The question of what’s wrong and right, for most cases, falls on what society at large decides. Take North Korea for example. The majority of the population has been raised from birth to be subservient to the state to an almost fanatical degree. From their perspective “right” is whatever Kim Jong-il says it is. Of course that doesn’t quite jibe with the rest of the world’s perspective. As a result, North Korea stays contained, paranoid, militant and waiting. By virtue of numbers the world is right and North Korea is wrong (arguably). But what if there wasn’t much of a world left? What if some disaster struck and huge portions of the world’s population was wiped out? What if North Korea was prepared and came out of the chaos as the only superpower left? Would their version of right become the dominate perspective? Odds are the answer is “yes” with enough guns at their disposal. That is the question brought up by Stormwatch PHD. Being a comic, there is the addition of some super powered bad guys to the mix. In essence, though, the question is the same. Just don’t expect to spend too much time thinking about it.
When the end of the world came in the Wildstorm universe the North Koreans pulled up stakes and ran to the hills. Or more specifically ran into the hills; bunkers underneath the mountains bordering China and Russia. So now not only does Stormwatch have to deal with rogue super powered beings, marauders, monsters and ecological disaster but the possibility of a 20 million strong fascists regime deciding to spread the faith. Running the show is a trio of altered humans filled with super strength, human flesh and Juche state dogma. Jackson King, Weatherman, (looking like ZZ top wearing Apocalypse’s armor) sees the problem coming to a head and dispatches a Stormwatch team to deal with it, which they do with relative ease. Here is the twist though; when Alpha team has the trio of super powered cannibals on the ropes the Korean people jump to their defense. To their perspective Stormwatch are invaders, not liberators, further complicating an already difficult situation. What’s right for the rest of the world (which is hanging on by its little finger) is getting rid of these clowns and keeping North Korea tapped down. There is about a half a page of debate over the moral implications of their actions but the conclusion is obvious. Christine Trelane, the second in command, makes the tough call. She first asks the trio to join Stormwatch and help pull things back together. When they refuse, indicating instead that world domination is more to their liking, Trelane does what’s necessary.
The story earns points for not playing around – setup, run the plot, solution – even with the lead in from last issue this is essentially a stand alone story. Points are also earned for adding a dash of moral complexity to the usual super hero bludgeoning. Finally some points for Trelane’s solution, even though violent, it has the novelty of a different approach. And she did give the trio a way out before she took action.
This issue is a marked improvement over the previous in the areas that need it. There isn’t too much on relationships happening here but when the book’s mind turns away from action it doesn’t falter and it solves the problem with action (albeit a different kind). There isn’t a lot of focus on the moral questions raised, but it doesn’t ignore them either. There’s too much to do and at stake for hand wringing. Things have to be made right.
Final Word: I gave the book 3 bullets because it’s holding steady. Thankfully there was no wince inducing relationship moments. It would be best to view Stormwatch PHD as more of a military sci-fi book with a focus on desperate situations, heroics, and hard decisions. There is room for improvement on other levels but hopefully Edginton will play to his strengths till he’s more comfortable with the small stuff. Till then the book looks great and there is enough of a brain to keep the book alive till it finds its heart.
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