Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Wild Storm: Michael Cray #11 Review and Spoilers

Penultimate Preparations

Written by: Bryan Hill
Art by: N Steven Harris, Dexter Vines, and Nelson Blake II
Colors by: Ross Campbell
Letters by: Simon Bowland
Cover price: $3.99
Release Date: September 12, 2018

One of the more interesting things about this series is seeing how it has developed during the course of its run, transcending its initial two-and-done format and becoming a more complex and ultimately more satisfying read as a result. This is the fifth issue of the Constantine and Diana Prince story arc and, although the overall pace has been glacial at times, the dramatic weight this arc has accrued so far is both palpable and impressive. This issue starts with Cray about to find out the truth about the creature in his head and Constantine preparing to summon something through a nexus of magic portals located at key points around the globe. Will Cray be able to stop that from happening? Will he be able to do something about the thing in his head?

Let's find out…

The creature that has appeared in front of Michael gives him a potted history of its relationship with Cray, relating how it entered him when he was close to death. This revelation doesn't really make things any easier for Cray. As the creature says later, "I gave you life. You owe me death." With the creature's intervention essentially saving Michael's life, it becomes that much more difficult for Cray to refuse it. When an unidentified character knocks at his hotel room door, the creature demands that Cray kill them and, not for the first time, Hill's dialogue skilfully depicts how manipulative and persuasive the thing is.

We have to wait to find out whether Cray resists the creature's siren call, though, because just before he makes the decision we're given insight into Diana Prince's life through a rather nicely drawn flashback by Nelson Blake II. This flashback forms the central section of the issue and confirms what we'd already suspected – this version of Diana is driven, powerful and extremely insane. We see the young Diana at her father's deathbed; we then see her as a young woman seducing Lex Luthor in order to gain access to his supersoldier treatment. Finally, we see her meet and kill the Wild Storm universe's Kent Nelson, crushing a version of the Helmet of Nabu in her bare hands in the process. It is Nelson who, under duress, gives her the name of John Constantine and the rest, as they say, is (ancient) history.

As interesting as this sequence is and as visually impressive as this unhinged version of Diana is, I think it's fair to say that she's nowhere near as compelling a character as Constantine and this issue suffers a little with his absence. Dion (who turns out to be the woman at Cray's door) is diverting though, and her meeting with Cray is actually rather touching – and sad. The issue ends with a picture of a naked Cray coming to terms with the fact that, the weird alien psychopath in his head notwithstanding, he's going to be pretty much on his own next issue. Which, I must say, can't come soon enough.

Given that this is an issue in which the titular character never leaves his hotel room, this is surprisingly good. The Diana flashback throws some interesting surprises our way – particularly the cameos of Lex and Kent Nelson – but, arguably, the supersoldier treatment is a bit of a clichéd way of Diana getting her powers. Similarly, her belief in Greek gods coming from her dying father is not all that interesting and smacks a little of convenience. That said, her determination and will (which we've already seen plenty of) do come through very strongly here and there's no doubt that she is a formidable foe for Cray.

Speaking of whom, this issue continues Cray's journey to tragedy-infused solitude. The death of Homa has hit him hard and, although he's not quite at the emotional depths we saw at the end of issue 6, Hill and Harris do a good job of communicating his emotional pain. He's not quite broken, but he is extremely damaged. The sense that there are real things at stake for him in the final confrontation with Constantine and Prince is very clear.

The art this time around is better, mostly because Blake's art is less awkward than Harris' can be at times. As they have been since he joined the book, Ross Campbell's colors are excellent throughout. Diana in particular looks both sexy and psychotic in more or less equal measure and, you know, that's okay.

Bits and pieces:

This issue contains some useful and engaging background as well as a shocking moment that highlights just how terrible the threat Cray is about to face might be. Hill's portrayal of Cray continues to be the main draw of the series – a talented but afflicted man who operates at the very limits of his physical and psychological endurance. While the art may still be this series' weakness, the character of Cray – both sympathetic and admirable – is undoubtedly its strength. I can't wait for issue 12.



  1. Despite the weak art, this has become one of my favorite pulls from DC in a long time. Too bad it's just about done with. I'm gonna miss this one. Hopefully we'll get more mini's like this set in DC's new Wild Storm Universe.