One of the big reasons I tend to enjoy Grant Morrison’s comics so much is that they often embrace total balls-out weirdness. Readers have no idea what’s going to happen from panel-to-panel, page-to-page, and I find that keeps things exciting. I had a chance to meet Morrison a few years ago at the New York Comic Con and told him as much; he grinned and replied “well life’s fuckin’ weird, innit?” And he’s totally right. Real life isn’t predictable, it doesn’t follow rules of story structure, and it seldom makes sense. That’s why attempts to ground superhero stories in our reality so often fall flat for me — if our lives are crazy and nonsensical as is, how out-there do you think things would be for a flying alien demigod or a man who moves faster than light itself? The best way to make superheroes seem real is to embrace how unreal their worlds are.
Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda’s Stormwatch is a book designed with that idea in mind. Here we have a diverse selection of characters (culled from classic Wildstorm books like The Authority and Stormwatch PHD, classic DC outings like JLA, and Cornell’s endlessly inventive mind) that when combined have about the craziest, most ill-defined set of powers you can think of, and I mean that as a compliment. Their job is to save the world from all those shadow-threats that the Justice League can’t handle, kind of like a better, more interesting Justice League Dark. They’ve been doing it for centuries (possibly with the same leader the whole time?) and they’re very, very good at it.
Let’s talk about those powers. Jack Hawksmoor can “talk to cities.” The Projectionist can interpret and manipulate mass media. The Eminence of Blades, aka Harry Tanner, is a master swordsman and, by extension, a master of misdirection and lies. Jenny Quantum, the “Child of the Century,” possesses abilities defined by 21st century physics, “whatever those are” — which means that until scientists lock down the direction science will go in the next 100 years, she can pretty much do anything. The team’s leader, Adam One, was an old man at the birth of the universe and now ages backwards (he seems somewhere in the upper-middle age realm right now), giving him a relatively unique take on “memory.” What this means is that the characters on this team are capable of almost anything, with the right explanations. To me, rather than cheapen the story, that actually enriches it — what crazy-ass thing are we going to see superpeople do next? It’s this kind of thinking outside the box that makes superhero stories so entrancing to begin with.
In this issue, those above-mentioned folks and others face a couple different hurdles. One part of the Stormwatch team has gone to Moscow to recruit the so-called Apollo, a Superman-level metahuman with a burning distaste for injustice (like a justifiable version of the Superman-esque character currently starring in Action Comics). Another group must deal with the Earth’s moon come to life. The moon’s goal: to prepare Earth for some impending threat by attacking it with monster meteorites.
Yes, Stormwatch is battling the moon. If it sounds ridiculous, it is, and the joy of this comic is that it embraces that ridiculousness full-on. Of course the moon would come to life, and of course Stormwatch would know what to do about it. The moon sequence also features one of the best/most hilarious use of a superpower ever, as The Projectionist tricks the world media into thinking some low-level supervillain called The Fox is really behind everything (cut to one panel of Booster Gold beating the crap out of him, and that’s all she wrote).
But what I really appreciate about Cornell’s script is how many damn ideas it has packed into it. Besides this endlessly entertaining scenario of an evil moon, seeds are planted here to suggest future stories about unrest in the team’s ranks re: its leader, Midnighter’s sexual deviancy (by which I mean that he’s turned on by awful violence), Harry Tanner’s potentially wicked motivations, cities potentially thriving under the Earth, and whatever the hell threat the moon thinks we need to be ready for.
Stormwatch is nothing if not a treasure chest of ideas. It never ceases to be entertaining or intriguing. Miguel Sepulveda’s art pack these pages with goodness, and special props must go to colorist Alex Sinclair, whose tones give this book a futuristic/sci-fi look that enhances its more out-there aspects, not to mention makes it look beautiful. But the very best part about Stormwatch: there are so many places it can go from here. To try to guess what happens next would be folly. And that’s just the way I like it.
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more