After last month’s abysmal conclusion to the first arc, it’s nice to have a fresh perspective on the team. But even though Stormwatch improves as Paul Jenkins and Ignacio Calero take over, it still feels distinctly average.
Jenkins is here for a two part-story involving other dimensional creatures that seemingly mine gravity. Now the threat seems like the sort of thing this new Stormwatch was born to fight. It’s alien, over the top and deadly. But it also has a few problems. It’s the definition of a faceless enemy. It has no depth and for all its power, there isn’t really any doubt it will be overcome. It is a stock science fiction threat, a staple of the genre which makes the conflict just average and a little dull.
It’s also interesting to note that the team’s new remit established last issue has seemingly gone out the window. Jenkins just wants to tell his tale. But it’s a story that feels stuck in the 90s as every character has an attitude. Each one throws up some wiseass comment every time they leave the room. Midnighter or Jack Hawksmoor might do that, but we have everyone say at least one line full of sass. It’s strange and dated and does nothing for the characters. Neither does the forced comedic dialogue. Young Jenny is the main culprit as she is given a running joke involving a puppy, which gets tiresome even when used as the last line of the book. And of course there is the appearance of the newly christened Charlie, the daemonite computer. There is a feeling of dread when you realize he will be saying things like “Human Fungus” in the coming issues no matter the writer. Jenkins doesn’t seem to have a grasp on delivery and this is the main reason the humor fails.
But even with the run of the mill plot and bizarre dialogue Jenkins still manages to through in some interesting moments and ideas. Hawksmoor’s visit to the dying city of Pripyat was a nice detour, giving the character some needed characterization and having an appearance from Nagasaki and Hiroshima. J’onn J’onzz being mysterious actually worked this issue and it was about time he had a larger role in the book. The Engineer is struggling with leadership, which is a cliché but it suits Angela as a character. It makes narrative sense and there is a lot that can be done with that, even if it will be familiar territory.
As for the art, Ignacio Calero is the main reason it feels like a 90s comic. It has that “gritty” feel to it as everything is a shade too dark and looks sketchy. Midnighter’s spiky armor features spike. Apollo’s veins are popping out of his skin and Angela wouldn’t look out of place in a Marvel Comics swimsuit calendar. It all adds to the 90s vibe that seems to dominate the book. But the art in itself isn’t bad. Calero’s characters are well detailed and expressive. His action might be a tad messy but has a good sense of chaos and his character designs for Nagasaki and Hiroshima are interesting. At it’s best, the art mirrors the writing’s average tone.
This is the main problem with the issue; it is an improvement on the last but moves from bad to average. There are a few things to like about the writing and the art but nothing really stands out. The overall plot has uninteresting antagonists, the character’s dialogue seems stuck in the past and so does the art. But Jenkins is only a temporary fixture on the book and it doesn’t do the book any harm to have a different voice for two issues; you’ll just wish it were a little better.