Sunday, January 18, 2009

Number of the Beast TPB

Ok, get ready for the hard sell. I know a lot of people have given up on the Wildstorm Universe, but I haven't. I followed Stormwatch PHD, Wildstorm Armageddon, and then Wildstorm Revelations all the way to the surprisingly good Number of the Beast. Scott Beatty, who is a solid writer that really should get more work, writes the story of a generation of heroes trapped in virtual reality since 1945. These classic feeling heroes include the armored Engine Joe, the insect-like Honeybee, the high-flying Falconette, and the speedster Hot Foot. Basically, the names "feel" right, like a fun universe we've been missing. There are 666 heroes and villains trapped in a never-ending loop of the end of the world, to prepare them to be freed should the government ever need them. The monkeywrench in the work is the High, the villain from Ellis' run on Stormwatch, who gets into the program and then starts bumping other out of the system. The freed heroes have a fun encounter with the Authority while the High goes and chats up Stormwatch. One of the best scenes is during the Authority fight, while most of the teams are tearing it up, a few Paladins (the lost heroes) are chatting with Jack Hawksmoor, calmly assessing the situation and letting their teammates "work off some steam." The little bits like that are great. The big picture is pretty important, as the evil government of the Wildstorm U (long-established like that) ends the world, leaving the world in a post-apocalyptic mess. The existing Wildstorm heroes have to deal with not only that, but with 666 heroes and villains unleased at the same time. I really look forward to seeing how all these factions interact. I understand the Authority and Wildcats trades hit in August, so I'm looking forward to that. I actually think it is disappointing we won't be seeing the Paladins on a regular basis, these characters deserve an ongoing spotlight.

Chris Sprouse is a fantastic artist (and graduate of JMU!) His character designs are fantastic, feeling wonderfully classic and creative at the same time. With art and story this great, I realy highly recommend it.


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