Stormwatch seems to be a reboot of the title The Authority. They’ve monkied around with it a little, throwing in the Martian Manhunter for some reason. I suppose they didn’t want the Martian Manhunter in the Justice League because he’s too similar to Superman, so they put him in The Authority where he’s too similar to Apollo. I’m guessing they’re going to use the Authority characters in the Stormwatch role, but the original Stormwatch was UN supported and that role has already gone to Justice League International.
The setup in the first issue seems to be The Authority Characters (plus the Martian Manhunter) as The Authority. They’re a group of ultra-powerful people who seem to be looking to protect the world from heroes and villains both. Why they’re calling themselves Stormwatch this time instead of The Authority is a mystery. Paul Cornell writes this and he’s one of my favorites, so he’s going to get some leeway from me, but so far I’m confused as to why they’d want to make this part of the main DC universe.
DC just spent over half a decade establishing “reboot” for their entire universe. They started with Infinite Crisis which went straight into 52, then went to Countdown and from there to Final Crisis. From there they went right into Blackest Night which ran into Brightest Day. Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne is thrown in at the end there, mixing imperfectly with everything after Final Crisis, which should have had the subtitle (Not Really Final). One of the things I really loved about the endless Crisising was that they seemed to be undoing, at least in part, the collapse of all the universes into one that was the result of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
I loved the parallel Earths of the DC universe. I grew up an SF fan and this was the link between it and comics. Superhero comics back in the 50s and 60s were much more SF oriented than they are today or were even in the late 80s or through the 90s. Green Lantern and the Flash spent most of their early Silver Age careers battling aliens and other-dimensional creatures, they weren’t tied to fighting supervillains all the time, though they existed too, but even they were more SF than you might think. Most of the Flash’s iconic villains were SF scientists who’d come up with ways to harness cold, heat, weather, etc… They became more traditionally super-villainy as the years went on.
When the original Crisis wiped out the multiverse, I was saddened. When DC brought it back with the 5 years of Crises, I was very excited. DC had a few other “universes” in the meantime, primarily Milestone and Wildstorm. Milestone didn’t last very long, and Wildstorm seemed like a separate universe, not intended to ever interact with the main DC universe. The Authority, for example, seemed primarily to be a weird take on the Justice League. Apollo = Superman. Midnighter = Batman. Swift = Hawkgirl, etc… As such, it was fine that they were in this separate universe, never to come into contact with the main DC universe. They were trying to tell different kinds of stories.
Shortly before the endless Crises, there was some crossover. There were stories about the Bleed, which was the space between the universes. There were some “What if” sort of stories and some Otherworlds sort of stories, but nothing like the Earth One/Earth Two stories that I’d loved so much as a kid. As Countdown came to a close, I was pleased to see that they were indeed restoring the multiverse, 52 universes in which they could tell stories. 52 universes that seemed likely to interact and have their own kind of heroes. Now that they’ve done all this setup, now that they’ve closed down both Milestone and Wildstorm, what do they do with the characters from those universes?
They place them awkwardly in the primary DC universe. Brightest Day swept without pause into Flashpoint which seemed to be saying primarily “We don’t know what to do with all the setup we’ve just spent 5 years on.” All that setup, all that storytelling, all that buildup and they wipe it out with a rather half-assed New Crisis that rebooted the universe AGAIN. Are there still 52 universes? Who knows? Dan Didio and Geoff Johns probably have lost track somewhere and don’t know either. They’ve got 52 universes to play with and the imaginary tales of Otherworlds, so naturally, they squash everyone into one ill-fitting universe.
To be fair, Stormwatch itself is a decent comic. The art is good and fantastical, the storyline looks like it could hold some promise as long as the final page of the Midnighter showing up and asking Apollo to go wipe out the human race with him isn’t too ridiculous in the long run. And as I said, Cornell is one of my favorites, I just hope it rises above the unfortunate editorial mess it has been splashed down in.
One other thing, Midnighter and Apollo seemed to be DC’s highest profile gay couple. I really hope they fall in love again in this new series. It would be a shame for DC to throw away that kind of established relationship.