Longbox Literature is a column that focuses in on the greatest comic tales of (not too) long ago that every comic fan, new and old, should read.
Title: Stormwatch: Force Of Nature
Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciller: Tom Raney (with Pete Woods and Michael Ryan)
Inkers: Randy Elliott
Colorist: Gina Going
Letterer: Bill O’Neil and Mike Heisler
Publisher: DC Comics (Wildstorm)
Release Date: 1999
I really went into the way-back machine to dig this one up. For those who don’t know, there was once a super-team in the Wildstorm Universe called Stormwatch. A U.N. sanctioned team, they spent about 36 issues trying to decide if they wanted to be the Avengers, the JLA, or both. When Warren Ellis came along on issue #37, it quickly became clear that they were their own entity.
This graphic novel covers issues #37-42, and it marks the beginning of Ellis’ run on the book that he would slowly morph into The Authority. The book begins with a bit of a reorg, where the Weatherman (the overall team leader) breaks the team up into three smaller parts (the deadly Red Team, the stealthy Black Team, and the public face of Stormwatch, the Prime Team). Additionally, the book introduces Jenny Sparks and Jack Hawksmoor — two pivotal characters who would go on to lead The Authority.
Force of Nature is packed with weird Ellis-style action and excellent character development. While the book is totally enjoyable by itself, I think it’s best read as the first act of a larger story with acts two and three comprising of the remaining Stormwatch graphic novels Lightning Strikes, Change Or Die, A Finer World, and Final Orbit.
This is really one of those titles that took a long time to find the right creative team; and when it finally did, everyone had already moved on. Go to your local comic retailer and find this book if you’re into superhero action that’s a little more hard-hitting that most of the stuff you’re likely to see in other team books.
Just remember to read this book somewhere dignified. This isn’t something to read on the toilet — it’s Literature.