By Buckshot 26 Comments
I had been planning to write some meaningful stuff about comics I've been enjoying, but I've been busy. But now, something has moved me to write. Stormwatch. Yes, Stormwatch. That last bastion (if only) of truly awful abuses of Wildstorm characters. That unrelenting (except for the two issues it relented) tsunami of suck. The crime against superhumanity and the afterglow of a necrophiliac's energetic tussle with the metaphorical corpse of a team I once loved. Stormwatch. Yes, Stormwatch. I don't know when I gave up hope for this title, but it seems I did and now I'm just reading it because... I don't know why actually. When I got to it in my stack this week I had just finished Thor: God of Thunder. (The book was already excellent but the last page reveal knocked me to the floor. Literally. I jumped up in excitement and fell over. Also figuratively.) As I realized that Stormwatch was my next book, something along the lines of "well this is going to suck" came to mind. My reasons for disliking the book have been stated numerous times, but to be more brief than I ever have in my life and to hit just my biggest problem with it: the dialogue is consistently terrible. There are other problems (and I pride myself in being able to take issue with the issues on their own merit, and not in comparison to the previous incarnations of the characters, and really, the title doesn't need an excuse to find MORE problems with it), but I'll leave those for other people to bring up. And usually I feel bad about criticizing the hard work of other people, especially knowing that I couldn't do better, but I'm allowed to have an opinion. Anyway, I haven't actually said anything about issue 16 yet, so let's begin.
I wanted to post every page that had something on it I didn't like, but we get in trouble here for posting entire comics online, so I'll stick to the most egregious problems.
The first 3 pages (and I'm counting the cover) are fine. I'd even go as far as to say they were good. The art has never been a real problem for me so the cover was solid. The first page was probably the best of the issue (actually, the pages where Midnighter gets off one-liners were probably better), with a nice summary not only of the story so far, but also of what was probably supposed to be the coolest fight so far, Midnighter's abilities, and in a way, Harry Tanner. I actually liked that page and thought it meant the rest of the issue was going to be excellent. Look how desparate I am to be impressed by this book... Next page is Apollo being cool and blowing up some ice. Not the most efficient use of energy, but whatever, he's mad and it looks cool.
The next page banished my foolish thoughts that the comic would be good.
"Good job Jack Hawksmoor. Still doing absolutely nothing I see." Maybe I'm just mad because Jack Hawksmoor is my favorite character and he's done very little for 16 issues. Maybe I should just be glad that he didn't talk about the part of his brain that's connected to cities for the umpteenth time. Maybe. Or maybe Jack should be an interesting character at some point. Beyond that though you have Jack and Jenny calling each other by their full names. That's not a huge problem really, but it's annoying and just shows how unconnected these characters are. Maybe it's supposed to, but it's still annoying. The one thing good about this page was that I didn't hate how Jenny talked about what she was doing with her powers. If only that was the way the entire comic went...
The next page has The Projectionist talking about how she's such a terrible character but otherwise isn't so bad and is actually better than most of her scenes because she's not rattling off her power profile either. I bet she and Jack took a seminar on subtlety. The following page is actually really excellent, but that's because Midnighter is in it and I think effort was made to give him all the best moments. He and Harry Tanner are the best portrayed characters in this issue and even entertained me at times. On this page his "I never laugh" actually made me chuckle. Apollo, unfortunately, gets some of the worst lines and the bridge between that page and the next one is pretty funny (but not in the good way). "You shook Harry Tanner's hand...you're a bastard!" Oh Apollo. The next page is unremarkable but leads us to Engineer recalling a night with Harry Tanner and it's just, ugh.
First of all, I don't know what either of them are wearing. Did Harry just finish polishing The Engineer's chrome and that's why they're both wearing towels? If so, why is Harry wearing swords? Does he have sex with his swords on? Are they performance enhancers? Do more phallic symbols in the bed equal more good times? Is this his home treatment for erectile dysfunction? We may never know. (It's also possible that Harry was armed because he was headed out for the night, but that doesn't explain why he's wearing nothing but a towel.) Maybe they're just there to distract me from the fact that The Engineer is wearing a towel. Normally that's not a big deal, but the woman typically wears nothing but her metal blood (which she also has on in this instance), meaning she usually wears far less than what she's shown in. It makes no sense. What makes less sense, to me anyway, is Harry's insult to Angie. "Christ, Angie. For someone with nine pints of nanites for blood (in case anyone forgot what your powers were), you've gotten to be real clingy." What does that mean Harry Tanner? What does that meeeeeean? And he follows this up with a recap of his own abilities just for good measure. It's not as hamfisted as we've seen before so maybe there was an editorial mandate to cut down on these things. And back to Angie, what is she? She'd been portrayed as basically a robot, but here it says she has nanite blood, but despite that she's all robot-y even though she presumably just finished sexing up Mr. 3 Swords. Eh, it doesn't matter. Harry channels the goddamn batman to close out the scene and we're back to the sucky present where Harry calls to stop Apollo from killing Midnighter so he can be there to make sure it really happens. I actually think this is pretty good. Deaths are avoided all the time and he wants to make sure it goes right. Makes sense. What doesn't make sense is going back to the ship to do it and putting it off any longer. They were all there in Antarctica, he could have finished him off. Speaking of them leaving, did they just leave The Projectionist to die in the cold? Eh, good riddance.
Next up, Harry tries to kill Midnighter, Apollo interrupts, then Jenny interrupts with "Uh-oh!" evidence that Harry is in fact pulling one over on all of them! Good thing she found that wormhole. Funny dialogue about Jenny not needing to explain a wormhole (though in this instance why she just happened across one would actually be useful). I imagine this is to make up for more than a dozen issues of excessive explanation, but it's too late, the damage has been done. The fight that breaks out gives us THE WORST SCENE of the comic in my opinion. Apollo apparently realizes that he's not an American superhero but actually a misplaced Z Fighter and SHOUTS OUT HIS POWER AS AN ATTACK!
Laughing at that almost made me miss Jack Hawksmoor delivering a "Good God!" cry of surprise that really only served to bring attention to the fact that he was still around, because obviously, him actually doing something would be too much for the plot to manage. More foolishness happens and The Engineer switched sides because she "evolved" into being a bad guy (and a walking plot device so Apollo and Jenny could be beaten) and then we're treated with the scene that comes in a close second to Apollo screaming out his attack.
No, it's not that image of child abuse...
There. That's better. We really needed that one. But Midnigher is our friend and manages to get out one great line before the cliffhanger ending. Don't worry, I won't spoil it for you.
That's Stormwatch 16 for you. I didn't even really get into how this issue presents some of these characters in a larger sense because the issue is already bad enough and I'm sure someone else is already on it, but here's a quick summary of what I think of the characters: Midnighter's looking good, best of the group in fact. Apollo is stupid (for multiple reasons) and that's a shame but he's otherwise alright. Angie is ruined and for no good reason either. Jack Hawksmoor is a wasted character and nothing suggests that's going to change, especially since Angie didn't even bother subduing him. Is he good? Is he bad? Does it matter? No. Jenny was interesting but her and Jack are now under the bad guys' control (though I doubt Jack will do anything about it), probably my second favorite of the team. The Projectionist is (hopefully) lost in Antarctica. And Harry Tanner is about equal with Midnighter for me but I don't really consider him as part of the team at this point.