Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The Wild Storm #24 Review and Spoilers

Written by: Warren Ellis
Art by: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colors by: Steve Buccellato with John Kalisz
Letters by: Simon Bowland
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 3, 2019

Well, it is with a mixture of excitement and sadness that I metaphorically crack open this final issue of The Wild Storm. It's been an absorbing if at times meandering, journey through this new updated version of the Wild Storm universe, but can we end with the kind of satisfying bang the patient build-up of the last twenty-three issues positively demands? Let's get our collective skates on and find out, eh?

The issue opens pretty much where last month's left off. New York is under siege by a bunch of Skywatch-enhanced and mind-controlled superbeings all intent on killing the head of IO, Miles Craven, and causing a generous amount of mayhem in the process. Arrayed against them and having come through their recent baptism of fire more or less unscathed are the members of The Authority and the more competent members of Craven's own organization.

While Craven watches the destruction of New York impotently on his TV screens, Jenny Mei Sparks and co take on the aforementioned super-terrorists in a variety of creative but ultimately final ways. As might be expected, there's a lot going on here – and we even get a cameo appearance from Voodoo that is as welcome as it is unexpected. The action is fast-paced and frenetic. One of the key moments, however, involves Angie. Miles Craven has ordered a Razor CAT team to take his husband safely out of the city and it is this team that Angie confronts in this first section of the book. But Angie remembers meeting Craven's husband back in issue 1 of the series and lets him and his team go. It's a nice call-back that effectively sets up the issue's ending.

Because this issue is really all about Angie. Having realized that his plan to unleash super-powered killers on New York is failing, Skywatch's Henry Bendix (quoting – perhaps ironically, perhaps not – his own version of the fourteen words) decides to drop a Big Stick (whose devastating impact has been seen earlier on in the series) on the city. It's Angie who saves the day: it's her idea and it's she who executes it – and at extreme risk to herself. So, while the issue is full of great 'wow' moments (and with Davis-Hunt on art, they're very wow!), it's Angie's act of heroism that is the focal point of the story and it's entirely fitting that the emotional focus of the final page is on her at the end.

There are other things happening in this issue and they're mostly to do with IO and the fates of Miles Craven and Jackie King. They're entertaining enough, but I can't help but feel that the involvement of both Backlash and Michael Cray, having been built up for some time now, is presented in a somewhat abrupt and unsatisfying manner. I might be too picky, but, to my mind, both characters deserve more than what we got here. The overall impact of the issue, however, remains impressive. Given the long, painstaking build-up we've had over the last two years, this is an excellent and entirely fitting ending to the series.

As ever, Davis-Hunt's art is exceptional, telling the story with, at times, extraordinary subtlety and nuance, and, at others, breathtaking originality and skill. Ellis' script is, as you might expect, witty and exciting, but I must admit I'm both a little surprised and very pleased to see, in amidst all the covert ops action and bleeding edge technology, a validation of a more traditional conception of (super)heroism. It would be nice to think that, at some point, Ellis will revisit these characters and concepts again (and there is a WildCATs book coming out, so that might be sooner than I think), but, even if he doesn't, these 24 issues are a remarkable achievement.

Bits and Pieces:

A fitting finale to a truly remarkable series, this issue is full of drama, action and out and out heroism, all presented in a glorious package by the Ellis/Davis-Hunt/Buccellato/Bowland team that has kept a mostly consistent standard of quality throughout the run. While the fate of one or two characters is a little unsatisfying, the issue is excellent, and the series is easily one of the best things DC has produced in recent years.


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