from the past are reunited and beating down hordes of savages and monsters to save what little bits of humanity are left. Reading this, though, I couldn’t help but think of an interview that ran soon after the new Wildstorm Universe was announced, where it was stated that this change to the line would really stand out because most series didn’t stay post-apocalyptic for more than a few months. Reading this latest issue of “Stormwatch” is, I think, the reason why we don’t normally get month after month of post-armageddon.
I hate to say it, but “Stormwatch” just isn’t fun any more. It’s grim, it’s gritty, it’s utterly joyless, and without the feeling that things are changing, it’s not compelling to continue reading. One of the things that the year-long “Batman: No Man’s Land” crossover did so well was that at the end of every month, things in Gotham City were getting better and the city was inching towards becoming whole once more. Here? It just feels like one downer after another; even victories don’t seem terribly uplifting or exciting or something to cheer about.
I can understand the need to make the Wildstorm books stand out and be something different, but this doesn’t seem like the right way to get there. Sure, they’re standing out, but more in a way that lets everyone know to back away slowly. Maybe there’s a large post-armageddon readership out there that is eating this up, but despite the talent of the creators on board, it just does nothing for me.