Writer: Jim Starlin
Penciler: Yvel Guichet
Inkers: Wayne Faucher, Le Beau Underwood
Colorists: Richard and Tanya Horie
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Editor: Harvey Richards
Senior Editor: Brian Cunningham
The first attempt at the New 52 Stormwatch was a 19-issue long catastrophe that I will always passionately hate. But in January, DC announced that the title would be getting a third new creative team, and writer Jim Starlin with artist Yvel Guichet changed everything at #19. Now here we are at #24 and getting into the new, new Apollo and Midnighter’s backstories.
The beginning is the most effective writing I’ve experienced from Starlin. He gives very plain descriptions while Guichet gives great images to jump off of and experience the scene on your own. This is a perfect example of what comics can do that novels can’t; give you two means of in-sync communication to hold onto while you experience the story.
Out of context in the preview, the beginning scene had little impact. On reread and within the rest of the issue, it comes across much sweeter. Major props to Starlin and Guichet, who have shown Midnighter and Apollo’s relationship more effectively than any other creator in the past two years. (Note to the editors from the first New 52 attempt: subtle gestures of affection go a longer way than screaming dramatics every issue.)
Also, we finally kind of get to know what New Midnighter’s powers are now, although his new incarnations sure do get jumped much more easily. Oh well, I’d be less embarrassed getting knocked out by the Engineer than I would be by Grifter.
Readers familiar with Warren Ellis’s Stormwatch and The Authority may be thrilled to see The Bleed. Based on this title’s connections with certain characters who had cameos in Suicide Squad #23, I’m wondering if the known Multiverse is about to expand past Earth 2 and Earth 3. There’s going to be a lot of room for DC to do that by the beginning of next year.
The info dumps. This run has been plagued by info dumps; something you might be able to forgive if you’re a Silver Age fan, but not if you prefer more modern techniques. Starlin reuses the same method he used to fill in Lobo’s background in issue #19.
Arguably, the story of Extremax as told by A.I. (couldn’t have come up with something more original than Artificial Intelligence?) makes slightly more sense than Lobo’s rambling to someone he just met, but the repetitiveness is boring and the exposition for this new foe takes way too long. And Jesus, is it so hard to put the Engineer into good use in the New 52 without her getting possessed by something? First step: give her a personality.
As for the art, I really want to know something: how is that you can have TWO inkers on a book and they miss such simple things as pupils? In previous issues, I thought it was a stylistic choice, but now I just see that someone is either rushed or lazy. Either way, it’s infuriatingly unprofessional as it takes Guichet’s good penciling and makes the art look terrible. So while the writing has improved immensely, the art has never been as high quality as it could be, which is a shame because even the previous run had great art.
Verdict: Now that Starlin and Guichet have made their way past the awkward first arc, they are starting to find their footing. Interesting things are coming out of the characters’ backgrounds, they’re interacting with each other more often, and the dialogue, even if still clunky, is getting smoother. Once again, this book could be so much more than it is if the best was brought out of Guichet’s penciling instead of the mess we’re given.
This rating is a difficult one to make. On one hand, in comparison with the issues from before in both this creative team’s run as well as the previous New 52 runs, it deserves a 4. On the other, in comparison with all that we’re offered from DC, this isn’t a stand-out title and deserves maybe a 3. Here at DCN, we don’t dilly-dally between ratings so for now, let’s just call it a 3.