The Stormwatch crew seeks to know their enemy before they can destroy them in this glimpse into the past.
Since writer Jim Starlin took over Stormwatch the book has become far more readable by leaps and bounds, and this issue is no exception. Though there may not be any particular large developments contained, and most character interaction is minimal, this issue stands out for taking the tried and tired methods of exposing the villain’s backstory and altering them. Rather than spelling out the Kollective’s backstory through a massive monologue, Starlin opts to shed light on their intentions by having the Stormwatch team visit planets the Kollective has already taken over. In short, it works. Readers can slowly form the backstory and intention of the Kollective on their own by connecting the dots instead of having it force-fed, and it feels extremely refreshing.
Artists Yvel Guichet and LeBeau Underwood have also developed a nice and fluid art style that, while not being particularly unique or eye-catching, remains consistent throughout their run and gets the job done. The art may not stand out, but it’s also not terrible. It’s just another part of the story, and for a book like this, it seems to work.
Unfortunately, some things in this issue still fall flat. Despite the wonderful way in which the origins and methods of the Kollective are revealed to us, there is still some reliance on heavy-handed expositional dialogue when it comes to other characters in the issue. Expect a few characters to tell you exactly what they can do and who they are in one big speech bubble, usually while talking to someone they’re quite close with who should know all of that information already.
There seems to be a lot of random plot hooks just tossed in and never revisited. For example, we almost get to see a sort of origin for Apollo and Midnighter but it gets dropped after “we met on a prison ship.” One can assume Starlin plans to examine all these additional points in future issues, but seeing as how the series appears to be on the chopping block, now may have not been the best time to set these up.
This further illustrates a problem with Stormwatch in general, and perhaps may be the reason the series has never really took off: there are just far too many characters. On the Stormwatch team currently we have Forecaster, A-I, Storm Control, Apollo, Midnighter, Jenny Soul, Weird, Lobo(sort of), and Hellstrike; and those are just the characters who appeared in this issue. That’s nine characters to stay interested in, and only about twenty pages an issue to do so. This makes it incredibly tough to have any meaningful character development and interaction, and in turn makes it hard for the reader to care.
Though not a spectacular issue, this entry in Starlin’s run is easy to read and does some wonderful things in telling the story of the Kollectives origins and methods. However, the book falls into some familiar traps set up by the framework of the title itself.