I don’t need to tell you that Warren Ellis is a goddamn BAWSS.
I don’t need to tell you that he’s returned to reboot the series that allowed him the crazy, innovative freedom that helped usher out the Style-Before-Substance 90’s and welcome in the Big Screen Intelligence of the modern age.
What I DO need to tell you -- right-fucking-now -- is to go out and start this series. Should that tag be at the end of the review?
In a sea of fantastic ideas, DC may have topped them all by deciding to give free reign to one of the best writers in comics, and it immediately pays dividends in the Wild Storm #1.
The story starts with a bevy of familiar characters: Zealot is at the site of a bloody mess she has made, Jacob Marlowe is gobbling up screen time as the face of Halo, and Angela Spica is utilizing technology to save lives. The scenarios, however, are fresh and different.
In this issue we don’t have any context – we don’t know who Zealot is working for, or what the extent of her capabilities are. We don’t know how Marlowe rose to power, or what Halo is truly doing outside of aiding the world economy through technology and capitalism. And as for Angela, her gear shift from Sexy-Liquid-Metal-Badass to passionate (yet secretive) engineer is abrupt and fascinating. Gone is the painted skin look from the Authority, replaced with a bulky beta-type shell that is painful for her to summon. Hell, compared to all the technology from the previous iteration of the WildStorm universe, this tech looks rudimentary.
And let’s not breeze past two additional characters brought in by Ellis: Michael Cry and Voodoo. In the original WildStorm, Cray became Deathblow, a soldier with a healing factor and psychokinesis. Here he is ISO’s top hit man sent after Marlowe. Voodoo was originally part of the WildCATS team (which Marlowe may be alluding to in this issue), and had a pretty damn good solo book as part of DC’s New 52 relaunch. I actually really enjoyed the crazy sci-fi conspiracy-type feeling of that book, and was pretty miffed that it got the axe. Still, we don’t see much of either in this book, so the hint of further development is REALLY exciting.
John Davis-Hunt, handpicked by Ellis himself, does a phenomenal job on the artwork. I think Ellis does it best by describing how his pencils make the stop pop:
Colorist Ivan Plascencia is a scene-stealer here, with a muted palate that makes the world seem uneventful, but then Angela’s sequence introduces powerful colors to represent the birth of something new.
Also of note, and something I thought was really damn cool, was how this book is purported to be in a separate universe from the DC Rebirth one, but it still retains some crazy-cool little winks to the reader that the worlds aren’t so disparate as one would think:
This is one hell of a debut issue, sowing seeds of ulterior motives, dark agendas, secret actions, and fantastic powers. Ellis wanted to steep this reboot in a modern world of true-life fear and curiosity, and in this issue at least he succeeds immensely. The variant cover by WildStorm creator Jim Lee sure doesn’t hurt, either…