Stormwatch #3

After a disappointing first issue, "Stormwatch" has recovered, becoming an entertaining high-energy superhero comic. The faux-Warren Ellis tone of the first issue was particularly grating; Cornell has made great strides over the next two issues to shift away from that tone, making older characters his own and establishing new characters more clearly. While a harder edge exists between the characters than on many super teams, it's not quite the 'everyone is an utter bastard' harshness that the first issue leant towards. Still dysfunctional and not entirely effective, the team -- and the title -- is maturing by the issue.

The moon continues to attack the Earth via projectiles fired from itself and a creature it's unleashed on Earth, itself. The source of the moon's attack is apparently here to test and improve Earth's defenses against some future threat. That creates a three-part attack for the team to handle, while keeping the story simple by having it all trace back to a single source. That sort of economy makes this a packed issue to read without overcomplicating things. The only problem is that threats presented are rather basic and not intrinsically compelling as challenges for a team that's supposed to be as powerful and skilled as Stormwatch.

The development of the various members of Stormwatch is where the strength of this issue lies most. Harry Tanner immediately stands out as the most interesting new creation for "Stormwatch." Ostensibly a swordsman, his greatest strength, apparently, is fooling people; that's all he seems to do. He's already done it to the creature on the moon and, in the process, does it to his teammates. Cornell's revamped Apollo is easy to relate to, a man who has incredible powers and doesn't want to get caught up in regular superhero crap. Of course, his hand is forced with those meteorites heading towards the planet.

Adam One's continued overconfidence and distracted nature is contrasted well with the tactical abilities of both the Martian Manhunter and Midnighter. Except, the Martian Manhunter uses his abilities to support Adam One and the Midnighter uses them to butt heads with him. Not every character is moving in the same direction, and that's entertaining.

Miguel Sepulveda's art is inconsistent throughout the issue and relies too much on non-line art effects in places. He shows the ability for incredible detail at times, like in depicting Apollo fighting off the meteorites in low orbit, while other panels don't contain the same focus or detail. Harry Tanner on the moon is harsher and full of shadows and black areas, visualizing how conniving, and possibly mad, the character is effectively. The effects detract from the art considerably in this issue and are part of the consistency problem. Page to page (panel to panel even), this looks like a different comic.

Not a fantastic comic yet, "Stormwatch" continues to improve since its first issue. The shift in how Cornell writes the characters helps a lot and Sepulveda shows moments of visual brilliance, though most of his art is buried under horrible computer effects. At this rate, this may become the premier big budget superhero action team book.

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