Action is the name of the game in issue #22 of The Wild Storm, DC’s reimagining of the world of the former Image imprint, as Jenny Sparks and the Misfits recruit the Midnighter and Apollo into their war on…well, war in general I suppose. The bulk of this issue follows the team as they face off with yet another Skywatch expeditionary force, and it’s the first take of action for most of them. Though Apollo and Midnighter have made murdering these super science squadrons a bit of a habit, Jack, Angie and Shen haven’t exactly been combat tested. Still, Angie’s Engineer armor goes a long way toward bridging the gap, Shen’s got some magic that will help her acquaint herself in a fight and Jack…well, Jack makes himself scarce.
We kick things off with the attempted assassination of Jackie King, a strong suspense sequence from a book more known for knock-down drag-outs. It seems the mysterious disk that Jackie discovered last issue is a bit of a self defense mechanism — and quite an effective one. Taken as a whole, it’s actually a pretty cool sequence that blends elements of comedy, action and even horror that makes for a strong, almost cold open. Doing a deeper dive, however, you notice that this sequence does, unfortunately, boast some rather mundane panel work. It’s actually something you’ll notice a few times in this issue, for which I can’t technically begrudge penciler Jon Davis Hunt. Dude has been a machine cranking out the best sci-fi action book on the market for 22 issues, and he’s only human. That being said, Angie’s trip through the nearby alley to get to a bus feels both out of character and weakly rendered. None of it is bad of course, but take just a glimpse of Jackie fleeing the scene and tell me Hunt is on his A-Game.
That shouldn’t suggest that there aren’t particularly great panels as well. The effects of the battalion device, for one, is a gristly and great piece of gore straight out of a Sam Raimi movie, and Angie’s eye activating as she locates the incoming Skywatch ships, and the arrival of said ships are gorgeous standouts. Some of them are just unfortunately juxtaposed against things like Apollo’s proportions being grossly overblown for most of his appearances, or Shen’s weird stress lips. Being that this is a particularly visual issue, these things kind of stand out a bit more. But while it is unfortunately not a perfect book, it really shouldn’t suggest this isn’t still a great issue. We don’t necessarily learn a whole lot, but the things we do learn — particularly about Jenny Sparks — may actually prove fairly significant in the long run.
Nearing the end game, The Wild Storm remains a fun, strong read that provides plenty of twists and turns, as well as the best action sequences on the shelf. As the story winds down, it seems likely that we’ll get more of these action-heavy issues, and that’s both a blessing and a curse. Fight choreography and scene building may be Davis-Hunt’s strong suit, but it feels like the weight of the storytelling may not be getting the love it deserves. That’s almost assuredly an overreach on my part, as a few wonky panels doesn’t make the art bad, and the issue is still a great entry into the series. It just may not be among the series’ peaks.