Current Reviews


StormWatch: PHD #15

Posted: Monday, October 20, 2008
By: Jon A. Freeman

Ian Edginton
Leandro Fernández, Francisco Paronzini (i), and Carrie Strachan (c)
Wildstorm / DC
Plot: In a broken world where there is not much left to save, Jackson King and StormWatch do their best to insure that nothing else breaks. As the team struggles to protect what remains of humanity with steadily dwindling resources, they receive a distress signal -- a rarity on a planet without any reliable power sources. StormWatch arrives on the scene just in time to rescue the mysterious man who sent the signal from a horde of mechanical monsters. Once to the safety of SkyWatch, the team’s orbital base, they learn that the man they have rescued is Jon Drake, leader of what was once Britian’s premier meta-human team, the Establishment. Unfortunately, he comes bearing bad news -- thanks to a Soviet-era doomsday monster, the apocalypse is about to get a whole lot worse.

Comments: After the rise of the Authority under Warren Ellis, StormWatch lost much of its prestige and power, not only among comic fans, but also within the Wildstorm universe itself. However, in "World’s End" we find Jackson King and his team inhabiting a world where the Authority is physically, emotionally, and psychologically destroyed. StormWatch, on the other hand, remain a formidable super-human fighting force, safely sheltered above the chaos of earth in their orbiting fortress, SkyWatch. The world is now a place where it seems that the greatest have become the least and the least have indeed become the greatest.

The most engaging element in this issue that Edginton develops centers around the new dynamic between StormWatch and the Authority. Jackson King has fully accepted his role as one of civilization’s last hopes, but he is beginning to realize that his assets are limited and are being stretched thinner and thinner with each passing day. SkyWatch has become overcrowded with refugees plucked from the carnage of planet Earth, the crew is having trouble keeping tabs on all of the rogue heroes under surveillance, and StormWatch simply cannot meet every crisis around the globe. The prospect of reaching out to the Authority is brought up as one possible solution to the dire situation, but King approaches that scenario with as much suspicion and wariness as optimism. He clearly knows that StormWatch needs allies, but he struggles with the uncertainties of contacting the Authority and how that could impact the fragile stability he has fought to create.

With all of that being said, there is still substantial room for improvement in the storytelling of this issue. As Jon Drake explains that the earth shattering events of late have triggered the activation of the War Golem, we are “treated” to narrated flashbacks and explanations of its menace. Sadly this drags on for four whole pages. Instead of explaining how dangerous the War Golem is and how it came to exist, I would have preferred a demonstration of just how dangerous the monster is -- show us as the plot unfolds! The idea of Russian science cities birthing the beast is interesting, but four pages are used to cover this. In an 18 page story, that'ss over 20% of the comic. There could have been at least 15% more beat down or intrigue in this story!

The War Golem is, admittedly, quite appealing. The monster is the Soviet Union’s genetically engineered response to a nuclear exchange with the United States, a creature so wretched that it feeds on the horror of nuclear holocaust. Quite a beasty, no doubt! When both Soviet super science and giant monsters are brought together like this, what’s not to love? Even so, I could not help but ask, for a world that has already suffered through Armageddon, how much worse can it really get?

Final Word: Where StormWatch #13 and #14 delivered fast paced, self-contained stories chock full of monsters, militaries, and post-apocalyptic geo-politics, issue #15 is a bit more uneven. It is an entertaining read for sure and features solid artwork, but pacing suffers as Edginton establishes the groundwork for what is to come. Here’s hoping the clash with the War Golem is as entertaining as the previous two issues of StormWatch.

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