Chaotic Wooster Remembers the Wildstorm Universe

If you ever do get around to reading the Heroes Reborn/Wildstorm crossover, I'll be curious as to your take on the alt-reality thay gets created there.

It wasn't on my intended buy/read list. I don't have any of it yet. Honestly, I'd forgotten all about it. But I might look for it once I've got more of the WS books I want.

I think this series portrays the main problem with a lot of the early Wildstorm stuff. The characters are portrayed as if they have a rich history, but to the readers, they don’t. There’s like an assumed weight that they’re meant to have, but they lack the familiarity of characters like the X-Men and they aren’t portrayed in a way that shows that weight.

They just want you to accept that these characters are badass and important, but they don’t put in any of the work.

Yeah. Marvel had 30+ years for establish it's heroes and villains before Wildstorm entered the field in the highly competitive boom/bust '90's. And it didn't get great writers working on it's books consistently until a few years after it was underway. I also expanded into a far bigger shared universe than Lee expected, as other creators seemed to want to add their work to his established setting rather than existing as floating parts of the Image non-universe.

All this means, a lot of characters weren't as strong as they could have been. The WildC.A.T.S were always archetypes rather than distinct characters until Alan Moore's run. The potential was there, but the stong storylines and character moments were not. And while a crossover with the X-Men seemed to make sense, it does highlight where the 'cats are too similiar to the X-Men, especially in this Modern Age storyline.

On top of that, they keep layering characters - introducing new characters that their established characters are in awe of or scared of, in order to make you get the unearned feeling that these are even better. It's a pyramid scheme.

Very much yes. Throw shit at the wall and see what sticks seemed to be the order of the day. Take Mr. Majestic, he first appears in an early WildC.A.T.S story, and is a mid-tier Superman clone. Later, he'd feature in the awesome "Majestic at the End of Time" spotlight by Alan Moore, get his time as the replacement team's powehouse, and no less than three volumes of his own book. "Majestic Class" became WS shorthand for top-tier superman-type. He completely overtook the place of Union, who was around far earlier but didn't catch on the same way, basically because Alan Moore got to nail Majestic's characterization and other writers, wisely, picked it up from there.
 
170207-19017-113366-1-wildc-a-t-s--x-men.jpg
WildC.A.T.S/X-Men - The Dark Age
First Published: January '98

So here we are, the end of the crossover.

Drawing on events from WildC.A.T.S volume one, the Daemonites on Earth discover that their species long ago lost the war with Khera, and their homeworld was burned to a cinder. This drives them to vengeful madness, and they cease to possess human bodies, instead grafting their decaying alien forms onto Sentinel frames. so now they are all insane, fifteen feet tall murder-machines...

Finally, the Daemonites team up with something and win. Kinda. But yeah, by the distant future of 2019(?), the Daemonite-Sentinels have overrun the Earth. Not to rebuild, nor to launch a new campaign of war across the stars, just so they can torture and mutilate the survivors until there's no-one else left alive.

Boy, you can tell Warren Ellis wrote this...

So Professor X, Cyclops and most of the other X-Men are dead, or presumed so. Same goes for Spartan, Maul, and most of the Wildstorm heroes. The survivors are kept around for amusement. They have squirmy little parasites living in them that inhibit the powers of mutants and hybrids alike. They are kept in Manhattan, the heart of the D-S empire on Earth.

-

So this is fucking bleak. The art, accompanied by a lot of dark and ruined backgrounds, is Matt Broome making everyone look haunted, miserable and angry. The surviving heroes slink through the ruins of New York, trying to put in motion the only plan that might put an end to all this, while barely being able to co-operate with each other anymore. They're all so traumatized, bitter and miserable that you know early on they'd rather die fighting than go on living in this hell.

Did I mention Warren Ellis wrote this?

-

The plan, when it comes together, is for Emp to fatally stab Warblade (he's fine with this), killing the parasite, and giving Warblade enough time to surgically slice out everyone elses parasites. Then the remnants of both teams can free the handful of others being kept imprisoned for endless torture!

So the remaining X-Men are Kitty Pryde, Storm, Jean Grey and Cable. While the WildC.A.T.S are Savant, Zealot, Majestic, Emp and Voodoo. The rest of the plan? Psychically combine most of these heroes together, while the fighty types keep the D-S's off them long enough to find a point in time that will 100% ensure either the Daemonites or Sentinels never come to be. Then make sure that happens.

As it turns out the only truly viable option is to kill all the WildC.A.T.S, destroying the Kheran ship that first came to earth a thousand years before, erasing the WildC.A.T.S from the history of Earth. Majestic points out that the 'cats have always been soldiers and dying is part of the job. The rest agree and Emp's energy powers are channelled through time to do it.

We see the WildC.A.T.S team erased from history, the other stories in the mini-series removed, and the story ends happily, with the Marvel Universe seemingly restored. Wolverine and Kitty Pryde at Xavier's school.

OVERALL:
So this is a dark, dark final chapter. And Ellis gets to have his characters bicker, snipe, and generally be shitty to each other. But I feel like the world is so grim and hopeless there isn't much humour to be found in that.

I didn't mention it earlier, but Grifter and Wolverine are alive, slowly sneaking towards Manhattan so they can blow it up with a bomb. Their story cuts into the main one, but it's utterly inconsequential, and seems to only exist for Cash and Logan to get into a fight with the mutilated remnants of DV8/Gen 13/Gen-X and argue like an old married couple. They could be dropped entirely, except it's the '90's and Wolverine (to a lesser degree Grifter) has to be in everything!

Generally though, I like the story. I mostly wish that the Modern Age crossover led into this one. Since this miniseries took a full year from start to finish, I feel like it lost significance over time. Hell, despite having two alternate covers in the gallery at the end of the book, I don't believe either was ever released.

Still, while I debate that ALL the WildC.A.T.S count as soldiers willing to die (Voodoo and Savant specifically weren't warriors at all), the ending really works for me. I don't doubt for a second that Majestic would sacrifice himself to put a stop to the Daemonites, and I could see most of the other 'cats going along with that if they must.

I don't believe the TeamX/Team 7 crossover fits this timeline at all, but I'll give it a re-read at some point and see if it could fit.
 
Yeah, when Ellis goes dark, it can get pretty bleak. But the whole "awful future we need to prevent" is a staple for the X-Men, so I suppose it makes sense for this story.
 
Still more optimistic than the Ruins mini-series Ellis did for Marvel.

Somehow, yes... But that felt like misery tourism so completely, it's a farce. While this is more like him riffing on the crisis' the X-Men seemed to face every couple of years.

Yeah, when Ellis goes dark, it can get pretty bleak. But the whole "awful future we need to prevent" is a staple for the X-Men, so I suppose it makes sense for this story.

It absolutely is. And this is his take on it. In a way, I'm sort of pleased he wrote this, because he seems to like the WildC.A.T.S in the books he writes, and they come across pretty well in this. The X-Men don't really feel like the X-Men, because they're so lost and hopeless and so few in number.

I get the feeling his early drafts were worse. Knowing his style, and with what makes it into dialogue but not on-panel, I suspect a lot of the Daemonite-Sentinel's cruelty had to be only spoken of and not seen.
 
Crossposting this from the DC Comics thread...

WildC.A.T.S #12 wraps up the current series. The Superman subplot from earlier in the series doesn't really go anywhere, and the Batman one only does so on a technicality via an appearance by the Justice League.. but the main storyline does conclude in a satisfying manner. Most of the characters are given a form of resolution, but are also left open enough that they can easily show back up in the future. A little uneven in spots, especially early on, but overall I'd say it was worth the ride.

Outsiders #1 is very much attempting to be Planetary for the DC universe, and completely leans into it. Besides having a female Drummer, the main plot of the first issue centers around the Carrier, there's a reference to Century Babies, and the last panel shows one of the characters holding what looks like the collected omnibus edition of the Ellis /Cassaday run of Planetary. Wasn't bad, but I don't know how I feel about this.
 
Crossposting this from the DC Comics thread...

WildC.A.T.S #12 wraps up the current series. The Superman subplot from earlier in the series doesn't really go anywhere, and the Batman one only does so on a technicality via an appearance by the Justice League.. but the main storyline does conclude in a satisfying manner. Most of the characters are given a form of resolution, but are also left open enough that they can easily show back up in the future. A little uneven in spots, especially early on, but overall I'd say it was worth the ride.

Outsiders #1 is very much attempting to be Planetary for the DC universe, and completely leans into it. Besides having a female Drummer, the main plot of the first issue centers around the Carrier, there's a reference to Century Babies, and the last panel shows one of the characters holding what looks like the collected omnibus edition of the Ellis /Cassaday run of Planetary. Wasn't bad, but I don't know how I feel about this.

I ultimately deciding against reading it. At least for now. I'm in the UK, so it's not like my purchase would count towards it's success or failure anyway, hehe. I'll still probably pick the trade up... Eventually. Finding the missing issues of the original stuff is more a priority for me.

Edited: I put my reply in the other thread as it feels more related there.

Chaotic Wooster Chaotic Wooster any chance you can get your thoughts on WS going again for this thread?

Yes. I've been meaning to for a while.

Any requests?
 
Yes. I've been meaning to for a while.

Any requests?

The Images of Tomorrow stuff would be cool. Where they published issue 25 like a year ahead of schedule and then the issues worked their way up to that. I remember that being a cool gimmick that they actually incorporated into the story via time travel. I don't think that all the elements were really clear (like the Time Traveler guy... who the hell was he?), but it was really cool how they stuck to the events that transpired.
 
The Images of Tomorrow stuff would be cool. Where they published issue 25 like a year ahead of schedule and then the issues worked their way up to that. I remember that being a cool gimmick that they actually incorporated into the story via time travel. I don't think that all the elements were really clear (like the Time Traveler guy... who the hell was he?), but it was really cool how they stuck to the events that transpired.

The only Images of Tomorrow issue specifically set in the Wildstorm Universe was Stormwatch. The other three were Brigade, Bloodstrike and Supreme, which were all Liefield titles. Honestly, I'm not sure why Stormwatch was tied in with those in any way...

I have the Stormwatch one though, I'll dig it out.
 
The only Images of Tomorrow issue specifically set in the Wildstorm Universe was Stormwatch. The other three were Brigade, Bloodstrike and Supreme, which were all Liefield titles. Honestly, I'm not sure why Stormwatch was tied in with those in any way...

I have the Stormwatch one though, I'll dig it out.

Yeah, I only meant that era of Stormwatch. I have no interest in the Liefield books, other than if they actually made it to the flash forward book. I feel like some didn’t, but since I’d dropped all those books at that point, I’m just going off memory.
 
The two squabbling time traveller's you're on about are Traveller and Timespan. Traveller was the chick in purple with the silly helmet, Timespan was the dork in gold. They both appeared just a couple of times in the early WSU books. They both seemed concerned with preserving the timeline, but differed on which version of it was better.
 
WHAT'S THE WILDSTORM UNIVERSE?:
Created by Jim Lee when he left Marvel Comics for the greener pastures of the Image Comics, which he co-founded. Each co-founder established their own studio and their own titles. Jim Lee's Wildstorm universe was created in collaberation with writer Brandon Choi, and later expanded on by many other creative hands.

Wildstorm had a strong foundation, with most of it's titles tied to the secretive I.O. agency, and to it's special operations force Team 7. This history would be revealed over time, with the men (and their children) of that ill-fated team involved in all the key events of Wildstorm's early years.

IN CASE YOU'RE JUST JOINING US...:
Stormwatch was one of the two "core" Wildstorm titles, though never as prominent as WildC.A.T.S. It tells the story of an international team of U.N. sanctioned superhumans and their overseer The Weatherman.

STORMWATCH #25
First Published: May '94, but dated as June '95.

Untitled.png

Stormwatch #25 was part of a company-wide concept, where we saw one year into the future of four different books. Rob Liefeld's Bloodstrike, Brigade and Supreme, and Jim Lee's Stormwatch. Guess which one actually got to issue #25? Trick question, astonishingly, Supreme did actually get that far and went on a lot longer too! Even more astonishingly, the notoriously late shipping of Image titles didn't affect Stormwatch. Issue #26 actually did come out more or less when issue #25 promised it would, a year beforehand.

Stormwatch had primarily dealt with villain-of-the-week foes and the ongoing threat of The Mercs, a superhuman terrorist team, the leader of whom (Deathtrap) has a hell of a grudge against the leader of Stormwatch (Jackson King, Battalion). However, at the end of issue #9, Battallion is whisked into the future by a mysterious time traveller (Timespan).

-

We begin with Timespan being evasive about his reasons and Battalion quickly fed up with being jerked around. They witness the immense Skywatch space station plummet from orbit and crash into Death Valley. Battalion ditches Timespan and charges towards the crash site to search for survivors.

He sees the Stormwatch team survived, only it's not the team he knows. Familiar faces replaced by newcomers, and they are horrified to see him since the Battalion they know is months dead! Timespan floats down to explain he brought the Battalion of the past here, now, to help them. They find the new team leader, Spartan! Yep, the robot field leader of the WildC.A.T.S.

Battalion takes a look at the sorry state of the team and at the screwed-up Spartan they're following, correctly guessing things have been going badly for some time. Spartan's priority was to build mental dampers, which he quickly hands out. He's able to console Battalion that his other self died in the line of duty, then he shuts down. Synergy and Battalion bicker, with him still being slow on the catch-up. She's Weatherman now, and she's in charge, and she says they've gotta get away from the crash site. Battalion demands answers, mostly about where the rest of Stormwatch are! Told you he was slow.

Then the Warguard dive in for the attack! The Warguard were the team that pre-date Stormwatch, given immense powers by a comet, but driven to madness by what they had become. They were kept cryogenically frozen in case of dire need, included among them was Jackson's own father. Stormwatch and the Warguard clash over a few pages of action.

Battalion is frustrated that despite him seeming to know exactly what's going on, exactly what's at stake, Timespan won't lift a finger to help. Then, Battalion comes face to face with... Strafe. His younger brother (Malcolm King), who he tried so desparately to keep away from the dangers of Stormwatch. Believing Malcolm to be possessed by a Daemonite, Battalion tries to subdue him, but his brother continues to taunt him until he's knocked out.

Then Despot (Isaiah King) makes his presence known. The immensely powerful psychic madman, leader of the Warguard, father of Jackson and Malcolm, and would-be tyrant. He's free of his supposedly inescapable prison, and is accompanied by the mutilated half-living body of Diva, one of Battalion's loyal Stormwatch team members. Despot speaks through her, trying to win Battalion over to his side. He points to the corruption of those they followed, and of the bigotry they faced as a black family trying to live a peaceful life in the South.

Despot tries to prove his point by gruesomely tearing Diva in two, finally letting her die. He says that turning everyone into mindless puppets will free them of fear and hate. But Battalion isn't having any of it. He knows his father has become inhuman and monstrous. When reason fails, Despot attempts to overtake his son's mind completely. While Jackson tries to find some emotional good in his father while they are still connected, but there's nothing.

-

Then Battalion is gone, whisked back to his own time, and Despot furiously blames Timespan. He's correct, Timespan engineered this entire scheme, but Despot can't figure out why. Timespan insists it isn't the change what has happened/will happen. Despot suspects he is simply tormenting Battalion for some reason of his own. Timespan simply fades away, saying he got what he wanted.

Though frustrated, Despot has a world to take over, and turns his attention to that...

Only to be sent flying and struck down by an immensely powerful energy blast from a newly arrived and shadowed figure. The attacker's identity remains a mystery, but his words are; "You may have beaten Battalion, but you don't stand a chance against me, old man."

To Be Continued in Stormwatch #26 on sale July 1995

OVERALL:

Okay, so, it's a busy issue with a lot going on and very little explained. I can't really criticize that, given the gimmick involved. However... The art (by Scott Clark and Trevor Scott) is only average for the era. Not good, not bad, just passable. Given how significant this issue was supposed to be, I expected something flashier. Given how momentous these events are, they lack the impact it needs. The writing (by Steven T. Seagle) likewise lacks the weight to really draw you in. Sure, it's functional. But that's it. I get that they can't reveal too much, and had to hedge bets against possibly changes between issue #25 and issue #26, but it's still weak.

Weaker, in fact, than it's repercussions would be. The emergence of Despot would take place after the big crossover "Wildstorm Rising" that would finally see the WildC.A.T.S and Stormwatch tangle and team-up for the first time. Spartan would indeed become field leader of Stormwatch, Battalion would die, etc. They would follow up on Battalion's awareness of the dark future to come throughout the next year, and he agonizes over what to do about Diva in particular. Most of his Stormwatch operatives are supposed to die, but her fate is worse than anyones. (Way back up thread, I did say she'd not last long enough to change from her skimpy swimsuit look... This is why).

So the issue itself is a little weak, but they made the gimmick work! It was published between issues #9 and #10, and it fits pretty tidily into it's correct numerical spot.

As part of the ongoing story that is another-day-in-the-miserable-life of Jackson King, it pays off. I just wish it could've been stronger in it's own right. But in the Image era of endless delays, missed opportunities, cancelled titles, etc. Stormwatch promised and delivered. We just had to wait a year to see it.
 
speaking of Wildstorm....

There's a big DC sale on Comixology, which includes alot of the Wildstorm stuff. I snagged the first trade of Stormwatch (I Had the second already), and some of the Authority/Kev stuff (as I have most of the Authority regular titles, except for World's End and the Lost Year).
 
speaking of Wildstorm....

There's a big DC sale on Comixology, which includes alot of the Wildstorm stuff. I snagged the first trade of Stormwatch (I Had the second already), and some of the Authority/Kev stuff (as I have most of the Authority regular titles, except for World's End and the Lost Year).
Argh! Thanks ... maybe. I just spent $50 on books. Grrr. But they were priced so well!
 
WHAT'S THE WILDSTORM UNIVERSE?:
Created by Jim Lee when he left Marvel Comics for the greener pastures of the Image Comics, which he co-founded. Each co-founder established their own studio and their own titles. Jim Lee's Wildstorm universe was created in collaberation with writer Brandon Choi, and later expanded on by many other creative hands.

Wildstorm had a strong foundation, with most of it's titles tied to the secretive I.O. agency, and to it's special operations force Team 7. This history would be revealed over time, with the men (and their children) of that ill-fated team involved in all the key events of Wildstorm's early years.

IN CASE YOU'RE JUST JOINING US...:
Stormwatch was one of the two "core" Wildstorm titles, though never as prominent as WildC.A.T.S. It tells the story of an international team of U.N. sanctioned superhumans and their overseer The Weatherman.

STORMWATCH #25
First Published: May '94, but dated as June '95.

View attachment 71758

Stormwatch #25 was part of a company-wide concept, where we saw one year into the future of four different books. Rob Liefeld's Bloodstrike, Brigade and Supreme, and Jim Lee's Stormwatch. Guess which one actually got to issue #25? Trick question, astonishingly, Supreme did actually get that far and went on a lot longer too! Even more astonishingly, the notoriously late shipping of Image titles didn't affect Stormwatch. Issue #26 actually did come out more or less when issue #25 promised it would, a year beforehand.

Stormwatch had primarily dealt with villain-of-the-week foes and the ongoing threat of The Mercs, a superhuman terrorist team, the leader of whom (Deathtrap) has a hell of a grudge against the leader of Stormwatch (Jackson King, Battalion). However, at the end of issue #9, Battallion is whisked into the future by a mysterious time traveller (Timespan).

-

We begin with Timespan being evasive about his reasons and Battalion quickly fed up with being jerked around. They witness the immense Skywatch space station plummet from orbit and crash into Death Valley. Battalion ditches Timespan and charges towards the crash site to search for survivors.

He sees the Stormwatch team survived, only it's not the team he knows. Familiar faces replaced by newcomers, and they are horrified to see him since the Battalion they know is months dead! Timespan floats down to explain he brought the Battalion of the past here, now, to help them. They find the new team leader, Spartan! Yep, the robot field leader of the WildC.A.T.S.

Battalion takes a look at the sorry state of the team and at the screwed-up Spartan they're following, correctly guessing things have been going badly for some time. Spartan's priority was to build mental dampers, which he quickly hands out. He's able to console Battalion that his other self died in the line of duty, then he shuts down. Synergy and Battalion bicker, with him still being slow on the catch-up. She's Weatherman now, and she's in charge, and she says they've gotta get away from the crash site. Battalion demands answers, mostly about where the rest of Stormwatch are! Told you he was slow.

Then the Warguard dive in for the attack! The Warguard were the team that pre-date Stormwatch, given immense powers by a comet, but driven to madness by what they had become. They were kept cryogenically frozen in case of dire need, included among them was Jackson's own father. Stormwatch and the Warguard clash over a few pages of action.

Battalion is frustrated that despite him seeming to know exactly what's going on, exactly what's at stake, Timespan won't lift a finger to help. Then, Battalion comes face to face with... Strafe. His younger brother (Malcolm King), who he tried so desparately to keep away from the dangers of Stormwatch. Believing Malcolm to be possessed by a Daemonite, Battalion tries to subdue him, but his brother continues to taunt him until he's knocked out.

Then Despot (Isaiah King) makes his presence known. The immensely powerful psychic madman, leader of the Warguard, father of Jackson and Malcolm, and would-be tyrant. He's free of his supposedly inescapable prison, and is accompanied by the mutilated half-living body of Diva, one of Battalion's loyal Stormwatch team members. Despot speaks through her, trying to win Battalion over to his side. He points to the corruption of those they followed, and of the bigotry they faced as a black family trying to live a peaceful life in the South.

Despot tries to prove his point by gruesomely tearing Diva in two, finally letting her die. He says that turning everyone into mindless puppets will free them of fear and hate. But Battalion isn't having any of it. He knows his father has become inhuman and monstrous. When reason fails, Despot attempts to overtake his son's mind completely. While Jackson tries to find some emotional good in his father while they are still connected, but there's nothing.

-

Then Battalion is gone, whisked back to his own time, and Despot furiously blames Timespan. He's correct, Timespan engineered this entire scheme, but Despot can't figure out why. Timespan insists it isn't the change what has happened/will happen. Despot suspects he is simply tormenting Battalion for some reason of his own. Timespan simply fades away, saying he got what he wanted.

Though frustrated, Despot has a world to take over, and turns his attention to that...

Only to be sent flying and struck down by an immensely powerful energy blast from a newly arrived and shadowed figure. The attacker's identity remains a mystery, but his words are; "You may have beaten Battalion, but you don't stand a chance against me, old man."

To Be Continued in Stormwatch #26 on sale July 1995

OVERALL:

Okay, so, it's a busy issue with a lot going on and very little explained. I can't really criticize that, given the gimmick involved. However... The art (by Scott Clark and Trevor Scott) is only average for the era. Not good, not bad, just passable. Given how significant this issue was supposed to be, I expected something flashier. Given how momentous these events are, they lack the impact it needs. The writing (by Steven T. Seagle) likewise lacks the weight to really draw you in. Sure, it's functional. But that's it. I get that they can't reveal too much, and had to hedge bets against possibly changes between issue #25 and issue #26, but it's still weak.

Weaker, in fact, than it's repercussions would be. The emergence of Despot would take place after the big crossover "Wildstorm Rising" that would finally see the WildC.A.T.S and Stormwatch tangle and team-up for the first time. Spartan would indeed become field leader of Stormwatch, Battalion would die, etc. They would follow up on Battalion's awareness of the dark future to come throughout the next year, and he agonizes over what to do about Diva in particular. Most of his Stormwatch operatives are supposed to die, but her fate is worse than anyones. (Way back up thread, I did say she'd not last long enough to change from her skimpy swimsuit look... This is why).

So the issue itself is a little weak, but they made the gimmick work! It was published between issues #9 and #10, and it fits pretty tidily into it's correct numerical spot.

As part of the ongoing story that is another-day-in-the-miserable-life of Jackson King, it pays off. I just wish it could've been stronger in it's own right. But in the Image era of endless delays, missed opportunities, cancelled titles, etc. Stormwatch promised and delivered. We just had to wait a year to see it.


I feel like the most impressive thing about this storyline was the gimmick in its execution. It made reading the issues that came out after the jump ahead to 25… issues 10-24… more dynamic.

Like without the tension that glimpse of the future created, the comic was mediocre at best. As you’ve pointed out, with the exception of Battalion, the majority of the characters were really shallow and one-note. Some of that would change once Battalion “died” (issue 16, I think?), especially for Synergy.

It’s not a gimmick I can really recall that’s been tried again. I’m curious if someone could do something more with it these days.

I remember issue 26 wrapping up most of the dangling threads. Though I don’t remember Timespan’s story ever really being satisfactorily resolved. Although it may have been… the issues that followed were below the standard that had been set so far, so I may have simply forgotten the stuff prior to issue 37.

Thinking about it now, and looking at your earlier recaps, it seems like Jim Lee and his team wanted very much to be working with an established lore. Like they took the storytelling from existing books with decades of history to draw upon, and then approached this new universe with that style in mind. Context is just assumed. These Merc guys are bad, this Timespan guy wants to preserve the timestream because of course he does.

I think that’s a big part of what made issue 37 and Ellis’s arrival so interesting. He clearly had new ideas, new takes, that weren’t just rehashed X-Men stories. That’s how it seems now, anyway.
 
Argh! Thanks ... maybe. I just spent $50 on books. Grrr. But they were priced so well!

One of the Gen 13 series I don't have is priced at .99 per issue, so about 30+ for the whole series. I was tempted, but as I just bought tickets for two comedy shows and a concert next year (t around 500 or so dollars), the 20 or so I spent on comics was my limit this time around
 
One of the Gen 13 series I don't have is priced at .99 per issue, so about 30+ for the whole series. I was tempted, but as I just bought tickets for two comedy shows and a concert next year (t around 500 or so dollars), the 20 or so I spent on comics was my limit this time around
Yeah, I just got the ones where the collected TPBs were going for $1.99 or $2.99. But that's a lot of series!
 
WHAT'S THE WILDSTORM UNIVERSE?:
Created by Jim Lee when he left Marvel Comics for the greener pastures of the Image Comics, which he co-founded. Each co-founder established their own studio and their own titles. Jim Lee's Wildstorm universe was created in collaberation with writer Brandon Choi, and later expanded on by many other creative hands.

Wildstorm had a strong foundation, with most of it's titles tied to the secretive I.O. agency, and to it's special operations force Team 7. This history would be revealed over time, with the men (and their children) of that ill-fated team involved in all the key events of Wildstorm's early years.

IN CASE YOU'RE JUST JOINING US...:
The WildC.A.T.S liberated the nation of Yurgovia, supposedly killing Destine, the Coda Assassin running the nation... Guess it didn't take, because the bitch is back!

VOODOO / ZEALOT: SKIN TRADE
First Published: August '95.

VZST.jpg

I've previously mentioned Skin Trade as the low bar by which all other Wildstorm books can be favourably compared. And finally, I'm bored enough to expand on that. This book is wretched! I'll save the discussion after going over the events quickly.

-

Zealot is showing off her ass while beating up Voodoo and calling it training. To recap, Zealot is the 1,000 year old genetically perfect warrior woman from space, Voodoo is a stripper. So the rest of the 'Cats chew out Zealot for being shitty, she storms off. She is confronted by Providence, the spooky kid with psychic powers, formerly employed by the WildC.A.T.S. enemies, The Cabal, but now seemingly a free agent.

Providence says that Zealot's hitherto unknown child is in Yurgovia, and needs saving. So Zealot drags Voodoo along on this rescue mission. Providence is lying, though I don't know why. Destine has survived being shot to death and is trying to retake the country. She's also trying to start a new cult of Coda Assassins, and having the country's young girls kidnapped to do it. Providence is rather opposed to other kids being used this way, and somehow... Feels like she had to lie to the WildC.A.T.S. to get them to go back in and kick Destine's head in again.

The bulk of the issue is an attempt by Destine to capture a bunch of kids being taken out of the country, while Zealot and Voodoo try to save them. Destine's also, somehow, got one of those orb fragments that seemingly litter the Wildstorm Universe. Zealot destroys it and Destine with it, which pisses off Providence. She and the WildC.A.T.S' member Void are both made up of the energy of these orbs, so it probably isn't great for either of them to destroy it. Though for once Void doesn't have one of her useless prophetic dreams to alert anyone else on the team.

Zealot challenges Providence about using this notion of her lost child, since none of the refugee children are half-alien, and Providence says that her missing kid is right there with them. Stormwatch had just arrived to save the kids, and Zealot sees Winter, who shares her white hair.

There's some wrap-up short stories about Zealot and Voodoo going to Greece for a holiday. That's the cover the used when going to Yurgovia, so might as well enjoy some actual downtime. Another sees Zealot testing Voodoo further by ambushing her to see if she will respond with her training or not. Meh.

OVERALL:

Okay, let's rip this to shreds.

Firstly, it's barely a story, and it's mostly pin-up art aseembled to vaguely flow like a story. I'm not kidding. And I don't mind some cheesecake in my comics, but this is both lazy and suffers from rapidly declining quality as it goes along. For a book that includes discussion of sexual assault and child slavery, it's exploitative and sleazy to the point it cannot possibly be taken seriously.

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it was written by Steven T. Seagle (creator of Ben 10), pencilled by Michael Lopez and inked by no less than 8 different inkers! And if you ever wondered how much difference inking makes to comic art, Skin Trade is all the evidence you need. The ink and colour is hilariously inconsistent, but then again so is the art. Baroness Destine doesn't look anything like she did previously, and the child we're led to believe is Zealot's because of her white hair... Is shown to have black hair throughout! Talk about quality control.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is a 'Greg Land Special'. For the uninitiated that's a comic where the female characters were traced from porn. Land is notorious for this shortcut, and I challenge anyone to read this book and not think the same trick was used here. Again, I'm not against sexy comics, sleazy comics, etc. But this book... Fuck.

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The truly annoying thing about Skin Trade is that it isn't entirely a throwaway book. It's not a 'Gen 13 and whichever Marvel team they join up with this month' one-shot. It is tied into events of WildC.A.T.S Special #1 and issues #10-13. It also leads us to think there'll be a book called WildC.A.T.S: Ground Zero, that presumably would be built on story points from this and Special #1, but Ground Zero never happened.

I haven't mentioned much about Winter yet, but for many Stormwatch fans, he's sort of a sleeper favourite. He began as stereotypical Russian guy, but his powers to absorb and then manipulate energy where actually used pretty well. And as the title went on, Winter was one of the original Stormwatch heroes who got to stick around and show some character growth. His being half-Kheran is easy enough to accept, since Zealot did have a(t least one) child with a human father and did give that child to a Russian couple. It's just weird that no-one in Stormwatch ever picked up on it. The rest are given powers by genetic changes casued by a passing comet, and all require activation. He's a hybrid... So... Uh, didn't anyone ever wonder?

This is not a good book. It's not even good enough to be a bad book. It's truly awful. Poorly-scripted exploitative junk, and it doesn't even have the good sense to go with the sleaziness and be fun! Other Wildstorm books will be more boring or even more meaningless than Skin Trade, but none of them will be as tone deaf or as miserable a read. The story is bad, the art rapidly declines from okay-but-embarressing to total shit. And yet, this crap pile still ties into the overall events of the Wildstorm Universe's ongoing events.

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My last thought is just how radical a change Wildstorm's female characters would go through in a very short space of time. We go from Skin Trade's eye-candy mudwrestling to far, far better portrayals in Wildcats Volume 2, Stormwatch Volume 2, The Authority, etc. Hell, even Gen 13 quit being cheesecake.
 
I feel like the most impressive thing about this storyline was the gimmick in its execution. It made reading the issues that came out after the jump ahead to 25… issues 10-24… more dynamic.

Like without the tension that glimpse of the future created, the comic was mediocre at best. As you’ve pointed out, with the exception of Battalion, the majority of the characters were really shallow and one-note. Some of that would change once Battalion “died” (issue 16, I think?), especially for Synergy.

It’s not a gimmick I can really recall that’s been tried again. I’m curious if someone could do something more with it these days.

I remember issue 26 wrapping up most of the dangling threads. Though I don’t remember Timespan’s story ever really being satisfactorily resolved. Although it may have been… the issues that followed were below the standard that had been set so far, so I may have simply forgotten the stuff prior to issue 37.

Thinking about it now, and looking at your earlier recaps, it seems like Jim Lee and his team wanted very much to be working with an established lore. Like they took the storytelling from existing books with decades of history to draw upon, and then approached this new universe with that style in mind. Context is just assumed. These Merc guys are bad, this Timespan guy wants to preserve the timestream because of course he does.

I think that’s a big part of what made issue 37 and Ellis’s arrival so interesting. He clearly had new ideas, new takes, that weren’t just rehashed X-Men stories. That’s how it seems now, anyway.

I can't immediately think of any other publisher doing an Images of the Future type gimmick like this, and these days it'd be pointless. How many creative teams or titles even last long enough to allow for it? Hell, Stormwatch was the ONLY book to reach the promised issue and actually do anything with it. Supreme DID last long enough, but just shrugged off the gimmick book.

I'm still unsure if Timespan actually belonged to the WSU proper or not. Honestly, the amount of forgetable/disposable Image characters from these early years is staggering. Who knows if he belonged to Wildstorm, Extreme or one of the other studios. They might as well have used a Providence, Doctor Who or a time-travelling cheese sandwich for all the difference it made.

I think Lee knew the type of books he wanted to work on. Choi knew he wanted to come up with a cohesive continuity from the start. It's the one positive of starting your own comic book universe after the Silver Age, right? You get to create the continuity, the history, the timeline and how all the characters interconnect. Sadly, Lee was slow getting his art out and Choi wasn't good at actually plotting or writing...

Ellis' highjacking of the WSU, making HIS Stormwatch, Authority and Planetary the new core, pretty much wipes all Choi's work out. Maybe not explicitly, but simply by never referring to any of it again.
 
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Huh, I never knew Winter had appeared prior to Stormwatch.
 
It's been far too long, let's hit the nineties nostalgia button!

WILDC.A.T.S - Volume 1 - Issues #8 & #9 (First Published Febuary and March '94)

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NOTE: I'm skipping issues #5, #6 and #7. They were all part of the "Killer Instinct" crossover with Cyberforce. I don't own the Cyberforce issues, and consider the whole crossover to be entirely pointless since it gives Warblade a backstory that makes no sense whatsoever and will never be brought up again. Indeed, it'll be retcon'd fairly soon. The art is phenomenal, with Marc Silvestri drawing WildC.A.T.S and Jim Lee drawing Cyberforce, but that is the crossover's only redeeming trait.

-

"Down Time"
The WildC.A.T.S' wise-ass gunslinger, Grifter, convinces Zealot to ditch training and hit a dive bar to play some pool. Zealot, is slightly more accomodating than usual and beats Grifter handily, winning his bike. A few dive bar patrons (who seem incredibly redneck for N.Y.C.) mock Grifter and lack the survival instinct to know better than to hit on Zealot, prompting a bar fight, one that's all Zealot...

Grifter sums it up nicely:

"Lucky for Ralph, the precepts of the sisterhood don't allow her to kill for pleasure--or for bein' mildly irritated by a lower life form."

Once Zealot's flattened every loser in the place, Grifter gets an emergency message on his pager (pager!! Ah, the nineties...) that drags him out of WildC.A.T.S (and into the pages of The Kindred, a 4-issue Grifter/Backlash crossover). Zealot argues they're a team and he should let her help, but he insists this his is business alone. She kisses him "for luck", and this messes with his head, since the two used to be lovers. For once she softens and apologizes, and Grifter zooms off for his crossover obligations.

-

Meanwhile, Maul and Warblade are in their civilian identities, are at an art gallery party. For the first time we get to see these two as characters in their own right, and Reno (Warblade) is an artist himself. Still, the two red-blooded men are more interested in a couple of hot ladies also attending the shindig. They leave together for coffees...

-

The next morning, we get to enjoy seeing Voodoo enjoying some sun on the deck of "The Caribbean Princess", an oceanliner owned by Emp in his civilian identity of Jacob Marlowe, a corporate CEO and billionaire.

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Clark Kent, Lois Lane and old Beavis & Butthead can be spotted on the deck.

Voodoo tries to flirt with Spartan, continuing her weird obsession to be robo-boned by the WildC.A.T.S android soldier, but gets pissed off when he uses his enhanced vision to point out her own "enhancements". He actually pranks her when she soaks him with her drink, Spartan pretending to short circuit.

In another fun camero, Scott Summers and Jean Grey are sunbathing on the deck, and ol' Cyclops wonders if Spartan might not be a mutant. Jean reminds him they're on their honeymoon and his eyes ought to be on her!

Voodoo's increasingly forward and unsubtle requests for sex are spoiled by Spartan reminding her that there IS a real WildC.A.T.S mission. The "Island Angel", Marlowe's other 'liner vanished nearby.

And wouldn't you know it... A vortex forms in the sky and draws the Caribbean Princess up into the sky. Oops! Guess Superman was too busy getting busy to help. Maybe The Great Cornholio would've been more useful.

-

*sigh* Void, as is her only role in these early issues, is back at the WildC.A.T.S base in the Halo skyscraper and has a mind-shredding vision of the boat-napping. Emp's staff decipher her nonsense and go pick up Warblade and Maul in the team's high-tech jet. Zealot is already in attendance.

-

Back aboard the ship... Spartan, Voodoo and Emp awaken as prisoners of a bald and intense man in very nineties golden armour. Apparently he's called Lord Entropy, and Emp's going to face his wrath. Except Emp's got no clue who he is...

-

"Passed Lives"

(A short story featuring Voodoo, it takes place after WildC.A.T.s Trilogy and before "Down Time".)

Voodoo, as a favour to an old friend from her stripper days, returns to the stage at the Black Book Club. She reminisces about her life and how it's changed.

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Naturally, no moment of reflection in a nineties comic goes uninterrupted, and a gruesomely burned, scarred woman approaches. It's Devin, the Coda assassin that was seemingly blown to bits in the very first issue of WildC.A.T.S. She seems to think that killing Voodoo will allow her to rejoin the order of psychotic murder-bitches.

Voodoo lures her away from the public, and while she's had some basic fighting training from Zealot, Voodoo's no match for Devin. However, she is psychic... And not wanting a repeat of the massacre from her first encounter with the assassin, she takes hold of Devin's mind for long enough to cause the Coda assassin to impale herself on her own sword. Go Voodoo! You finally didn't suck.

Back at WildC.A.T.S HQ, Voodoo shows off her new outfit, having finally noticed that stripper-wear is not combat practical.

-

"Past Time" continues the main storyline, with Zealot and co. unable to find the missing ship.

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Spartan, meanwhile, has visions of fighting endless Daemonites. Unable to defeat them all, he and Voodoo are torn to pieces. But it's just mental manipulation by Lord Entropy, who is fascinated that Spartan has a mind vulnerable to psychic powers at all (I mentioned this in an early issue recap too).

Emp is filled in on Entropy's reasons for his actions. Vengeance! Of course. In the dark ages, the two Kherubim Lords fought side by side as brothers in arms against an evil knight named Brannoch. He had both Entropy's human wife as his prisoner and mystical, soul-sucking sword. So Entropy's soldiers couldn't stand against him. However, a mace to the skull is still a mace to the skull, and Entropy killed Brannoch...

Emp remembers none of this, and in frustration, Entropy uses an Orb fragment to restore Emp's millennia of lost memories... Painfully.

-

Back in N.Y.C., Void recovers and teleports onto the M.I.R.V., the 'cats super jet. There she explains that the vortex that stole both ships was caused by an Orb, and info-dumps the origin and nature of these recurring McGuffins, fragments of a destroyed goddess tumbling backwards through time, they can be used for good or for evil. Void, herself, is as much one of these Orbs as she is the cosmonaut Adrianna Tereshkova.

The Orbs are all part of one greater whole, and that's why they beings like her and Providence can detect other Orbs, Orb-users, etc.

She navigates the rescue team to Entropy's flying fortress. What? Of course he's got a flying fortress. A big alien-looking vessel, ideal for scooping up oceanliners.

-

Emp, memories flooding back to him, finishes Entropy's story.

Brannoch was possessed by a Daemonite, and the creature fled to the next most suitable host when the knight died... Entropy's wife! For whatever reason, both in the past and now, Entropy refuses to believe his beloved could be possessed and evil, even as she slaughters his men and nearly kills him. Emp took her head!

A thousand years later, and this moron still can't face the truth. But his attempt to kill Emp is ruined by the arrival of Void, Zealot, Maul and Warblade. Still, being bound to an Orb of his own for centuries, he's as powerful as he is blind to the truth, and he begins blasting the new arrivals.

Voodoo tricks him into seeing visions of his long-dead wife, while Emp feeds his own energy into Void so she can destroy Entropy's Orb and him with it. The flying fortress explodes, and the WildC.A.T.S escape with the handful of captives that still lived.

I'm sure Beavis & Butthead were fine.

-

In the aftermath, Emp is dismayed. His memories have been restored, and he views his very long life as one of endless failures. Worse, he worries he could end up like Entropy. He announces his decision to leave the team.

-

"The Bonds of Blood & Steel"

This is a very short story featuring Warblade. He is tracking a Daemonite, and his leads take him to the apartment of a baby boy and his single-parent dad. The father is the Daemonite, and in a fight witnessed by the boy, Warblade is forced to kill the man.

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-

Warblade brings the boy to the Halo building, and pushes the head of the legal department to find the kid a new family. The boy punches Reno in the face, hardly grateful to the killer, and unaware that his dad had been possessed by a monster.

OVERALL:

Firstly, let's look at the main story. Entropy's not a hugely interesting villain, but he's got more going for him than any bad guy since Helspont. And he pushes Emp's own story forward considerably.

Jim Lee handles most of the art here, and that's great. Even at this point, getting him to sit and do most of an issue's pages was an achievement. And these two issues came out in back to back months!

The back-up stories give us our first glimpses of the actual personalities for the team too. Void's discussion of the Orbs will never really matter (and later it'll be retcon'd), but all the rest is good stuff. Voodoo and Warblade's stories are also illustrated by Travis Charest, so they look absolutely stellar!

If WildC.A.T.S had been more steadily like this, with big and flashy action-packed main stories and short stories to round out the characters, with a decent publication schedule... Yeah, that really would've been better than having the main book surrendered to constant crossovers, especially crossovers with the like of Youngblood and Cyberforce, who weren't even part of the WSU!
 
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