“Justice League of America’s Vibe” issues 6 – 7

Written by Sterling Gates

Wildstorm Concepts: Cybernary

All-star Western.pngThis was a surprise one, a much hidden cameo. Long story short, young superhero Vibe has been locked up by A.R.G.U.S., and his family and friends sneak in to rescue him. Vibe isn’t too happy to have been locked like a lab rat, so he uses his vibrational powers to free all the other special subjects who had been imprisoned – and among all the neat little DC cameos, we see none other than Cybernary! While all the freed subjects start breaking havoc, Vibe’s powers go out of control, given that they are multidimensional in nature, and tap into an alternate dimension, summoning suppervilain Rupture. However, it turns out Rupture is Armando, Vibe’s long lost brother! While those two squabble, we get Cybernary’s few lines of dialogue: “No – you will not put us back in those cages!” when she’s battling some guards, and then “feel… so strange…” when Rupture hits Vibe, launching everybody in the room across dimensions and frying plenty more, too. Alas, this is the last we see of our Wildstorm heroine. Whatever was of her?

Next: “Superman” Vol.3 issues 27 – 29, written by Scott Lobdell.

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“Justice League of America” Vol.3 issue 7.3

Written by Tom DeFalco

Wildstorm Concepts: WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star Western.pngThis issue was part of a special month were every title would focus on a villain and expand on them. “Justice League of America” focused on Shadow Thief, and revealed she was closely linked to daemonites. Originally she was a solider in the Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence Agency. When she learned their enemies were training suicide bombers, she wanted to launch missiles at them, but her superior officer “lacked the stomach.” So Aviva Metula killed him and launched the missile strike, turning her into a traitor, killing a hundred innocent civilians and sparking an international incident. But there’s no honour among governments when it comes to spies, so even though they were supposed to be allies with Israel, America soon recruited her for A.R.G.U.S. In exchange for moving her mother and younger brother to America, she started working for a man she only knew as “Mr. Q.”, not knowing he was secretly a daemonite.

Everything changed when she was tasked with retrieving a biological weapon. She felt something was wrong, so she sent it to her family for analysis, since they were scientists. The case contained a pathogen and what she presumed to be a protective suit. As soon as her family opened the virus, though, it burned through their safety measures and killed them. Panicking, Aviva put on the suit on the case, which was actually the Shadow suit that brings her her powers. She was now able to teleport through the world by phasing through the “shadow dimension”, though she didn’t know this yet. She just tried fleeing, and subconsciously activated her powers and teleported right next to Mr. Q., her superior. He was angry that Shadow Thief had stolen the technology which was meant to act as an extinction agenda, thinning the human herd before they could spread beyond the planet like a plague of locusts. Terrified, Shadow Thief used her suit’s abilities, shapeshifting her body and turning her arm into a blade like Warblade, slitting the alien’s throat. Since then, the bowed to killing all aliens she could find, which often puts her at odds with alien superheroes like Hawkman. But every time she wears her suit it becomes harder to take it off—she loses more of her humanity, becomes more like the aliens she swore to destroy. But it’s her cross to bear.

Next: “Justice League of America’s Vibe” issues 6 – 7, written by Sterling Gates.

“Supergirl” Vol.6 issue 33 backup

Written by Frank Barbiere

Wildstorm Concepts: Gen13 - Burnout Gen13 - Freefall Gen13 - Rainmaker Gen13 - Caitlin Fairchild Gen13 - Grunge

All-star Western Supergirl.pngThere’s not a lot I can say about this 2-pager backup. It was meant to set up a future Gen13 series, going back to their roots (if they don’t wear their original costumes inside, they do on the cover) and forgetting all the weird New52 developments. In this story we see a Caitlin, which looks like our old and REAL Caitlin, destroying all the New52 clones we had seen of her. She says hopefully the rest of her team can finish off “the kryptonians”, suggesting they’re in the middle of a fight involving the Superman family. Finally, we see a roll call with all the other Gen13 kids, back to being their old selves — Freefall, Burnout, Rainmaker wears her old costume, Grunge is not a villain anymore and he’s alive — plus there’s one more member: Superboy. This makes sense, considering Superboy and Caitlin have been entangled since the beginning of the New52. Caitlin also mentions “finishing off that clone” implying the Caitlin we have seen in previous comics was just a fake one, and not the real Caitlin. Sadly, we never got to know what this backup meant, because this hints never went anywhere, and this series didn’t come to happen. The writer gets one more shot at writing the Gen 13 in Future’s End, which will be the final “try-out” issue for this hypothetical book.

Next: “Justice League of America” Vol.3 issue 7.3

“The Movement” issues 1 – 12 and “Batgirl” Vol.4 issue 34

Written by Gail Simone

Wildstorm Concepts:    Gen13 - Caitlin Fairchild Gen13 - Rainmaker

All-star Western“The Movement” depicts another attempt to be more socially minded from DC, showing a group of homeless kids and activists banding together to fight against the corruption from their city, Coral City. Among their troubles are corrupt cops, serial killers and traitors in their midst. As with most books featuring mostly original characters, the book was a commercial failure. It did manage to introduce another Wildstorm character into DC: Rainmaker. Gail Simone wrote the Gen13 for Wildstorm before, and Sarah’s LGBT background is not forgotten; she gets to date the book’s main character, Virtue.

In this new universe, Rainmaker also works as an activist who helps homeless kids. In her turf, she’s known as the no-nonsense “witch”, and her attitude and distrust of outsiders is famous around the city, gaining loyalty through fear. Rumors ran amok, some saying she’s got two heads.

A serial killer with weather powers has been killing people, so The Movement enters the witch’s territory to ask what she knows. They come uninvited and unannounced, so a fight with Sarah’s followers breaks out. Sarah stops the fight, showing off her elemental powers like a force of nature. The misunderstanding is quickly over, and Rainmaker doesn’t mind sharing the serial killer’s identity to help clear her name. The Movement asks for Sarah and her people to join them, but she’s not ready. She’s been looking out only for herself for too long; she just wants her people to be left alone. Still, she gives Virtue her phone number.

Not long after, the two gals start dating, but Virtue’s turbulent homeless life leads to having to cancel their first date at a fancy restaurant. Their second attempt is humbler, just buying casual coffee. Rainmaker feels insecure that it might be too cheap of a date, and the poor environment not romantic enough, but that’s where Virtue feels more at home. The girls share their first kiss. This is about the last we see of her, but it’s fair to assume she got over her selfishness and distrust of outsiders and started helping out The Movement.

Batgirl 34 rainmaker

Batgirl 34Rainmaker comes back from the same writer in the pages of “Batgirl”. Batgirl is facing supervillain Knightfall, who initiates “Operation Rebirth”: a project to hire dozens of superhumans to commit murderous vigilantism and kill all of Gotham City’s criminals in one night. Batgirl is forced to call all of her female metahuman friends to stop Knightfall’s plan (because like black people, all female heroines know each other), and Rainmaker and Caitlin are among the superheroines who answer the call.

Next: “Supergirl” Vol.6 issue 33, written by Frank Barbiere.

“StormWatch” Vol.3 issue 30

Written by Sterling Gates

Wildstorm Concepts: stormwatch authority-midnighter authority-apollo authority-doors authority-engineer authority-jack-hawksmoor authority-jenny-quantum StormWatch - The Carrier

All-star WesternAlthough a whole year had happened in the parallel timeline, when StormWatch gets back to the normal universe only a few weeks have happened. We’re given no explanations as to how they’re back, but now their ship Eye of the Storm has converted into The Carrier, the one they used back in the Authority days. This one is not powered by a tiny universe, but by Magnitude Engines, which consume and convert multiversal energy from the bleed into fuel. Also, now Doors are opened by saying “door” instead of “gate” unlike in the alternate timeline. While they were gone, Fenacki aliens started building an invasion-hive underneath Salt Lake City, so Apollo and Middy make quick work of them.

StormWatch - Headquarters

Engineer is the new driver of the ship, patching its functions directly into his posterior perietal cortex. Hawksmoor doesn’t show up, but he’s confirmed as a team member who is taking and indefinite sabbatical after “the Kollective disturbance.” Jenny finishes rounding out the team; Adam One is not a member, even though the cover says so.

Stormwatch 30 Jenny's parents

14-year old Jenny didn’t help with the aliens because she was busy on a night date with her childhood crush Toby Thomas. It seems Jenny is still an orphan like in the parallel timeline, even though she wasn’t before, but it’s better not to think about it too hard. The date is going terribly, and the guy seems unresponsive. Jenny is acting like a real teenager for the first time in this run, screaming internally and hoping she could figure out boys. Randomly, Toby pulls her in for a kiss, but right then she’s called for duty.

A threat has arisen: the Shadow Lords recruited Adam-One as their new member, after he claimed he would be a good addition. In truth, he still roots for StormWatch and hopes to spoil the Shadow Lords’ plans from within. He gives them a faulty idea: to place a stasis-trap beneath Los Angeles, making the city scream until it attracts Jack Hawksmoor. The trap started feeding off his powers, making random buildings come alive and start destroying the city. All this is to attract StormWatch, hoping to keep them in once place long enough for the Lords to track their Carrier ship. But Adam provided with a weak machine.

Jenny uses a door to teleport to Los Angeles, where it’s suddenly daytime. A city hall and other 26 buildings have come alive, gaining faces like persons, and attacking the city. While they fight the city hall, Jenny goes over StormWatch’s history: apparently, Apollo and Midnighter claim they beat the Kollective and that’s how they got back to the original timeline. Perhaps they just lied about Jenny Soul doing all the hard work. According to our Jenny, Adam One founded the team and “later” the creeps in the Shadow Cabinet took over, even though they were behind Adam in the first place. Apparently StormWatch didn’t take well to being ordered around, so they stole the Shadow Cabinet’s ship and now they’re on the run. Perhaps the Cabinet is mad because they think StormWatch murdered one of their members back in issue 18.

The threat is pretty big, so Angie tries recruiting the Projectionist, but she doesn’t want to risk the Shadow Cabinet’s wrath. Angie says Emma owes her a favour, so Projectionist agrees to rewriting the internet so that no superhero finds out about the crisis. Jenny and Middy track a signal to Los Angeles’ subway, where they search in the dark. All that darkness and danger make Jenny realize her life has no place for boyfriends, sadly. Then they find Jack and the stasis-trap. The alien device reacts to the presence of a threat and quickly takes Middy down, but Jenny’s quantum powers keep the danger at bay. She has no choice but to attack using her emotions, focusing on the fact that she can’t lose Jack; she needs all of StormWatch to help train her to fulfill her potential. This is enough to free Jack, and that disrupt the machine’s defenses enough for Jenny to destroy it. Adam One is happy his plan worked out.

As a final stop, Jenny stops by her crush and steals a kiss from him; her first kiss! It’s suddenly night-time again. It turns out the guy is British, but I’m pretty sure that’s not enough to justify the time difference with Los Angeles. Anyhow, it’s a good bye kiss, really, because she says she can’t see Toby again. The issue ends with the Korr’nelian aliens invading Earth, but being interrupted with a transmission from StormWatch, warning them to turn back or face the consequences. Thanks to her good work with the Los Angeles crisis, Jenny earned the responsibility to say the threat herself. In the final page, we see Projectionist has joined the team as well. Goodbye, StormWatch. The team will be back for Future’s End, where they fulfill the purpose for which they were created.

Next: “The Movement” issues 1-12 and “Batgirl” Vol.4 issue 34, written by Gail Simone.

“StormWatch” Vol.3 issues 23 – 29

Written by Jim Starlin

Wildstorm Concepts: StormWatch - SkyWatch authority-midnighter authority-apollo authority-doors authority-engineer stormwatch StormWatch - Fuji as Force StormWatch - Hellstrike Authority - Jenny Soul

All-star WesternStormWatch faces a twofold threat: The alien conqueror Extremax The Omega is coming to the Milky Way, and they learn the true nature of the Kollective’s, and the danger they pose to Earth. Extremax The Omega, named that way because things end around him, is most powerful warlord in space, more than 50,000 years old, having killed more than 60 billion souls. He’s coming to Earth to collect an ancient artefact that was so powerful that it was divided into three parts to ensure it would never be used. One part was hidden on Earth, during prehistoric times; Extremax owns another piece, and the Kollective another. The central tenet of the Kollective’s plan is to destroy anything technologically advanced, so they naturally clashed with Extremax 300 years ago. To escape them, he managed to get his ship out of sync with the timeline on a varying frequency, but in three centuries of trying he hasn’t managed to slay one member of the Kollective. It turns out the Kollective holds dominance over countless planets, like Extremax. They instil a rabid distrust of technology and scientific advancement on their planets, in hopes they’ll herd societies towards an evolutionary path that will stimulate them to develop psychically, like the Kollective. Essentially, they’re looking for company. The results are tragic, though; the renounce of science also leads to no vaccines or medical treatment, and plagues that could have been cured with simple antibiotics now devastate entire species. Overpopulation woes and famine are also common among the Kollective-controlled civilizations. Inevitably, they all perish; whatever created the Kollective was a unique and unreproducible event, but they refuse to see these facts. Billions have died already, and this is what they have planned for Earth.

This is a really long arc, so sorry, but I have no easy way of making this review short. The second and final arc of Starlin’s run in StormWatch begins in the middle of their second adventure, with the team (now with Lobo in their ranks) fighting some aliens to save the waters of Earth from being teleported out. Continue reading “StormWatch” Vol.3 issues 23 – 29

“StormWatch” Vol.3 issues 19 – 22

Written by Jim Starlin

Wildstorm Concepts:  stormwatch authority-apollo authority-midnighter authority-engineer authority-doors StormWatch - Hellstrike StormWatch - Fuji as Force Authority - Jenny Soul StormWatch - SkyWatch

All-star WesternJim Starlin becomes the new writer, and he starts from scratch, making the book more standard sci-fy, and even though it loses the Authority influences, it becomes more solidly written. After the explosion from last issue, our cast has arrived on a different reality, but this universe is being watched by alien beings known as The Kollective. They decide Stormwatch wasn’t working, so they restart the timeline and start changing things to their liking. Their first order of business is killing Adam One, aka Merlin, who is born at the same time as the universe, and used to be the leader of Stormwatch. Everything else changes in result, and this results in a completely different team in the present.

StormWatch - Headquarters

Showing up for the first time coming out from black hole V4641 SGR, the New StormWatch appears! Their ship isn’t called Eye of The Storm anymore, but New Skywatch, and it’s powered by a pocket universe like the Carrier used to be. Starlin puts on SOME effort in getting things back to their roots, including going back to the original StormWatch logo. The new ship is populated by a human crew of technicians, even. This time Doors are opened by shouting “Gate!” instead of “Door!” like it used to be. The Shadow Lords, StormWatch’s bosses, notice the team has been purged from reality by the aliens; they can watch this from afar due to living within the Bleed. In this new timeline StormWatch has never existed, so they have to do a rush job and hurriedly assemble a new team. The Shadow Lords had kept a DNA sample of J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, from the time he briefly led the team, so they use that to create a clone. But they strip him of his superpowers and give him fake memories, keeping his true identity from everyone, even him. Calling him Storm Control (essentially “Weatherman”), this new leader is tasked with choosing a new team roster. The new team includes:

Force, who is actually Fuji, only with a new name for some reason; he’s called a “trainee” but he barely has any dialogue or panels; Jenny Soul, the latest Jenny, who suffers from agoraphobia due to not knowing how to control her telepathic powers, so public places turn into a cacophony of thoughts all coming to her at once; Engineer, back to being healthy and turning herself human more often; Xiomar, a South African teleporter who is addicted to drugs; Hellstrike, yes, the old Hellstrike Nigel Smut, who is now an ex soldier from South Africa who was complicit in killing Xiomar’s family, a fact that haunts him; The Weird, an old Starlin character, he’s a being from another dimension made of energy who lives within the dead body of one Walter Langley and acts as bodyguard for Jenny; Apollo, who in this alternate universe is called Andrew Pulaski and Midnighter, who in this universe is actually called Lucas Trent, instead of it being a fake name he chose for himself. These Apollo and Midnighter regain their old Wildstorm uniforms, and they both gained their powers after being abducted by aliens who experimented on them, like Hawksmoor’s origin. Lucas was able to escape after ten years, and Andrew five years later. The last member is “The Forecaster“, but he’s a bit particular… He’s this blobby alien who acts as the team’s early-warning system. He’s a Volgarian, the perfect species to link with any complex operational system; he pilots Skywatch and data mines all incoming readings, transmissions and intel, searching for any possible threats.

Angie’s first assignment after being recruited is to recruit Xiomar in South Africa, for which he has to fight Tweedledee and Tweedledum, low-tier Batman villains. After that, the Forecaster tracks the Kollective’s PSI and temporal emanations from restarting the timeline and notices the same emissions are coming from the planet Douli-7 in the Orion System. Jenny, the Weird, Hellstrike, Apollo and Midnighter are tasked with visiting the planet. Unfortunately for them, the Kollective are only in the planet because of supervillain Lobo. They revisit Lobo’s past; his people, the Czarnians, were obsessed with being perfect; they experimented on themselves until something went wrong and everybody’s testosterone levels went through the roof, turning them into mindless killing machines who slaughtered each other. Lobo was only 14 back then, so to survive he was forced to develop a venom to release on the atmosphere, committing genocide and becoming the last of his race. with no one else around, the med centre started channelling all the physical and psychic augmentations it’d been pumping everyone into just him, and that’s how he became a psychotic powerhouse impossible to kill. He’s a monster, really; exactly what the Kollective is looking for. In exchange for having all his past record erased, Lobo agrees to help them. Starlin explains Lobo’s inconsistent power displays in other books (like that time he fought Zealot) by saying he resides on multidimensional realities without totally existing on any one of them.

StormWatch is teleported onto the planet and they start heading for the source of the emanations, but the Kollective detects Jenny immediately and they acknowledge her power is massive enough to disrupt their plans. They manipulate the Bruticus, one of the most aggressive races on that space sector, and they start trying to kill Jenny, so a battle breaks out. The enemy is winning just because of their sheer numbers, but luckily StormWatch is rescued by the Caimonites, the Bruticus’ sworn enemies. Sadly, both sides of the conflict are vicious enslaving conquerors, so StormWatch just thanks them for their help and move on. They head to a bar to wind down, but it so happens that the emanations they’re searching for come from the same place; from Lobo, to be more specific. They find him after he’s passed out from drinking too much, but right at the same moment they’re attacked by Bruticus and Caimonites at the same time; both sides are brainwashed now.

Noticing Lobo is going away on his own, Jenny and the Weird go after him and Jenny attempts to read his mind. This puts her in direct contact with the Kollective, who try to state their case: They’re beings who reached enlightenment long ago and abandoned their physical flesh, but they chose to stay in the corporal realm to protect the universe and guide it to a better tomorrow, kind of like StormWatch. They don’t see time as a linear thing, they contemplate all possible directions for the timeline and reset it when it looks like there are no good possible outcomes. They noticed Lobo’s arrival on Douli-7 will lead to him taking control of the war between the Bruticus and the Caimonites, leading the victorious force to conquer the universe and bring forth a pan-galactic dark age. They can’t kill him, because he always comes back stronger, but there might be a solution. They convince Jenny to help them; they’re psychical beings, so they need Jenny’s support in transporting Lobo to some specific coordinates. She’s not sure if she can trust them, but all the same she pushes Lobo telekinetically to the correct spot, and Lobo starts glowing… All too late, Jenny realizes she was manipulated.

Lobo keeps being charged with energy, but the team isn’t strong enough to move him from that position, not even Apollo. Storm Control orders them to retire, but in the end Lobo’s charged energy is simply unleashed on a nearby building: the planet’s chief media transmission centre, which causes it to broadcast a killing signal for all Bruticus and Caimonites from all over the space sector; both species become victims of genocide. StormWatch’s first field mission was a disaster, and they can’t even begin to understand the Kollective’s motivation for killing the species. When returning to Skywatch, they pick up Lobo, because he’s too good of an asset. Storm Control fills him with about a million nano-processors set to punish him with electrical discharge if he ever attempts to escape or disobey orders.

Meanwhile, Midnighter is unsettled by all that’s happened and contemplates leaving the team, but Apollo reminds him that the aliens that kidnapped them as kids are still out there, hunting for them, and StormWatch is their surest protection. Engineer checks in on Xiomar, who can’t function without drugs, so Storm Control allows him limited cannabis consumption. His powers aren’t clear yet.

Jenny is visited by the Kollective; they reveal both Bruticus and Caimonites would become ruthless conquerors, so even though it was a lie that Lobo would lead them, they needed to die to ensure the survival of billions. Now they want to eliminate Jenny, so that nobody knows of their existence. But she’s stronger than all of them, and she reduces them to dust. Now she’s just gotta figure out how to keep on living knowing she caused the genocide of two species…

Next: “Stormwatch” Vol.3 #23-30, written by Jim Starlin.