One of the things I mentioned in my last look at the WildStorm Universe was the absence of the traditional super-heroic tropes. There were heroes in this universe, costumes, code-names and villains, but often the heroes weren’t really that. One comic where that difference was more delineated was StormWatch.
StormWatch was a series launched in 1993 about the UN created crisis intervention team. These were more soliders and law enforcement types that had super-powers rather than masked vigilantes. Most of the team’s operatives were altered by radiation produced by a comet passing by Earth that blanketed the entire world, meaning that the team was truly international. The operatives were grouped into 4/5-man teams that were numbered. StormWatch 1, StormWatch 2 etc. The operatives were seedlings found by an activator called Christine Trelane (call-sign Synergy) and trained by team trainer Marc Slayton (call-sign Backlash) and they worked under the organisations leader Henry Bendix (known as the Weatherman) and there were dozens of support staff operating out of an orbital station called Skywatch. With the primary colours on the support staff uniforms and the bald leader it all looks very Star Trek. The comic mostly featured StormWatch 1, which was originally comprised of Battalion, Winter, Hellstrike, Fuji and Diva, but other cast members included Cannon, Fahrenheit, Flint, Swift and Strafe (Battalion’s younger brother) as well as several others, from several other places around the world. The international flavour really helped set the book apart as did the fact that they were more soliders than super-heroes and had no problems dealing out death to their enemies when the situation called for it. Over the next three years the series became a bit bland and lacked anything to make it stand out. Then in the story Fire from the Sky, some former team-mates (Flashpoint, Sunburst and Nautika) came back into the team and the team was betrayed and for the most part decimated.
In the wake of that story, a new writer was brought on board with the remit of shaking the title up and making it something different from everything else. In came current wunderkind Warren Ellis (now, I am aware of the reputation this writer has and the numerous allegations against him. I personally have decided not to buy anything new that bears his name, because I do not want to endorse this man or put money his way, but at the time this wasn’t a thing that was known to many) who in one issue changed the title and the direction of the WildStorm Universe as a whole. After the funeral of Flashpoint, Henry ‘the Weatherman’ Bendix reorganises the teams. Backlash having gone many years past, he puts Battalion into the trainer job, so his relationship with Synergy can be allowed, Sunburst and Nautika (a married couple) are also taken off the team and become consultants. Fuji and Hellstrike work under Winter in the main team of StormWatch Prime. Bendix then recruits the murder machine known as Rose Tattoo to work with Flint under Fahrenheit as part of StormWatch Red, used for reprisals and more violent actions. He recruits spirit of the 20th century Jenny Sparks and Jack Hawksmoor, a man who is bio-engineered to live in cities join Swift in StormWatch Black, the black-ops/espionage division. Sparks was born in 1900 and has lived through the 20th century, seemingly not aging since the 1920s. She’s bitter, drunk and cockney (Ellis had a habit of putting a character like that in every book he did) as well as having been a super-hero at least twice. This more cynical character matched the feel of the book from here. These 9 ‘heroes’ took on aliens, terrorists and rogue states in lethal ways as Bendix worked in the shadows with his own agenda. This comes to a head at the end of the 4th year. This led to a larger story and a relaunch.
StormWatch vol 2, well that’s a different story.