Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bullet Review: Stormwatch #30

Stormwatch #30 came out last week, the final issue of a series which I don't usually buy. I will admit that I did buy Stormwatch #1 when the New 52 began but dropped it when it didn't grab me. Since then, I have followed the trials and tribulations of the title on the usual sites. Like many of the New 52, the initial pitch had no lasting power, a reboot was done which also struggled and so the plug was pulled.

So why grab this book, let alone review it?

Well, Sterling Gates is a writer who has never let me down and so I thought I would buy this. It didn't hurt to hear from reviewers who I trust (like Martin Gray) sing it's praises. So I grabbed it

I am so glad I did. From the outside looking in and with very little proof, I have always felt that Stormwatch was going to be something of a grim version of the JLA, dark and nasty. This issue was anything but ... an optimistic, almost Silver Age romp with a spunky young protagonist who steals the show. Jenny Quantum is simply wonderful here.

Gates does a great job here with this stand alone issue. He effectively introduced me to all the characters and let me know their power set in an organic way. There is a nice chemistry and zip to the dialogue amongst these teammates who know each other well. And, again, Jenny Q is such a positive and upbeat hero that she outshines them all. This was a pleasant ray of sunshine in the otherwise drab DCU.

Add to that the remarkably vibrant art by Jeremy Roberts and this issue is near perfect. Roberts should be on a monthly. Looking at this I want him on Worlds' Finest as soon as possible. I would love to see him on the Legion if that book was still around.

While the book opens with Midnighter and Apollo fighting aliens and beheading Queens, the bulk of the book is told from Jenny Q's perspective. Being a 14 year old super-hero isn't easy. Not when things like a teenage date are so nerve-wracking!

Gates' does a great job of showing how emotions can run from high to low in a millisecond in this age, with Jenny alternating between life being awesome, not awesome, and awesome again at breakneck speed.

As others have said, Jenny invokes the feelings of a young Donna Troy ... and that is definitely a good thing!

Despite being on a 'date' with the cutest boy in school, and running the gamut of awesome to not awesome as he doesn't seem to share her affections, duty calls. Jenny has to abandon the date to spring into action when a City is running amok.

If I had to pick one page that would symbolize why this issue succeeds, I would choose this page. There is a certain Silver Age wackiness about this, a Mxyzptlk-ian level of lunacy and peril, that makes it a complete win. And yet, this isn't laughed at like back then. There is serious dialogue and definite danger here. It is a mix of Silver age sensibilities and Modern gravitas that works.

I miss the days when there were comics where a young hero who wants to do good because it is the right thing to do would go out and fight animated buildings. It is escapism at its finest with a sense of right, wrong, and responsibility. This is what comics can be!

How do you beat a city? You call in all team members.

So The Engineer hunts down The Projectionist who is soaking in a tub sipping wine.

Okay, I only included this panel because the name is Anj is used, even if it is for the buxom Engineer.

It turns out that an enemy device is controlling Stormwatch member Jack Hawksmoor into making the city go crazy.

What I love is how Jenny defeats the device is with the 'most dangerous thing a fourteen-year-ol girl has in her arsenal' ... EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL.

Yes Quantum has immense powers, but she talks Hawksmoor out of his stupor. I thought it was a great moment. While it might not work in an older character like Supergirl, this works for a 14 year old. So fun!

And when Hawksmoor let's up, she uses her beams to destroy the device.

And then the wrap-up.

Jenny knows she can't necessarily be a normal 14 year old with normal 14 year old worries. She can't worry about cute boys like Toby. But her exuberance is infectious. Life is awesome again. She kisses Toby but then leaves him to live his life.

But the best gag is Midnighter telling him to stay in school! Hysterical.

And is there any better way to end a series than a classic team shot, vowing to never stop fighting?

And it is made even better by having Jenny front and center, the leader (?!) of this team.

I doubt the whole book had this sort of atmosphere. I certainly would have heard of it I'm sure. So this was an unexpected treat of entertainment. And most of all it was fun! I can't say that about many comics any more. It is rare for an comic to make me smile.

So continued kudos to Sterling Gates. And a welcome to Jeremy Roberts whose art here was streamlined bliss.

Overall grade: A


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I'm actually surprised STORMWATCH made it to 30 issues. I picked up the first issue, saw the spike coming out of Midnighter's chin, and said, nope. Not the Authority (or Stormwatch) I remember.

I like Sterling Gates as a writer (I'm mostly familiar with him through Supergirl), so I'd place it on high marks on the basis of his writing alone.

And it shouldn't baffle me that whenever someone gets the team back together, it involves someone talking to the woman with the biggest breasts while she lounges in a bathtub. I wonder if that was an editorial mandate shoved on Gates. I hope so.

Martin Gray said...

Top review, my buxom buddy! If DC still did those Year's Best Comic Stories digests, this would be a shoo-in. I hope we see regular series from Gates and Roberts soon.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

Gates always delivers. ARGUS. This issue.

He needs to be on a monthly again .. and soon!

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

It would be great if DC put together those volumes like Marvel does, a collection of the works Gates did for DC, even the one-offs like this. Did he write every issue of ARGUS? Again, not buying much of the new DC stuff, but if ARGUS had an on-going, I might consider it. Something not obviously tied to FOREVER EVIL.

And Jenny Quantum should really have her own all-ages comic.