All good things must end. Even the so-so things too. Via his new blog, Warren Ellis LTD, the fan-favorite British writer has revealed that he’s completed the final chapter’s script.
DISCLAIMER: I level the criticisms below having not started the final story arc of THE WILD STORM, which I’ve heard has amped things up some.
So. DC Comics‘ remake of the WildStorm Universe via Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt’s THE WILD STORM, a nearly complete re-imagining of Jim Lee and Brandon Choi’s once great and former pocket corner of Image Comics’ loosely-connected universe of the 1990s. “Yeah, it was a’ight” had been my ultimate opinion of it. Mileage varies between devotees of the original WS universe at Image, DC’s various previous WS iterations in the 00s, and those coming in cold with this complete re-imagining. For me to enjoy TWS on its own merits I simply have to suspend my knowledge (and love) of these characters and concepts as how they were originated in the 1990s. It’s a complicated relationship (and my devotion to pre-DC WildStorm and my subsequent loathing of post-DC WildStorm is well documented).
I should probably elaborate some on my perspective. I appreciate and respect the genius behind such a project that Ellis has achieved here. But it’s all very surface-y for me, as like Jonathan Hickman (who creatively it seems is the illegitimate child of Grant Morrison and Ellis), Ellis is great for big ideas, especially science fiction with tech and paranoia, and is great at broad strokes and big canvases, but for me has been woefully low on character development and a range of emotional engagement and sympathetic characters. It’s the intellectual over the emotional, when in the best fiction both elements are required. But hey, when it comes to comics maybe I can blame some of my standards on the fact that I cut my teeth largely on Chris Claremont’s X-MEN in the 80s and early 90s where the man somehow managed to equally engage your intellect as well as your emotions (at least for this teenager at the time). But hey, I’ll cop to that “handicap”, if you will.
I think THE WILD STORM story could be a slightly better reading experience as one big novel read, as opposed to 24 chapters spread out over 2-plus years. But I’d still be emotionally flat on it, aside from frustration, due to the aforementioned lack of character depth.
Grifter, Zealot and Backlash are some of my favorite characters of all time. I hardly recognize them here (and I don’t just mean in terms of how they look). I know, I know, that’s kind of the point (‘cuz there was no way Jim Lee could have convinced Ellis to take this project had he not been given carte blanche to reshape it “in his image”). But don’t get me wrong, this is a far cry better than what DC allowed Rob Liefeld to do to ANY WildStorm character during DC’s THE NEW 52 several years back 😂😭
As much as I love Warren Ellis the person (I’ve faithfully read all of his weekly newsletters and all of his blog postings since the mid-00s), it does not give me any joy writing these words against one of his most ambitious projects. Suffice it to say, I’m obviously that jilted lover of the original WildStorm universe who was always going to allow unwavering nostalgia to get in the way of what could be new, beautiful relationship all its own. And truth be told, it’s really not so much his fault for any of this ire, since he is not the one who decided to sell WildStorm’s properties to DC Comics.
Oh, fun fact: just to give you all an idea of how deep WildStorm and I go — the very “mascot/icon” of this blog is an image of the character Zealot drawn by her original co-creator Jim Lee.