Eliot Cole reads Stormwatch #9 by Peter Milligan and Miguel Sepulveda for Bleeding Cool;
This issue of Stormwatch contains a lot of elements of what has made the current series really rather excellent, but seems to be missing it's heart. I'm not entirely sure what it is, but it could be the lack of introspection all round. It just doesn't *feel* like a current Stormwatch comic book. However, we do get a nice Midnighter focus.
Midnighter is really being fleshed out in this issue,; his character is getting a nice development path. Basically paring gay Batman with an Avatar character. His desire to kill seems sudden, but the language (and meaning of that language) around that particular story device is a lot more disturbing than the device itself. Whilst this is a good thing, it seems off for a DC comic book, even if it does say TEEN PLUS on the front.
Milligan's work on damaged goods is sound, though, and we know this. His Hellblazer work is very solid, perhaps without the analysis of the early stuff there, but whose runs ever did? Cleverly, back on the Lucas Trent thread, we get a nice unanswered question with the ring. Which looks like something we'll hopefully revisit in the future.
It's with the dealing of Stormwatch as a team that it's hard to get a handle on whether Milligan himself has a handle on the voice of this team. I'm going to take a few panels from story page five as a visual description of this:
This is actually a relatively harmless panel in the grand scheme of things, but perhaps something that could have been handled in half the space.
"I'm really feeling the pain of the city" – By the way, I'm in tune with cities, and feel their pain.
"Like, uk, a force field, yeah?" – I am a child, you can't see me, so I must display it through, wait a minute, there are pictures in this book! OK, I'll admit to being a bit confused by Quantum's character in general, but have patience that I'll get there eventually. I just can't understand what I'm supposed to be thinking *right now*. I'm not afraid to admit a lack of grey matter sometimes, and I think I'm clearly missing a key element in her make-up.
"That would, like, do wonderfully, Jenny Quantum" – Wow. This just seems forced, I *do* like the humour of it, but I don't like the execution. I think that this panel is where the dialogue is most forced.
"I'm trying to probe his mind. It's strange but …" – Guess who's a telepath?
Panel 4 – Holy exposure, Batman!
Panel 5 – OK, a slight glimpse of what the title should be.
I also wanted to pick on the horrible two panels at the beginning of pages ten and eleven, respectively. "I. NEED. SUN. TO. FUNCTION." I could also have picked upon some of the more awkward gay moments to boot. Another thing that Mr. Milligan has done OK with Constantine, I believe.
It's all very confusing: When you read any arc of Milligan's Hellblazer issues, you'll see someone working with a full complement of characters, giving each their accurate, empathic voice, and providing long form storytelling to rival anything in any ongoing at the moment. So we know he can do character and spread that around a group, but on the evidence here, there's no team. Feel free to tell me where to find some Milligan team work, but I've got nothing. It just seems like we're getting the cliff notes version of everyone here, and not how they fit with each other.
A quick word on the art, and maybe this is key, it's not Stormwatch quality. It's not good or different enough to bring scale and awe, emotion and understanding, and frankly it's very derivative of some of the other DC titles out there. It's disappointing, because this is supposed to be a big, brash, clever book, with an individual style and the art needs to reflect that.
As I mentioned in my other review, I like the idea of penning myself in with a score. This book's a two. It's a two because the book doesn't feel right after a lot of good work done before, it's hard to take on its own, and it's hard to take a lot of it full stop because of the dialogue. I'm sure it will improve.