This is Paul Cornell’s other contribution to the New 52 after the “finally got its act together at the end, but since he’s not writing it anymore why bother” Wildstorm import “Stormwatch.” It’s also a much better fit for his style, allowing for plenty of humor that tweaks the conventions of the genre (not quite to the degree of Monty Python, but certainly in the same vein) and plenty of high drama and adventure. Those of you still lamenting the loss of “Captain Britain and MI13” will find its approach resurrected in much-different, yet still-appealing form here.
The premise for this volume is so familiar that it could’ve also been titled “Seven Samurai Against the Dark,” or “The Magnificent Seven Against the Dark,” or “Medieval Slay Ride Against the Dark” (borrowing from the pilot episode of “The A-Team” which also utilized this setup). Here we have an eclectic group of individuals, immortal warrior Vandal Savage, mistress of the magic arts Lady Xanadu, Jason Blood and his demon counterpart Etrigan, Sir Ystin the Shining Knight, saracen inventor Al Jabr, and the exiled Amazon Exoristos stranded together in a town that has come under siege from the Horde of the Questing Queen and her henchman Mordru. Thrust between a rock and an army full of barbarians, dragons, dinosaurs and other beings of chaos our protagonists have no choice but to pool their resources and defend the village long enough to get word to the neighboring city of Alba Sarum for reinforcements. However, they are the few against the many and treachery abounds inside and outside the village’s walls.
Though the New 52 was ostensibly designed to reboot all of the DCU’s characters, those of you who are familiar with Vandal Savage, Jason Blood and Etrigan, Madame Xanadu, and Shining Knight will find their appeal intact. New creations Al Jabr and Exoristos are also interesting characters who fit seamlessly within this eclectic entourage. Diogenes Neves provides the majority of the art, with a striking interlude from Michael Choi and assists from Robson Rocha, and it looks great. Not only does the artist provide an impressive level of detail in every scene, he has some impressive versatility as well with his ability to draw mechanical dragons, hellscapes, giant walls of flaming magical doom, and even quieter conversational moments between characters. In short, he’s a perfect fit for Cornell’s style and the end result is definitely one of the better titles from the relaunch. I’m not particularly interested in finding out whether or not “Stormwatch” will survive the writer’s departure, but I will certainly be back for more of the adventure here.