by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
I have a friend who loved Law & Order until someone pointed out to him just how predictable every episode is. Law & Order was notorious for having a particularly rigid structure, but I’d argue that predictability is built into all procedurals. That is, so long as we understand the procedure. Everything follows logically from what comes before — once the victim is identified, the police will want to talk to their home, work, family and friends, for example — so we have a rather strong expectation of what will come next. That may make it sound like it’s difficult to surprise people in a procedural, but those strong expectations actually make it much, much easier to do something unexpected, as the “expected” is such a known quantity. This is something Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt clearly understand, leaning hard into the expected of The Wild Storm 7 while simultaneously taking us in some unexpected new directions.
That new direction comes in the form of John Colt, who is introduced needing an emergency evacuation from his post spying on an I.O. black site. His sudden arrival is surprising enough, but he quickly shakes things up back at Marlowe’s WildC.A.T headquarters, as Colt pokes holes in all of their leading theories about what exactly is going on. He doesn’t yet have a better explanation, but he knows enough to think that Marlowe’s status as an extraterrestrial has nothing to do with it. It’s in keeping with the elusive aesthetic of this series that a character can arrive to totally undermine what we think we know about what’s going on, leaving us on even shakier ground than we started — we’re back to square one, though the wheels seem to be turning in Colt’s head. Also in keeping with this series’ aesthetic: Colt’s white-knuckling his way through an improvised escape. He didn’t plan to fight his way to a broom closet a floor above his office, but he’s more than capable of doing so at a moment’s notice:
I don’t know why gravity seems to go all Inception-y during this scene, but Davis-Hunt draws it with such schematic clarity, it really doesn’t matter — we see exactly how Colt brings down each of these guys.
As delighted as I am by the wrench Colt throws into the series’ machinations, I have to say that even the more straightforward procedural elements are a pleasure to read. There’s nothing surprising about I.O.’s scrambling to figure out what is going on with Marleow and Angela Spica and this WildC.A.T., or about Spica demanding some answers about what the heck is going on, but Ellis delivers those moments with enough well-observed character details that they’re full of new information, even if they aren’t advancing the plot in any meaningful way. I guess, in that way, Law & Order was a terrible point of reference — I’d gladly read an issue of Wild Storm that just details characters following a logical progression of action; it’d still pack in more nuanced character details and clever artwork than most other series on the shelves.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?
Great review. I really enjoyed this issue. I’d honestly not noticed the procedural aspects of the issue, but now that you’ve mentioned them, they’re pretty obvious. The Jackie King exposition sequence at the beginning makes sense because this is the first issue of a new arc and comes after the self-imposed one-month pause. It’s an important – and necessary – state of play declaration. Jackie comes across as a very likable character too, further muddying the waters for anyone inclined to view IO as the uncomplicated ‘bad guys’. Her badmouthing Miles Craven was a nice touch, for example, and it’s clear from both the fact that she takes public transport and that we see her talking to her cat while on the loo, that we’re meant to view her sympathetically. (And I certainly do.)
The John Colt action sequence was sheer class from start to finish. An instant plunge into an undercover operation about to go sour that reveals Colt’s abilities (while being coy as to just how he’s got them) and the limitations of Adrianna’s, it’s riveting stuff. What I particularly like about it is that it contrasts so well with last issue’s much more visceral Michael Cray fight. Davis-Hunt is a phenomenal artist. His facial work is excellent and he can do action extraordinarily well, too. I’ve been saying to anyone who’ll listen (and a few who won’t) that this might be the best comic on the market at present, so I’ll say it here as well. 🙂
Thanks again for the review. Loved the new insights that only added to my enjoyment of the issue.
Glad you enjoyed it! The more I think about it, the less this issue advances the plot in any meaningful way — indeed, Colt’s arrival only seems to set things back a bit — but that only makes me love it more. This creative team can wring so much out of the most mundane details (which they really pack in here), that I’m perfectly content to follow King’s morning routine.
Lol. Yes, I totally agree. Her relationship with her cat was nicely done. As was the look of panic on Mitch’s face when he realised he was late with her coffee. Even just the wild CAT sitting around talking was absorbing. I *loved* Angie’s ‘Sure you are’ line. Man, Ellis just nails dialogue so well.