The Wild Storm Volume 3
Reprints The Wild Storm #13-18
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Jon Davis-Hunt
Ever since Len Wein and Dave Cockrum introduced to the all-new all-different X-Men, comic creators had madly searched in vain for a creation that would shake the foundations of comics. Because they use this event as a template, the ideas they present are often teams of young, angsty heroes with as much interpersonal conflict as they have battles with supervillains. Gen13 was an attempt to freshen up the Wildstorm line at Image Comics, their first issue dropping in 1994. The presentation is dripping in both X-Men influences and MTV trends, one member is even named Grunge, a reference that immediately dated itself. The original Gen13 concept and execution is yet another reminder of why it was vital for Warren Ellis to freshen up the Wildstorm line with this sprawling, world-building maxi-series.
The Gen13 members don’t appear in this volume, but their parents do as part of one of the significant story arcs. In the last installment, the former director of International Operations John Lynch was one of many people across the globe who saw the data dump done to create tension between I.O. and Skywatch. Lynch isn’t interested in settling scores with his nemesis in the stars Henry Bendix. He’d rather clean up loose ends from a series of experiments done during his tenure. We follow Lynch as he visits the subjects who were injected with alien DNA recovered from Daemons. Each person has developed a unique ability and for the most part, chosen to live in isolation from most people.
The one subject that becomes one of the chief villains for the rest of this series is Mark Slayton, known as Backlash in his Image Comics days. Slayton has gone insane from the Dameon DNA which is starting to talk to him, guiding his hand and turning him into a serial killer. Lynch barely makes it out of their encounter alive, but Slayton begins tracking his old superior officer. The Slayton segments are some genuinely chilling horror, showcasing a skill of writer Ellis to infuse the superheroic and fantastic with the disturbingly creepy. The human mind most certainly would not handle the reconstitution of DNA very well, and Slayton is the perfect example of how the psyche would crack when a mortal man was given such extraordinary powers. He’s not a world-destroyer on his own, just an incredibly dangerous individual whose morality has evaporated.
The relationship between the Daemons and Khera becomes more complicated for Angela Spica. In the last chapter, she was told a version of the story by Jacob Marlowe, a Khera and head of the Halo Corporation. This time around, she communes with a Dameon who tries to explain that they work directly in the minds of humanity, hoping to create a balance of powers and preserve life on Earth. The Khera, he argues, wish to deform the planet, shaping it to match their will and purposes. This Dameon also takes credit for the creation of Jenny Sparks as a continuously reincarnating and sentient heart of the planet. Spica is deeply conflicted about who to believe in this ever-increasingly complex series of alliances and conspiracies.
A momentous event takes place when Spica decides to go with the fourth party in this whole mess, the ragtag group being formed by the Doctor and Jenny Sparks. Since the last volume, they’ve recruited Jack Hawksmoor. Hawksmoor was part of Skywatch’s answer to the experimentation done by Lynch for I.O. This resulted in a human being evolved to exist in a world of urban sprawl, able to breathe and process horrendous air pollution and live in the ruins of crumbling metropolises. Originally, Hawksmoor as a member of Wildstorm’s The Authority had been framed a god of cities, but I really like this new vision of the character. It’s in line with the other story elements Ellis is presenting of all-powerful organizations using humans as tools and lab rats. The idea of a human that is adapted for a seemingly inevitable climate and societal collapse would be just the thing an org like Skywatch or I.O. would be interested in.
All of this perfectly sets up the fourth and final volume, which will bring together all of the plot threads and set the stage for where this universe will go next. This third chapter is my personal favorite, and the one I feel is tying all the plot threads together best. We are finally getting a sense of the underlying conflict that shapes everything else with the Daemon and Khera. The Lynch storyline looks at the consequences of humanity, using itself to make weapons. The Angela Spica story moves into an exciting and rebellious stage, putting new players on the board who don’t have allegiances to any of the old parties.