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 Voodoo, Grifter, Team 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?