DC's decision to bring The Authority crew into the main DC universe was a controversial one. Many were concerned that the characters would somehow have to be neutered or watered down, that Batman and Superman analogues Midnighter and Apollo wouldn't make sense in a world where those characters actually existed. How would foul mouthed characters who regularly slaughtered the baddies they went up against work in a universe full of do-gooder, no kill rule heroes?
Thankfully, the first issue makes it clear that although these characters may have been rebooted, they have not been watered down. A very dapper looking Jack Hawksmoor refers to other superheroes with disdain, describing them as amateurs. Apollo's existence was discovered after he murdered a child molester. And the new characters introduced by writer Paul Cornell seem to fit right in. I especially liked media manipulator The Projectionist, who gives us a hilarious look of how superheroics have effected the internet.
The other new addition to the team, Martian Manhunter, is very different from the "heart of the Justice League" we've come to know him as. As a big fan of the character, I'm a little concerned by just how much he seems to have changed, but I'm mostly thrilled that Cornell really seems to get how powerful the character is and plans to make use of his skills. I'd love to see a little of the old J'onn slip in- especially his love of chocos- but as is, he seems to work well with the rest of the team, which is important at this stage in the game.
While reading through the various character introductions, I was reminded of Chris Claremont's early work on Uncanny X-Men. There's something about the way each character shows up and demonstrates their powers to each other and the readers that brings to mind the first time we saw Gambit or Jubilee. But the issue doesn't feel dated or stiff, and it's still full of crackling wit I expect from any Cornell penned comic. Several lines made me laugh out loud, and I spent most of the time I was reading this with a smile on my face.
And when I wasn't smiling, I was pretty intrigued. Fascinating tidbits are introduced one after another, from the glimpse we saw of the Demon Knights cast to the mention of Shadow Cabinet. I get the sense that Cornell is using this early arc to build up to even grander stories down the road, and it makes me feel really good about the direction this book is going in. The comic is called Stormwatch, but it feels more like one part Authority, one part Planetary, and one part something else entirely- and I think the mix we wind up with at the end is going to be pretty awesome.
Artist Miguel Sepulveda does a great job creating the monsters and the backgrounds for the book, but I'm not sold on how he draws the characters. There's so much fun banter here, and I feel like getting a little more out of the character expressions would have taken it that extra mile. I hope that as Sepulveda becomes more familiar with drawing these characters, that aspect of the book improves, because I really think that would take this title to the next level.
Overall, Stormwatch is shaping up to be a welcome addition to the DC universe. It clearly has something to offer that the Justice League or cosmic titles like Green Lantern don't, and Cornell's done a great job of setting things up in his first issue. The multiple plot threads and large cast of characters may be a little overwhelming for newer readers, but things are explained enough to keep the book from feeling impenetrable. And, while the panel in the first page may cause some alarm, I can assure readers that they don't have to read Superman #1 to understand what's going on in this comic.
I'd recommend this book to Wildstorm fans, fans of Paul Cornell, and to those looking for an action title outside of your standard superhero fare. The fresh start makes this a great jumping on point for those who never read Stormwatch or The Authority, and the issue's final page shows that there'll still be plenty of treats for longtime fans of the characters. Stormwatch is off to a strong start, and I can't wait to see where this series goes next.