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

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

DC Round-Up: Comics Released 3/15/17

How many Batman 
books is too many Batman books? Depending on who you ask there ain’t no such thing! We try to stay up on what’s going on at DC, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of DC Comics. Today, we’re discussing All-Star Batman 8, Batman 19, Batwoman 1, Superman 19, Trinity 7 and Wild Storm 2. Also, we’ll be discussing Green Lanterns 19 on Monday and Green Arrow 19 on Tuesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

slim-banner4 Continue reading

The Wild Storm 1


Today, Ryan and Michael are discussing The Wild Storm 1, originally released February 15th, 2017.

When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.

Dean Jackson

Ryan D: Transformation stands as a long-enduring fascination for us, as humans. Sometimes, this includes our history with shapeshifting, which goes back to the oldest discovered forms of shamanism, or enduring texts like The Epic of Gilgamesh or The Iliad. The lore of werewolves alone originated way back to 22 A.D. Transformation seems to be ingrained in our collective unconscious, with the superhero genre and comic books to be a very receptive medium for the trope. What surprises me, however, is when the transformation hurts. I remember playing The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and seeing Link put on a transformative mask for the first time, and then being aghast as the little hero screamed in pain as he changed into a Deku Scrub. Another example: the scene in An American Werewolf in London when the protagonist howls in agony as he becomes lupine. The Wild Storm 1 brings to the pages many transformations for its characters, but is also a transformation unto itself — of an imprint and universe left in chrysalis form for six years and being born again. How well, then, have Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt coped with the growing pains with this first issue? Continue reading