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The Wild Storm #2 has to follow its brilliant first issue, which made the most of hiring writer Warren Ellis as the mastermind for revitalizing the Windstorm Universe for DC Comics. That first issue was a thrilling melding of espionage thrills, transhumanism ideas, and thoroughly contemporary super-heroics. It’s too bad therefore that this second issue spends much of its time on exposition, and worse, exposition between characters that should all already know the info being spouted.
The issue opens with a great, nearly wordless sequence where Angela Spica, the transhumance engineer who announced herself to the world let issue, returns to a safe place afterpublicly saving billionaire Jacob Marlowe from death at the hands of an International Operations assassin. It’s a brilliant and quietly emotional start to the issue.
Unfortunately, after this we get a scene of IO execs talking in a room, giving us info and planning to find Angela. Followed by Jacob Marlowe in a room with Cole Cash (Grifter, for WildCATs fans) giving us info and planning to find Angela. Followed by a scene of two other characters, who work for Skywatch, planning to find Angela while talking about the backstory of Skywatch, the organization they both currently work for. Characters are introduced without really knowing 100% what roles they play in the scenes they are in, and the whole issue feels anticipatory but not especially tense.
Thankfully, Ellis is way too good a writer to make The Wild Storm #2 boring in and of itself. And given the massive task of redefining an entire universe, it’s to be expected there’s going to be prolonged moments of world-building that will require a lot of info being explained to the reader. I just wish that the issue had chosen a more artful and less repetitive way of conveying info. It really made parts of the issue feel a bit laborious to get through, frankly.
Luckily, even with the admittedly limited scope and scale of the story, Jon Davis-Hunt still manages to create effective art throughout The Wild Storm #2. That opening scene is really understated yet still rendered with impact. And the more I see of his grounded, realistic take on the world, the more I like it. It’s going to be a treat to see his approach, which features designs that look as if they are pulled from the world we live in, bump up against the more fantastic elements of the narrative. Indeed, the low-key approach to the issue, though it doesn’t do the “talking in rooms” scenes any favours, does accentuate the few brief flashes we get of the crazy super-powered, sci-fi world under the surface, making those moments pop.
Look, I don’t think this is a bad issue really. Yes, it’s focused on exposition and world-building to its detriment, in my opinion. But Ellis and Davis-Hunt are at least putting that stuff to good use, constructing a fascinating and dangerous world in which these characters and their schemes live. It’s becoming clear that this story is, at least in part, about a battle for world domination between two tech companies. And I’ve never seen that conflict approached in quite this way, with Ellis’ skill at cutting edge pseudo-science and high concept being put to such good use. To my mind, The Wild Storm #2 suffers a bit too much from “second-issue-itus,” but it feels like just a downshift before things kick into high gear as everyone makes their way to Angela. I anticipate this kind of issue will be more of a blip than a trend, and remain hugely excited for the story to come. 7.5/10