Michael fights off giant ginger assassins sent by the IO! The Engineer learns the backstory of central conflict at the heart of the series! And after recognizing their stolen tech in the Engineer armor, Skywatch has declared war on the Earth. Just another day in the world of The Wild Storm.
If there’s one thing to take away from the sixth issue of The Wild Storm, it’s world building. Through a lengthy conversation between Marlowe and Angela we learn the sordid history of the three-way cold war between the IO, Skywatch and the Halo Corporation. It’s not all spelled out mind you, as the series’ lore is CRAZY dense, but it gives Angie (and the reader) a bit of necessary backstory from which the rest of the story can build. Whether the series is going to full on delve into the intricate history of the Lord Emp and the conflict between the Daemonites (a concept only introduced last issue) and the Kherubim, is still to be seen – even if we did learn that both Marlowe and his operative Kenesha are both decidedly not human. We see that there’s also more to Void than we would’ve assumed, but there’s only so much information we can parse at any one time.
Elsewhere, we also learn that Mike’s departure from the IO may be Skywatch’s gain, as Christine Trelaine seems to have recruited the would-be Deathblow for the competition following a failed assassination. This scene is actually the highlight of the issue, as Mike has a tense showdown with an enormous ginger gunman who absorbs more bullets than a decrepit car in a redneck’s backyard. It’s cool to see a more realistic fight sequence for the character, as Deathblow’s past appearances paint him more as an unstoppable Punisher pastiche, rather than the Jason Bourne-style everyman badass. Still, it fits with the character Ellis has created for the series, whose cancer diagnoses and self doubt have made him a much more relatable (and let’s be honest, better) character than he ever managed to be under the Image banner.
So lots of story development and world building, a great action sequence that both propelled the plot and established the relatable nature of a previously underdeveloped main character, and a final panel tease of increasing hostilities that sets in motion the central conflict of the next issue. Is there actually something worth complaining about in this issue? Well yeah, sadly, and it’s the art. Now that opening action sequence is terrific, and the pacing and shot framing is a big part of why it’s successful. In fact, the staging of the entire book is spot on. The problem comes with the character models of Marlowe and Hendy Bendix. As I’ve mentioned in earlier issues, Marlowe is a dwarf, which means his body proportions will be different from that of the average person. Unfortunately this appears to be the greatest stumbling block for Davis-Hunt, as the only thing different about his build is his stunted legs. Seriously, he looks less like Peter Dinklage and more like Cotton Hill. With Bendix, the big issue is the depiction of his wrinkles. Dude is clearly old but when you meticulously detail each and every wrinkle, his skin ends up looking like melted wax instead of human flesh.
Still, those issues don’t derail the book. This issue adds to the rich tapestry of the story and finally provides background on the mysterious organizations that are at the heart of this book. Yeah I can quibble about some art decisions, but that’s nitpicking to be sure.