Welcome to another week of Back Issue Review! In this post, I share my capsule reviews of comic books I read that were not newly-released this month.
My reading this week was entirely focused on non Big Two comics (that means no Marvel and no DC) and largely on checking out books with women protagonists I hadn’t read before.
This post includes reviews of:
- Black Cloud (2017) #1-2
- Black-Eyed Kids (2016) #1-15
- Bonehead (2018) #1
- Dread Gods (2017) #1-2
- God Complex: Dogma (2017) #1-3
- Interceptor (2016) #1-5
- Justice League (2016) #22-24
- Lady Mechankia (2010) #0-2
- Maxwell’s Demons (2017) #1
- Morea (2017) Vol. 1
- Paper Girls (2015) #11-15
(AKA Volume 3)
- Reactor (2018) #1
- The Realm (2017) #1-4
- Rose (2017) #1-4
- Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose (2000) #1
- Void Trip (2017) #1-2
- Warframe (2017) #1
Unfortunately, most of those weren’t very good, but I did come away with a pair of new favorite titles, plus one I enjoyed but couldn’t commit to because we’re from such different worlds. [Read more…] about Back Issue Review: Black-Eyed Kids, Lady Mechanika, Warframe, and more!
It’s our third installment of backwards time travel through Marvel runs that could easily fit into an omnibus volume to help inspire your votes on the Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus Secret Ballot.
Today I’m taking a slightly different perspective than I did for 1998 to 2008 and 2008 to present. For those installments, I focused on runs I knew well or at least could recommend from context. However, when it comes to runs I’ve read, the 90s are pretty thoroughly covered over both by existing omnibuses and the current votes of the poll. Add to that how much of this period are covered by the end of runs from the 80s, that I’ve already mapped X-Men, and my temporary avoidance of exhaustively mapping Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, and the pickings wind up being pretty slim!
Thus, this list comes with a caveat – I’m not necessarily suggesting you run out and buy and read all of these runs right now. I mean, I own nearly all of them, and even having not read them cover to cover I can tell you that most of them are very 90s comic books.
However, they also represent under-collected material that’s relatively unknown to modern readers. While it might be more reasonable to see all of it covered with Epic Collections, I think it would be more expedient to see them collected in this format than to wait around for trade paperbacks.
Ready to dig deep into the extreme 1990s? [Read more…] about 10 Marvel runs from the 90s you might have missed (and that ought to be omnibuses) – 1990 to 1997
[Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug][/Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug]Finally, we’re back to Stormwatch! This is the last batch of issues prior to WildStorm Rising – Stormwatch (1993) #17-21 & Special 02, plus a pair of stories in WildStorm Rarities I missed earlier in the month.
This run finds Stormwatch disintegrating without Battalion as the glue to hold it together. No one seems especially interested in obeying Synergy unless it suits them, and Diva has only marginally better luck. That lends an extra layer to Timespan’s egging Battalion on to his death – maybe the real goal was to destroy Stormwatch, and the only way to do it was to convince Battalion that he was fated to die?
Writer Ron Marz is still ably steering this ship towards certain doom and he’s now managed to differentiate the voices of the entire cast. Despite that, this run lacks the urgency of any prior portion of Stormwatch. It feels like a mismash of loose ends being tied up and chess pieces being maneuvered.
It’s hard to put a finger on why. Is it the lack of Battalion as our main point-of-view character leaving the book to feel adrift? Or, is it that with the future already glimpsed in #25 that the motion of the pieces to their appointed destinations feels too slow, and the side stories feel too unimportant? Diva’s encounter with Argos especially feels pointless, and Winter’s Russian adventure is a complete redux with little to improve upon the prior version. I suppose all will be revealed soon enough.
On the art side, this is also the weakest portion of the book so far. An amalgam of pencillers on Stormwatch #17 makes for the weakest art on the book to date, though they could afford the soft spot on an all-talking issue. #19 is back to all Mat Broome and looks strong.
Issue #21 is from fill-in from Terry Shoemaker, a Marvel fill-in artist, and it’s great! I always expect fill-in artists to leave us with an issue of big muscles and gawky faces, but he does a terrific job on keeping Winter, Cannon, and Bendix distinct in the midst of a lot of action. (I checked ahead, and he’s the artist of Zealot’s mini-series – I’m psyched!)
Stormwatch Special #2 plays out effectively as #20.5, showing what Stormwatch Prime is up to after their side mission in #20 – and addressing the subplot of their manipulation by Defile via their captor, Deathtrap. Of course, we all understood that was happening already, so this issue brings nothing new to the table with some wildly inconsistent art that’s far outside of the WildStorm house style. All you need to know is that Flashpoint may have finally shaken loose the subliminal programming that made him an effective mole (but it hasn’t stopped him from being an asshole), but Sunburst and Nautika are as deep as ever!
Also, in reading WildStorm Rarities yesterday, I realized it contained a pair of Stormwatch stories drawn by Jim Lee that I should have read earlier in the month! (Sadly, we never get more than a tiny glimpse of Lee’s Diva, but his Battalion is massive.)
Want the recap? Keep reading for the details of how our team is inching ever closer to their doom. Here’s the schedule for the rest of this month’s WildStorm re-read. I’m not looking forward to the next two days – another mercifully short trip through Backlash for #6-7 a new arc on Deathblow #13-15. Then we’re so close to WildStorm Rising!
Need the issues? You’ll need to purchase single issues – try eBay (#17-20 & Special #2) or Amazon (#17, 18, 19, 20, 21, Special #2). Since further series reached these same issue numbers, be sure to match your purchase to the cover images in this post (and, note that #21 was misnumbered simple as “1” on the cover). The two older stories were only ever reprinted in WildStorm Rarities (Amazon / eBay), a perfect-bound book with a spine.
[Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug][/Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug]Today we’re back to Stormwatch, and if I wasn’t adhering to a reading schedule this month you better believe I would be holed up in a corner reading nothing but Stormwatch because the suspense of reaching #25 is killing me.
Thanks to a brief tag with the time-traveling Timespan on issue #16 that loops back to his prologue in issue #9, it seems we’re meant to read this post’s issues and the prior one’s in a single self-affirming swath of doom.
Ron Marz spends this trio of issues delivering two of the kind of globe-trotting adventures we expect from the team, but the international action will be the farthest thing from your mind. That’s because he not only turns up the pressure on Battalion’s impending doom, but takes the time to finally make the equally doomed Diva a more round character (albiet with a lame “I’ll make you a better person” romance with Cannon).
Penciller Mat Broome is joined by Joe Phillips on Stormwatch #14, and combined with a totally new crew on colors it has some awkward moments. It’s a fine issue to work out those kinks, since despite containing some action Ron Marz’s script mostly focused on relationships and mercy.
We quickly learn why Battalion was so eager to take a leave of absence in the last arc. It wasn’t for peace and quiet – it was so he could infiltrate Skywatch and murder his father in his cryo-sleep! As he lurks in the so-called “Ice Box,” we get a glimpse of past foes like Talos, future ones like Stricture, and even some non-threatening figures who must be more than meets the eye. However, he can’t bring himself to kill his father.
We also learn more about the Diva and Cannon romance that has apparently been bubbling under ever since Ron Marz first hinted at it in Stormwatch Special. Their private moment is interrupted when Synergy as Weatherman inserts Stormwatch One into Northern Rwanda to protect refugees from the country’s civil war with strict instructions to engage the enemy only in self defense.When the team (Cannon, leading Diva, the reconstituted Hellstrike, Fahrenheit, and Strafe) finds that all but one of the refugees have already been slaughtered, Cannon takes it upon himself to hunt down the perpetrators and only Diva can stop him (both with reason and ass-kicking) from killing them in revenge.
The issue ends with a brief stinger in Defiles sanctum, where he’s seemingly threatened by Warblade only to discover it’s a shapeshifter named White. Curiously, he plans to deploy White to disrupt the WildCATs, not Stormwatch.
Stormwatch #15 opens with us still in Defile’s lair, and here we learn what he has in store for Stormwatch – a massive genetically engineered creature incubating in a tank.
Synergy the Weatherman (whose hair is already grown out since last issue) has met with all of Stormwatch One to reprimand them for their actions in the last issue – they’re more of the sort of rogue decisions that got her an unwanted promotion. When she gets to Diva, she has only thanks for her leadership, which leads Diva to confront Cannon about his behavior.
Battalion is starting to lose his cool (and his mind?) about his impending death, but his quiet tinkering time in the workshop is interrupted by the always awful Flashpoint. The brash Stormwatch Prime member goals Battalion into a fight and gets thoroughly whupped.
Their confrontation is interrupted by an all-hands on deck notice from Weatherman. A massive humanoid bearing a device that looks like a bomb is in the process of King Kong-ing its way up Mauna Loa in Hawaii – the largest active volcano in the world. Stormwatch One heads in, lead by Battalion and comprised of everyone except the unstable trio of Stormwatch Prime.
Mat Broome and colorist Steve Firchow have settled in on Stormwatch #16, which makes for a crackling climactic issue. (Weirdly, there is a single page colored flatly without digital gradients, and it looks amazing. It goes to show that Broome’s talent isn’t all in the digital trickery of the coloring.)
The assembled Stormwatch One is unable to dent the massive purple creature sent by Defile despite multiple attacks. Battalion distracts it long enough to get in close and rip the bomb away from where it’s grafted on the creature’s back.
We’ve seen both Hellstrike and Winter contend with massive explosions in recent issues, but Battalion takes it upon himself to absorb this detonation within a bubble of psychic power. Timespan drops by to witness him doing the deed just long enough to stop Diva from interfering. Battalion contains the blast, but his body is left limp and lifeless in its wake.
Artist Trevor Scott stops by to render an epilogue in the past, as Timespan returns to to the unlikely 12th century Normandy for a breather. Despite his seemingly random choice, the fellow traveller we glimpsed back in Gen13 #1/2 catches up to him and says she’ll end his “tampering.”
Ah, is Timestream not as benevolent as he lead us to believe? He slips away after a punishing blast from Nadia to return to his Prologue scene from Stormwatch #9 – which means he whisked Battalion to the future straight from overseeing his death!
Here’s the schedule for the rest of this month’s WildStorm re-read. It’s going to be another tortuous week before we’re back to Stormwatch to see what happens in the wake of Battalion’s death. Tomorrow we break ground on a new series, Backlash #1-4!
Need the issues? You’ll need to purchase single issues – try eBay (#14-16) or Amazon (#14, 15, 16). Since further series reached these same issue numbers, be sure to match your purchase to the cover images in this post.