Saturday, November 12, 2011

Reviews of Diabolu: Stormwatch #3

I'm not sure how long I'll keep up with these monthly reviews. I get a box of books once a month, usually shipped the final week along with the latest issue of Previews. The catalog has been coming in closer to the first week of the month lately, and if shipped that Thursday, I could have a relatively fresh Stormwatch review up by that weekend. Well, my supplier shipped on the following Monday instead, so I didn't get my books until the Thursday of the week following, leading to a review of a week & a half old book. Anyway, we'll see how things go from here.

Stormwatch #3 (DC, 2011, $2.99)
DC must be going for some kind of record in soliciting the most comic books using cover art that doesn't actually appear on the book. I made a bit of a stink over the announcement that the tonally appropriate Miguel Sepulveda cover art used to promote #1 was supposed to be replaced by an atonal Chris Burnham one. It wasn't that I disliked Burnham's art, but that I didn't feel it worked as well as a debut image. I also loved Sepulveda's cover to #2, which was replaced by an unannounced (Al Barrionuevo? Sepulveda?) replacement. Now here's Sepulveda's #3, which looks nothing like Burnham's solicited #3, which doesn't bode well for his #4. Are they trying to push exclusive artist Sepulveda, are they keeping the book's tone consistent, or heaven forbid, actually using the Martian Manhunter's presence to help sell the book to a DC audience? DC isn't even doing variant covers for this series, so I guess the trade paperback will just have a killer pin-up section.

I talk a lot about the cover because there isn't that much to say about the issue. I liked it as I was reading it, but after those few minutes was up, I once again felt gypped. For frig's sake Cornell, slow down and take a breath. I know a bunch of these characters, but a large portion of New 52 readers do not, and as introduced over the past three issues they might as well be Itchy & Scratchy. "They fight! And bite! They fight and bite and fight! Fight fight fight! Bite bite bite! The Stormwatch (not Authority) Show!" Which would make J'Onn J'Onzz Poochie, I suppose, unless Poochie is a gestalt of all the new characters (Adam, Harry and the Projectionist.)

Jack Hawksmoor is the God of Cities, which developed over time from the funky guy who communed with cities, but it pretty much all happened under creator Warren Ellis. Now we have the Projectionist, the goddess of media, and Harry Tanner, the Eminence of Blades Lies? It's getting a little fan-fic in here, like Cornell is building a "bleeding edge sci-fi" JLA by reworking the same Ellis riff. Even Jenny Quantum is explained this issue as a sort of goddess of theoretical science who can do pretty much anything, unless a theory is disproved*. Jeez, instead of operating out of a ship called the "Eye of the Storm," maybe they should rechristen it the "Gods out of a Box?"

There are some cute moments, including Jack having tea with the personifications of three cities (including a Paris with stereotypical "oui-oui" accent.) Not to get spoilery, but if Harry Tanner doesn't turn out to be the Tao of the team at some point in the near future, the red herring is glowing like a traffic light. If there were any remaining doubts, let it be known that Adam One is a terrible team leader. J'Onn J'Onzz remains a glorified walkie-talkie who gets jobbed this issue to make up for his de-jobbing last issue, although the rest of the team suffer a double jobbing. Sucks to be them, but each issue reenforces an increasing likelihood that this book may end up being "Midnighter and Apollo's Breeder Friends!"

Again, the book isn't bad, but it's kind of like a Jeph Loeb comic with half a brain (as opposed to none.) Lots of action, slight characterization, all to the glory of Superman/Batman stand-ins. So long as he doesn't get nailed for any more swiping, Sepulveda's art looks sweet, like a star in the making (just hopefully not the Rob Liefeld of the Perez/Hitch influenced set.)

*I thought I was having trouble with spell check, but instead learned that "disprooven/disproven" isn't actually a word. That sounds familiar actually, but my real education started right here. That's one to grow on!


mathematicscore said...

I agree completely with the Jeph Loeb comment. I couldn't even get properly angry about the re-jobbing because I was too busy lamenting the lack of character development Then Engineer, Jenny and MM would all be near ciphers to me if I didn't own several Authority trades and the bulk of J'onn's appearances up to this point; The new characters are doing only a little better. The projectionist, while reasonably interesting, was not deserving of a full page splash, especially while doing something that stretches credibility. Tanner is interesting, but as you pointed out, even more obvious than Tao in is Tao-ness. Adam One is like Jar-jar binks to me. I feel he's offensive in a way I don't fully understand, and his removal from the storyline would be a vast improvement. Eliminating Adam One and making Martian Manhunter or Jack Leader would unclutter the story, make way more sense, and lower the "off-ness" quotient by a ton, cuz he just. feels. off.

will_in_chicago said...

I suspect that Jack will become the leader soon, and we will see Adam One among those characters who leave. A little less action and more character development would help. I know J'Onn well and I know some of the other characters from reading about them -- yet I want to believe that Cornell will slow down and let the characters develop.

I like Apollo and Midnighter, but they should not be the focus of each and every issue. I have hope for Stormwatch, but I think that we will have to wait to see this tree bear fruit or wither.

LissBirds said...

I'm echoing everyone else's sentiments. I honestly have no idea who these characters are and what they're all about--I feel the story didn't properly introduce them. So I can't say I'm invested in them too much. Because of that, I'm just not engaged in the story so much.

And the whole world-in-peril threat is just a big yawn to me. Smaller threats work so much better for me at least.

And J'onn as glorified walkie-talkie. Yep. I was feeling the same way.

Diabolu Frank said...

Liss, I'm going to fall back on my R.E.B.E.L.S. parallel. I liked the first issue okay, but then the book lost me with all the crappy new characters and breakneck pacing for another five issues or so. Then the book found its groove, and began using better established and likeable characters. Signs indicate a similar trajectory here.