Writing this preview is tougher than normal for me, because I haven’t been as certain that I’m going to write about a comic book again in December since that issue of Deathstroke with the Creeper. However, especially over the last six issues, The Wild Storm has been one of the best comics I’ve ever read, and I’ve definitely got enough to say about it that I won’t repeat myself later.
The Wild Storm comes to an end this week with the release of issue #24, and DC was kind enough to send along an exclusive preview of the final issue. I don’t normally focus on covers in part because of how infrequently they matter to the story on the interior, but Jon Davis-Hunt’s cover image for this issue is both technically excellent and thematically a terrific summary of everything this book has been about. It’s got so many touches of the craft that has made this comic so good for 500+ pages.
Taken on its own, The Wild Storm has been a fantastic comic book. The superhero spy story it tells was tight, thrilling, funny, and action packed all the way through. It built a deep and interesting world, then built a conflict naturally from that world that comes to a conclusion in issue #24. But taken as a piece of comics history, a comic that exists within a continuum of comics stories, this book is an amazing historical artifact and this cover tells that story really well.
The Wild Storm has been a reinvention of the entire Wildstorm universe one story arc at a time. The first six issues were a reintroduction of the WildC.A.T.S.; the second arc was Stormwatch; the third was Gen13; and the final arc was all about the Authority, a team that starred in one of the most influential books of my lifetime and one that marked the pivot point between eras (the definitive end of the ’90s, and the first book of what I’m going to call the Widescreen Era). The current book is Warren Ellis reflecting on his own work – he wrote a definitive era on Stormwatch and co-created The Authority with Bryan Hitch, and in that book, Hitch perfected his “widescreen comics,” cinematic storytelling style that defined a generation of comics.
A book that foundational was ripe for a critical reassessment. Hitch’s work often got lumped in by the crush of imitators who followed, and widescreen decompression eventually got a bad rap because of how many people were doing it who were also not suited for it. But probably the most surprising place for that second look came in the pages of a reboot of the source material. Here’s what I’m talking about:
The first image is Bryan Hitch’s cover for The Authority#1; the second is Jon Davis-Hunt’s cover for The Wild Storm #24. Hitch’s widescreen style almost always focused on the characters themselves – it was about making the characters larger than life and using that perspective to make the world feel huge. Davis-Hunt does the opposite here: The Engineer is trying to stop a meteor (NO SPOILERS) from destroying New York, and in this case the world feels huge because the image is centered on the meteor, which makes Angie’s heroism in its face even greater. Both of these storytelling techniques are effective for similar reasons, they’re just pulling different strings to get the same effect.
Thing is, I didn’t realize this was what was happening until I read through all of The Authority last year. So to me, the best thing about The Wild Stormhas been figuring this out, and then watching that kind of call and response across time between two incredibly talented artists.
Warren Ellis is really something else as a writer, but I’ve got to save something for the end of the year. Or at least September when I get to write up a WildC.A.T.S. preview. As for The Wild Storm, here’s your preview.
The Wild Storm #24 is in comic shops and online on Wednesday, July 3.