Demythify: Team 7 Seeds A New 52 WildCATS That’s Doomed By Stormwatch? Plus The DC Nation Is Back! (Young Justice Invasion, Cartoon Network, DC Comics)

Thanks for popping by and checking out my weekly Monday Demythify column.

This column includes the latest Cartoon Network update on the DC Nation Block and, most particularly, my favorite DC cartoon programming: Young Justice Invasion. As per usual, that update is at the tail end of this week’s column. So, onto this week’s topic…

I’m old enough – or young enough – to remember first hand how the comics industry changed in the 1990s when Marvel Comics had a mass exodus of its top flight artistic talent. They would eventually create their own publishing house as Image Comics with a brief stop over with Malibu Comics before they took their training wheels off. The founding of Image Comics is well documented by our friends at TwoMorrows who published Image Comics: The Road to Independence still available for purchase.

While much of the focus on Image Comics may have been on its tumultuous relationship with Rob Liefeld or where on earth is the next issue of Image United? Plus good news too like Erik Larsen’s fortitude in putting out Savage Dragon and more recently the success of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, a story that doesn’t get too much attention anymore is the fact that a key founder of Image Comics actually sold his company Wildstorm to DC Comics. Jim Lee has grown a lot in his time in the industry and is now Co-Publisher at DC Comics alongside Dan DiDio.

With the DC Comics’ New 52 rebranding and relaunch an opportunity presented itself to unify and streamline DC Comics into DC Entertainment with only three distinct publishing arms: DC Comics, Vertigo and Mad Magazine. No more Wildstorm imprint.

The integration of Wildstorm properties into the DC Universe’s New 52 has not been as successful as some would have liked. While several Wildstorm characters and team names have popped up in the New 52, THE TEAM everyone is wondering about is Jim Lee’s first self-published comic book at Image Comics: WildCATS. The seeds appear to be sown for their eventual return, but will it be an all-new all-different take due to the limping Stormwatch series, also a former Wildstorm property?

Well, let’s explore this, shall we? 🙂

In 1992 WildC.A.T.S started out with its latter root word “C.A.T.S” being an acronym for Covert Action Teams. The backstory was that two alien races, the Daemonites and the Kherubim, were stranded on Earth and over the centuries began to influence humanity and even mate with humans creating hybrids with super-powers. The Kherubims were the “good guys” and some of their human hybrid offspring grouped together as the WildC.A.T.S to combat the evil Daemonites.

The team’s raison d’être was tweaked over time and the C.A.T.S lost the periods in their name, but the Daemonites always were present. As part of DC’s decision to fold Wildstorm including the WildCATS, the 30th issue of its fourth volume signalled the end of a separate world located in DC’s then multiverse on Earth 50. For a rundown of WildCATS history, stop by WildStorm Resource.

In DC’s new multiverse a distinct Wildstorm world could still exist in some fashion, but on DC’s “prime” New 52 earth we’re seeing formerly Wildstorm and WildCATS exclusive characters pop up. The bulk of the original WildCATS team members are also now in the DC New 52. The original cast consisted of: Emp, Void, Spartan, Grifter, Maul, Warblade, Voodoo and Zealot. Later incarnations saw Mister Majestic, Ladytron and others join.

As part of DC Comics New 52 relaunch there was a committment to integrate Wildstorm properties from the get-go. That included solo series for Voodoo and Grifter. Zealot later made her debut not in her own series, but as an integral part of Rob Liefeld’s space-bound arc in the pages of Deathstroke. Three WildCATS accounted for in the New 52. Check, check, check.

Wildstorm super-team Stormwatch was also part of the original 52 ongoing series of the New 52. It was essentially staffed with Wildstorm heroes and heroines plus DC stalwart J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter. The series has had its up’s and downs, not lighting the sales charts on fire despite creative team changes and a clear committment from DC brass.

I think part of the problem was two-fold: (1) Stormwatch tried too hard to capture the edginess of Wildstorm’s The Authority and didn’t pull it off, and (2) the team would have been better suited with more of a mix of DC, Wildstorm and even Vertigo heroes. The book, I think, for many long-time DC fans and even lapsed fans felt in appearance like it wasn’t a DC book despite Martian Manhunter on the cover. I think DC learned this lesson recently when it launched Team 7 – another Wildstorm property – with an interesting mix of DC and Wildstorm characters.

That said, I’ve enjoyed Stormwatch and liked the fact that there has been an incarnation of it in existence throughout the centuries protecting the DC universe from alien and supernatural threats. In addition, the fact that DC’s medieval times’ Demon Knights New 52 series is one of those early Stormwatch teams added a rich depth to the concept despite lackluster fan support… for both series.

Paul Cornell who wrote both Stormwatch and Demon Knights initially in the New 52 is no longer writing any New 52 titles. That is a real shame because he “gets” DC and did an amazing job when he worked on pre-Flashpoiny Action Comics in the last few years when the title character was Lex Luthor. Oh well. While Paul has a Vertigo series called Sauce Country on stands, his big project right now is Wolverine for the Marvel Now initiative with Alan Davis on art. DC’s super-hero loss is Marvel’s super-hero gain.

While I respect Paul’s work in comics, I do think Stormwatch would have been better suited being more similar to the series’ initial 1990s berth as a proper United Nations sponsored team. Now, the DC New 52 had one of those in Justice League International as part of its launch, but I feel Stormwatch would work better as an International above-the-Earth coordinator of all potential Justice League International teams, e.g. Justice League Europe, Justice League Russia, China’s The Great Ten, etc. However, that may defeat the purpose of having patriotic teams reporting to a broader international entity, but we are in a globalized, smaller world, so who knows.

If anything, a melding of the DC’s classic Global Guardians and Wildstorm’s Stormwatch could have been interesting as a rival to the JLI on the international super-hero front.

While one of the big weakness I noted about Stormwatch was how Wildstorm-centric all the characters are, what is DC’s answer? Well they remove Martian Manhunter from the mix with issue #12. He’ll be joining the new Geoff Johns penned and David Finch pencilled Justice League of America (a series I eagerly anticipate).

And, who replaces him on the Stormwatch team? Well, in March it will be none other than Zealot of Wildstorm and WildCATS infamy who we’ve seen in the pages of the New 52’s Deathstroke. Um, doesn’t DC want Stormwatch to succeed? Despite the sputtering franchise, DC is doubling down on a predominantly Wildstorm comprised team. IMHO, the New 52 Team 7 model – with a health mixture of Wildstorm and DC characters would have worked much better.

I also had hopes that the Demon Etrigan would join up after his recent appearance in Stormwatch as I think having him on both the Demon Knights in the past and Stormwatch in the present would be cool. Even better would be to have Vandal Savage stay on the team during Demon Knights, but embrace his villanous tendencies and serve as Stormwatch’s main antagonist in the present. Who’s with me?

Rumors were that DC brass wanted Stormwatch to succeed as some of the Pandora fallout from DC’s Free Comic Book Day 2012 book and lead up to the Trinity War 2013 event could have happened in Stormwatch’s pages. It would make sense based on the team’s raison d’être, but it seems Pandora and Trinity War set-up is happening now in the pages of the Phantom Stranger under the pen of DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio. That also makes sense since the Phantom Stranger is part of the Trinity of Sin with Pandora and the Question (Vic Sage). Another missed opportunity for Stormwatch.

Time will tell if Stormwatch will follow Voodoo and Grifter as New 52 series casualties.

As noted earlier, Team 7 is the model I would choose for Stormwatch and WildCATS. A smattering of characters with previous ties to the team name, but also some other interesting nontraditional picks. That said, it would appear that writer Justin Jordan is doing something with former WildCATS characters in his Team 7 series.

In February we have the New 52 debut of Spartan and the Majestic Project and in March we see the debut of Ladytron. They’re both cyborgy so perhaps Justin is building something techy or perhaps a new WildCATS?

In any event, more classic members of WildCATS are available for DC’s New 52. Check, check, check again.

THE big bad from WildCATS of olde Helspont has made his New 52 debut – as have the Daemonites – and tackled his Wildstorm brethern particularly Grifter. He has also gone toe-to-toe with DC Comics’ standard-bearer Superman. That certainly sets up Helspont as a major villanous force in the DC Universe (DCU). I wonder how DC will use him further?

Another former WildCATS alum is already in New 52. Warblade debuted as part of the DC’s teen mini-event The Culling and plays a major role as foil alongside Rose Wilson – presumably Deathstroke’s daughter – for the super-team that headlines The Ravagers series. Caitlan Fairchild has grown up past her Gen13 Wildstorm roots and helms a team of traditional DC characters and a net new one. This is the flipside of Stormwatch formula that had one traditional DC player among a team of Wildstormers. Unfortunately, The Ravagers is suffering a similar fate to Stormwatch and has received a muted reception by readers.

Interestingly, Warblade tackles Deathstroke in March 2013 and looks we can see his face now. 😉

I’m not sure what DC’s plans are – or whether they even have plans – for the WildCATS. It just does not seem coincidental to have two characters most well-known for their time with that team pop up in Team 7 over two consecutive months. Now I’m curious about Justin Jordan’s April solicitation for Team 7 #7 looks like. Will it continue the WildCATS character New 52 debuts?

Since its Christmas time, if you are interested in boning up on the WildCATS of olde, the actual early Image Comics issues penciled by Jim Lee may be in the discount bins at your local comic shoppe. You may also be interested in the fan favorite runs of writers James Robinson and Alan Moore respectively as well as the much beloved WildCATS 3.0 by writer Joe Casey – all have been collected in trade paperback and should be available at your local comic shoppe and certainly online.


DC Nation UPDATE

While we still haven’t heard the rationale from Cartoon Network for their abrupt postponement of its Fall 2012 Season 2 episodes to 2013, it appears CN has set a date for the return of the DC Nation block. Here are there rather matter-of-fact Facebook announcements. I’ll let their words paint the picture.

So, the DC Nation block is back on the first Saturday in January 2013.

The latest Young Justice Invasion teaser that went with that announcement is a bit different from the previous one; the Top 3 reveals from that can be found here. A lot of the same key moments are used, just different frames from the episode. Newer elements are at the tail end with Captain Marvel / Shazam, Mongul and Vandal Savage scenes.

For a read of the whole sordid DC Nation block-chop saga you can peruse our DC Nation e-library for the relevant articles.

Glad to finally have the DC Nation block back.

P.S. I know the last few weeks have scarred many of us due to the senseless shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Holiday season is about family and togetherness. Our friends in Connecticut’s Newtown won’t have important members of their families with them this year. Let’s keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

This year, let’s not just tell, but show our loved ones how special they are to us. I would like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and all the best over this holiday season. Hoping for a prosperous New Year for all!


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