Spotlight on the Daemonites

The daemonites in this universe are pretty different than those in Wildstorm. Their appearance has more links to Lovecraft than to green lizards. Even though originally their species looked just like humans, generations of race mixing with aliens turned them into monsters.

  • Only the oldest daemonites look human [1] [2]. The rest are mostly blue and glowing, except when they aren’t:
  • The daemonite lords [3] have pink marks over their blue bodies.
  • We’re told red-colored daemonites are warrior class, elite [4]; however, normal units also turn red when they’re firing their weapons [5], and the Black Curate, one of their leaders, also looks red [6]. Furthermore, there’s mention of elite units from thousands of years ago who looked pink, purple and other variations [7].
  • The dead city daemonites, cannibals, turned orange after years of eating their own kind [8].
  • Human-daemonite hybrids look green, like Voodoo [9].
  • Daemonites which possess power from the “blue flame” are capable of turning their bodies into actual flame, like Helspont. [2]
  • Helspont counts with the Ebonite Blackguards, black daemonites which seem specialized in infiltration. [2]

The daemonites from this timeline also seem able to shapeshift, as they pull weapons from their bodies. In “Grifter”, Myev enters Max Cash’s body because his blood manages to touch Max, so this seems to support their bodies are very malleable. However, the hybrids in “Voodoo” need a particle generator to change their shape.

Another aspect which is highlighted more than ever before is their shared consciousness; these daemonites communicate telepathically all the time. They also take the secrecy of their invasion more seriously than the daemonites in Wildstorm: these ones spend almost all of their time in their human shells.

“Superman” reveals daemonites possess some kind of tentacle-bugs that crawl inside of their younglings and cause a low-grade cerebral shunt; daemonites use this method to educate themselves. The bugs grow on the young, acting for disciplinary control.

The only other thing we know about their culture is they used robots called Seekers to do the building for them; these automatons were not held together by any power source but by magic.

Their new background is rich and complex:

The daemonites share their old origin, having been harvested by the Kherubim to serve them. The daemonites rebelled and what followed was a war that became the stuff of legend; it was so huge that it created myths of angels and demons all the way to Earth. That’s right, the daemonites inspired the bible. Unlike the old WSU, though, the daemonites won this war, and most Kherubim were wiped away. Afterwards, the daemonites became the new reigning force in their galaxy. These first daemonites looked human-like; as they were created from the Kherubim, it makes sense.

After defeating the Kherubim the daemonites moved to a three-way war between the Thanagarians and Czarnians. The daemonites allied with Thanagar and helped them win against the Czarnians, but it was just a ploy. Mere months after, when the Thanagarians were ready to announce peace, the daemonite gifted them with food tributes to celebrate the victory. But these were disease ridden, and the plague spread all over the planet, killing millions. This threw the planet back into a posture of war, degenerating its civilization… the daemonites had won again.

We never had a clear origin for the original Helspont, even though Grant Morrison suggested he was the manifestation of the daemonite’s people’s will. In the New52 Helspont is simply the son of daemonite overcast “Helspire”; he’s the preeminent overlord of the daemonite empire and “high skyr of the second dominion.” Helspont looked human at first, just as his family, the royal family of the House of Daem. His original name was prince Artus. He was concerned that as their empire grew they were commingling their DNA with too many cultures, weakening the daemonite race. 3600 years ago from the present, he saw his worst fears realized when his own wife died trying to give childbirth. This pushes him to rebel against his mother. She orders her guards, Salsu and Quon, to take Artus outside; he’s cast out, renounced forevermore. But Artus promises to restore the daemonites’ genetic birthright and restore their proper place as conquerors of the universe, even if it takes him thousands of years.

Artus starts amassing an armada for centuries, first through piracy, then outright conquest. He obtains the power of the blue flame, which turns him from Artus into the terrifying Helspont. He even shares the power with his most faithful followers, which turn them unbeatable. Helspont’s powers are off the charts;

  • psychic abilities
  • telekinesis
  • flying
  • shooting a beam of fire from his head
  • setting things on fire with his mind
  • super-hearing
  • super-vision
  • super-strength
  • “the Blue Light of Truth,” a barrier against mind-reading
  • casting illusions
  • putting a spell on people to control them
  • projecting enough energy to power an entire ship
  • teleporting
  • creating his own atmosphere

However, Helspont doesn’t get a chance to return to his homeworld. While exploring how to travel faster than the speed of light to reach new galaxies to be conquered, some Elite daemonites used the graviton particle. This attracted the parasites known as Gravity Miners to our dimension. These creatures, which the daemonites called “Chrszy-rr”, destroy one third of their galaxy before they’re stopped.

Helspont decides to send his army out as scouts, pilgrims in search of fertile land to replace their lost homeworld. Entire star systems fall beneath his heel. Helspont uses the Chrszy-rr tragedy to justify his conquests and the rising position of the daemonites in the hierarchy of the universe. In his head Helspont is just doing what he promised to do; fighting to save his people.

300 years ago Helspont reaches Earth. His leading genetist, Skugardt, discovers that of all the beings in the universe, only the humans have the ability to manipulate themselves into superhumans. However, by this point Helspont had become so powerful that his own troops decided to imprison him. To do this, they start taking humans and experimenting on fusing them with daemonites to create metahumans soldiers. Although none of these prototype hybrids develops super-powers, this rebellion movement manages to take Helspont out. Only one of the hybrids survives: Warick. He ends up on Earth, while Helspont ends up imprisoned in a ship that is captured by StormWatch to become their Eye of the Storm.

Without him the agents he had left on Earth grow feckless, eventually dividing into several factions. They’re divided because of an ancient prophecy that states a Chosen One will appear and destroy them, although this event can also be read as one of evolution. While the daemonites agree that key to their species’ future lies on Earth, “evolving” through the metagen, the rest of the prophecy is interpreted in different ways. Some refuse to let go of their old ways and think they should wipe out the humans, while other daemonites believe the key lies in bonding with them, creating human-daemonite hybrids.

All the while, Warick feels Helspont will one day escape from his prison, so he begins attempting to create a resistance movement on Earth to prepare it for an invasion. This proves difficult, as his stories are dismissed as the ravings of a madman and he ends up in mental asylums several times. He’s forced to spread the word in secret, building his resistance as more of a cult. That’s the current situation at the start of the New52.

Next: “All-Star Western”, Vol.3 issues 17 – 21, by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti

Sources:
[1] “Grifter”, Vol.3 issue #10.
[2] “Superman Vol.3 Annual”, issue #1.
[3] “Voodoo”, Vol.2 issue #6.
[4] “Grifter”, Vol.3 issue #9.
[5] “Grifter”, Vol.3 issue #5.
[6] “Grifter”, Vol.3 issue #6.
[7] “StormWatch”, Vol.3 issue #8.
[8] “Voodoo”, Vol.2 issue #10.
[9] “Voodoo”, Vol.2 issue #1.

Spotlight on StormWatch

I thought I’d make an individual post detailing the new features of StormWatch in the New52, considering it’s one of the most developed concepts, next to the daemonites.

StormWatch is very different to its Wildstorm counterpart, being much more similar to Authority and Planetary. In the New52, they’re a secret group that deals with the hidden history of the world, ending threats that people never hear about. They first formed in the 11th century, aided by the mage Merlin after he had a vision of the coming threat of the daemonites. When they heard this warning the group misheard the words “daemonites”, and used them to call themselves the Demon Knights.

The team had various incarnations and names across the centuries, but there are always constants. They are ruled by mysterious people who call themselves the Shadow Cabinet, four beings from the Island of Avalon, the island from mythology where heroes go rest after they die; it is located within the Bleed. These people are never seen but they pay StormWatch’s enormous paychecks and erase the member’s identities from the public records; they even guided Merlin to create the first team in the Dark Ages. They created StormWatch to accomplish a secret purpose: prepare Earth for the coming of the dark god Brainiac, the “storm” they need to watch for. Another constant is all of the team’s line-ups include passing roles: like Engineers, century babies, Eminences of Blades, Kings of the Cities and others.

StormWatch across history:

The century baby from the 11th century, who joined the Demon Knights, was called Princess Janeen. She used the energy from her time; geometry and solid algebra. This group also included the first Engineer, Al Jabr. This team had to bring back Merlin from the Island of Avalon after he was killed by a daemonite, and they clashed with the aliens again when the Demon Knights recovered the Holy Grail the daemonites had hidden.

In the 12th century the century baby was Countess Jeannie. In this age of crusades and atrocities, Jeannie slaughtered both moors and Christians; for money, for glory, just to pass the time. Her vices led the Shadow Lords to dispose of her, teaching her an important lesson of controlling yourself.

In the 14th century the century baby was Sister J, a nurse who engaged in an affair with Merlin. The magician aged backwards, so he witnesses all the StormWatch teams. It was during this time that the event known as the Night of Walpurgis happened, when the daemonites did their first known arrival. The group learned to watch the skies for the red clouds in which the aliens traveled, and because of this they were the first team to call themselves StormWatch.

In the 15th century the team went by the name Veiled Sect; in that time they met in a secret chamber under the Vatican, and the Shadow Lords called themselves the Dark Lords. One of the team’s members was the Vitruvian Man, who fell in love with his teammate Isabella. This went against the Dark Lords’ rules, so they responded by killing the woman. Knowing they would kill him too, Vitruvian Man went into hiding, mourning Isabella through the years and up to the present day.

In the 16th century one of the four Shadow Lords mysteriously disappeared from the Island of Avalon, leaving three of them.

In the 18th century the group debated whether it was moral to be so furtive, but when they went public the different countries started arguing about where StormWatch loyalties laid with. This escalated into what became known as the Seven Years’ War, aka the French and Indian War. It took StormWatch thirty years to change remembered history and erase all traces that they existed. After this, they learned their lesson about remaining in secret.

In the 19th century the century baby was called Jenny Freedom, who escaped from a slave plantation. She fought with the energy of her age: light and steam. The StormWatch of this time had to face the Hidden People: they are regular enemies of all the group’s incarnations, descendants from the Neanderthals who want their kind to become the dominant species. They seek to build “devolver” machines to destroy the Homo sapiens. The StormWatch of this time disbanded temporarily for unknown reasons, until Adam One (Merlin’s real name) brought them back together to find the Three Skulls of Boundless Rule. These objects could alter reality to grant any wish, so they had to make sure they wouldn’t fall in the wrong hands. A team was assembled: Jenny Freedom, Doctor 13, Master Gunfighter and Adam, and they faced Mircalla Nosferata, a vampire who wanted to exterminate humanity.

In the 20th century the century baby was our old friend Jenny Sparks, who embodied the anarchic and electric spirit of her time. StormWatch faced the Hidden People again, but this time their foes managed to build a Devolver. The StormWatch from this time was promptly killed, including their Engineer, Archie Trundle.

The current incarnation witnesses the arrival of the superheroes. Until then StormWatch had had a clear field, they’d been the sole authority. The heroes change everything; they are the sign that this is the group’s final century. It is prophesised that StormWatch will be finished in a catastrophic battle, with the team turning on itself. It is also in this age that StormWatch will fulfil its function of facing Brainiac… This group travels in Eye of the Storm, a giant ship they stole from the daemonites and which remains hidden from any detection thanks to travelling at lightspeed on a circle around the planet, inside hyperspace. It’s pretty much their version of the Carrier, and it can even create teleporting Doors. Unlike the Wildstorm ones, though, these doors can be summoned non-verbally.

What lies in the future for this team? We shall find out in “StormWatch”, vol.3.

Next: Spotlight on the daemonites

“Demon Knights” issues 0 – 23

Issues #0-15 written by Paul Cornell, issues #16-23 written by Robert Venditti 

Wildstorm Concepts: authority-engineers  stormwatch WildCATS - Daemonites

Although not directly Wildstorm-related, this series features the first Engineer and the first StormWatch, so it thought it was fair to include it here.1-jpg

Demon Knight tells the story of seven heroes coming together by chance to face unlikely odds… But was it by chance? In reality, everything was orchestrated by Merlin, who saw visions of upcoming threats and realized the world needed a team of protectors. It takes place during the Dark Ages, so most of these “heroes” are violent, if not outright amoral. A couple of them don’t stay in the group for long, due to their villainous nature.

The team is comprised by Jason Blood, who can switch places with the demon Etrigan; Madame Xanadu, youngest sister of Morgaine Le Fay; Vandal Savage, the immortal Cro-Magnon; Shining Knight, a remnant of fallen Camelot; the Horsewoman, a paralytic woman capable of communicating with horses; Al Jabr, a wise man and Engineer; and Exoristos, Amazon from the island of Themyscira.

Merlin receives instructions from the Shadow Lords, four beings from the Island of Avalon who instruct him to create the team. He foresees that Jason Blood will end up killing his lover, Xanadu, if his anger keeps on growing unchecked, so Merlin fuses Jason with the demon Etrigan so that their personalities balance each other. Camelot is destroyed soon after, but Jason and Xanadu had been made immortal so that they could live on until the Demon Knights existed. Camelot falls because of the attack of alien spaceships which are never identified, but could they be the daemonites Merlin was warned against?

Merlin is also present when another reincarnation of Camelot is destroyed, for the city is a repeating concept which is always rebuilt again. This time he saves Sir Ystin, a knight with pure heart, and makes her drink from the Holy Grail so that she becomes immortal too. This taste from the Grail will leave Ystin yearning for more forever after, so she sets on a quest to find the Grail and use it to rebuild Camelot. The Grail has been stolen by the daemonites, so Merlin’s actions end up bringing his heroes against his enemies, as he planned.

The Demon Knights first get together to face the Questing Queen, a tyrant who wants to find the Holy Grail to rule the world. She’s headed for the city of Alba Sarum, destroying any town she finds in her way. The Demon Knights happen to be in her way, so the Queen’s advance is finally stopped. This grants the heroes passage to Alba Sarum, where Merlin was staying. But the daemonites had already made a move against the magician, controlling human bodies to remain in the shadows and murdering Merlin.

Sadly, the Demon Knights have no chance of finding Merlin’s killer, so instead they set out to bring him back to life. It is a dangerous quest in which they visit Avalon, the land of the dead, and after they turn out triumphant Merlin dubs them the first incarnation of StormWatch.

The team meets again 30 years later, when the vampire Cain is making his way across Europe with a horde of vampires; he plans to turn the amazons of Themyscira into his own unstoppable undead army. The Knights begrudgingly get together again and stop Cain. In reward, the Amazons of Themyscira share with them the information they have about the Holy Grail; now the Knights have a location. However, when they visit it they find a nest of Giants who work for the daemonites, hoarding treasures that would help humanity if they were released.

Stealing the Grail enrages all of the Giant people and a war is started. The group is forced to take refuge in Al-Wadi, the city the Engineer has built. In there they hold a last stand against the Giants, ultimately defeating them with help of the Grail. They are a proper team, now. They won’t separate again like they did 30 years ago. Those who try to take the Grail, that is, who try to work against good, now have to learn that the Demon Knights will forever be opposing them.

All in all, this is a fantastic series which plants the seeds for the new Wildstorm universe.

Next: Spotlight on StormWatch

Wildstorm in Flashpoint (or How the New Wildstorm Universe was Born)

Flashpoint written by Geoff Johns; Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager written by Jimmy Palmiotti; Lois Lane and The Resistance written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; The World of Flashpoint written by Rex Ogle

Wildstorm concepts: wildcats-authority  wildcats-grifter  team-7  authority-century-babies

Flashpoint is the event which creates the new DC Universe and fuses it with the Wildstorm and Vertigo. It’s centred on the Flash, who after going back in time to prevent his mother’s death, changed the world’s timeline and altered history forever. The book reveals that originally the DCU, Vertigo and Wildstorm were all part of a single timeline, and Dr. Manhattan split them in three to weaken Earth for his invasion. Meaning that when Flash went back in time and changed history, what 1actually happened was that these timelines got back together “like they were meant to be.” It’s better not to think about it too hard. In this new timeline, Wonder Woman and her amazons declared war on Atlantis and took over the United Kingdom. Now flash and the other heroes have to work together to change this apocalyptic timeline and make things normal again.

One of the few Wildstorm characters to appear in the event is Grifter. Cole doesn’t appear all that much, but we get small glimpses into his character, his personality and the ways in which these differ from his previous incarnation.

Flashpoint Grifter appears for the first time in Flashpoint #3, during one splash page in which he welcomes Lois Lane to his Resistance. This continues in Lois Lane and the Resistance, a three-issue miniseries. It is written by Abnett and Lanning, Wildstorm veterans who handled the first year of Authority post World’s End. Grifter appears in the second issue, and he gets to be in the cover! We’re introduced to this timeline’s Team 7, the best black ops America could assemble during Afghanistan: Grifter, Sergeant Rock (from Our Army At War), Lieutenant Reid (Magog), Kate Kane (Batwoman), Zinda Blake (Lady Blackhawk), John Stewart (Green Lantern) and Gunner (from the Losers). Basically, all characters who had ties to the military in the old DCU. All of them but Grifter die on the following page, killed by crazy Muslims, and Grifter needs to be saved by a new character called Britannia (Penny Black). Grifter mentions being a telepath, which makes you wonder how on earth he got his powers. He touches Penny’s armour and apparently establishes a technopath connection which her – which causes him to get a puppy-crush. It feels a bit unbecoming.

Once this Team 7 flashback is over we return to the Resistance, and one realizes Grifter is still wearing the same clothes he wore back in his Team 7 days. Nowadays he’s become an infamous leader. He didn’t plan it, but he had no choice but to assemble a group of weirdos after the Amazons took over the United Kingdom. That does sound like our good old Grifter, who unlike most DC heroes he murders amazons without blinking. In the end the Resistance and Lois Lane reunite with their informant, none other than Penny Black, and they’re ready rush forward to the final battle in Flashpoint #5.

Before the climatic conclusion, however, Cole is seen in a couple of comics. He appears in a montage sequence in The World of Flashpoint #2, while Circe explains that the heroes in this world are no different from its villains; “they are all out trying to shape the world their way. Everything is a matter of perspective.” I suppose that’s as much insight to Grifter’s psychology as we’re going to get. In the following issue of this book, the main character jumps into the final showdown of Flashpoint #5, and Grifter can be seen in a panel killing atlanteans. He’s also seen in Flashpoint #4: he’s behind Enchantress as she speaks about her team, the Secret Seven. Kind of weird, because Cole belongs to The Resistance.

On to Flashpoint #5: Grifter joins the final battle and he gets a double page spread as his group comes to save all of the main character’s butts. Sadly, he is murdered in the following page by Enchantress, screaming “Arzzz.” Make of that what you will.

During the final pages, when Pandora is merging the timelines to form the new universe that becomes the New 52, we get a glimpse of the old Wildstorm Universe in which the artist draws Zealot’s uniform wrong. In a way, that’s classic Wildstorm shenanigans. When they show the New 52 universe Grifter gets to stand in the middle of the Justice League, front and centre; that’s pretty cool.

Another Wildstorm concept is shown in the pages of “Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravagers”, where there is a woman called Jenny Blitz with the capacity of causing things to explode with her mind. It was written by Jimmy Palmiotti, Wildstorm veteran from “21 Down”. I asked the author on Twitter if Jenny Blitz was a century baby and he said “sort of”, so I suppose it is left to our interpretation.

In the end all the timelines are united together, but Doctor Manhattan steals 10 years from history and reality gets twisted, that’s why everything is different instead of just the old WSU fused with the old DCU. The New 52 timeline is created… and many Wildstorm characters are born again.

Next: “Demon Knights” issues 0 – 23 by Paul Cornell and Robert Venditti

Introduction

With a new Wildstorm universe about to be created, as Warren Ellis announced the “Wild Storm” to be released in February, it seems like the right time to analyse what came before. Many people consider the “real” Wildstorm universe died in 2011, when the imprint was closed and DC rebooted everything. But the characters were far from gone.

As it turns out, the DC and Wildstorm characters had always belonged together! But a terrible villain split the universe, creating the DC Universe and the Wildstorm Universe as separate things. Now that they’re finally together again, their real stories can be told, and dozens of Wildstorm concepts get reintroduced in brand new and unexpected ways. It’s fun for old and new readers alike! That’s my take on it, anyway. It took a while for the “New 52” relaunch to find its footing and produce stories worth reading, and by that point most of the old Wildstorm readers had jumped ship.

My hope with this blog is to show all the Wildstorm stories produced after 2011 tell one cohesive story hidden among the several DC titles, and they develop the characters in ways we hadn’t seen before. I believe they are worth reading, and they just needed a fan to put the spotlight in them. For example, a big point of concern was the Wildstorm characters wouldn’t get to kill anymore, given that the DC heroes are a lot tender. Luckily, this didn’t happen at all; there’s plenty of bloodshed ahead.

Following the example of that great blog, Weathering Wildstorm, I’ll be reviewing several issues at a time, usually by story arc, going through every DC book which features a Wildstorm concept. I’ll try make things chronological, giving it a definite reading order for those who want to pick up where 2011 left off.

Next: Wildstorm in Flashpoint (or How The New Wildstorm Universe Was Born) – by Geoff Johns, Jimmy Palmiotti, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Rex Ogle.