52 Catch Up is a series devoted to looking at issues from DC’s New 52 and seeing how they’re faring now that they’re underway, why they’re worth reading (or not), and places we hope they will go in time.
Unknown to the population of Earth, as well as the superhero community, a group of powerful individuals keeps a vigilant watch over the world for any approaching violent storms. They do not consider themselves to be heroes, do not play by the moral code that the Justice League imposes upon itself, and go to great lengths to stay invisible to all eyes. Ruled by a Shadow Cabinet with an unknown motive, and led by a man as old as the universe, these individuals keep the Earth safe from alien threats. They are Stormwatch.
Previously on Stormwatch: Covering Issues #1 – #7
We first see Stormwatch personnel as they divide themselves up to deal with various situations: Harry, the Greatest Swordsman in History, is on the surface of the Moon investigating strange readings when it suddenly starts to threaten the Earth by physically transforming into a giant claw; Adam One and the Century Baby travel to the Himalayas to recover a gigantic horn that was blown (as seen in Superman #1); and the Martian Manhunter, the God of Cities, and the Projectionist approach a man in Moscow who has the potential to be as powerful as Superman. It is soon apparent that the physical transformation of the Moon is due to a creature within called the Scourge of Worlds, who believes that, in order to save the Earth, it must shape humanity into a tougher version.
Harry (the swordsman) tricks the Scourge of Worlds into believing he wants to help reshape humanity, but ends up taking all of the creature’s knowledge and then kills it. As a result, chunks of the Moon break off and fall toward Earth, one impacting a small farm in the middle of nowhere and expelling a creature that is attacking and absorbing everything around it. Still not sure about wanting to join the team, Apollo (the man in Moscow) flies up to orbit in order to blow apart the chunks that have not yet impacted the Earth. Once he’s done, he head back to the Earth and ends up helping to kill off the creature with the rest of the team.
Following the defense of Earth, Adam One is called to the carpet for his lack of leadership in crisis. A member of the Shadow Cabinet retrieves Adam for punishment and installs the Projectionist as the new leader in his absence. No one seems especially thrilled by this decision, but before they can attempt to challenge him, the Cabinet representative vanishes, just minutes before Harry betrays the team and blows up the station while taking the Projectionist hostage. Falling out of hyperspace, and moving fast toward the Earth, Jack (the God of Cities) communicates with the station to help bring it back together, with the concession that the A.I. have some autonomy.
Now, back in hyperspace and out of the watchful eyes of humanity, the members of Stormwatch vote on a new leader. The Engineer puts herself forward as a candidate, and is voted in with no opposition and only a couple of abstentions. Both Apollo and Midnighter (another man recruited) officially join Stormwatch, though neither seem that happy about it. Soon after, Apollo investigates strange readings at the old nuclear disaster site of Chernobyl, and ends up in a battle with an anti-gravity creature (that the Manhunter has some experience with). With the help of Jenny (the Century Baby), the station is able to trap the creature in a containment vessel, until it later decides to try and kill it, allowing for the creature to somehow cause Apollo to explode.
The Projectionist: This has to be one of the coolest power sets I have seen to date. It’s not flashy or outrageous, but the idea of being able to view, control, manipulate, and even create all media to your will is truly kicking. The old adage of “knowledge is power” comes to mind when I think of this character, and, thus far, I have not been disappointed with her utilization of said powers—especially when she makes it so a two-bit “supervillain” is blamed for something he didn’t even have the slightest possibility of doing.
Century Baby: The concept of the Century Baby’s powers is quite interesting to me, and I very much cannot wait to see more of her development. A person who can utilize known scientific technology as defined by what is possible during that century—which could change at any time, given how scientific research redefines what is possible from day to day—is absolutely a pull-in for me for this title. Sure, the character herself acts a bit like a brat, but the powers that she has are absolutely fascinating and intriguing.
Martian Manhunter: I’ve never actually read anything with the Martian Manhunter before this title, but being a fan of the Justice League/Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice cartoons, I’m quite intrigued by how they portray his character in this title. A man who does not see himself as a hero, and does not especially wish to be associated with such heroes for fear of having to betray them, the Martian Manhunter is a very complex character and a joy to read; however, his “on screen” time seems to be limited, so I wish there was more of him in future issues.
Team Dissention: Nearly from the very beginning of the first issue, the team shows that it doesn’t have respect for one another—and especially for Adam One’s leadership. Conflict within a team is normal, and it can be entertaining to watch, but the level of conflict and outright hostility toward the team members from one another is just too much for me to handle. It reads too much like an interaction in the Mirror Universe on Star Trek, in which everyone is suspicious of everyone else and their motives. Even after Adam One is gone, the dissention still remains, and it really brings down the enjoyment of the title for me.
Shadow Cabinet: Not much is explained about just who they are, and the brief appearance of one of their members does nothing to expand upon the limited knowledge. Just who are they, and why are they the ones in charge of Stormwatch? Is the Shadow Cabinet an Illuminati-type organization, or is it something much different?
Eye of the Storm Station A.I.: Now that the station’s A.I. is interactive and has some limited control over itself, I’m anxious to see just how it will get along with the Stormwatch personnel. A product of Daemonite engineering, the station sees itself as having been kidnapped by Stormwatch and made to work against its will; but now, thanks to the God of Cities (Jack), it can not only talk back, it can cause problems. I’m sure that this is better than falling through the Earth’s atmosphere and burning up, but this has opened up a Pandora’s Box of immeasurable proportions.
Existence Known: Thanks to Harry’s actions, the station was briefly seen by satellites when it started to fall to Earth. Now that its existence is known, even if limited to a few people, how will Stormwatch deal with the situation that is likely to unfold? Surely the military, at least, and the Justice League will want to know what’s going on…and that will create even more problems, and a greater conflict of interest for the Martian Manhunter.