Shot Compositions Sell the Relationships in The Wild Storm 16

by Drew Baumgartner

The Wild Storm 16

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

We met Angela Spica at a weird point in her life. While she was (mostly) passing as an eccentric engineer, her relationship to the world changed when she revealed her stolen transkeletal drysuit. That moment marked her as a fugitive, but she was already becoming something different before that, as her cybernetic makeup marks her as something more than “human.” That’s how she fell in with a group of oddities and aliens, but The Wild Storm 16 makes the case for Jenny Mei Sparks as a more natural peer. Their first meeting here doesn’t offer much more than the two simply sizing each other up, but Jon Davis-Hunt’s shot choices suggest that the two are on the same level — a stark contrast to the other big meeting in this issue. Continue reading

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

Influence Become Explicit in The Wild Storm 9

by Ryan Desaulniers

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

One of the first things I do when I’m in a budding relationship, the second I have the opportunity, is to scrutinize my potential partner’s bookcase. Admit it: you’ve done this is as well. The idea is that we can glean something about someone’s character based upon the literature or media they consume because a good book, for example, informs a person’s worldview. Also, since art itself is inherently tied to other art, what we’ve seen or read changes the way we encounter or create art. In The Wild Storm 9, Chief Jackie King of IO reports to the big boss, Miles Craven, only to catch him reading a novel, and my brain has yet to stop whirring about what this choice of literature tells us about not only Miles, but writer Warren Ellis as well. Continue reading

The Wild Storm 8 and the Power of the Mid-Page Scene Transition

by Drew Baumgartner

The Wild Storm 8

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

Every time I talk about this series, the first thing I want to bring up is clarity. Writer Warren Ellis and artist Jon Davis-Hunt have struck such an alluring balance of crystal clear in-the-moment actions and emotions while keeping the larger motivations and machinations in a shroud of mystery, I can’t help it. While I’m sure there’s fun to be had speculating on the unclear elements, I’m most excited by the ways Ellis and Davis-Hunt cultivate their clarity. Beyond being fun to talk about, the clarity is deployed with such deftness, each issue serves as a masterclass in comics storytelling, allowing our discussions to zero in on details like fight choreography or procedural elements. This issue affords us a closer look at another idiosyncratic element of comics storytelling: the mid-page scene transition. Continue reading