Originally established as one of the founding studios of Image Comics, Jim Lee's WildStorm Productions was acquired by DC Comics over 20 years ago. Although it initially kept to its own separate continuity -- barring the occasional crossover guest appearance -- the WildStorm characters gradually began to be integrated into the DC Universe as the publisher reimagined its long-standing continuity and iconic characters for a new generation.
After DC's New 52 relaunch, the heroes of Wild.C.A.T.s, Stormwatch and the Authority all made their way into the DCU. Now, we're taking a look back at the history of WildStorm and how its heroes were incorporated into the DCU.
What is the WildStorm Universe?
As one of the co-founders of Image Comics in 1992, Jim Lee created the publishing imprint WildStorm Productions as part of the new company, which gave birth to the WildStorm Universe of shared superhero and action stories set within its own world.
As extraterrestrial races came into contact with Earth and began inter-breeding with humanity, the resulting hybrid race had their own set of superpowers. Additionally, individuals exposed to the experimental Gen-Factor serum gain superpowers as part of a faction known as Gen-Active while other individuals gain superpowers through a strange comet passing within close proximity of Earth.
With a whole world of fan-favorite characters including Grifter, Midnighter, and more, the WildStorm Universe had several major teams of its own including WildC.A.T.s, Stormwatch, Gen13 and the Authority. WildStorm Productions would continue to publish comics in its own continuity after its acquisition by DC Comics in 1997, and published era-defining series in the early 2000s.
This world was later revealed to be set on Earth-50 in the DC Multiverse during the weekly series 52 and was previously briefly visited by a few different DC heroes, most notable Captain Atom in his multi-part miniseries. By 2010, WildStorm had been fully absorbed into DC, and the WildStorm Universe stopped being featured in new comic titles.
Wildstorm in Flashpoint
As part of DC's comic book crossover event Flashpoint, where Flash briefly reset the timeline in 2011, Grifter made a surprise appearance leading the British resistance against Amazon occupation following their invasion of the British Isles. This incarnation of Cole Cash originally assembled this reality's version of his usual ensemble Team 7 to combat religious extremists in the Middle East. While recovering from a battle, Grifter learned that the United Kingdom had been invaded and returned to form an organized resistance.
While spying on the Amazons in London for Cyborg, Lois Lane is discovered, which leads to her eventual rescue by Grifter who recruits her into his resistance. As the Atlanteans launch their own invasion of England to battle the Amazons, Grifter leads the resistance into the fray, fighting Amazons and Atlanteans alike to liberate his country. Eventually, Grifter is killed by Enchantress who is, in turn, killed by an escaped Superman.
Wildstorm in the New 52
In the final moments of Flashpoint, Barry Allen's constant tampering with the timeline and the retconned influence of Doctor Manhattan resulted in elements of the WildStorm and Vertigo Universes merging with the DCU, which kickstarted the New 52 era. In addition to Grifter joining the DCU to found a new incarnation of Team 7 to regulate the rise of metahumans, fellow WildStorm characters including Midnighter, Apollo and Voodoo were also integrated into the DCU.
The New 52's incarnation of Stormwatch had a history that stretched back to the Dark Ages, with classic members like Jack Hawksmoor, Jenny Quantum, Apollo and Midnighter joined by the Justice League's Martian Manhunter. They continued to protect Earth from hostile extraterrestrial races in secret.
Voodoo was given shape-shifting and telepathy in her New 52 reincarnation, planted by Daemonites to spy on the metahumans of the DCU and any potential Daemonite threats. Outside of their team adventures, Grifter would become embroiled in a mission for the future of Earth while Midnighter would form a professional friendship with Nightwing after Dick Grayson began his own burgeoning intelligence career for Spyral.
After that initial wave of DC WildStorm books ended, many of WildStorm's main heroes were given new life in The Wild Storm, by Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt, which rebooted the characters into a new version of their classic universe.