Warren Ellis continues his run on Stormwatch, slowly bending and shaping it to his will. He also persists with his technique of stand-alone issues. The part focuses solely on Jack Hawksmoor. Although it gives us more of an insight into his nature the story isn’t very Stormwatch. There is a Battalion story with the same problem and a Jenny Sparks story which does provide a very revealing catalogue of her past and a mini-mystery. The Rose Tattoo one only features her for about two pages as the rest of the team goes on a multinational pub crawl but serves to help us get to know the other characters. Finally there is a Stormwatch mission that references monsters from before Ellis’ tenure but feels like a Planetary prototype.
None of the stories are bad but they certainly aren’t as Stormwatch focussed as the previous volume. You could replace the characters with other superheroes and they would work just fine. It seems like Mr Ellis had some stories and some jokes to tell and these people got caught up in it. He is flexing his literary muscles though as each issue uses a different storytelling technique. Narration, internal monologue, dialogue, retrospective journalising are all here and chosen appropriately.
The art is really good and seems to have had more of a polish than the last volume. There is a lot more detailing in the panels, the figures look sharper, the angles and lighting are more imaginative and the layouts have a bit more novelty to them. The star of the show is the Jenny Sparks story. As she talks us through the last century the art style changes every decade reflecting how comics were drawn in that period. We go from 50’s Superman to 80’s Watchmen (complete with parody cover) through Dick Tracy and more. This is inspired and superbly executed – a real genius touch.
It doesn’t seem to have the energy or cohesion of the previous volume and although Bendix’s master plan is hinted at the overall story-arc does not move forward. This feels more of a spinoff or even an introduction, an issue zero, than the next part of an ongoing storyline but it is certainly worth reading. Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Stormwatch Volume Three: Change or Die – Warren Ellis