Was there ever an era of comics more painful and cheesy than the 1990s? Art that scoffed at proportion, stories that scoffed at structure, and an embrace of violence and whining as the two modes of masculinity are all sins that haunt the people to blame for them even now. Warren Ellis, faced with trying to revamp all this with DC’s The Wild Storm, its third issue out today, somehow manages to pull it off. All those old cheesy comics are back, but with much more grounding, maturity, and not a little wit.
The basic plot of Wildstorm comics remains the same: International Operations, a secret international conspiracy, is fighting aliens, who are also part of a secret international conspiracy, in the middle are a doughty band of heroes, and everybody finds the whole thing just as annoying and frustrating as any day job. What makes it stand out is Ellis’ plotting and tone paired with Jon Davis-Hunt’s grounded, unexaggerated artwork. They have coffee, argue over presentations, and bust each other’s chops in the way coworkers do. Ellis takes care to make everyone distinct, to write them with a shared lingo, to give them unique ways of speaking that have to fit around that lingo.
Davis-Hunt, meanwhile, shows off by not showing off. This book contains a precisely laid-out, carefully thought through action scene that sprawls across a bunch of pages but is still easy to follow. Davis-Hunt can do a better action scene than most Hollywood directors, these days. The result is something faithful to those old, cheesy books while only bringing forward what truly worked about them, and a welcome fresh take on superheroics.