Written by PAUL CORNELL
Art by MIGUEL SEPULVEDA
Colors by ALEX SINCLAIR & PETE PANTAZIS
Letters by ROB LEIGH
Through the first five issues, Paul Cornell has consistently managed to engage and entertain with Stormwatch. Therefore it is utterly disappointing, that we are given such a subpar finale to the first arc. In perhaps the most blatant use of Deus Ex Machina, Cornell almost shatters our confidence in the book.
Now it isn’t all doom and gloom. Miguel Sepulveda throws in some startlingly beautiful images of chaos in the opening few pages. The destruction of Stormwatch HQ and the subsequent scramble to safety by the team is well paced, the panels are well framed and there is a sense of dynamic action. Again Sepulveda overcomes his problems to deliver normal proportioned characters, whilst he gives us some great facial work that sells some of the script. He has a great grasp on these characters now. Martian Manhunter is imposing and stoic. Angela is sleek and sexy and Hawksmoor looks like he should: an arrogant prick. It is a great looking issue and this makes some of Cornell’s narrative choices all the more infuriating.
However, there are solid moments within the script. But they are few and far between. Projectionist and Harry deliver a great last page. Midnighter and Angela have an interesting conversation that serves to build a bond between the characters and add some flesh to their bones. But these little moments are washed aside by a script that although moves the story forward is banal at best.
Adding to the book’s problems are a handful of clunky dialogue scenes, which border on tiresome. Hawksmoor speaking to the wiseass Daemonite was uninspired. J’onn J’onnzz little declaration was contrived to justified his continued presence. Worst of all, Apollo and Midnighter get amazingly forced development that includes the line “god, you’re hot”. (Since when were these characters teenage girls?) Intended to be funny or cute, it is instead slightly annoying. These nuggets are rounded off by a lengthy “this is the plan people” speech from Angie. It changes the remit of the team from a proactive Secret Avengers outfit to the Planetary way of doing things.
And that leads nicely onto the biggest problem of the book. What’s the point of it all? It is the conclusion of the first arc, but frankly the first arc felt finished when the moon was defeated. What this is is a master class on how to make noting matter. With Stormwatch HQ exploding and the hyperbole promises of last issues cliffhanger text, you would be forgiven for thinking that the team would suffer casualties and be in danger. But this is lazy writing at it’s finest. The convenience of the Daemonite’s recontruction of the HQ leaves a bad taste. There is no sense of danger in this issue and it feels like the whole exercise of blowing the damn thing up was pointless. What did it really achieve? A Daemonite computer voice and the US military discovering their existence? Now the latter could be interesting, but the former is just ridiculous. Indignant computer voices do not instantly create humor and it is obvious that is what it was intended for. The whole issue is damaged by this easy fix.
It’s a shame then that Sepulveda has put so much effort in. Cornell has created a bland, ill conceived and infuriating comic. Individual moments work, but as a whole nothing seems to gel. Add to the fact that nothing seems to actually matter due to the magic Daemonite wand and there is literally nothing to get invested in. The plot has a purpose due to the new tem remit, but it isn’t as interesting as its original premise. All in all this is a very disappointing book and if the quality continues like this it should be dropped from anyone’s pull list.