It’s taken 13 issues for it to happen, but it finally feels like The Wild Storm is starting to have a clear narrative. I mean we still don’t know what’s up with Voodoo, what the deal is with the Daemonites, what Shan and Jenny plan to do with Jack Hawksmoor, and…okay, so the story is still tremendously complex, but the emergence of John Lynch has finally created a throughline that helps to coalesce several stories into a singular idea. This issue sees Lynch, looking every bit like Sam Elliott, coming out of hiding now that people are looking into the mysterious project Thunderbook to warn his surviving operatives. That means we get even more callbacks to old Wildstorm characters, this time in the guise of Backlash, AKA Marc Slayton. Reimagined as the host for a Kherubim symbiote that grants its host extended life, a weird alien energy whip and a big big thirst for human blood. We learn that Thunderbook actually introduced the Kherubim host to Slayton as an attempt to “improve the human race,” not realizing what it would turn the good colonel into a murderous monster. Hearing what Slayton has become — and that the alien inside of him wants to eat the other Thunderbook test subjects — Lynch is forced to flee the scene after a quick scrap with the super powered psychopath.
This is a great introduction to the character and what will (apparently) be his modus operandi for the series. Obviously it will mean more to long term fans of the character, who are probably super excited to see who else falls under the Thunderbook project. My biggest hope is that this will lead to the emergence of the characters from Gen13. While Fairchild has been woven into the proper DC universe over the years, I’d love to see what Ellis can do with her, or Rainmaker or Freefall. Shoot, I would love to see what they will do with one of the most 90s characters in the imprint, Grunge, in this more realistic and modern take on these characters. I also appreciate them making Lynch, who was the Image version of Nick Fury, into a more human character. He’s an old man now, not the impervious super spy who lucks his way through every scrap now. He runs away from the first conflict we see him in because he knows he can’t win, and I’ve always appreciated characters that win by being smarter than their enemies.
Elsewhere we got bits of development in a lot of the other storylines as well. The I.O. takes some time to grieve the loss of Mitch the engineer and contemplate their next move (which is ordering the death of Skywatch’s ground division), whereas Skywatch does the same (seemingly settling on the actual destabilization of world governments as a means of destroying their rivals’ ability to recover). At the moment it looks like Bendix may just be the ancillary big bad of this saga, as I still assume the looming Daemonite threat is going to be the primary conflict overall. This is echoed just a bit in an ominous aside wherein a sleeping Voodoo is overseen by a creepy ass Daemon talking about her dreams. It’s suitably creepy and leaves a ton of questions, though I’m getting a little anxious to see something actually develop in that storyline because it’s been in the shadows long enough.
The final sequence of the issue sees John, this universe’s version of WildCats’ Spartan, celebrating his “birthday” by parading in his birthday suit. No not his naked human form, though there is that too — we see John actually shed his edifice to reveal his true form: that of a green, reptilian Kherabim creature. We learn a bit about his history, as well as that of Jacob Marlowe. We finally use the words “Lord Emp” to describe the diminutive alien, name drop the planet of Khera (which Marlowe refuses to even speak for some reason) and learn that though he dislikes that he was marooned on the planet against his will, John has enjoyed his time on Earth. It’s not so subtle, subtle development for both the story and the characters and I’m here for it.
This is another good issue for a series that has avoided a lot of the negatives that come along with this kind of ornate sci-fi saga. The characters are consistent, the action is top notch and the developments are really satisfactory – especially if you read the series that this book is based on. Ranking an issue individually can be tough, but the trade for this book is going to be fantastic. This is definitely a series to binge, because there is so much story to keep in mind as you go along. Hopefully it won’t be quite as long between issues, as I’m ready to have even more questions raised even as some of them are answered.