The Review 52: Stormwatch 1
I like where this is going.
A few things in particular; the revamping of the always-underplayed Martian Manhunter, the hinted-at future of Apollo, and the so far successful merge of the WildStorm continuity into mainstream DC publication. For me, this issue had all the bases covered. Great pace, solid artwork, and a story you could sink your teeth into and realize you want more.
Things get started right off the bat. Characters are thrown directly in the reader’s face, with sometimes little or no backstory to accompany them. Personally I really enjoyed being immediately thrust into the action; there will always be time for a prequel later. Writer Paul Cornell did an excellent job of making each character seem personable without dwelling too much on backstory, and each character’s powers were displayed for the most part in a way that even new readers could understand.
Martian Manhunter is the newest recruit to the Stormwatch team, after being amalgamated into the DC universe for their own publication under the New 52. As a character whose strength rivals that of Superman and still brings a little something special of his own to the table, it is hard to understand why he has spent so much time in the background. The character is portrayed very similarly to the way he always has been, but with the apparent need to use his shape-shifting abilities to extend his powers to even greater heights. This has been a factor before, but we certainly see him take some interesting liberties in performing transformations. I think that Cornell made the right choice in choosing the Martian Manhunter to be DC’s ambassador character to the newly allied WildStorm universe.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the dynamics of the pre DC WildStorm universe, Apollo is a Superman caliber character, who operates on a very similar level with a very similar power set. This sort of thing was not uncommon due to the Man of Steel’s incredible success, and we can see that other companies tried the same thing (see Captain Marvel). It will be interesting to see how such a similar character functions now that he has been placed alongside Superman, hopefully he will be able to remain above
water. This experiment hasn’t been so successful in the past however, with both Captain Marvel and the Martian Manhunter continuously in the background. We shall see, I suppose.
The end of the issue reveals an apparent partnership between Apollo and Midnighter. Traditionally, these two superheroes have been engaged in an openly homosexual relationship, and the question still remains if that is to be the case in this new publication. I think this is an issue that DC can handle with grace, but can also be extremely detrimental if dealt with improperly. I certainly liked Apollo’s show of force when resisting Stormwatch’s offer to join the team, and (not being properly acquainted with the characters before reading) had almost no idea of Apollo’s sexual orientation. Personally I believe that should DC decide against having even as much as an implied relationship, long-time fans of Stormwatch will be at best disappointed.
All in all, a great issue. It was exciting, insightful, and to the point. As a new reader to Stormwatch myself, I recommend it for those who have no prior history with the series, and for old fans alike. There’s something for everyone in this issue, and the door has been left open for a great series.
Final Score: 4.5/5