STORMWATCH: A FINER WORLD
stunning story of superheroes for the modern world
Artists: Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary
Colorists: Laura DePuy, WildStorm FX
Letterers: Amie Gardner, Denice Park
Published by DC Wildstorm 1999
by Paul Hanna
comics are a dime a million these days, overpowering the market
through sheer numbers. So when a good one actually appears, it demands
attention. STORMWATCH: A FINER WORLD proves an exception
to the dime-a-million rule, condensing action (but not gore) for
the sake of story development. With his carefully selected vulgarity
and uniquely terse writing, Warren Ellis has crafted what seems
to be a simple story in 'A Finer World.'
the soothing sound of the title, we find that the road to a finer
world is often doused in much blood. The book is actually comprised
of two stories: the title story and 'Bleed.' The themes of change
and, more specifically, of striving for greater change flow throughout
stories consist of Jackson King's StormWatch team, a superhero group
subsidized by the United Nations, struggling with human dilemmas
and questions about authority on an international, even interdimensional
scale. They often grapple with the question of when to interfere
in others' affairs, trying to figure out how much is too much. 'Bleed,'
the more ambitious of the two stories, addresses the idea more openly
when two very different StormWatch teams from different dimensions
encounter each other (though not in the way you'd expect).
in A FINER WORLD borrow much from classic superhero archetypes.
The ambiguously gay Apollo and The Midnighter, suspiciously analogous
of Superman and Batman, are the most obvious. But the similarity
ends there. There is no clear-cut hero or villain. Each hero has
a moment where his or her righteousness is questionable; the "real"
villains can be very difficult to define. Heroes manipulate others,
and others manipulate heroes.
and Hitch do not innovate new storytelling techniques as much as
they elevate the quality of them. The characters' human, multi-dimensional
personas, dominated by the story, are better realized through certain
illustrative details. Hitch's line is also nearly perfect; he has
a true grasp on the emotive face of a person, and this is only accentuated
by Neary's inks and the colors of DePuy and WildStorm FX.
A FINER WORLD is a strangely thoughtful and fulfilling take
on the superhero genre, where the heroes wrestle with the notion
of altering the status quo rather than protecting it.
CHANGE OR DIE, the first StormWatch collection, is also available.
The StormWatch saga also continues each month in THE AUTHORITY.
Hanna is Reviews Editor for PopImage.
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