The Wild Storm: Warren Ellis reboots DC's Wildstorm
Wildstorm started life as an independent, creator-owned comics universe of enormous verve and originality; following its acquisition by comics behemoth DC in 1998, it grew moribund, leading to its shuttering in 2010. Now it's back, in a revival helmed by Warren "Transmetropolitan" Ellis, who has reimagined the complex geopolitics of this paranoid superspy/shadow government/black ops world into a brutally fast-paced, dynamic tale that's full of real bad guys and ambiguous good guys who may or may not be trustworthy. The first six issues are collected in The Wild Storm Vol. 1, out this week.
The past decade's comics reboots -- DC's New 52, Marvel's Secret Wars and New Universe -- have been a mixed bag, but on the whole, they're a force for good. The long-running comics often had thin premises that had been propped up with a lot of dubious scaffolding like Dial H, and this made them ripe for semi-comic, loving, madcap reboots like China Mieville's 2013 reimagining. Others required so much esoteric knowledge to appreciate that returning them to square one let new creators bring them to new audiences, like Cecil Castellucci's Shade the Changing Girl. Others took on new political significance in the hands of cultural icons, like Ta-Nehisi Coates's Black Panther.
The new Wildstorm goes beyond even these successes, reimagining an entire comics universe, separate from the Marvel/DC worlds. Like Black Panther, the Wildstorm world of secret agencies run amok has special salience in our current political moment. Like Shade the Changing Girl, Ellis's reboot lets him strip back a story to its bare bones and start to reflesh it with modern skin. And like Dial H, Wildstorm had its share of canonical foolishness, which Ellis uses as an exercise in futurist apologetics, to marvellous effect.
Wildstorm is a world dominated by three factions: International Operations, a spy agency that has grown so large that it effectively runs the whole of planet Earth; Skywatch, an IO faction that split off and runs everything off Earth, including secret alien technology that it hopes will allow it to travel to interstellar distances; and Halo, a kind of winner-take-all version of Apple, whose gadgets are in every pocket, and whose charismatic CEO is part Iron Man, part Lex Luthor.
Angie Spica is the hero of this volume: a former IO medtech who has stolen alien implant tech that IO wasn't supposed to have, she outs herself when she rescues Halo's CEO after an assassin throws him out of a skyscraper window. Once she's front page news, she's also a target for wetwork squads from at least two of the three factions who want her dead or alive (if the implants don't kill her first).
The story is fast, and Jon Davis-Hunt's art -- especially his combat choreography -- are a fantastic example of what comics can do as a medium that can't be matched by film or animation or prose. This is a great new series to get in on the ground floor with.
The Wild Storm Vol. 1 [Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt/DC]
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