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?