Let’s get nerdy for a moment and talk about something very near and dear to this comic aficionado’s heart, Wildstorm comics.
Image Comics was founded in 1992 by seven of the most popular and influential comic book artists of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Among their ranks was superstar “X-Men” artist Jim Lee, who created his own branch of Image Comics called Wildstorm. Within the Wildstorm universe, Lee created his own superhero teams WildC.A.T.s and Stormwatch, while also giving opportunities to numerous other well-known creators such as Warren Ellis (“Transmetropolitan”), Alan Moore (“Watchmen”), Sam Kieth (“The Maxx”), Terry Moore (“Strangers in Paradise”) and Kurt Busiek (“Astro City”).
Lee sold Wildstorm to DC Comics in 1999. Though published by DC, Wildstorm’s books remained separate from the mainstream DC universe and it widely held that, though there were as many hits as there were misses during this period, Wildstorm’s most inspired, original, and noteworthy content emerged during this era. Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch reinvented the superhero comic for a new generation with “The Authority” series, crime comic maestro Ed Brubaker first teamed up with longtime collaborator Sean Phillips on “Sleeper,” and comic book legend Alan Moore created several critically acclaimed new titles under the brand America’s Best Comics.
Despite longtime fans such as myself pumping our hard-earned money into Wildstorm’s pockets, the originality and excitement of their books eventually waned, and in late 2010, DC Comics closed the doors to the house that Lee built. A few months later, DC reinvented its entire line of superhero comics, dubbing the event “The New 52” and incorporating a few choice Wildstorm characters into the DC universe proper alongside Superman, Batman and the rest. A few characters, such as The Authority’s Apollo and Midnighter have thrived, while others like Grifter and Voodoo from WildC.A.T.s have floundered, prompting DC Comics to once again switch things up for Jim Lee’s creations.
As of this month, DC Comics has begun to relaunch Wildstorm as its own separate universe once again with the release of the comic book “The Wild Storm #1” by returning writer Warren Ellis and artist Jon Davis-Hunt. It brings back silly concepts and story elements from the old Image Comics days, combines them with some of the newer characters and ideas from the early 2000s’ heyday, and twists them all together under Ellis’ tech-savvy, futurist purview.
As a self-professed Wildstorm fanboy from way back, I personally enjoyed a lot of the vague references to the old days of the Wildstorm universe in “The Wild Storm #1,” but I fear that new readers may find the first issue slightly confusing. All I can do is hope that they stick with the series for at least a full story arc to capitalize on one of Warren Ellis’ favorite storytelling tactics: the long game. The plan is for “The Wild Storm” to run for at least two years (24 issues) and spin off into a few other titles along the way. If Ellis is committed to a specific number of issues, you can almost guarantee that he has a spectacular endgame in mind, even if the series feels like it’s getting off to a slow start.