“Blackhawks” issue 6, “Legion Lost” Vol.2 issues 4 – 5 and “Voodoo” Vol.2 issues 1 – 4

Legion Lost written by Fabian Niscieza, Voodoo written by Ron Marz.

Wildstorm concepts:     Black Razors WildCATS - Daemonites WildCATS - Voodoo

 

All-star WesternBlackhawks and Legion Lost should be read as a little prologue introducing the Black Razors in the new DCU. They are wearing all-black here, as they should according to their names, but they wear white armours in “Voodoo”.

“Voodoo” focuses on a daemonite faction that thinks the future of their species lies in creating daemonite-human hybrids. The daemonite council is inclined to the idea of wiping out humans, but they give the hybrids a chance of proving themselves by infiltrating Earth to learn about its superhumans.

Creating the hybrids took a lot of trial and error; none of the humans they kidnapped developed a metagen. This went on until they captured Earth child Priscilla Kitaen when she was four years old. After experimenting on her for years, she embraced the daemonite genes and obtained the ability to shapeshift. In a way, her origin story is similar to Jack Hawksmoor’s in the old WSU. When her powers developed she managed to escape back to Earth, but the daemonites had seen enough. Regular daemonites had never been able to produce wings; the hybrids must definitely be the way to evolution. They have enough information to produce a clone for themselves.

Although only the first clone proved successful, they know it’ll need to be tested to activate her meta-gene, so they send her and other lesser hybrids to Earth. They are equipped with particle generators to adopt any clothing necessary; they can absorb someone’s characteristics after only a few seconds of contact.

The Black Razors are a government organization that hunts aliens. They’ve held the true Priscilla Kitaen prisoner since she returned to Earth a few months ago. They are trying to help her, reverse what the daemonites did to her, but they’re also getting information from her. Two Black Razor agents, Tyler Evans and FBI liaison Jess Fallon are sent after one particular pole dancer: She goes by Voodoo, and they have reasons to believe she’s an alien. In fact, she’s the clone of Priscilla.

The writer, Ron Marz, is the legendary writer of Twilight Emerald, the story that introduced Green Lantern Kyle Rayner. He also worked for Wildstorm on the Cross-Gen imprint. However, he was a last-minute choice for writing Voodoo, one of the later writers brought into the relaunch, which might explain the low quality of the story.

The Black Razors agents try to question Voodoo, but she doesn’t waste much time before killing Tyler and shape shifting to look like him, which will prove her useful in getting closer to Jess. She has feelings for her fellow agent, even though that goes against the rules of the Black Razors.

The book hints at having some kind of message about the sexualization of women and rape culture by showing strong female characters and having Voodoo use her sexuality against men (“They look at me. But they never SEE me”). However, it never manages to say anything concrete and the book wasn’t able to avoid controversy because of all its naked ladies.

Voodoo, using Tyler’s body, sleeps which Jess, and doesn’t seem to mind. I guess this universe’s Voodoo is less rigid about her orientation. She’s trying to find out just how much Earth knows about the daemonites; she’s outraged at the thought that the humans would dissect her as soon as they caught her. She doesn’t know she’s a clone, she thinks she was born a hybrid. Humans seem hateful and weak to her; they deserve to be conquered. Shape shifting might hurt her but she deserves it for being part-human. In her mind she’s just a soldier, following orders because she must. However, as she telepathically catches Jess’s feelings for her partner, she needs to remind herself “she doesn’t care about humans.” Voodoo is conflicted, torn about her morality.

Voodoo’s cover is blown quickly enough as Tyler’s body is found and the Black Razors drop on her. The book tries to have distinct characters among the Black Razors team but again, it fails, because it’s impossible to remember who’s who. One of them is named Choi after Wildstorm writer Brandon Choi. The good guys count with a superhero on their side, Bolton, AKA Black Jack. But it’s never explained who he is, his powers or his origin other than that his powers were given to him by the Black Razors. In the end, Voodoo faces Jess. Voodoo feels Tyler’s love too strongly and can’t bring herself to kill Jess, so she takes Jess’s shape and escapes. This allows her to get into Jess’s head, which gives her precious information about the Black Razors, as we’ll find out later on.

Voodoo visits her hybrid allies and asks them for help now that her cover has been blown. The daemonite’s base was sending coded transmissions into deep space, which catches Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner)’s attention, so he storms the place. Even though the other daemonites drop their human covers to fight him, Voodoo retains her human form. Her bodacious body is enough to turn Green Lantern into a slobbering fool, so she manages to escape. The final scene of the issue shows us a mysterious daemonite is tracking after Voodoo.

Using the information she got from taking Jess’s shape, Voodoo makes it to a Black Razor’s base, where she’s able to steal information about Earth’s superheroes. Is her mission finally over? Unbeknownst to her, her attack motivates the Black Razors to schedule an execution for the real Priscilla Kitaen!

Next: Grifter Vol.3 issues 0 – 8 and Superman Vol.3 issue 6, written by Rob Liefeld, Frank Tieri, Nathan Edmonson and George Perez.

“Superman” Vol.3 issue 1 and “StormWatch” Vol.3 issues 1 – 6

Superman written by George Perez, StormWatch written by Paul Cornell

Wildstorm concepts: authority-midnighter authority-apollo authority-engineer authority-jack-hawksmoor authority-jenny-quantum  stormwatch

all-star-westernThis story begins when a mysterious alien blows a horn in the Himalayas. This sends a signal towards outer space telling Earth to activate its defenses. A powerful threat has just arrived. In fact, this threat was going to be daemonites when it was originally planned, but plans changed along the way and the threat turned into H’el, a Superman enemy. All the Wildstorm-related titles from the “first chapter” of this universe were leading towards a crossover event in which the daemonites would reveal themselves on Earth, but this plans fell through so many plot threads were forgotten.

“Superman” issue 1 should be read because of a single page, unrelated to the rest of the issue, in which an alien blows a giant horn in the Himalayas. We don’t find out until “Superboy” issue 17 that this alien is called Herald, a cosmic being who seeks worlds without hope. It serves the Oracle, an even more mysterious cosmic being. Herald blew the Horn-That-Summons because the villain H’el had arrived on Earth and this signified it would be destroyed soon. As we learn in “StormWatch”, the horn activates some defense mechanisms to help the planet. These explanations are given during the long “H’el on Earth” crossover, which doesn’t involve any Wildstorm characters, so it’s best to get it out of the way here. “Superman” issue 7 also explains Herald had prepared a Horn-That-Summons on earth because it is the planet with the highest concentration of meta-gen, except for New Genesis and Apokolips.

StormWatch is a book which constantly changes artists and writers, but at least we get to see Al Barrionuevo, returning from the last volume of Authority. Paul Cornell, the writer, also handled Demon Knights, its companion book. Cornell was excited to be proposed for StormWatch because Planetary was one of his top three favourite comics.

Issue #1 begins with two situations going on: The horn caused the moon to start having strange quakes which seem to be changing its shape. Harry Tanner, the “Eminence of Blades,” is sent to deal with it. His origin is a mystery, but he’s the best swordsman in history, who uses some mysterious “blue blades” that he can summon from tin air. Up on Eye of the Storm, their ship headquarters, three members are trying to study the horn: Good old Angela Spica, Engineer; Jenny Emily Quantum and StormWatch’s current leader: Adam One. He was born at the Big Bang, appearing as an old man and aging backwards along with the universe. He’s the son of Lucifer, and it is prophesized Adam will be his killer. He was there when the team first formed during the Dark Ages, but in that time he used the name Merlin.

Engineer has some differences from her WSU counterpart; instead of replacing her blood with nanobots by her own will, she lost most of her body in an accident and then was helped by mysterious “pale men with no expressions”, who replaced her body with machinery. She thought of herself as mainly machine until she met Harry and they started dating. He gave her the strength to turn her body into flesh sometimes. Jenny seems to retain her old origin of a baby born with the century.

Continue reading “Superman” Vol.3 issue 1 and “StormWatch” Vol.3 issues 1 – 6

“Teen Titans” Vol.4 issue 23.2 and “Deathstroke” Vol.2 issue 6

“Teen Titans” written by Corey Mays and Dooma Wendschuh; “Deathstroke” written by Kyle Higgins

Wildstorm concepts:   authority-midnighter deathblow

all-star-westernThese two issues fill the gaps between what happened after Team 7 and the present of the new DCU, involving Deathstroke. “Deathstroke” issue 6 actually takes place in the present, but we’re only interested in the flashback page which takes place in the past.

“Teen Titans” is a bit of a mess of an issue. The pacing and dialogue are all over the place – but it does introduce Deathblow to this continuity. He’s featured as a run of the mill mercenary who may or may not have powers. (“You can’t kill me”, he says – is this a hint of his gen-active abilities?)

The issue is a study of Deathstroke and his personality through different time periods. We see him fighting in Bosnia before his Team 7 days, where he meets Michael Cray, Deathblow. We see him when his son Grant is born, and when he teaches him to be a mercenary like his daddy – After Team 7 Deathstroke only trusts his family. Sadly, a mission goes wrong and gets Grant killed, which prompts Slade to take revenge. This causes him to come to blows with Deathblow, an old ally, but nothing will stop him in his mission. The comic ends with Deathstroke killing his victim and then coming home to his new daughter, Rose. She will appear again in the pages of “Superboy”, where she’ll be involved with the Gen13.

“Deathstroke”, issue #6 introduces Midnighter, who is seen killing Deathstroke’s son. Wait, didn’t Grant die in the Teen Titans issue? I guess he died twice. While normally this issue would be considered more important, it’s a single-page flashback in which it’s merely hinted at that Midnighter is the killer.

Next: “Superman” Vol.3 issue 1 and “StormWatch” Vol.3 issues 1 – 6, by George Perez and Paul Cornell

“Birds of Prey” Vol.3 issue 0 and “Suicide Squad” Vol.4 issue 0

“Birds of Prey” written by Duane Swierczynksi; “Suicide Squad” written by Adam Glass

Wildstorm Concepts: kaizen-gamorra-as-regulus

all-star-westernThese issues show us the first mentions of Basilisk after the fall of Gamorra from “Team 7” and the ways in which Regulus (Kaizen Gamorra fused with Team 7 member Dean Higgins) tries to connect with his Team 7 teammates.

Amanda Waller wanted to take a permanent vacation after Team 7, but she’s found by an old soldier whom she had recruited years ago. He convinces her to stop her vacation and help him stop Basilisk, who is right there in Malaysia. Apparently they’re about to set off a bomb somewhere in the town. While the rest of the team search for the bomb, Waller faces the leader himself, Regulus.

They talk of their shared Team 7 past; Waller knows Regulus’ true identity. Regulus offers her to join his cause, but Waller refuses. She’s confident her team will stop the bomb from going off – but she doesn’t know they’re actually the trigger. It turns out it’s a gene bomb, meant to create metahumans for Basilisk’s cause. The bomb goes off, turning everyone in the town into monsters, including Waller’s team. Regulus is free to escape amidst the chaos, and Waller has no choice but to kill everyone in the place; it is mercy at that point. Afterwards, Waller feels so guilty for having recruited a man to his death that she decides from now on she’ll only work with people who deserve what happens to them; this leads her to create the Suicide Squad, a team made with convicted criminals with death sentences.

Meanwhile… Still hurt about losing her husband, Black Canary learns about a man from Basilisk wanting to sell something called a “mutation bomb” to Penguin, one of Batman’s enemies. She pretends to be a criminal and gets herself hired as one of Penguin’s bodyguards, hoping to be close to the action the night of the trade. However, things get messy when Batgirl falls from the ceiling and starts punching all the bad guys. After some fighting, Canary manages to convince Batgirl that they’re on the same team, and the trade is stopped. This marks the beginning of the all-female team known as Birds of Prey.

This issue is the first to reveal Dinah’s husband, Kurt, is alive and under the care of Amanda Waller. Kurt will spring into action in “Teen Titans.”

Next: “Teen Titans” Vol.4 issue 23.2 and “Deathstroke” Vol.2 issue 6, by Corey Mays, Dooma Wendschuh and Kyle Higgins.

“Team 7” Vol.2 issues 0 – 7, “Deathstroke” Vol.2 issue 0 and “Secret Origins” Vol.3 issue 11

“Team 7” written by Justin Jordan with dialogue by Tony Bedard; “Deathstroke” written by Rob Liefeld; “Secret Origins” written by Christy Marx

Wildstorm concepts: gen13-lynch wildcats-grifter team-7 gamorra-island gen13-alex-fairchild gen13-caitlin-fairchild kaizen-gamorra wildcats-ladytron wildcats-majestic wildcats-spartan

all-star-westernI was torn about the placing of these issues, given that they include a little scene taking place in the present, but I think it is fine to read them this early on. Team 7 in this continuity takes place five years before the “present”, unlike the much older original Team 7. They are the government’s reaction to the appearance of superheroes; they want a team capable of responding to them, of taking them down if need be. So they assemble a team of the best of the best, hoping they’ll be able to develop a metagene.

It all begins after Superman defeated Brainiac and made himself known to the world in the pages of “Action Comics”. The government’s first attempt at creating a super soldier, the Steel Soldier Project, failed during that crisis, so now they’re looking for an alternative. And John Lynch is a man with ideas. After Brainiac the government isolated something in the human genome that gives people superpowers; the metagene. Just like in the Wildstorm universe, there exists a gen-factor that makes people receptive to gaining powers.

Lynch comes up with Team 7 and the Majestic Project; the Team 7 members will be administered drugs and put under genetic experiments hoping that the extreme situations they’re constantly put into will awake any latent superpower in them. A bit like Project Genesis for the Gen13, or like the original Team 7, innit?

A team is put together: Dinah Lance, an infiltrator (who will become the superheroine Black Canary in the present), her husband Kurt Lance, a tracker, Slade Wilson, tactical genius (who will become Deathstroke), Alex Fairchild, weapons expert, James Bronson, a driven utility player, Summer Ramos, pilot, Cole Cash, Special Forces veteran (Grifter), Amanda Waller, NSA analyst and loan to the army, and Dean Higgins, strategy. If they seem like way too many, it’s because they are. There are way too many nobodies on the team and all of them wear generic military costumes. On the cover to the first issue they wear some funny looking armours and masks to help differentiate one another, but it’s worth nothing they never wear them inside. At least we got two recognizable Wildstorm characters in the mix.

There is a tenth team member mentioned in “Black Canary” Vol.4 issue 9: Some guy called Valentine Chan, who apparently was thrown out early on for being too violent. “Deathstroke” Vol.2 issue 0 also includes a consultant called Adeline Kane to the team. This is the woman who will become Deathstroke’s wife in the future. None of these two characters are actually seen during this series. Continue reading “Team 7” Vol.2 issues 0 – 7, “Deathstroke” Vol.2 issue 0 and “Secret Origins” Vol.3 issue 11

“Birds of Prey” vol.3 issue 25

Written by Christy Marx

Wildstorm concepts: gen13-lynch

This story takes place on the “Zero Year”, that is to say, six years before the “present” and a year before Team 7. We see how two future Team 7 members meet, and the first appearance of a beloved Wildstorm character on this continuity: John Lynch.

all-star-western

This takes place during the Zero Year story in “Batman”, but that’s not important. All that matters is one of Batman’s villains, Riddler, cuts off the electricity on the entire city, so crime starts running rampant. Lynch, a mere soldier at this point, is tasked with stopping whoever was responsible. He has a contact in town which might have information on it. Meanwhile, Dinah Drake is trying to stop all the people committing crimes. The dojo she lives in and where she practices martial arts is the most important thing in the world to her, so she wants to protect her street. By pure chance, she finds Lynch’s contact, but he’s been stabbed in the middle of all the chaos. The contact asks her to deliver his chip to Lynch. Even though there is a blackout, the chip works with a functional GPS, so Lynch and his men are able to track it. They aren’t the only ones, though. A mysterious group of ninjas are also after it. They confront Dinah, who has to run through the city and fight to avoid getting killed. She survives long enough for Lynch and the soldiers to arrive, and they make short work of the ninjas.

They offer to take Dinah home, but it was caught by a fire in the middle of all the chaos. Her dojo is destroyed. Impressed by the way she handed herself with all the ninjas, Lynch offers Dinah a job – she has the potential to be a skillful agent. And so begins a friendship between the two – which will be key when Lynch decides to include Dinah in his Team 7.

Next: “Team 7” Vol.2 issues 0 – 8, “Deathstroke” Vol.2 issue 0 and “Secret Origins” Vol.3 issue 11, written by Rob Liefeld, Christy Marx and Justin Jordan with dialogue by Tony Bedard.

“All-Star Western” vol.3 issues 17 -21

Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti

Wildstorm concepts:   stormwatch  authority-century-babies

Although this title is mainly about Jonah Hex, the backups included in each issue tell the story of another incarnation of StormWatch, eight centuries after the Demon Knights. They are comprised by Adam One, the real identity of Merlin; Doctor 13, a sceptical paranormalist; Jenny Freedom, a century baby; and Master Gunfighter, a Gunslighter.all-star-western

This short saga shows us a darker side of Adam, as he finds out vampire Mircalla Nosferata wants to assemble the Three Skulls of Boundless Rule, mystical items capable of granting any wish. Adam decides he wants such limitless power to himself, so he sets out to bring StormWatch back together. Apparently, the team from this century had disbanded, possibly after facing the Hidden people, a group of murderous Neanderthals.

Adam finds Jenny in Maryland, after she defeats the menace of Smokestack Jack. Doctor 13 is found in Laona, New York, proving the reports of paranormal murders were caused by nothing but normal humans. Master Gunfighter was in Texas, battling werewolves. Now Adam is prepared to race against Mircalla and her vampire followers.

Adam doesn’t tell his group that Mircalla is travelling in a group, though. He picked Doctor 13 to be nothing but a sacrifice, knowing he’s a virgin – Adam wants to use him as a distraction to grab the Skulls and run. The team enters the Lost City of Gold, where their quest should end. Immediately, they are ambushed by vampires who overpower them. Having no special abilities, Doctor 13 is promptly bitten by Mircalla, but his diet with a high concentration of garlic works as a venom and Mircalla explodes from the inside out. Without his queen, the rest of the vampires die soon after. The roof collapses, burying the Skulls forevermore.

In the end, after having found out about Adam One’s intentions, the other members of StormWatch are angered. They decide to leave Adam in the desert, without clothes or a horse. He’ll be fine; he’s immortal.

Next: “Birds of Prey” vol.3 issue 25, by Christy Marx