Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Doug Mahnke, Peter Pantazis (colors)
Publisher: DC Comics/Wildstorm
It was just last month in my review of the third installment of this series that I wrote, “Having gotten major parts in the previous issue, both Machinist and Gorgeous take a back seat here, as does Black Betty, who I take will get a major part in an upcoming story…”, and what would you know, the "upcoming" issue I mentioned came up pretty quick, as in just the next month. Yup. After Machinist and Gorgeous in issue #2 and Paris, Fahrenheit and Shaw in issue #3, this month it’s the turn of the happiest (at least outwardly) member of the group to have her time in the limelight, and boy, does she shine.
As shown on the cover, the main villain in this issue is some maggot infested, rotting, Grim Reaper wannabe called Ferryman, and before anyone faints due to the shock, yes, the cover actually has some relevance to what’s inside. Novel concept, eh. Let’s hope this doesn’t catch on and we continue to have out "poser" covers, ones which, let alone having something to do with the story inside, might not even have the characters in question on them. Anyways, what the fight scene does here (along with providing the obligatory super-heroics) is show the on-field dynamic amongst the members of the PHD (especially Paris and Fahrenheit’s current situation) as well as present an opportunity for Betty to work her magic. Dispatching Ferry-boy with her trademark ever friendly style, Betty goes on to give the readers another presentation of the depth of her occult, magical, mystical, call it what you will, knowledge.
With the "threat" handled, the rest of the issue is one big officially mandated "Girls Night Out" for Betty, Lauren (Fahrenheit) and Gorgeous. Starting off a bit reluctantly, the "Girls" soon ease up, letting their guards down a bit to enjoy their night off. Along the way, we get a glimpse into each of them, whether it is Lauren’s last issue freaking towards Paris or a quick lesson in Black Betty’s past. The only person we don’t get to learn about on a personal basis is the ever mysterious Gorgeous. Then again, that is nothing new about her. Nevertheless, we do get to see her in action, both the flirting and the physical kind. In addition, when it comes to the physical, Fahrenheit and Betty also lend a hand. Although in Betty’s case, the only body her hands touch is her own.
Lastly, the ending, and as a relative newbie to the Stormwatch saga, I don’t know whether this revelation ties into some past Stormwatch (or any other Wildstorm) story. Even its relevance to the current plot is a bit of mystery, and apart from the usual intrigue, I am not quite sure about my interest in it. However, given the past few issues and the trust writer Christos Gage has build up in them, I’ll hold out on passing final judgment just yet.
I said it before, and I am saying it again now: I really miss Doug Mahnke’s days on JLA. With Ed Benes on the current run of the new Justice League of America series, I wouldn’t have minded seeing Doug on some other DC team title. Shadowpact maybe. But only if it doesn’t have him leave this series, which attributes its excellence as much to the art as to the writing.
Conclusion: Just one line: Stormwatch PHD is one of the most well rounded team titles on the market today and a definitive buy for anyone looking to try the Wildstorm Universe, (especially given the non-existent schedule of its bigger siblings, The Authority and WildCATs) and the rather mediocre, Gen 13.
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at www.xcave.net
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