I think it’s safe to say that The Wild Storm, Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt’s re-imagining of the Image imprint from the ’90s that birthed the WildCATS and Gen13, can be a dense read at times. With three factions waging a secret war against each other, a cabal made up of an alien science experiment trying to keep the peace and a parasite controlling the brains of a super-powered black ops squad, it’s easy to get bogged down in the ornate storyline and branching plot. That’s why it’s nice, every so often, that Ellis remembers that he has one of the best minds for action sequences pencilling this sci-fi epic every month and lets Davis-Hunt take the wheel. Barring a brief interlude at the onset to continue the tumultuous IO storyline, issue #20 of The Wild Storm is wall-to-wall action that doesn’t come up to breathe until the bad guys are left battered and broken. Quite literally.
A few weeks back I mentioned that when Apollo finally gets involved in the conflict, he’s going to be the biggest player on the board. It turns out, we didn’t have to wait long for that to prove true, as this week sees the sun god absolutely destroy a Skywatch assault team. It’s a grim reminder of the kind of power a lot of these top tier characters possess, as Apollo barely breaks a sweat as he tears through flying saucers, a drop ship and a hover tank all while batting aside (or potentially even absorbing) laser fire and flaming wreckage from his foes. While he’s doing the heavy lifting, the man in his life, John Colt/Spartan/Midnighter, is batting cleanup by straight murdering fools on the ground. When all is said and done the World’s Finest share a quick kiss and zoom off into the night. We spy a confused little girl watching this all unfold and I…kinda didn’t catch her significance. My first thought was Caitlin Fairchild, but I don’t think enough was made of it if that was the intention. Then again, perhaps she’s just the Greek chorus giving readers a semblance of what it would be like to witness from the event from the outside. I imagine seeing Superman and Batman destroy a few flying saucers, kill an alien assault team, make out then fly off would be fairly disorienting.
Elsewhere, the story progression mostly centers on the further dissolution of the IO’s stability. It turns out Miles Craven doesn’t handle criticism well, as he lazily puts a hit out on both his rival for command (Ivana Baiul) and his insubordinate…subordinate (Jackie King). I’m not sure how competent they plan to make Ben Santini (another holdover from the old Image days who eventually headed the IO in that imprint), but dude looks like he means business. While Craven is unraveling, it looks like Jenny Sparks and The Authority have finally found a backdoor into Skywatch HQ thanks to an errant distress signal. I’m sure we’ll get the full impact of both of these moments in future issues, but as brief asides in an all-action outing, these were successful at getting my mind racing with possibilities.
I’ve got to be honest, there just isn’t a ton to talk about this week. Davis-Hunt’s artwork is great, as per usual, portraying a well choreographed battle sequence that is equal parts grotesque and beautiful. The storylines that were actually addressed create intrigue that will keep readers rapt for the next issue, allowing Ellis to do more with less. The inks from Steve Buccellato are strong and provide pops of color in what may’ve been otherwise muddy scenes. It’s like the team agreed with my assessment of last month’s issue and decided to overcorrect a bunch. Like that issue, this is another good installment of a great series that will inevitably sort of blend into the background of a trade at some point. Still, I’m buying whatever Ellis and Davis-Hunt are selling, it’s just that I’m already hungry for the next chapter in this story.