Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Wild Storm #7 Review and Spoilers




This. Is. Wild Storm!!!

Written by: Warren Ellis
Art by: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colours by: Steve Bucellato
Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 20, 2017


Well, we’ve had to wait a little longer than usual for this instalment of what is shaping up to be one of the year’s best series. It should come as no surprise to anyone that this issue has been worth the wait. Issue 7 marks the start of the series’ second story arc and sees an expansion of the title’s cast of core characters. It also fails to deliver on the dramatic ending of issue 6, but you can’t have everything, can you? Although we may have to wait to see exactly how Henry Bendix’s response to the revelation that IO has been stealing Skywatch tech plays out, let’s see what we do get…


Well, the first thing we get is a title page that acts as a summary of the past six issues. It’s a handy reminder of our major players and, this being The Wild Storm, it takes the form of nine panels of immaculate Davis-Hunt artwork rendered in monochrome save for the splashes of red that highlight significant aspects of each character. The issue proper starts with an establishing panel of a cityscape (New York?) that, unlike the vast majority of establishing panels of cityscapes in comics, is remarkably difficult to tear yourself away from. After the end of issue 6, this isn’t quite what I was expecting. There is no rain of fire from the Skywatch ships we saw launching last issue. Instead, the early morning sun is glinting off futuristic skyscrapers in the background, while Davis-Hunt imbues the brownstones in the foreground with a sort of worn, but venerable solidity. Establishing panels of cityscapes in comics aren’t meant to look quite this good. Really.



We then get our first look at the first of two new characters introduced in this issue – Jackie King. Now, Jackson King was a battle-hardened tactical genius called Battalion in the original Stormwatch series; here Jackie is a rather attractive chief analyst working for IO and her main function is to bring her team (and the reader) up to speed with a handy and, to be fair, entertainingly witty summary of the main events of the last few issues and the background information required to understand just how serious they are. I’ve seen much less attractive infodumps and I’ve read much more painful ones. That she appears to be relatively human while working for IO is interesting, but we’re going to have to wait to see her again, because the action quickly shifts to Marlowe’s wild CAT headquarters.



Here we see Adrianna read a paper and Grifter take a call from John Colt, our second new-old character, while sporting a rather fetching shirt-and-boxers combo. I’m not going to spoil too much about Colt, because, although it’s hinted at later on, the most significant thing about the character isn’t revealed in this issue. We do, however, learn that he’s been embedded within IO for some time on a fact-finding mission and he calls Grifter because he’s realised he’s about two minutes away from being outed as a plant. There then follows a gloriously tense couple of pages in which we find out the limits of Adrianna’s powers, before Colt confronts a group of IO guards in an exquisitely executed action sequence. While last issue’s Michael Cray fight was horribly brutal, the creative team here present Colt’s combat style as much more acrobatic. The ballet of bloodshed complete, Colt finds a spare supply cupboard from which Adrianna can teleport him discreetly, leaving a pair of non-plussed IO guards to stare at a bunch of cardboard boxes.

And breathe.



Back at Marlowe’s hide-out, we get a panel of Angie waking up and… Look, I know I’ve said this before, but I love Angie Spica. Even waking up and bleeding copiously onto her bed, she looks stunning. Once again, I find myself experiencing those heartstrings being plucked rather masterfully by the Ellis/Davis-Hunt combo. Ah, well. There’s a fair bit of talking in this next section, but it’s well scripted and, more importantly, it fleshes out this version of the Wild Storm universe in a number of important ways. I’m not going to spoil too much here, but I will just say that Davis-Hunt is as suited to depicting alien landscapes just as much as he is to portraying smoothly choreographed fight sequences.

As the opening installment in a new story arc, it’s hard to fault this issue. While the Jackie King sequence may be a bit too talky, it nevertheless sets out the current state of play for new readers and clarifies it very nicely for existing ones who may have had difficulty putting all the individual pieces together. The addition of King and John Colt gives us a set of new perspectives on the ongoing story and the focus on Marlowe’s CAT is very welcome. Ellis’ self-imposed job of master plate-spinner appears to be going very well at this point. In fact, he makes this kind of ensemble cast management look effortless. I know I complained earlier about the lack of Bendix-dictated violence, but I have to (grudgingly) admit that it does make a certain narrative sense to make the readers wait for that. I suppose it does help to have a clearer idea of what’s at stake before the destruction starts.

Bits and Pieces:
I’m beginning to run out of superlatives for both Ellis’ scripting and Davis-Hunt’s art. Structurally, this issue is pretty much perfect – a stunningly choreographed action sequence sandwiched between two beautifully scripted sections of exposition and character interaction with a tantalizing dash of mystery thrown in at the end for good measure. In turns, witty, exciting, beautiful and intriguing, this is as satisfying a comic book experience as one could wish for.


9.8/10


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2 comments:

  1. The month off for this book made the wait for this issue even harder, but also had the added bonus of making me enjoy the book even more! Great review!

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  2. Thank you. It really is an excellent comic book. It's so damned stylish it's not funny. I love it!

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