This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on February 13, 2017.
DC Comics has spent the last year shaking up the direct market and superhero comics in America; they don’t appear to be slowing down either. As the second wave of Rebirth Comics including Super Sons, Batwoman, and Justice League begin to hit shops, so will their second pop-up imprint. Following the success of Young Animal under the leadership of Gerard Way, DC Comics is launching the first of at least four planned series this week under the revived Wildstorm banner.
Wildstorm was originally a comics imprint founded by Jim Lee in 1992 after he left Marvel Comics to co-found Image Comics. It was a combination of two of Lee’s superhero series: WildC.A.T.S. and Stormwatch, but would continue to publish a wide variety of stories including The Maxx and Ex Machina. It was purchased by DC Comics in 1999 and continued until it was officially shut down in 2010. That wasn’t the end for the many characters associated with Wildstorm though as they began to appear in New 52 series and were officially incorporated into the modern DC Universe in Multiversity.
Now the characters created by Lee, his collaborators, and many other comics creators are being given another shot in a world of their own. Under the leadership of Warren Ellis, new teams of editors, artists, and writers (many of whom are still unannounced) will launch 4 series that reflect different aspects of these 25 year old concepts. The Wildstorm, the first of the four series, written by Ellis himself and drawn by Jon Davis-Hunt launches this week. It is the centerpiece of the imprint introducing the world and many of the characters who will soon be given their own titles. We’ve already had a chance to look at #1 and it’s everything Wildstorm fans could have hoped for, packed with new ideas and designs. After checking out The Wildstorm #1 we expect this new imprint to be just as successful as Young Animal, if not more so. So for those of you considering checking it out, we’ve come up with a brief primer on why we’re so excited for what comes next.
Here’s what you can expect from the future of Wildstorm.
Creative Team: Warren Ellis (writer), Jon Davis-Hunt (artist), and Ivan Plascencia (colorist)
Launch Date: February 15, 2017
The Wildstorm is the only series with a complete creative team and official launch date so far. That’s not a surprise though as it is the series establishing what Wildstorm is for a brand new generation of readers. Those already familiar with the brand will recognize a lot of names and ideas, but Ellis and his collaborators are treating this launch as a true #1 where no pre-existing knowledge will be required. That doesn’t mean The Wildstorm is holding any hands though. In the first issue alone it introduces around a dozen characters, multiple organizations, and a handful of deserving sub-plots. This series shows Ellis at his most intricate designing a universe from the ground up with all of the possible considerations taken into account.
That is what makes The Wildstorm so thrilling too. There’s a lot happening on every page and it’s a delight to engage with whether the scene features a techno-organic suit punching through the sky or two spies discussing craft in a backroom. Everything serves a purpose and readers are required to remain engaged throughout the entire comic. Unlike Young Animal where the series are connected tonally, The Wildstorm forms the centerpiece for everything that will follow. In addition to telling its story, it’s also laying down the rules for a new Earth in the DC Universe. Learning about the world is every bit as fascinating as the battles occurring on the page, and that’s what will make The Wildstorm required reading for the rest of the imprint’s launch.
Creative Team: Warren Ellis (writer) and unannounced others
Launch Date: Unknown
Many comics readers will recognize Michael Cray by his alter-ego Deathblow. This second series is also being written by Ellis and is already in production. Cray is still an elite assassin working with IO (International Operations), but he’s not wearing a mask and is designed to look and act much more like a real world killer.
Cray is already appearing in the pages of The Wildstorm and it’s easy to see why his story is one that will require more space to tell. He’s one of the best at what he does and has a past filled with secrets already being hinted at. Even with a boss in the frame, it’s unclear who Michael Cray is really working for and what his role in Wildstorm will be by the time his series debuts.
Creative Team: Unknown
Launch Date: Unknown
The WildC.A.T.S. may be the most recognizable set of characters in the 4 series announced so far, but they’re also the biggest wildcard. In the first issue of The Wildstorm there presence is not yet made known to readers although famous figures like Grifter have been shown in teasers. It’s difficult to guess how they might feature given Wildstorm’s restrained design and lean towards realism.
There are a lot of great characters within this group though and the reinventions of Michael Cray and Zealot in The Wildstorm #1 lend excitement to see how someone like Maul or Warblade. For now we can only speculate on who the WildC.A.T.S. will be and what they will do, and hope to learn more very soon.
Creative Team: Unknown
Launch Date: Unknown
Zealot may be the last of the series to launch, but its her face that first appears in The Wildstorm #1. Davis-Hunt makes a clever allusion to her previous appearance, but the Zealot of this new imprint is unlike any previous incarnation. She’s still super competent and a ruthless killer, but her style and methods are much more in line with the realities of assassins and spies.
That first scene in The Wildstorm provides all the reasons you might want for a Zealot series. Her ability to act and interact in this technologically-advanced world filled with secrets makes her one of the most powerful players in the game. She’s cunning and has a wicked sense of humor that arises through understatements aplenty. Zealot may not have been the biggest character of the old Wildstorm, but she’s bound to be the breakout star of this new imprint.