Reaching a Fever Pitch in The Wild Storm 14

by Drew Baumgartner

Wild Storm 13

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I’ve spent plenty of write-ups of The Wild Storm praising Jon Davis-Hunt’s diagrammatic approach to action AND connecting that aesthetic to the interconnected world Warren Ellis is crafting. It’s a remarkably unified vision that has the power to keep even the wordiest talking-head pages engaging (though admittedly, I tend to use big action sequences to illustrate its efficacy). And to be sure, there are definitely some talking-head sequences in this issue, but as the central conflict between Skywatch and IO heats up, the slow simmer that defined the first year of this series is quickly becoming a rolling boil, meaning pretty much every scene is going to feature some action, too. Continue reading

Escalation and Coincidence in The Wild Storm 12

by Drew Baumgartner

Wild Storm 12

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Towards the end of this issue, Jackie King dismisses the simultaneity of the attack on Hightower and IO’s own attack on Skywatch as “coincidental.” She’s not wrong, exactly — not only was the Hightower attack not retaliatory, it wasn’t even perpetrated by Skywatch — but she’s not quite right, either. In a series so fixated on cause and effect, there are no coincidences; these attacks may be separate bowling pins, but they were set in motion by the same ball. It’s a hell of an idea for us to get our heads around — especially when one of the most cunning characters makes clear she hasn’t quite internalized it yet — but it’s an attitude that Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt have woven into every panel of this series, creating a kind of fractal that keeps pointing to cause and effect. Continue reading

Narrative Distance in The Wild Storm 11

by Drew Baumgartner

Wild Storm 10

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

As readers, we’re all duly familiar with the narrative modes — third person omniscient, first person, objective observer, etc — we’re taught them from an early age, and are aware of them in basically all narrative writing. We’re far less aware of the narrative modes in visual storytelling, and lack the kind of common nomenclature to identify them that we have for literary narrative modes. But there’s no doubt that they profoundly influence our perceptions of visual media — there’s a profound difference between a camera shooting from over a character’s shoulder to one that is meant to literally represent their point of view, and we can feel that difference, even if we don’t have precise language to describe it. It allows visual storytelling to be much more visceral and subtle than prose, as we’re not necessarily consciously aware of its effects. With The Wild Storm 11, Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt exploit this feature of visual narrative for all its worth, keeping us at a distance from any of the events of the issue. Continue reading

The Narrative Meanders in The Wild Storm 10

by Ryan Desaulniers

The Wild Storm 10

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. Continue reading

Spicing Up the Procedural in The Wild Storm 7

by Drew Baumgartner

Wild Storm 7

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. Continue reading

Complicating the Schematic in The Wild Storm 6

by Drew Baumgartner

Wild Storm 6

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

If there’s an aesthetic that could define all of comics — perhaps we’d call it a medium-defining aesthetic — it’s that of simplification and omission. Those acts are simply built into creating comics, where characters, settings, objects and ideas have to be depicted in two dimensions. That is, even the most detailed, photo-realistic style is a simplified representation of the 3-dimensional space it aims to represent. But the rigors of a monthly deadline put even that level of simplification out of reach, leading many to an even more simplified line-art approach. And then, of course, there are storytelling choices, as only a finite number of panels can fit in a given comic — some moments must be omitted. The choices of which moments to include is really what the art of comics storytelling is, whether it’s this character’s face versus another’s hands, or picking up on these conversation a beat or two later, or even omitting a scene altogether. That aesthetic often comes together in a way that prioritizes clarity, simplifying designs and actions and omitting needless details to make sure every beat is understood by the audience. In this way, we might understand a given comic to function as a kind of schematic — a simplified version of the world it depicts. This is certainly true of The Wild Storm, which is brimming with truly schematic, almost clinically clear sequences, though it puts them to use in ways that are far more complicated than they may initially seem. Continue reading

Wants, Needs, and Given Circumstances in The Wild Storm 5

by Ryan Desaulniers

Wild Storm 5

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

In a world as complicated as this one, replete with conspiracies between corporations, technology theft, aliens living among us puny humans, and a gigantic cast of characters, it helps to find ways to keep things simple. In The Wild Storm 5, writer Warren Ellis and artist Jon Davis-Hunt introduce many new, somewhat confusing elements to the narrative, but underscore these revelations with a firm grounding in characters’ wants and needs. Continue reading

The Wild Storm 4

Alternating Currents: The Wild Storm 4, Ryan and Drew

Today, Ryan D. and Drew are discussing The Wild Storm 4, originally released May 17th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

What a day. What a motherfuckin’ day.

Alonso Harris, Training Day

Ryan D: I recently re-watched Training Day and damn, what a good film. While there are plenty of things which stand out in the film, one of its best features is that all of the events of the movie take place in one day. By the end of the running time, the audience really gets a sense of exhaustion which matches that of the characters because so darn much is crammed into a day. Similarly, in The Wild Storm 4, I realized by the end of the issue that all the events in the series thus far have taken place in the course of one day. After a very action-filled issue 3, I enjoyed the change of pace as the events of the day start to sink in. Continue reading

Midnighter and Apollo 1

midnighter-apollo-1

Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Midnighter and Apollo 1, originally released October 5th, 2016. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

slim-banner

Mark: The creative pinnacle of Midnigher and Apollo 1 for me is the moment Extrano makes an appearance. Extrano is one of those embarrassing gay characters introduced in the 80s. Limp wrists heavy with scarves, Extrano played the part of perfectly inoffensive gay best friend for everyone, called himself “Auntie,” and, don’t worry, contracted HIV (because of course he did). He may be the first openly gay superhero, but there’s a reason Extrano was shoved shamefully to the back of the comic book closet. Extrano was a character defined by his gayness, one note played over and over until he was inevitably given HIV, because what else are you going to do with a gay characters in the 90s but make him a victim of the gay plague? Continue reading