Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Through Time and Space with Warren Ellis

Stormwatch: Force of Nature (1996/ Collected 1999): written by Warren Ellis; illustrated by Tom Raney, Randy Elliot, Pete Woods, and Michael Ryan: This volume reprints the first six issues of Warren Ellis' writing stint on Wildstorm's Stormwatch. Prior to Ellis, Stormwatch was an undistinguished superhero comic with an interesting premise -- its superheroes worked for a United Nations strike force. Ellis made the series more political and much weirder pretty much from the get-go, setting up a later transition from Stormwatch to The Authority. The art from main penciller Tom Raney is solid, but it's Ellis' cynical yet hopeful take on superheroes that is the main attraction here. Recommended.

Stormwatch: Lightning Strikes (1996-97/ Collected 2000): written by Warren Ellis; illustrated by Tom Raney, Jim Lee, Randy Elliot, and Richard Bennett: The second volume of Warren Ellis' Stormwatch focuses on the new heroes Ellis has brought to the team, most notably Jenny Sparks and Jack Hawksmoor. Jenny Sparks is the "Spirit of the Century," one of a number of Ellis' Wildstorm characters born at the beginning of the 20th century to act as super-powered anti-viral agents for the Earth. Jack Hawksmoor has been remade by mysterious aliens to be the protector of cities. 

Ellis gives Sparks a clever career retrospective that homages a variety of different comics styles from the appropriate eras -- Jenny's 1930's adventures mimic the art style of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster, her 1980's adventures the look of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen. Tom Raney does especially fine work here on the Sparks issue. Fan fave artist and Wildstorm publisher Jim Lee shows up to draw an issue linked to Wildstorm's WildC.A.T.S. superhero team. Recommended.

Stormwatch: Final Orbit (1998/ Collected 2001): written by Warren Ellis; illustrated by Bryan Hitch, Chris Sprouse, Michael Ryan, Paul Neary, Kevin Nowlan, and Luke Rizzo: The end for Stormwatch (and the birth of The Authority) comes partially in the last issues of their book, partially in the pages of the WildC.A.T.S./Aliens crossover. As those are the aliens from Alien and Aliens, you can probably guess at least some of the reasons Stormwatch ceases to exist. More of a tidying up than anything else, though the Aliens issue is compelling from writer Warren Ellis and artists Chris Sprouse and Kevin Nowlan. Recommended.

Supergod (2011): written by Warren Ellis; illustrated by Garrie Gastonny: Warren Ellis takes superheroes to one logical endpoint in this 2011 miniseries, using them as both metaphorical stand-ins for nuclear weapons and as quasi-realistically imagined horrors in and of themselves. It's bold, bleakly funny, and depressing as Hell. In a world where nations that include Great Britain, the U.S.A., India, Iran, the Soviet Union, and Iraq (hilariously in the latter case with funds diverted from post-Gulf-War-2 U.S. aid) race to develop superhumans, who will win? Well, not humanity. Recommended.

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