Rebirth, reboot, revamp, restructure ... whatever the term used, in comics, it all leads to wholesale changes and lighter wallets!
Just when you thought you could take a breather from the recent earth-shattering changes from DC and Marvel ... the WildStorm universe decides to make a comeback!
In case you have never heard of WildStorm, it was created in 1992 (!) by Jim Lee as an imprint under the fledgling Image Comics. Back then, the thought of letting Lee unleash his creative juices on an entire universe was beyond exciting, but it could only have worked if Lee was free to concentrate on the creative front and let others handle the scripting and business duties.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and Lee eventually sold WildStorm to DC in 1999. There, it remained a standalone universe until the New 52 event, when the WildStorm and Vertigo universes were absorbed into the main DC Universe.
Now that the New 52 is officially the old 52, the WildStorm universe is back on its own. A month ago, it was announced that a new line of WildStorm titles will be released ... only this time, there will be an extra tinge of seriousness and believability to the titles, as Warren Ellis will be calling the shots.
As of now, there has been little word on Lee’s involvement in this upcoming WIldStorm event – so, fingers crossed that the founder will make a substantial contribution.
Still, after two dozen years of existence, the WildStorm universe has yet to fulfil its potential. Overall, it has always been a hotchpotch of core elements (WildC.A.T.S, Stormwatch, The Authority, Gen 13, Wetworks, D.V.8) and creator-owned titles (Astro City, America’s Best Comics, Ex Machina, Danger Girl, Leave It To Chance, Strangers In Paradise, etc) . While many of these titles were individually great, they were not enough to propel the entire WildStorm universe to greater heights.
Based on his successful track record on past WildStorm projects (Planetary, Stormwatch, Global Frequency, The Authority, Red, Mek and Desolation Jones), Ellis is the perfect candidate to spearhead WildStorm’s revival. His in-depth knowledge of the characters and milestone events (having been instrumental in a few of the creations) ensures that he has the institutional memory to do justice to past and future storylines.
However, last week’s London Comic Con preview of Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt’s Wild Storm (note the word separation) title was too reminiscent of Ellis’ Marvel title Next Wave for my liking. Still, it’s too early to conclude or write off this WildStorm revamp, but here are 10 essential ingredients that I think will make it greater.
WildStorm without Jim Lee is like KFC without Colonel Sanders, or McDonald’s without Ronald Mcdonald.
Hopefully, Lee’s involvement with the new WildStorm won’t be limited to just covers or variant covers, but actually working on a project full time. In fact, it would be great if Lee could find the time to draw the scheduled WildC.A.T.S. revival (and for added nostalgia, get the original team of Brandon Choi and Scott WIlliams back together again).
After 17 years and several attempts to assimilate its characters into the main DC universe, it’s become obvious that there is little chemistry between the DC and WildStorm universes. I like to think of WildStorm characters as more of an acquired taste as opposed to DC’s household names, which is why all the past crossovers have seemed mismatched. Here’s hoping Ellis confines his resurrection efforts to original WildStorm members.
In the 1990s, this team of genetically enhanced teenagers gave even established teams like the X-Men and Justice League a run for their money. While the concept of Gen 13 wasn’t exactly new, the uniqueness of this team is difficult to replicate. Whether it was due to J. Scott Campbell’s somewhat salacious illustrations, Fairchild’s appeal, Rainmaker’s allure, or Freefall’s spunkiness, there was something genuine about this team that fans loved. Unfortunately, there has been no news about the team being part of the new WildStorm reboot at the time of writing.
This is a bit of a wild card, but I’m hoping Mitchell Hundred (aka The Great Machine), the superhero turned politician from Brian K. Vaughan’s Ex Machina series, gets a shot at being the President of the United States in the new WildStorm universe. There’s definitely room for politics in any (new) universe and Ellis’ experience with Transmetropolitan will definitely come in handy in assimilating Hundred into a hero-filled environment.
Authority and Planetary
With Ellis running the show, it would be a big pity if these two teams don’t get a fresh treatment. It could get tricky though – Midnighter and Apollo already have their own solo titles within the main DC Rebirth universe, so the question is: will they continue to be in the DC universe or will they be reborn in the new WildStorm?
John Lynch, Grifter, Backlash, Deathblow, Arclight ... the original Team 7 provided the roots for other key spin-offs within the WildStorm universe. Forget the New 52 version that also had Deathstroke, Amanda Waller and Black Canary in it – there is no replacing the original Team 7, and the new WildStorm universe needs them to establish all the links between Gen 13, Wetworks, WildC.A.T.S., D.V.8, and so on.
America’s Best Comics (ABC)
An imprint within an imprint, ABC was essentially an Alan Moore showcase, with the acclaimed writer producing some of his best work there, including League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Promethea, Tom Strong, Top 10 and Tomorrow Stories.
It also provided a prototype model of what the WildStorm universe should/could have been. Despite being a sub-universe within WildStorm, Moore’s books were convincing enough to give you a sense that they were taking place within a cohesive universe.
As proven by the Before Watchmen event and the fact that the new DC Rebirth is connected to Watchmen, Moore’s works are still extremely relevant, so it would be really cool if Ellis could weave ABC into his plans, barring any legal obstacles, of course.
Though there is currently a regular Astro City title published under the Vertigo imprint, Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson’s creator-owned title was originally part of Homage Comics, yet another sub-imprint under WildStorm created in 1995 to focus on writer-driven titles.
In every universe, you need a “next door universe” to get that homely feel, and this is where Astro City fits in, providing a take on what living with heroes truly means. Just imagine if Busiek’s Marvels became a regular series, and you’ll get the idea.
Yet another imprint of WildStorm, Cliffhanger focused on creator-owned comic books and was founded in 1998 by Joe Madureira, J. Scott Campbell and Humberto Ramos.
Thanks to their adrenaline-pumping storylines and the pulse-pounding artwork, books like Danger Girl, Battle Chasers, Steampunk, Crimson, High Roads and Arrowsmith prolonged my interest in WildStorm. Furthermore, any revival that can offer full closure for Battle Chasers will definitely get my vote!
Call in the cavalry
For years, WildStorm served as a talent incubator and host for creator-owned titles that produced many gems. Here’s hoping Ellis would be able to get past WildStorm talents like Kurt Busiek, Travis Charest, J. Scott Campbell, Mark Millar, John Cassaday, Joe Madureira and Brian K. Vaughan to help him with the new WildStorm universe!