Does StormWatch’s Cancellation FINALLY Mean the Death of WildStorm?

And so it came to pass that DC announced the cancellation of StormWatch, the final New 52 book to bear any ties to Jim Lee’s WildStorm Univese of old. After VoodooGrifterTeam 7, and the kinda-sorta WildStorm-ish book The Ravagers all folded, StormWatch was the last man standing. And now it’s closing up shop, too.

But really, who CARES?

Here’s the thing – the WildStorm universe, by its very design, was very ’90s, very Image-y, if you will, by its very nature. The characters were all cool badasses who did cool things, spouted cool one-liners, and did it all while looking cool. And for a time in the ’90s, this was more than enough for a two key segments of fandom: teenage boys who didn’t know any better, and bubble-minded collectors who neither knew no better nor gave a shit either way so long as these “hot” new collectibles became valuable someday. Go back and read your Gen 13, your pre-Alan Moore WildCATs, your Grifter comics. Though not as offensively bad as Liefeld’s output (then or now), they simply AREN’T well-written because, as was the case with all things Image at that time, the writing was NOT the point. The cool art was.

And with that sort of mindset, it’s no wonder that the characters that were created during that time–though nostalgiacally relevant to some–are too thinly-defined to truly withstand the test of time. This is why, when Warren Ellis’s Authority hit it big, the entire Wildstorm line felt a shot in the arm and suddenly the entirety of its universe revolved around THAT book. The “more realistic,” pseudo-grown up version of WildStorm had arrived, and suddenly, you had the entire line being re-envisioned (check out Wildcats volumes 2 and 3 if you don’t believe me, or Brubaker/Phillips’ Sleeper). The trouble with that era of WildStorm is that the Authority’s popularity was hinged not necessarily on the thinly-veiled Justice League clones the characters were, but rather on Ellis’s and later Mark Millar’s writing. Once those writers left, the Authority was exposed as the hollow experience it truly was without a visionary writer steering them, and limped on for several more years, in numerous incarnations, a shell of itself and a sad reflection of the state of the entire Wildstorm U. Because without that book to tie its identity to, suddenly everyone realized the ’90s were long over and the Wildstorm Universe HAD no identity.

Which brings us to today, and the end of StormWatch, the final New 52 book to bear any ties to Wildstorm. Yesterday over at CBR, Robot 6 asked whether or not anyone really cares about these characters anymore. My reply: what the hell took you so long to NOTICE nobody cared?


4 thoughts on “Does StormWatch’s Cancellation FINALLY Mean the Death of WildStorm?

  1. I’m the opposite of popular opinion — I think Warren Ellis basically ruined what was a really strong shared universe. In fact, I think the main reason I don’t read current comics today is because of the industry-wide tonal shift that The Authority caused.

  2. sigh, sadly I cared to much. I wanted this team to make it so hard I stuck with it the whole time bc I love the Authority… even when it became painful to keep on, I kept buyimg and hoping that each soft reset would bring me closer to my dream team. I heard the news this week and was a bit down, but I knew it was comming. Then I saw the art for the last issue and just got peeved. Finally the Authority looked right and it is a dang send off issue. I flipped like a shark on the beach in ma bed for a while over that. Besides a whole lot of lackiluster, the art and design of the characters really irked me. Especially Midnighter…oh him specially…

    I really wish that the team could have existed in a different continuity away from the main DCu, bc they had to be toned down so dang hard and cut to piecies to fit into the DCu. I mean the origin and character assasination of the Engineer. Failure to truly grasp what the Midnighter was about and his costume for the longest. I dont even want to discuss how wrong they did Apollo. I mean wow his characterization had me cringing. I thought the attempt to save the book by doing that soft reset was a good attempt, but they failed to update the story and took a super retro turn that was hwading in a better directiom, but sorta just felt meh (3rd times a charm though….).

    I want to say I appreciated the try, but seriously It didn’t even feel like a try to make this series work. Like they didn’t care that much for it, so it just got the rafters treatment. It is just so depressing bc I was really rooting for this team to make it. I mean, I hardcoree love the Authority, I have all thoes issues, and it has been pretty tortureous to see my fav super team get such lackluster treatment.

    Anywho, I’m sure this is back to the void for Apollo, Midnighter, Enginer, and
    Jenny. Hawksmore and the Doctor/Shaman are waiting for ya on the Carrier with some champagne. I will just hold out hope, that the team (or at least parts) will be heard from again by a creative team invested into making them shine.


    • Hey, Lady T, thanks for the thoughtful response, and also for supporting this blog!
      I read the current incarnation of StormWatch up until issue five or six, and even by that point it was incredibly evident that DC had NO idea what they were doing with this book. The bizarre addition of Martian Manhunter? The completely off characterizations? This was a pure product comic, created in an editorial laboratory by a bunch of guys who were tasked with bringing certain Wildstorm characters into the DCU without actually having any understanding as to what those characters were about. And certainly, the abrupt change in the writing department didn’t help (although what book DID that help in the New 52?).
      Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me some old-school StormWatch and Authority. But let’s be real: the star of those books isn’t the characters, who are all fairly interchangeable and/or analogues for the Justice League. As I stated in my post, the star of those books is Warren Ellis (and of course later Mark Millar). It’s their vision and writing style that MADE those books so good, not necessarily the strength or originality of the characters themselves. Without those visionary writers at the helm, the books just couldn’t succeed. Props to you for trying to stick it out in the intervening years, but I don’t think I could bear such gross misrepresentations of those characters for so long!

  3. Pingback: So Long Wildstorm, Again | Comic Zen

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