“Stormwatch” is a slightly strange but fun little book, a book that revels in the bizarre side of superheroes. The latest issue of the book in many ways encapsulates the highs and lows of the series so far; it’s getting a lot of stuff right, but there’s still just enough that feels like it isn’t quite connecting.
Paul Cornell keeps “Stormwatch” moving at a fast pace here; after most of the team got taken out last issue, we’re on a non-stop sprint to the end of this issue as the remaining characters have to free the others, stop the monster, and figure out the strangeness that’s erupting around them. Some of the plotting here is great, like how Midnighter takes control of the deteriorating situation around him and saves and repowers the others. It makes sense and doesn’t try anything particularly unreasonable.
Some other parts of the plotting, though, don’t quite hang together. Once the team is gaining access to and traveling through the city, the story feels like it’s pulling a deus ex machina in to wrap up the fight against the monster. Too much is just out of the blue, and while there’s still a possibility that “Stormwatch” #5-6 will shed some more light on the subject, for now it feels like random elements that don’t quite fit. How is the problem resolved? I’ve read the issue twice and it still feels like it comes out of nowhere and is almost hand-waved off the page. There is clearly supposed to be a general feeling of chaos about this mission (especially with the comments by some of the characters saying as much), but I feel like this goes a little too far in that direction.
Miguel Sepulveda has settled in quite well with “Stormwatch,” and the only thing he’s pulling out of a hat is good art. The “meteor” landing is drawn gorgeously, and Midnighter’s re-powering of one of his teammates is an excellent sequence; the franticness of reviving him, the concern and comfort in the “Do you trust me?” moment, and then the blast of power that gets everything moving again. And while the Projectionist gets little to do, it says a lot about the art that her scenes up in the Carrier still manage to carry some tension. Sepulveda can definitely deliver the big crazy ideas that Cornell is coming up with; the reveal of Alba Umbra, for instance, is awe-inspiring and helps salve over the out-of-the-blue nature of some of the script beats.
With the announcement today that Cornell is leaving “Stormwatch” after #6, this review ends up being a little bittersweet. It’s not a perfect book, but it’s still enjoyable even with some slight faults that feel like over time could be smoothed out. These first four issues have been a fun ride overall, and I’m still eager to see the final two chapters. (There’s even a great cliffhanger that directly addresses an ongoing character flaw, and in a way that opens the door wide to all sorts of cool possibilities.) Barring disaster, and I don’t see that coming, Cornell’s going to be missed on this title. There’s a huge amount of potential here for greatness with Cornell and Sepulveda working together, and it feels like a mistake to end the pairing so quickly.