As we near the end of The Wild Storm, Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt’s reimagining of the characters and concepts of the famed Image imprint, things are really starting to heat up — and issue #18 does an excellent job of answering some lingering questions about our extended cast all while setting up what will likely be the final conflict between the IO and Skywatch.
Though we start with Miles Craven having a bit of a meltdown in the face of his numerous recent failures (something Jackie is all too ready to nail him for), the real crux of the story lies skyward, as we finally meet the mysterious Dr. Hellspont. Named for the primary Daemonite villain in the WildStorm universe of the 90s, the DC version of the character looks a bit like a mustacheless Dr. Wiley high on meth. No, not like Rick Sanchez.
Anyway, Dr. Hellspont reveals that when he was the man behind the man behind the wheel at Project Thunderbook, he had installed a mental control structure within the Khera implants turning much of our cast of superhuman misfits (namely the entirety of Gen12, Slayton, Apollo, Midnighter, etc.) into unwitting sleeper agents ready to be activated by Bendix whenever the whim strikes him. That’s going to be an important wrinkle in the conflict between super-organizations, which is something both Bendix and Craven have now committed to ending once and for all. Unfortunately for the head of the IO, however, one of those super-powered test subjects is already on his way to the city with the best salsa in the world…
That’s right, after weeks on the road securing the lives of the next generation of super soldier, Lynch has finally decided to settle things with the first name on his list of Project Thunderbook survivors, Colonel Marc Slayton. Slayton’s been cutting a swath of terror across the country in pursuit of Lynch, leaving a trail of dead bodies — human and otherwise — in his wake, and now that he’s come face to face with super spy Sam Elliot he…kinda bitches out. Yes, though their last encounter saw Lynch running for his life after narrowly escaping the energy whips of Slayton’s Kherabim implant, the old man is ready for the fight this time and makes surprisingly quick work of the insane alien hybrid. Oddly, Lynch spares his opponent’s life, opting instead to sic the murderous madman on their mutual enemy, good old Miles Craven. Between the enemies massing at his gates and the verbal shellacking he’s getting from his subordinates, things aren’t looking great for the IO director.
Elsewhere, we get the welcome reappearance of Michael Cray, who has returned from his sabbatical spent murdering elseworld versions of the Justice League to…murder Miles Craven. Man, that guy is just not having a good week.
Taking a break from the IO drama, this week’s issue also sees the Engineer finally take the step away from the WildCats and toward her rightful place among the Authority. Leaving a lovely note as she departs, Angie joins up with Jenny Sparks, Doctor Shen and Mayor Hawksmoor in their scheme to…do…something. It’s actually not totally clear what they’re up to, actually, but it’s nice to have another player in the game — even if said player is made up of aimless non-combatants. I’m interested to see what the Authority does in the long run, though something tells me the Emp’s crew at Halo will probably have a more important role to play — something hinted at when the WildCats do their best Avenger’s pose in their single page of runtime in this week’s issue.
After a quick (and baffling) segment featuring two drunk (and naked) Khera complaining about Zealot’s sobriety, we wrap this one with Bendix deciding that he’s finally had enough of the endless war with the IO, and he’s ready to let bygones be bygones…by activating his superhuman sleeper agents and having them wipe out Craven and the whole IO. It’s a welcome development for a series that has been placing pieces on the board for the past several months, as it looks like we’re finally getting to the fireworks factory.
Honestly, I’m glad there was some motion in this issue, as it feels like it’s been a while since we’ve had any action of consequence. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely along for the ride on the Wild Storm train, but this is a series with a really deep and slowly developed lore punctuated by fun, brutal action — which is to say, “awesome, but tiring at points.” There’s a lot to see and remember from week to week, and now that we finally have a purpose for introducing such an extensive cast, I’m ready for all of our patience to be rewarded. The art remains strong, the developments are still interesting. Now it’s time to see some super people punching each other!