An extraction mission gone awry puts the Halo team in danger, and we get our first look at the new take on an old favorite in this week’s outing from Ennis and co.
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Ivan Plascencia, Steve Buccellato, Jon Davis-Hunt
Publisher: DC Comics
When we last visited our friends in Garth Ennis and Jon Davis-Hunt’s reimagining of the Wildstorm universe, Angela was on the run from the IO after revealing herself to be in possession of the Engineer armor by saving the life of the Lord Emp, Jacob Marlowe. For his part, Marlowe isn’t about to let a good deed go unpunished, having the Void take Grifter’s team to retrieve Angela before the IO can close in on her. Unfortunately, this issue shows us just about how badly things can go when the Wild CATS team faces off with a trio of the IO’s Razor soldiers.
This issue gives us a good peek at what a few series mainstays are truly capable of. We watch Grifter and Kenesha prove their worth in a gunfight, see some of the more inventive and potent tools in the Engineer’s armor, and learn the depths to which the IO will stoop to get what they want. We also get our first view of what may be the book’s new take on Stormwatch fan favorite character Jenny Sparks.
An IO operative known only as “Sam,” the woman in question traipses through a series of digital displays, eventually emerging at Angela’s home to discover her own research into the conflict between the IO and the Halo corporation. More than that, we see her pass through what may be fictitious (within the reality of the Wild Storm universe) worlds in her pursuits, moving through a webcomic, into a CSI-style procedural show, followed by some kind of alien Kardashian-style reality show (the canonical legitimacy of which is unclear) and out of the cell phone charging on Angela’s coffee table. It’s a neat, but somewhat confusing progression that it took me a few read-throughs to fully understand. There is some inventive panel work in the sequence, but readers who have no history with the Sparks character (with whom this Sam bears little aesthetic resemblance as well) may have a tough time deducing exactly what’s going on.
There’s a similar issue in visual storytelling when we follow the flashbacks of Angela getting recruited for increasingly deep levels of the IO’s weapons development programs. It’s just a one-page sequence revealing some of the levels of clearance she has to go through, but its ending is so abrupt that most readers will think they’re still in the past when we catch up with Angela in her current hiding spot. Similarly there’s a mysterious panel involving a bottle of water that I–after multiple readings, I’ll add–still don’t know the significance of. It’s a similar circumstance to the jacket (or files? I don’t really know what they are) that we see the Engineer hiding under a couch and then clutching to her chest as she flees the scene, but that has a more apparent significance that I’m sure will be revealed in time.
The pacing issue is also seen in some confusing action sequences (why was Grifter seemingly landing some sort of spin move on page 21 when we had just seen him standing and trading fire?), but is far from a deal breaker.
This is still an interesting issue, and I’m definitely on board, but I worry the book is becoming a little too reliant on its own mythology. Lately it’s felt a bit like starting a show midseason and trying to figure out what you missed. Still, the art is great, the story is engrossing and the cliffhanger leaves you wondering what will happen next, which is an important part of a serialized story.