by Ryan Desaulniers
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
The opening panel of issue ten of The Wild Storm by Warren Ellis and artist Jon Davis-Hunt is a half-page shot showcasing a new table upon which coffee should not be be placed.
The next three panels on the bottom of the page let the audience know that one member of the team (Cole Cash) insists on putting his coffee mug on the table, and Kenesha moves the mug off the table and wants to blow things up very ardently, but I do not know enough about her to really understand. The next three panels on page two discuss the merits of blowing things up. The three panels after further explore the merits of blowing things up without elaborating on them whatsoever. The three panels after that dismiss the idea of blowing things up as unsound. Then, in a twist, the first panel on page three suggests that maybe blowing things up is a good idea after all.
While it may seem a bit critical to break down the opening of The Wild Storm 10 in such a way, I remember David Mamet, in a letter to the writers’ room of a show he had created, informing the staff that any scene wherein two or more characters discuss events which have happened or events which will happen is inherently undramatic; the great exception to this rule being in the heist drama when perfectly-laid plans described in detail to the audience immediately goes awry when put into motion. In roughly six pages and 36 panels of this issue of Wild Storm, the characters discuss a plan that may or may not be put into effect. The following scenes in the panels and pages of the rest of the issue neither elaborate nor infringe upon the plan introduced at the opening. Though Davis-Hunt draws the hell out of the issue and plays with page composition, and I still love the characters, a lot of this issue serves no narrative purpose.
As the issue progresses, Ellis dives deeper into a pre-established theme of the interwoven dynamic of technology vs. nature through Bendix’s soliloquies on Skywatch and in the confrontation between the Doctor (Shen Li-Min) and the cyber baby protector of the world “techne” (Jenny Sparks). For any fan of Ellis this issue will come as no surprise: thematically he remains incredibly engaging, narratively he wanders around like a child let off its leash in a toy store.
Ellis’ world-building in the series so far has been intentionally complicated in a way that demands our attention, but an issue like this makes me question his willingness to drop the pacing of a title to only further some character development and get some exposition out. It makes me wonder if serialization might make this issue feel more of a slump than it might be had this title been released all at once. And I wonder what he has in store for us to kick the narrative back into gear.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?