Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stormwatch #7 (May, 2012)

At the Eye of the Storm, the headquarters of Stormwatch, Jack tried to tell Martian Manhunter a joke. "And this is humor, Jack Hawksmoor? ...Congratulations." That was "Not the reaction I was looking for--" but J'Onn was busy teaching Jenny Quantum the mathematics of higher-dimensional space. The adolescent was herself more preoccupied with hounding the Engineer for a puppy. In the monitor room, Midnight recalled his first Stormwatch mission in the Himalayas. Engineer whined about her ex, Harry Tanner, and interfaced with "Charlie," the hostile Daemonite A.I. that ran the ship.

In Pripyat, Ukraine; an abandoned city on the outskirts of the old Chernobyl reactor; a couple of guardsmen were torn apart by an unknown force. Midnighter detected "very exotic subatomic particles" in the area, so Apollo volunteered to take a door to investigate. Things went awry, and Engineer was soon chewing Midnighter out for acting without her knowledge or consent. On further study, J'Onn recognized "They're back... Jenny! Can you do the formulae?" She couldn't, although she also felt Manhunter "got the formula all wrong," anyway. J'Onzz planned to take Jenny on-site, but his new boss said "Not a chance in hell. I want to know what is going on. Because I promise you, J'Onn, you seriously do not want to challenge my authority."

"Engineer, I have no time to explain. The longer we wait, the greater the danger. I beg of you to trust me. I need to take the girl down. Just the two of us. Right now. I have to be sure. Please. Trust me." Umm... I'm really uncomfortable with this whole thing going on here with the words. English isn't J'Onn's first language, you know. He just wants her to do quantum mathematics without the universe exploding from distractions. For serious. Jenny managed to keep screwing with physics long enough for the Alien Atlas to get to Apollo, while Jenny followed orders to capture a "strand" of the attacking entities in a bubble, and everybody escaped through a door.

Jack talked to the radiation-scarred personifications of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The ladies were caring for Pripyat, an old man on life support, who had accidentally "lit a candle" for the malevolent forces. While Hawksmoor was "away," the entity nearly escaped, and did manage to drag Apollo back to hell before being destroyed by Charlie. Midnighter was freaked out by Jenny's power, while Engineer was irate with J'Onn, demanding answers. "They are an ancient enemy, known to my people. Also, to the Daemonites. They have been to this universe once before, and almost destroyed it... They exist in a parallel dimension, unaware of our existence. In their plane, gravity is a commodity. They came here once before to mine for it. And in so doing, they destroyed countless galaxies. I believe the reaction at the Chernobyl reactor created a subatomic particle we call a Pradish graviton, which the miners saw as a beacon. They are going to come back. And they are going to tear apart our universe. And there is nothing we can do to prevent this from happening."

Silence. Thought. Perhaps mourning.

"Now can I have a puppy?

"Supercritical: Part One" was by Paul Jenkins and Ignacio Calero with Sean Parsons & Julio Ferreira. My first reaction to flipping through this book was a pushback against new artist Ignacio Calerro. Despite issues ranging from plagiarism to toes that looked like the back of Charlie Brown's head, I liked looking at Miguel Sepulveda's modern, digital-happy work. Calerro is very much a throwback to Wildstorm in its Image days. I spent a lot of brain power trying to spot esoteric influences from that period, like Liam Sharpe, Ryan Benjamin, Dale Keown, and even the late, little seen Nick Manabat. I kind of hated it at first, but it grew on me as I read the story. There blessedly wasn't a lot of Martian Manhunter x-treme in the actual '90s, but I get a nostalgic kick out of him finally getting a good quality grade riff on that fashion here. That hi-top fade of flesh and bone needs to get sanded down, though.

Paul Jenkins seems to take his cues from the early Ellis material-- it's all Soviet radiation cosmic technobabble body horror type stuff. It's about gravity mining, which is downright metatextual, because this story has the density of a dwarf star in comparison to anything else in the New 52. I really felt like I read something when I closed the book. The plot is boilerplate and the characters are thin, but they bounce off one another in a fun way, instead of the constant bitchiness/creepiness of Cornell's issues. I especially liked Martian Manhunter's interaction with Jenny Quantum, which played very comic book mentor-pupil, and made it feel like he was bringing something to the team beyond being the green guy in the background of the Apollo & Midnighter show. Plus, if Jenkins is going to script him as Mr. Spock, he needs a foil like Jenny to take the piss out of him. Anyway, this issue was funny, weird, and satisfying in a way new to the book. Shame this team only has another issue together...

New 52's Day


will_in_chicago said...

I really enjoyed this issue as I thought that the plot -- invaders who are so alien that communication does not work -- was interesting. I concur that characterization was thin, but the characters were more likable. (I think that J'Onn may have been pulling a very subtle joke on Jack Hawksmoor in response to his joke.) This felt more like a team and things were not so rushed as in Cornell's run. I liked J'Onn as a mentor to a young hero and someone who reacts well in a crisis. There is a sense that he is an experienced hero, which may help explain the Engineer's insecurity. I also liked the interaction of Jack Hawksmoor with Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Pripyat.

I think that give time, Stormwatch could have worked out well for J'Onn with good writing and art. (All characters should have a chance to shine, but it seems that a lot of the first few issues of Stormwatch focused a lot on Midnighter and Apollo, as well as characters who were only there to be taken off stage. I imagine that some tension between J'Onn and one or more members will cause him to leave Stormwatch -- which will leave the team more disconnected from the DCnU. Perhaps another character from the existing DC line up might join the team, but I do not think that any such characters would be as interesting as J'Onn.

So, I am going to read the next few issues of Stormwatch with some regret. I just hope that J'Onn ends up in a significant role where he will make a difference in events. He likely knows more secrets about the heroes of his world than anyone else.

Diabolu Frank said...

I'm much more forgiving of slight characterization if they at least get good lines, and there were many zingers here. Just so long as J'Onn doesn't go full-on Data with "what is this human interaction you call 'humor?' I do not understand the concept." I'm also glad they had more breathing room without the overabundance of voices from the first arc. Maybe J'Onn was spying on Stormwatch for yet another organization, as he seemed to do with the JLA?

will_in_chicago said...

Frank, we will see whether J'Onn was spying on Stormwatch as well. However, the Engineer referred to him and Jack Hawksmoor as the senior members.

I hope that J'Onn's departure from Stormwatch will make sense to those who know J'Onn and Stormwatch. I can see someone crossing the line with him and someone (probably Midnighter) reacting badly.

I think that J'Onn's sense of humor is intact, but it is a bit dry.

Stormwatch may work better as a relatively small team, so I wonder who may join that team after J'Onn leaves.

aota said...

Totally agree this story was much better. I liked this story much better than Cornell's run on Stormwatch. It just seemed that Cornell couldn't get into the characters and everyone seemed so wooden and the story was weak.