Last year, WildStorm did something bold: the heroes full-on lost, the world was destroyed, the population decimated, and every book set in that universe had to drastically change. The pro-active teams and heroes of this slightly more “extreme” world suddenly had to fall back and play the protection game. Some of them were killed, and worse, some were simply taken out of commission (How can you be a King of Cities if there are no Cities left?).
There were a couple of stumbles and missteps with the relaunches of the core books, but now that things are running smoothly, the folks at WildStorm have created a story that runs seamlessly between Gen 13, Stormwatch: PHD, Authority, and Wildcats.
That’s not to say the story is constantly moving back and forth between every issue of every book. The fine line between a cohesive universe and annoyingly disjointed stories has been walked nearly perfectly here. You can read any one of the four books and have a full story. You’ll be lucky, as well, because DnA, Chris Gage, Edgington, Beatty, and Utley are telling some very cool post-apocalyptic stories individually. The way they weave together is sometimes subtle, like a single location or character being mentioned in two or more books, and sometimes elaborate, with entire scenes replaying across more than one book. This is done sparingly, so it doesn’t induce any rip-off feelings, just a sense of cool.
The world hasn’t magically snapped back into place, the internal conflicts amongst each team are much more dire (if they can’t trust/rely on each other, they’re screwed), and it’s making for a truly new world, new dynamics, and new stories.
The other nice way they’re tying the stories together is through four part backups that run in each of the four books. Now for this, yes, you need to get all four for the complete story, but its not essential stuff. It does, however, further grow the universe and the other characters that live in it, and set up stories for later. A nice bonus to include, and while they’re at varying levels of excitement, they still make the whole post-apocalyptic world feel much larger and more devastating.
In an industry where continuity between characters (or even between a single character and himself) can get quite confusing, what WildStorm has done here isn’t just a successful experiment or a breath of fresh air, it’s a truly cool project that excites this Non-Jaded Comic Fan. Stories that stand-alone, issues that provide large looks at the characters involved while also adding to a larger tapestry, and the strongest inter-book continuity out there makes for some great reading.