The Wild Storm #1
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Jon Davis-Hunt and Ivan Plascencia
Lettering by Simon Bowland
Published by DC Comics
Review by Scott Cederlund
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
The Wild Storm is a Warren Ellis comic book, so that means it’s full of spies and covert missions. It also means that there are hard men and hard women who scowl even as they’re being very professional in their killings. The Wild Storm #1 unveils a world of secret organizations who are at war with one another, even as a couple of wildcards are introduced into the mix to disrupt the careful balance that exists between these organizations. Ellis and artist Jon Davis-Hunt provide a rebirth for Jim Lee’s WildStorm universe on the occasion of its 25th anniversary that re-establishes it as a covert and morally ambiguous world that’s on the cusp of something new.
Ellis’s lean story eases into this reintroduction rather than providing any kind of big-bang revelations. He doesn't even show any covert action as the book opens mere moments after a woman code-named Zealot has completed a wetworks operation. It’s an almost disappointing start to this reinvention of the Wildstorm Universe until you notice that Ellis and Davis-Hunt have snuck in an image of Zealot’s target that is not quite right. It’s almost too easy to just accept what you think you’re seeing on the first page and miss the suggestion that there’s something more to this world than just the spies and covert actions.
This restraint carries through the whole issue so that it feels as if not much happens in this issue, even as Ellis and Davis-Hunt massively disrupt the status quo of a world where they’ve barely established what is normal. As Ellis reimagines his Authority character the Engineer, Angie Spica ends up being the true wildcard in this issue, looking to save the world and overstepping the bounds of whatever the rules of engagement are between these shadowy organizations. Like so many of Ellis’ comic books, The Wild Storm #1 is about finding new ways to save the world when the old ways prove to be just that - old and tired.
Ellis doesn’t seem to give Davis-Hunt and colorist Ivan Plascencia much to do this issue than draw characters standing around and exchanging that patented Ellis dialogue. Since so much of this issue takes place in the moments after the action, Davis-Hunt and Plascencia’s artwork establishes the normality of this world. This doesn’t look like an old-fashioned Wildstorm comic book, with their larger than life characters and superheroic melodrama. This issue looks like it’s about normal people trying to clean up the world and the artwork, like the writing, feels constrained by the pressures of this world that are already in motion.
But if this book is about finding those new ways to challenge the status quo, Davis-Hunt and Plascencia break out of their own constraints when Angela Spica, a mousy scientist, reveals her discover and/or curse, an exo-suit that tears through her to expose itself. In this moment, the creators of this book show the potential for change and the pain that change can bring. As so much of this issue is about covert action teams being all secretive and dangerous, Angela shows all new possibilities to both the readers and the characters in this comic. So set in their way, these secret organizations think the old ways are the only ways but Angela shows them that the limitations of their imaginations are not the limitations of the world.
In The Wild Storm #1, Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt declare that the future of Wildstorm begins now. As the issue opens with what is understandably another kill and another salvo in a war of secret organizations, it ends with the various sides of this war realizing that they’re on the verge of something new and revolutionary. This issue itself isn’t the revolution but it does hint at the future and it promises that our old ways of looking at the world will change just like the characters’ views have to update with the changing times.