Plot: Picking up the pieces.
Comments: The first panel of the Stormwatch PHD is the face of the Statue of Liberty. The rest of the page is a wide shot of the decapitated statue with over a half a dozen corpses hanging off the torch, a sinking ship in the background and blazing fires where New York used to be. Say what you will about the new direction of the “World’s End” Wildstorm Universe; no time is wasted in setting the tone. For those who don’t know, the Wildstorm world has been devastated by and all-out superpower war. The planet is a wreck and super teams like the Authority and Stormwatch are barely holding the remaining pieces together. Taking refuge in an orbiting space station, Stormwatch is finding survivors and teleporting them to safety. This includes rescuing people from a forced labor water-reclamation plant at Lake Superior, by and large the plot of this issue. Deathblow, Flint and Fahrenheit are re-introduced in the ensuing action; a competent little set piece which shows off each of the heroes abilities organically. Mid-rescue the giant monster Gaia (the physical manifestation of the Earth) appears and starts stomping the place to bits…just something to add to the peril. The back story of Gaia is one of the few really effective moments of this issue, making a dead goldfish a lot more tragic than it has any right to be.
The primary function of Stormwatch PHD #13 is to set-up the rules of the new world. The introduction of the base, the team, the relationships (both new and the status of old ones) and a new enemy are all here. Some elements come off better than others. The action sequences are well staged and the lumbering titan Gaia is haunting and sad. On the other side of the coin most of the dialogue falls bit flat. A scene between King and his wife is just clumsy. A potential romance between Fahrenheit and Deathblow is broadcast like a public service announcement as Fahrenheit denies any romantic feelings when accused by a friend. Not exactly Aaron Sorkin material there. The frustrating part of the scene is that the previous page, a scene between Fahrenheit and Deathblow, worked. You got the idea of attraction between the two characters when they weren’t talking about it directly.
The issue ends a bit stronger with a seriously demented scene in North Korea and the introduction of a new super powered adversary.
Visually Stormwatch PHD strong. Fernandez’s pencils are detailed and effective. He truly gets the most out of an emotionally charged image like a decapitated statue of liberty. Carrie Strachan’s colors really compliment the art. Shades of grey sky contrast with blue computer glow of the space station and the fiery orange of explosions. The pallet is broad enough to stay exciting but still keeps an eye on the desperate dour tone of this new world. At the moment their work is the strongest argument for the book.
Final Word: Stormwatch PHD is a bit uneven. Right now the strength lies in the action. Hopefully the writing will improve; the Gaia and North Korea scenes give me hope. If it does, Stormwatch could be a pretty engaging book. I’m not sure how the whole “World’s End” concept can keep momentum but with The Authority taking an interesting turn and the potential lying in wait here, it is interesting to see Wildstorm try.
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