Written by Warren Ellis
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
The Wildstorm universe is being rebooted with many of the same players but an entirely new game. With chapter 5 released, what will Warren Ellis’s newest tale bring? More importantly, will DC’s big gamble pay off?
What You Need to Know: Issue #4 revisited the events of the first three issues in which Angie Spica utilizes technology obtained by her employer I.O. to save HALO executive Jacob Marlowe from assassination. Anxious that Skywatch will learn that the stolen technologies were in their possession under the guise of joint partnership and without their knowledge, I.O. does not want its dirty little secret to get out. Razors are sent in to kill the Engineer and recover her suit only to be repelled by Grifter’s team also making a play for the same target. Now Spica is on the run and has nowhere else to turn.
What You’ll Find Out: Issue #5 again follows the same approach of the previous issue in that it is nearly all dialog driven. The only difference is that the story is now moving forward as opposed to looking back. (Thank you lawd!) I.O. director Miles Craven sheds his likable human qualities the moment he steps back into the role of director and tasks operative Michael Cray, who up to now has been suffering from a brain tumor and subsequent unspecified powers, to track and retrieve Spica and her stolen technology and doing so without the arousal of Skywatch.
Division operative Zealot has arrived at the scene of the battle that took place between the Razors and CATS. During her investigation, a Daemon surfaces and confronts Zealot. It’s clear in the narrative between the two that previous interaction has not been favorable the past. The context of that, as this is a new world with little previous information provided yet remains unclear. Zealot keeps her gun trained on the Daemon which instead of provoking an attack in response, offers only a peaceful exchange in which it encourages “the adventurer,” not to intervene and allow events with Spica to transpire without her influence.
Adrianna decides on a different method of gaining possession of Angie Spica and her highly sought-after hardware by way of coffee and some girl talk. It’s here we learn of Adrianna’s backstory as former astronaut in another lifetime. Literally. After the crew’s use of the experimental technology goes wrong costing them their lives, Adrianna is given a second chance and has been working with HALO and Jacob Marlowe since. Adrianna offers asylum to the Engineer by vowing that Marlowe will protect her as he did for her.
Cray reviews Spica’s case file and uncovers glaring inconsistencies. He returns to Craven and declares Spica is a bad target and now has uneasy suspicions about past assignments that put his faith in enough jeopardy for him to provide an immediate resignation from I.O. After minimal response from Director Craven, Mike is dismissed and escorted from the building. An unexpected visit from Christine Trelaine, who declares herself a representative on behalf of Executive Protection Services results in an offer for Mike to receive aid in the form of treatment for his brain tumor and new employment by way of protecting people appealing to more noble sentiments than his previous employer. Their conversation is cut short by the arrival of I.O. which promises an obvious conflict of interest and certain problems in the issue to come.
What Just Happened? This issue is a second installment dedicated to world building. The clear contrast in characterization is handled very well in Craven’s behavior as he was very likable and almost genuine in issue #4. Ellis again establishes relatable portrayals in which he shows the difference between one’s private life and their profession and how we all navigate in between. The internal conflict that goes on within Cray establishes what will certainly be a shift in alliance and will put him at odds with I.O. The interaction between Zealot and the Daemon, was disappointing even though there was a distinct purpose in which we learn that Zealot is far more much more than just a detective. Great. But she couldn’t have shot it? No woman I know likes talking about her age. All of this is followed by the entirely random page dedicated to Voodoo. I have reviewed it several times trying to pick up even the slightest indications in which it specifically has a purpose or references something. Unless there is some connection between her and the daemon in the previous pages, I’m at a loss. In the final pages of the issue we are introduced to yet another secret agency. The characters and their alliances are becoming a bit too many and too convoluted. For all the effort being paid to ensure comprehension why introduce yet another element among so many others? If it’s absolutely essential to the story, fine, but it seems too early when considering the host of other organizations and affiliations.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the issue is with the revelation of Adrianna who most know as Void from the former WildCATS series and the parallels between the current and former personas. The concept of “the bleed” is interesting and I would expect will play a role in the evolving story but even in her narrative the events surrounding her second life and the actual means in which she obtained it are left unexplained.
There is also a bizarre oversight in the lack of Marlowe’s inclusion after the first issue. Considering all of these events are triggered by his attempted murder his absence seems implausible and a glaring omission. With as much narrative as we are given, there is no significant attention or explanation paid as to why Marlowe was a target in the first place. If none is given soon, the entire foundation of the story will lose critical depth. Assassinations are used all too often as a means to an end. The why is important.
After finishing the final pages, I have resolved to simply not fight what can’t be fought. Though the pacing has improved from issue #4 and its clearly essential to Ellis to build the framework around the Wildstorm, there has got to be a point in which something of significance happens. So far there has been a lot of talking. Story is important, no doubt about it. But my criticism remains unchanged. We are still getting bogged down in a lot of detail that doesn’t accompany any real action. I sincerely hope that the reader is being built-up for one hell of a fight because at this rate with no real “wild” or “storm,” I’m quickly losing my resolve to stay the course.
Final Thought: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Clearly neither will the Wildstorm Universe. Fine. But even Rome had an arena.