Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Matthew Dow Smith
Publisher: DC Comics/WildStorm
If you can get past the rather silly looking cover of Jackson King, leader of StormWatch Prime, doing his best Wesley Snipes imitation, there’s a great deal to admire about this issue of StormWatch: Post Human Division. Particularly if you were once a fan who set the book down a while ago or got lost in The Authority dither. The team behind issue #5 does an excellent job of concisely explaining some tough to explain events and manages to do it in an entertaining fashion.
Sitting down with a reporter who has as many questions as the readers of PHD, Jackson breaks down exactly how, and perhaps more importantly why, StormWatch was reformed. This is perhaps the easiest question to answer, given King’s strong feelings of responsibility and leadership. It is, though, one of the most subtle answers and one that is easily missed if you aren’t paying attention. Gage and Smith demonstrate a strong understanding of Jackson King as a character while showing what makes him different than the crew of The Authority.
Speaking of which, the book is strong on humor in several places, at times at the expense of The Authority. While this isn’t mean-spirited or critical of that famed run, it is worth quite a few chuckles ("The last Doctor had issues" – "You mean he was high all the time").
Which brings us to the second point that Jackson answers: Why would anyone fund StormWatch after they formed The Authority which essentially overthrew the United States government? While this may seem like a bureaucratic point, it is still very valid. The explanation provided is equally valid.
However, the toughest question that Jackson has to answer, at least for the reader, is offered up last, which is, how in the blazes did Fuji, Winter and Fahrenheit get back on the roll call? Weren’t they, y’know, dead? I won’t go into the answer here. It’s complicated. However, I will say that Gage has obviously done his homework and taken that information and applied some heavy thinking to it. As a fan of Fuji, I have to say I was glad to see him back, but extremely skeptical. This pretty much describes Jackson’s reaction as well. His search for answers is as interesting as the explanation for his teammates return.
The art changes significantly in this fifth issue, which may come as a disappointment to some readers. Given that much of the story takes place in flashback, it seems a good choice as a means of setting this storyline apart from the other issues of this line.
The fifth issue, while not perhaps the most exciting PHD to date, is an excellent piece of storytelling. It is subtle, intelligent and intriguing. A hard blend to find in a genre where super-powered individuals can be found blowing up continents.
If you liked this review, be sure to check out more of the author’s work at http://madbastard.hypersites.com.
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