Nearly one year into DC Comics’ Rebirth relaunch, the WildStorm universe is having a rebirth of its own. The long-time imprint was shuttered in 2010 when DC decided to incorporate WildStorm’s collection of characters into their New 52 initiative, which began the next year. Now the popular line has returned with the launch of “The Wild Storm,” a new title and initiative led by one of the imprint’s most prolific creators, Warren Ellis. This new take is expected to update and simplify familiar designs, concepts, and characters for a modern audience.
Founded by comic books legend Jim Lee in the early '90s, the company published some of the industry’s most popular titles under Image Comics, including "WildC.A.T.s," "Stormwatch," "The Authority," and "Gen13." The studio was eventually acquired by DC Comics in the late '90s and now they are poised to relaunch these concepts with a new title. They will start out slow with "The Wild Storm" by only featuring a handful of characters. Let’s celebrate the new book by counting down the 15 best WildStorm characters of all time.
A former Navy Seal, Michael Cray joined International Operation’s Team 7 task force where he and the group were purposefully exposed to a chemical that activated their latent superhuman powers. Unlike his teammates, Cray didn’t initially show any signs of superhuman abilities, proving just how capable he was at performing highly dangerous wetworks as a normal person.
It wasn’t until much later that he learned he possessed psionic shielding that could defend him against attacks. At this time he also became aware of a latent healing factor that essentially made him immortal. On more than one occasion, Deathblow has been killed only to subsequently return from the dead. It has been theorized by those around him that Clay could probably regenerate from a simple scrap of DNA if it ever came down to it.
Over the years, Deathblow has starred in two ongoing series, a miniseries written by Alan Moore, and has even crossed over with Wolverine and Batman. He was used sparingly during the New 52, showing up in “Grifter” and fighting Aquaman during "Convergence." He will be one of the few characters given a Rebirth during “The Wild Storm.”
14 JENNY QUANTUM
Following in the footsteps of Jenny Sparks, Jenny Quantum is the spirit of the 21st century. As a Century Baby, Quantum is destined to live for the next 100 years, born on the first day of the new millennia and destined to die on the day it ends. Her powers are also linked directly with the 21st century’s understanding of physics, allowing her to warp reality around her and practically do anything she wants.
After her birth at the turn of the century, Quantum was adopted by Authority members Midnighter and Apollo, and was raised as their child. When the team broke up, she forced herself to age into a teenager in order to bring the Authority back together again. During the New 52, she was featured in the pages of “Stormwatch” as the youngest member of the team, where she was being tutored to take on the responsibilities she would soon be forced to live up to.
13 MR. MAJESTIC
Introduced as somewhat of a Superman pastiche, Mr. Majestic sports much of the same powers and abilities as the famous Kryptonian. However, where Superman is benevolent, kind and inspiring, Majestic is a militaristic alien warlord who possesses a no-nonsense attitude toward fighting evil. The two even meet face-to-face in "Action Comics" #811 by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Karl Kerschl, and their differences are made clear when Majestic decides to imprison Superman’s enemies without a fair trial.
As a Kherubim, he has been embroiled in the fight against the evil Daemonites for centuries, coming to Earth only after his spaceship crash landed on the primitive world. He secretly helped to shape human history over the years and has been depicted as a long-time member of the WildC.A.T.s, once even leading them toward a more ruthless and proactive form of crime fighting.
During the New 52, he was reintroduced with a radically altered origin that made him a member of Team 7, who had undergone radical experiments on his body to become a super-powered being.
12 ELIJAH SNOW
Elijah Snow is the lead character in Warren Ellis’ popular “Planetary” comic book series, which served as a metafictional deep dive into the world of fiction and the superhero genre as a whole. He has faced many famous fictional characters over his career, even fighting Dracula and studying under Sherlock Holmes. He is also gifted with the ability to manipulate cold and feeds on the heat that surrounds him.
Snow is introduced as the mysterious new member of the Planetary field team, which is tasked with the exploration of the multiverse in order to discover the hidden secrets of the world. He has no memories of who he once was, and the series follows him throughout his journey to rediscover his identity and seize his destiny. As a Century Baby, Snow is destined to live for 100 years as he travels to uncover and protect the weird universe we inhabit.
11 CAITLIN FAIRCHILD
The daughter of Team 7 member Alex Fairchild, Caitlin Fairchild (created by Jim Lee, Brandon Choi and J. Scott Campbell) is the super-powered leader of the teenage group known as Gen13. She is introduced as a timid and intelligent girl, but thanks to a secret government experiment, Caitlin acquired the ability to grow into a super-strong amazon of a woman, capable of nearly any feat of strength. Her character is an excellent exploration of comic book wish fulfillment seen throughout the medium, however it is interesting to see the concept through the eyes of a woman.
Gen13 went on to have four different series with WildStorm, with Caitlin’s powers shifting over the years to also include telepathy and some weird ability to change shape and turn into liquid. She was featured highly in the New 52, appearing in the pages of “Superboy” as a scientist and starring in the short-lived “The Ravagers" series before the Rebirth era.
10 THE ENGINEER
The Engineer is a character introduced by Warren Ellis in the pages of “The Authority” when she was recruited to join the new super team. She has since become one of their longest tenured members, serving as the technology support specialist of the team. Her origin is that of an engineer who replaced her blood with nanotechnology, allowing her to cover her body with protective liquid metal and interface with computers and machinery.
What makes her even more interesting is the fact that she was motivated to become a hero because of her deep love of comic books. She was reintroduced in the pages of “Stormwatch” during the New 52, serving in much of the same role as she did under the WildStorm imprint. She is one of the featured characters in “The Wild Storm” with an altered character design as a woman who has the ability to create her own body armor.
Yohn Kohl is a Kherubim alongside Mr. Majestic, who also becomes stranded on Earth after their ship crashed on Earth. He was killed in battle, so his personality was placed inside the body of a highly advanced android's. Taking the name Spartan and the identity of John Colt, he becomes the field leader of the WildC.A.T.s. Over the years his body has been destroyed, rebuilt, and upgraded many times over, increasing his strength and adding other abilities.
Spartan believes in a better way to fight for good than simply playing the role of a superhero. As Jacob Marlowe, he uses the Halo Corporation to create a better world with highly advanced technology. While not one of the more popular characters to come out of the WildStorm universe, Spartan is certainly one of the more important. Along with many of his old teammates, he was reintroduced in the New 52 with an altered origin.
8 JENNY SPARKS
Introduced by Warren Ellis in the pages of “Stormwatch,” Jenny Sparks is an immortal Century Baby who is also the spirit of the 20th century. She was born on January 1, 1900, stopped aging at the age of 19, and has the ability to harness the power of electricity. She was intrinsically linked to the world over that time period, taking on characteristics fitting of what is happening throughout history. Living for 100 years, Sparks has been seen interacting with important historical figures from Albert Einstein to Adolf Hitler.
She is seen to have a crude and often times hedonistic personality. However, she also possesses a deep sense of morality underneath it all. After the destruction of Stormwatch, she recruited the members of the Authority to create a new kind of superhero team for the modern world. When she dies at the end of the century, she passes on her role to Jenny Quantum. The Authority then goes on to continue her mission to make the world a better place.
Everyone likes a good villain and TAO could very well be one of the best in all of comics. Created by Alan Moore, Tactical Augmented Organism was grown in a lab and recruited to be part of the WildC.A.T.s before he made it known just how dangerous he really was. TAO is highly intelligent and possesses the unique ability to manipulate people using only his voice. Think Killgrave from "Jessica Jones," only much subtler and far more intellectual.
After betraying his teammates, TAO forms the Syndicate in order to gain control of the world. He is so dangerous that he once manipulated the American government to the point where the Authority decided they needed to take over the country. TAO serves as the antagonist of the “Sleeper” series, where agent Holden Carver is inserted into the Syndicate by John Lynch and IO in order to take it down from the inside.
6 HOLDEN CARVER
The protagonist of the aforementioned “Sleeper” series, Holden Carver (created by Ed Brubaker and Colin Wilson) comes into contact with an alien artifact that allows him to heal quickly, store pain and transfer it to others, and make him immune to mind control and mental manipulation. Because of his abilities, he is recruited by International Operations to infiltrate the evil Syndicate and stop TAO from controlling the world.
Carver becomes embroiled in a battle between the sides of good and evil, to the point where he can no longer tell the difference between the two. His abilities have the side effect of making him unable to feel emotions or pleasure and he delves into the world of crime just to feel something. The series sees him become more and more morally ambiguous the longer he is undercover, and you soon realize that the real question is whether or not he can save his own soul.
A member of the Army Special Forces, Cole Cash joined Team 7 and was exposed to the same DNA-altering chemical as Deathblow. He is seen to have a strong healing factor as well as various psionic abilities. However, Grifter usually relies on his expert skills in hand-to-hand combat and marksmanship, almost always being shown with a gun.
He is traditionally a member of the WildC.A.T.s and dislikes the Authority’s use of their power. Cash also forms a relationship with fellow member Zealot, who teaches him the fighting skills of the Coda warriors.
Since the WildStorm imprint was discontinued, Grifter has been one of the more visible characters inside the DC universe. He was given his own solo series in the New 52, played a role in “Flashpoint,” and was a featured character in the pages of “The New 52: Future’s End.” He will be one of the characters seen in the new “The Wild Storm” series.
Apollo is another Superman-type character, this one needing to feed on solar energy from the sun in order to live. He was created by Warren Ellis during his stint on “Stormwatch” before bringing him over to the Authority. Apollo is noted as being one of the first openly gay superheroes when it is shown that he and Midnighter are in a relationship. The two go on to marry and then adopt Jenny Quantum as their daughter. Apollo raises her by himself after Midnighter leaves following the breakup of the Authority.
During the "World’s End" storyline, Apollo is forced to live above a thick layer of smog in order to continue receiving the sunlight he needs to survive. He continued to help out the team whenever he can, visiting the surface for only a few moments at a time.
He has been seen in the New 52 as a new member of Stormwatch, where his relationship with Midnighter is rebuilt over time. In the DC universe, Apollo was redesigned to have short hair and a far more everyman look. In the "Midnighter and Apollo" Rebirth series, his soul is stolen by the demon Neron, and Midnighter must travel through hell in order to save him.
3 JACK HAWKSMOOR
Jack Hawksmoor is one of the more unique superheroes in comic books, as it is established that his abilities are centered around his connection to cities. He possesses the ability to communicate with them, feed off their energy, and also alter pieces of infrastructure when he needs to. He actually requires a city to be nearby in order to remain healthy and stay alive.
He was introduced by Warren Ellis, alongside the Engineer, as a new member of Stormwatch. When Jenny Sparks begins recruiting for the Authority, he is one of the first to join her. When she dies at the turn of the century, Hawksmoor takes over duties as the new leader of the team. He leads them when they decide to take over the United States government.
During the events of "World’s End," he was shown to be a powerless and sickly man with the Earth now ruined and devoid of any living cities. He has since been featured in the New 52 “Stormwatch” series as a member of the team.
A fellow Kherubim warrior alongside Mr. Majestic, Spartan, and several others, Zealot is also the founder of The Coda, an ancient order of female warriors that she formed after becoming stranded on Earth. She is depicted as the ultimate warrior and has fought many battles over the centuries, culminating in her expulsion from the order and being branded as an enemy.
Created by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee and first debuting in "WildC.A.T.s" #1, she has been a member of not only the WildC.A.T.s, but also various other teams over the years. Zealot secretly had a child with Mr. Majestic, however, she gave the baby up in order to continue her life as a warrior. She had another child with Spartan, but gave him up in order to keep him out of the Kherubim-Daemonite conflict. She has previously fought and killed Batman in one-on-one combat, and has appeared in New 52 titles such as “Deathstroke” and “The New 52: Future’s End.”
By far the most well-known WildStorm character, Midnighter is seen as a hedonistic, powerful, and violent anti-hero. Genetic experiments gifted him with an incredible healing factor and a computer-like brain that allows him to analyze and defeat any opponent he faces. Many liken him to a Batman analogue, however, he has far more in common with Wolverine, if anyone. Like Logan, the man living under the name Lucas Trent is the best at what he does.
Since joining the DC universe, Midnighter has been seen in the New 52 “Stormwatch” series with his longtime partner and eventual husband, Apollo. He also received a critically acclaimed ongoing series and has appeared frequently in “Grayson” and “Nightwing.” He currently appears in the “Midnighter and Apollo” miniseries that helps to portray just how violent, yet loving, he can really be. Out of all the characters that DC has brought into their superhero universe, Midnighter is easily the one character they did the most right by.
Pick up "The Wild Storm" #1 and "Midnighter and Apollo" in stores now. And let us know in the comments if you prefer them to their classic Wildstorm incarnations.