01/04/2009. Contributed by Neale Monks
pub: Titan/Wildstorm. 143 page graphic novel. Price: £11.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84576-749-5.
check out website: www.titanbooks.comand www.dccomics.com
The Wildstorm Universe of characters is part of the DC Comics stable of titles, but set apart from the standard DC characters we know so well. The super-heroes of this universe are portrayed in a grittier and often more sexual way and their adventures are far more violent and bloody. While distinct from the DC Universe of super-heroes to a degree, many characters are deliberate re-interpretations of popular DC characters. Midnighter for example is a darker, more violent version of Batman.
There are several different comic book series within the Wildstorm Universe and 'Wildstorm Armageddon' is a cross-over title that connects six different teams of characters together. The gist of the story is this: a huge spaceship known as the Carrier has crashed into the Earth. In doing so, the world has been turned upside down with perpetual night across much of the land, allowing vicious monsters to prowl about unchecked. Those super-heroes who remain are fighting a losing battle against the super-human forces of evil and the rest of humanity has been all but wiped out.
In a bid to prevent this calamity, a heroine with precognitive powers called Void has travelled back in time to intercept Midnighter at a time when he is still on board a fully-functioning Carrier far out in space. She teleports him into the future, showing his what will happen when the Carrier slams into the Earth. In the future, he fights alongside those members of The Authority team still alive just long enough to pick up some clues about what went wrong. The Void then sends him back to his own time.
The remaining five stories within the book are essentially similar, with the Void selecting a member of each Wildstorm Universe super-hero team to come forward with her into the apocalyptic future. So Maximum Man is taken from the Tranquility Universe, Dane from Wetworks, Caitlin Fairchild from Gen-13, John Doran from Stormwatch and Nemesis from Wildcats.
The quality of the artwork is uniformly excellent. While Christos Gage took care of the narrative, the artwork for each story was done by a different team of artists, so each has its own distinct flavour. Invariably, though, the fight scenes are exceptionally bloody and the female characters extraordinarily curvaceous, even by comicbook standards, and seemingly loathe to wear anything other than the most revealing costumes. In other words, what's presented is very much up to the usual 'Wildstorm' standard.
In terms of storytelling, though, 'Wildstorm Armageddon' doesn't work especially well. Since none of the stories presented is anything other than the first act in a larger production, by the end of the book the reader will have the sense of having read the first chapters of six different books. 'Wildstorm Armageddon' is only the first part of a trilogy, the other books being 'Wildstorm: Revelations' and 'Number of the Beast', but because it is further sub-divided into six somewhat independent narratives, the overall impact of the book is weaker than you might expect.
That said, though, 'Wildstorm Armageddon' is entertaining and an impressive opening to the series.
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