Stormwatch, Part 1:

Issues #1-3

This article will look at the first story arc of Jim Lee’s Stormwatch, giving details on the story and introducing the characters. Stormwatch is a United Nations peacekeeping team based on the satellite station Skywatch, from where Weatherman 1, the operations controller of Stormwatch, monitors Earth for any problems that need dealing with such as terrorists, natural disasters and general super-powered naughtiness. It’s not mentioned in this opening arc, but Stormwatch assistance has to be requested – they have no right to enter a country otherwise.

People to Watch

I’m going to start off every article with a quick run down of each character at this point in the story, as well as other pertinent information relating to the concepts behind the series – in this case “seedlings”. My favourite character in the series is Winter, my least favourite being Cannon. I just can’t get behind this cocky, gets-his-team-killed-then-tries-to-get-another-team-killed type of character. Maybe it’s just me.

Seedlings – individuals with the potential to develop great powers, which can either manifest themselves or be “activated” by people with that ability, such as Synergy. Some seedlings never activate, and are none the wiser.


Disclaimer – I wouldn’t normally comment on the ethnicity of characters, but it serves the purpose of highlighting Stormwatch as a United Nations team to note it in this case.

Main team:

: Jackson King
Powers: Psionic powers (ESP blasts and shields) which are heightened by his cyber-tran suit (red/green body armour)
Team Affiliation: Team leader
Nationality: African-American
Background: Lives with his mother and his younger brother Malcolm. Had resigned his commission with Stormwatch, and the retrieval mentioned below was meant to be his last mission. Failed a mission in Kuwait where he encountered Deathtrap’s team. John Windsor got King into the academy (presumably military academy) and on to the Stormwatch programme.

Diva: (no name given)
Powers: Sonic cry, flight
Team Affiliation: Leads the team in Battalion’s absence
Nationality: Italian
Appearance: Pure white skin, blonde; purple one-piece costume
Demeanour: Strong but calm personality

Fuji: (no name given)
Powers: Massive size and strength
Nationality: Japanese
Appearance: Silver suit
Demeanour: Always calm and relaxed

Hellstrike: (no name given)
Powers: Flight, heat-based energy blasts
Nationality: (none given)
Appearance: Blue and white costume and mask

Winter: (no name given)
Powers: Energy absorption and redirection
Nationality: Russian
Appearance: White hair, black & white costume with flak jacket
Demeanour: Stoic and determined

Stormwatch 2:

Cannon: (no name given)
Powers: Flight, energy blasts
Team Affiliation: Stormwatch 2 team leader
Nationality: White American
Appearance: Blonde, with a pony tail that reaches all the way down to his calves; blue and yellow armour
Demeanour: Impetuous and headstrong

Fahrenheit: (no name given)
Powers: Flight, fire blasts
Nationality: White American
Appearance: Red curly hair, red costume

Ion: (no name given) (deceased)
Appearance: Red and white costume very similar to Hellstrike’s

Lancer: (no name given) (deceased)

Skywatch personnel:

Synergy: Christine Trelane
Powers: Has the ability to control a seedling’s activation. She can also de-activate them for a short while, temporarily removing their powers.
Team Affiliation: Important member of the Stormwatch program, as well as Weatherman’s second in command.
Nationality: White American
Appearance: Blonde hair; black and silver costume

Weatherman 1: (no name given)
Powers: Extensive cybernetic surveillance & communication upgrades
Team Affiliation: Commander of Skywatch and Stormwatch control officer.
Nationality: White American
Appearance: Bald; red & black uniform

Backlash: Col. Marc Slayton
Powers: No powers demonstrated yet
Team Affiliation: Stormwatch training officer
Nationality: White American
Appearance: Black and white costume.


Malcolm King: Team Affiliation: Younger brother of Jackson King, a.k.a. Battalion.
Nationality: African American
Background: Irresponsible and gets caught up with the wrong people. A seedling, but unaware of the fact, although Jackson is.

John Windsor: (deceased)
Nationality: White American
Background: U.N. envoy to Sarajevo. Connected to Stormwatch program and responsible for getting Jackson King in.

Nurse Braun: no first name given
Medical officer aboard Skywatch

Dr. Jenkins: no first name given
Medical officer aboard Skywatch

Major LaSalle: no first name given
Officer in charge of Warguard lock up


Deathtrap: (no name given)
Powers: Psi-weapons that appear in hands
Team Affiliation: leader of the Mercs
Nationality: (none given)
Appearance: Red & white costume

Kilgore: (no name given)
Powers: Heightened strength, speed & venomous claws
Appearance: Blue/silver costume

Razor: (no name given) (possibly deceased)
Powers: Flight, laser vision
Nationality: White American (Southern, from accent)
Appearance: Blue/grey full body costume; red hair

Slayer: (no name given)
Powers: Really big gun
Nationality: White American
Appearance: Blue and yellow costume/armour

Brutus: (no name given)
Powers: Massive size, strength and toughness
Nationality: White American
Appearance: Red/brown costume


Regent: (no name given)
Powers: Energy deflection and absorption, energy blasts, flight, massive strength and other abilities granted by his staff
Team Affiliation: First in line to the throne of the Directorate
Nationality: Alien
Appearance: Big, purple and with very bone-like armour

And so, our story begins…

Issue #1
Written by – Jim Lee, Brandon Choi

Drawn by – Scott Clark

Heroes – Stormwatch 1 (Battalion, Diva, Hellstrike, Fuji, Winter), Synergy, Weatherman 1
Villains – The Mercs (Deathtrap, Kilgore, Razor, Slayer, Brutus (not named))
Others – John Windsor, Malcolm King

No build up here, it’s straight into the thick of the action. The story begins with the team in the middle of a retrieval mission, the target being a seedling traveling with a busload of other kids, accompanied by John Windsor. The mission has encountered more resistance than expected, and Battalion has been ordered to secure just the seedling. Battalion, on the other hand, wants to get everyone out safely. There are a few choice words from the team about Skywatch and secret agendas, giving us a hint of the friction between the field members and the ones calling the shots. Just as the situation is brought under control, the Mercs – led by Deathtrap – appear. Fighting ensues. During the course of the battle, Battalion shoots down Razor, and Deathtrap kills Windsor. All fairly stock stuff so far, but it sets up the essential elements – a team who work for an ethically dubious controlling power, lots of spandex and ‘splosions and an indication of the level of violence we can expect from the series.

Cut to two weeks later. Battalion wakes up with the Police at the door along with Malcolm and Synergy in civilian clothes. Battalion pulls the diplomatic immunity card (which all members of Stormwatch have) causing the Police to leave. Synergy talks to him about PR and Malcolm (who, it turns out, is a seedling). Jackson doesn’t want Malcolm to know this, whereas Synergy wants to activate him and take him to Stormwatch. This illustrates a theme that crops up periodically in Wildstorm titles, or at least those connected to Stormwatch. Basically, it comes down to the old question – if you knew the future, would you try to change it? If you, as a seedling, MIGHT activate, is it best to induce it artificially in a safe environment (and subsequently be trained to fight for the good of mankind) or just live your life and see what happens? Despite the power, there are very few life options open to you, most of which involve a large element of danger. But that’s a subject for the entire superhero genre as opposed to just Wildstorm, so I will set it aside for now.

Back to the story. Once Synergy is gone, Malcolm explains what happened and how he met up with two friends, but the evening ended up with them robbing an electronics store. One of the “friends” opened fire on the Police as was shot dead. Jackson coldly tells him to be ready in time for the funeral.

Brief interlude – Skywatch and Weatherman 1 are introduced. Skywatch is also tied into continuity for Youngblood and Supreme.(Both of those titles are from Rob Liefeld’s branch of Image Comics, Extreme Studios.) Techs on board report a radiation spike at Chernobyl, which Weatherman opts to monitor to see if it gets worse.

Cut to Windsor’s funeral at which the King family, Synergy & Fuji are present. Scenes like this make me wonder about the career opportunities for fashion designers in comic book worlds. Someone had to design and make a suit for Fuji – those sizes just aren’t available in my local Burtons. The Mercs arrive and attack. Malcolm gets shot, and Synergy has to activate him to save him, thereby revealing that he’s a seedling.

Issue #2
Written by – Jim Lee, Brandon Choi
Drawn by – Scott Clark

Heroes – Stormwatch 1 (Battalion, Diva, Hellstrike, Fuji, Winter), Synergy, Weatherman 1, Stormwatch 2 (Cannon, Fahrenheit, Ion (not named), Lancer (not named))
Villains – Mercs (Deathtrap, Kilgore, Slayer, Brutus), Regent (not named)
Others – Malcolm King, Nurse Braun, Dr. Jenkins

Still at the funeral, Synergy radios for support. Weatherman tries to find available support; the rest of team is five minutes away. Cannon steps in and volunteers Stormwatch 2. Chernobyl requests UN support; Weatherman sends Stormwatch 2 there instead. To cement the fact that Stormwatch is an organisation instead of just one team, it’s good to see Stormwatch 2 at this point. Throughout the series these teams go through a lot of changes and get given a number of different names. Still, there is always more than just the one team.

Meanwhile, in Chernobyl, someone walks out of the reactor…

Cut back to the funeral; Kilgore rakes Synergy with venomous claws then proceeds to choke her. She de-activates him to take him out, showing that her powers work both ways, even if it is only temporarily. Battalion catches her and shields her from Slayer’s gun, then stops Brutus. Deathtrap tries to capture Malcolm, but Diva arrives and stops him. The Mercs teleport away, and Diva orders Malcolm and Synergy taken to Skywatch. Battalion resists, but Diva orders him as it is the only place that can help him. It’s a nice show that when off duty, Battalion’s status as team leader doesn’t count.

Cut to Russia, where Stormwatch 2 have arrived at Chernobyl. The place is devastated, and they ask a tech what happened as Winter notes that the attacker must have come from inside the facility. Cannon asks where the attacker is; the answer comes from behind him: “Right here.”

Back at Skywatch, Malcolm is being cared for. Synergy is back up and around after being given antivenom. Cannon appears on the transporter, saying that Winter activated his transporter button. Battalion yells at Cannon for leaving his team behind. (As team leader, they’re his responsibility.) Weatherman orders the teams to suit up and meet back in half an hour. Battalion checks on Malcolm then speaks with Synergy, who tries to persuade him to stay a member of Stormwatch. Back in the transporter room, the rest of the team has assembled, and Fuji politely explains to Cannon that he shouldn’t have left his team behind. Cannon responds in typical fashion, saying he’s the best to lead the rescue mission (despite probably having got most of his previous team killed – Cannon’s a dick). As Weatherman asks for Synergy’s opinion, she is interrupted by Battalion in full gear. He has finally admitted to himself that he is the best person to lead the team and decided to stay. They teleport down, and Weatherman congratulates Synergy on bringing him back in. Synergy explains he never really had a choice, thus showing us as readers that she is willing to do whatever needs to be done to get the necessary results.

Issue #3
Written by – Jim Lee, Brandon Choi
Drawn by – Scott Clark

Heroes – Stormwatch 1 (Battalion, Diva, Hellstrike, Fuji, Winter), Synergy, Weatherman 1, Stormwatch 2 (Cannon, Fahrenheit, Ion (dead), Lancer (dead)), Backlash
Villains – Regent
Others – Malcolm King, Dr. Jenkins, Major LaSalle

The team arrives at Chernobyl, with Cannon wanting to rescue his team members and Hellstrike pushing to first stop the meltdown in the reactor. Battalion asks Cannon to recount the events and the fight with the intruder as they head towards the reactor. He explains that the team was surprised, that Fahrenheit fired a heat blast that was absorbed by the intruder’s staff, and Ion tried to get around behind him but was cut in half. Winter was going toe-to-toe with the intruder, and activated Cannon’s teleport. It does make you wonder why Cannon was the team leader, really.

Cut to the reactor core. Winter is pinned to the wall with two cooling rods; one through each shoulder. Fahrenheit is chained up in the background. Regent introduces himself and reveals himself to be part of the Directorate (part of Union’s story – more on this when I write a Union piece). He explains that he has kept them alive as Winter’s powers are the only thing stopping the reactor melting down – by removing the last of the cooling rods, Winter will be overloaded, by which time Regent will be far away and no-one will realize he’s there. It’s a wee bit of the standard Bond-style villain schtick really. You almost expect a slow-moving sawblade or sharks with frickin’ laser beams to be announced.

Back on Skywatch, Synergy is monitoring the power station, which is nearing critical mass. Weatherman is aware of the situation and explains that he has a strike ship with a neutron device on standby. He explains that nothing will survive, and relays this to Battalion, who is not amused and asks for a chance to do their job first. To be honest, Weatherman sounds a lot like my boss – she’s more than willing to sacrifice us to get a result. Meanwhile, the flyers (Cannon, Hellstrike and Diva) have found one of Cannon’s team. It’s Lancer, or half of him, left as a warning not to interfere. Cannon fires off and yells, calling Regent out – like the idiot he is. Regent hears him banging about and sets off to lay a trap. In the core, Winter pulls his shoulder off one of the cooling rods now that Regent is gone. I’m a little dubious about the cooling rods keeping Winter weak – there’s no indication that this should happen. Ah well, ignore logic in favour of comic drama. Regent explodes through the reactor core doors to face Stormwatch. Cannon fires first, which Regent deflects to hit Battalion. Fuji hammers Regent waist deep into the floor, but he flies out and returns the favour, creating a very deep hole with Fuji somewhere at the bottom. Hellstrike fires, which finally seems to have some affect on Regent, and Battalion draws Regent’s fire while telling Diva to find the rest of Stormwatch 2. Hellstrike gets behind Regent to deliver his attack, but Cannon gets in the way and succeeds in powering up Regent’s staff as his shot gets absorbed. Most of this sequence just highlights Cannon’s ineptitude, and how one person trying to do everything by himself can lead to everyone else suffering. By way of contrast, Stormwatch 1 work together fluidly and trust in each other’s abilities.

Cut to the core, where Diva has found Winter and Fahrenheit. She cuts Fahrenheit loose and gets her to fire her flames at Winter, letting him absorb them and getting his power back. Back at the fight, Cannon’s blast damaged the cooling pipes, and the area is thick with steam, which allows Regent to sneak up on Hellstrike and take him down. Weatherman launches the strike ship, though Synergy points out that if he can beat Stormwatch that easily, a neutron strike may not take Regent out. Thinking about this, he orders Major LaSalle at the command centre to begin priming the Warguard for duty. This is not a good thing. Nor is the cheesy pose LaSalle adopts whilst receiving the information. In the sick bay, Dr. Jenkins has a surprise for Malcolm King – Backlash (Col. Slayton), Stormwatch’s training officer, has come to visit him. It isn’t much of an exchange, but the implications are clear; even though Battalion didn’t want it, Stormwatch is going to be training Malcolm as an agent.

Back at Chernobyl, Battalion is going head-to-head with Regent. As Regent blasts him back, King orders Cannon to get the others to safety. Cannon is unwilling to follow orders, but Hellstrike holds him back and tries to talk sense into him. As Regent prepares to finish Battalion off, Diva and Fahrenheit blindside him and force him back. Diva’s attacks keep him off balance as Battalion blasts him, then Winter walks out of the steam to grab Regent’s staff and absorb his energy. Quite amazing for someone whose shoulders should have two gaping holes in them. Regent is visibly shaken by this and decides to retreat, teleporting away. Battalion calls for Weatherman to call off the strike ship, which has been getting closer throughout the fight. The team sprint to the reactor core, where the radiation levels are mysteriously dropping. Getting there, they find Fuji, replacing the last of the cooling rods. He asks why they took so long and which one of them brought the beer. They teleport back to Skywatch, with Cannon thanking Battalion for believing in him. Though you hope for a short epilogue detailing Cannon being unceremoniously sacked, it does not come. Thus ends Stormwatch‘s first story arc.

What a ride. Not only are we introduced to the Stormwatch team but also how the team fits into the surrounding Image Universe, with links to both Youngblood and Supreme. Deathtrap and the Mercs are ongoing opponents, and Regent is an important character in the Union series. Backlash makes his first appearance here, though soon goes off to start his own series separate from Stormwatch. Also introduced are some elements central to the series, such as the feeling by team members that there are always politics and secret agendas going on behind the scenes. Also, Weatherman’s willingness to sacrifice the team to solve a situation is a telling point. All in all, this is a strong start to a good series. It doesn’t quite compare to the heights Warren Ellis takes it to later on, but it sets up all the elements that lead to that pinnacle later on.

To comment on the artwork, it fits, but it isn’t great. It’s definitely a product of the times – every male figure is overly muscled with veins standing out everywhere, all females wear skin tight costumes with boobs that appear as immovable as rocks. Hair also seems to have a life of its own, and expressions seem limited to grim, roaring or constipated. Its 90s comic boom drawing at its best – the sort of thing that looked fantastic at the time but has obviously aged. Still, it does the job.

Join us soon for a look at circumstances surrounding Backlash leaving the team and an introduction to some of the Warguard.

See you soon!

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