STORMWATCH: CHANGE OR DIE
Artists: Tom Raney, Oscar Jiminez, Michael Ryan, Randy Elliot, Chuck
Colorists: Gina Going, Laura DePuy, WildStorm FX, and Mike Rockwitz
Letterers: Bill O’Neil and Clem Robbins
Published by DC Comics/WildStorm 1999
by Matt Singer
Warren Ellis a popular comic book writer would be an understatement
of gross proportions. It would be like saying that a nuclear missile
is a mildly destructive weapon. The guy’s hot. I thought I’d start
this review with a list of his monthly titles, but turns out he’s
got more than I’ve got fingers, so I lost count. Let’s just say he’s
popular. Which brings us back to that initial understatement. Are
you dizzy yet?
Ellis’ first long-term mainstream gigs was his work on Wildstorm’s
STORMWATCH. After Ellis’ recent WildStorm work hit big (THE
AUTHORITY, PLANETARY), they started reprinting this, his
earlier work. If you’re a fan of Ellis, or of real-world-relevant
super-heroics, it behooves you to pick up this trade.
is sort of like the Avengers if the Avengers were all a bunch of jerks
and Captain America was a megalomaniacal bastard hell-bent on controlling
the earth. A U.N. sanctioned strike force equipped to handle just
about any emergency you can imagine, StormWatch is comprised of about
a dozen members plus assistants and trainers, etc.
trade is actually the third (in the STORMWATCH chronology)
of the four that WildStorm has released so far. But if you pick this
one up, you shouldn’t be lost at all, for both stories featured in
CHANGE OR DIE are fully self-contained. Jenny Sparks, Jack
Hawksmoor and Shen Li-Min from the current ongoing WildStorm series,
THE AUTHORITY, are all StormWatch members, and several of the
characters from the first storylines are predecessors to other Authority
members (The Engineer and The Doctor, to be specific).
reviewer recommends this trade primarily on the strength of its titular
three-part story, which is only about half of the actual book. In
‘Change or Die,’ a Superman-esque character named The High brings
together a group of super-powered beings in order to make (what else?)
a finer world. Much like THE AUTHORITY’s recent ‘The Nativity’
storyline, The High’s team wishes to fix the problems of the world
proactively, instead of sitting around, waiting for superhuman menaces,
then returning things to the status quo (as is StormWatch’s mission
and purpose). These guys sure don’t sound like villains, even though
StormWatch head Henry Bendix thinks they are.
or Die’ incorporates elements of the best of Ellis’ later work on
THE AUTHORITY and PLANETARY. The High and his team foreshadow
a lot of the characters and philosophies of The Authority. The High
himself is a thinly veiled representation of Superman, who Ellis explores
in wonderful inner monologues and flashbacks. He successfully captures
the style of Golden Age comics, which the artists accurately illustrate,
right down to the color of the paper (slightly more yellowed than
the rest of the trade). By the end, the reader is affected and upset
by a very bloody conclusion; Ellis, as usual, pulls no punches.
of the trade doesn’t live up to the standard of ‘Change or Die’, but
it’s still solid superheroics. ‘Terminal Zone’ and ‘Strange Weather’
introduce the new StormWatch team as they face off against the United
States military, a frequent nemesis of StormWatch. Seeing the United
States as the villain in a story is good for a grin, but Oscar Jiminez’s
art isn’t as smooth or polished as Raney’s (who illustrated ‘Change
Or Die’), and the story doesn’t flow as well from panel to panel.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that four different individuals
ink Jiminez’s section of the book.
CHANGE OR DIE is still a strong collection worth checking out.
Ellis is on his game working with some of his favorite themes, super
heroes trying to make a difference in real-world situations, politics
on a global scale, and violence. Lots of violence.
contributes regularly to PopImage and to the effort to control the pet
population by having his pet’s spayed or neutered. Goodbye everybody..
Forum - Discuss this message at the PopImage forum.