Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Wild Storm: Michael Cray #10 Review and Spoilers


Written by Bryan Hill with Warren Ellis
Art by N Steven Harris with Dexter Vines
Colors by Ross Campbell
Letters by Simon Bowland
Cover price: $3.99
Release Date: August 8, 2018

Over the last few issues, this title has become a lot more of a character study of its titular character than anything else and it is all the better for it. Writer Bryan Hill has, with no little skill, put Michael Cray through a wringer that, I suspect, still has one or two turns before it's done. A few weeks ago on Twitter, Hill expressed his belief that heroism is in large part about suffering and endurance, in which case Cray might just be about to become the biggest and baddest hero of them all. With a psychotic John Constantine showing up at his love interest's door at the end of the last issue and an uppity sentient tumor in his head, Cray's got his work cut out. And that's not including a boss who doesn't trust him and an insane version of Wonder Woman intent on bringing back some extra-dimensional entities and destroying half the world in the process. Let's see how he gets on, eh?

Dion Fortune takes centre stage at the start of this issue as she has a conversation with John Constantine in which she expresses her disapproval of his decision to target the rather attractive Dr. Shahi, love interest for Michael Cray and one of the few people in this comic book who may actually have his best interests at heart. This, of course, makes her a target for Constantine who is seeking to control Cray and needs Shahi out of the way. This is, needless to say, a high-risk strategy, and also a dramatic one. Hill and Harris show us Cray bursting through Shahi's hotel door and finding, not the blood-splattered sheets and horribly disfigured corpse one might expect, but a terrified Shahi who is clearly out of her mind and who can only say the same thing over and over again. Which, if that thing was, say, "Rhubarb crumble is the perfect pudding" (which, you know, it is) wouldn't be so bad, but as it's "When he comes, show him death", it's arguably worse than the disfigured corpse would have been. Cray can't get through to her. Neither can he stop her throwing herself out of the window. That John Constantine is a right bastard. Not, as his conversation with Christine Trelane shortly afterward shows, that Cray knows for sure that Constantine's responsible.

That conversation also reveals some background on Fortune and how she has managed to infiltrate Skywatch's Ground Division by seducing a balding Skywatch tech guy and then blackmailing him afterward. Needless to say, he suffers once his indiscretions are found out. The rest of the issue is a bit… bitty: Fortune and Cray meet and discuss the thing in Cray's head; Cray phones his dad who doesn't answer; Diana Prince takes on a squad of (Skywatch?) assassins, and, finally, Cray confronts the thing in his head and we end with a cliffhanger revelation that will probably confirm what regular readers of this comic have long suspected.

On the whole, this is a good issue. Hill has done some great character work up to now, so we feel something when Shahi dies, we definitely feel something when Cray unsuccessfully tries to contact his father, and we absolutely feel something with that last page reveal. Constantine takes more of a back seat this issue, and that's okay. Fortune's an interesting character and, if you ever wanted to see a dark psychotic version of Wonder Woman holding a sword and shield while wearing a business suit and the blood of her enemies, this is most definitely the issue for you. What's more impressive, though, is the sense of impending – and quite possibly traumatic – climax. This series has developed in interesting ways over the last couple of months and I'm genuinely excited to see how it's going to end.

The end is near and we're building up to it very nicely. Although most of this issue is still moving pieces around the board, Hill's writing is clear and involving and there's a real sense of anticipation developing about just how that climax is going to play out. While I'm never going to be a fan of this art, it does its job competently enough and the strength of the overall story is enough for me to overlook its weaknesses. Quite sensibly, Hill keeps Cray, Constantine and Diana separate from each other this time around, with Fortune and, to some extent, Trelane taking on the expositional role. 

Bits and Pieces:

This issue, though, is all about Michael Cray. Hill portrays his anguish and vulnerability perfectly and, along with the setup we've already had, that full panel final page suggests that the poor man has yet more suffering to come. 


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