JIM STARLIN's New 52 STORMWATCH: 'Revamp of a Revamp'

Stormwatch #20

pencils version

Among the changes that DC is making this spring is the introduction of a new creative team and direction for Stormwatch.

According to the new writer, Jim Starlin, it's like a reboot of the whole concept.

In fact, he called it a "revamp of a revamp."

Starlin is working with artist Yvel Guichet on Stormwatch, but the writer has already revealed some of his artwork for upcoming covers for the series. And included on those covers are several brand new characters for the New 52.

Many of the characters that have been featured in Stormwatch were part of the WildStorm imprint that DC maintained as a separate universe until 2010. WildStorm was originally a publishing company, then was part of DC's overall publishing line, but had always been used in-story as an "alternate" to the regular DCU.

Now the team is integrated into the DCU, but according to Starlin, their current relationships are about to change drastically.

Stormwatch #19

Starlin is a comic book veteran known for his work at both Marvel and DC, best known for his work with space-based characters. He's been getting particular attention lately for being the man who created Thanos, the surprise villain in The Avengers movie credits.

Newsarama talked to Starlin to find out more about his version of Stormwatch and found out Lobo is among the first villains to challenge the new team.

Newsarama: Jim, you've released the covers for issues #19 and #20, and it looks like you're shaking up Stormwatch quite a bit when you come on board. What are your thoughts about what you're doing with the team overall, and how it compares with what's been done so far?

Jim Starlin: Okay, I'm going to have to play it kind of cagey with you on these answers because of where I'm taking things with Stormwatch in the writing. I don't want to be the one inadvertently tossing out the spoiler bombs. Right from the first few pages of issue #19 things start changing for Stormwatch. Everything you know about the series, up until that point, is altered: new outfits, characters, villains. The only thing that stays the same is Stormwatch's mission. They're there to protect Earth.

Nrama: So is the continuity we've seen so far with Stormwatch — and its connections to other things in the DCU — scrapped? Or are you just adding to it?

Starlin: Two things. #1: Stormwatch is a clandestine outfit, a top-secret organization. Its connection to the rest of the new DC Universe was tenuous and minimal, at best, with the old Stormwatch. Something happens in Stormwatch #19 that makes those connections even less relevant. It's complicated and will probably take a dozen issues or so to thoroughly sort out the changes taking place.

Nrama: To some onlookers, it appears that this team looks more like the WildStorm version of the Authority. Is it more like that Authority? How would you respond to that reaction?

the new team

Starlin: Two of the characters — Apollo and Midnighter — return to their old, Bryan Hitch-designed outfits, just because Yvel and I liked those costumes better. Maybe that's why folks are thinking the series is like the Authority. But it's not. The Authority was about a very powerful organization that started kicking butt and taking names all over the Earth and beyond. As of issue #19, Stormwatch is a very reduced and crippled group, compared to older versions of the series. Their challenge is greater.

Nrama: As long as we're on the subject of the old Authority, were you a fan of the characters from their WildStorm days? And what appealed to you about writing them now?

Starlin: To be honest with you, the original Stormwatch came out when I was working outside of comics and not paying much attention to what was going on in the industry. I later picked up an issue or two of the title and The Authority for the art — Bryan Hitch and later Frank Quitely. But because I was coming in on the middle of things. I really had no idea what was going on in the series. I'd read none of the New 52 Stormwatch.

[DC Co-Publisher] Dan [DiDio] brought me in for a complete revamping of the title.

new character design

When you're reinventing an entire comic book universe, not every wad of wet toilet paper is going to stick to the ceiling. DC editorial pretty universally thought Stormwatch wasn't working out. Everyone involved seemed to be giving it their all but the pieces just didn't seem to be fitting together properly. So Dan asked me to come in and do some retooling. Of course, being a creature of excess, I've sort of gone over the top and what's come out of it is an entirely new Stormwatch, a revamp of a revamp. But I think Yvel and I have, so far, handled it in a respectful and entertaining manner.

Nrama: OK, so this is obviously a whole new approach. How would you describe your approach to Stormwatch as the new creative team — and the new character team — takes over?

Starlin: It was a very typical let's-get-something-going-up-at-DC-Comics story for me. Dan DiDio and I talked about me doing a mini-series and got to the point where we had a plot written up. But then, because of the continued but understandable chaos which comes from rebooting an entire comic book line, that project got screwed up. One of the two characters that were supposed to be featured in the series was no longer available. So Dan suggested I take up the chore of writing Stormwatch on a regular basis and retool the plot to fit that series.

art from Stormwatch

He sent me the first 13 issues of the New Stormwatch to read over. Then we (Dan, Bobby Chase, Matt Idleson, Joey Cavalieri and I) conferred and decided who and what should be changed within the team. Yvel Guichet and I were then set loose to re-imagine and redesign.

Nrama: Can you confirm if DC's mutliverse is involved in the chaos that seemingly took over Stormwatch? Or is this something entirely different?

Starlin: Evasion time! Something happens to the DC Universe, in issue #19 of Stormwatch, that changes Stormwatch and everything else. But these alterations in reality are localized and chiefly affect Stormwatch and those directly connected to Stormwatch.

Nrama: Well I certainly understand the evasion. But can you describe what the new mission is? Are they still protecting Earth? And are the associated with the Shadow Lords?

Starlin: Stormwatch is still charged with protecting Earth and are run by the Shadow Lords. But the organization has been drastically altered and weakened. It just doesn't have the resources it used to, because of that unspecified event I keep referring to.

The group is in the same game but now has to play it radically different. Even the Shadow Lords will have to adjust to the new circumstances.

Nrama: How would you describe Apollo and Midnighter and their role in the comic you're writing?

art from Stormwatch

Starlin: Stormwatch so far and, as you can see from the covers, there's a lot of new characters being simultaneously developed. I haven't as yet really gotten into Apollo and Midnighter's back-story, barely begun to touch on it in issue #23. But I know where I'm going with them and slowly get their entire tale will get out there to the reader. I'm trying not to draw any straight line in the story.

Nrama: You've revealed that you're using a character called "The Weird." Is that the same character you and Bernie Wrightson created for DC years ago? How is this version the same or different?

Starlin: Again, he's a revamp. His origin will be very similar to the old Weird's but also subtly different. His role in Stormwatch will be a marked departure in what the character is all about. He has a special relationship with the character Jenny Soul. That I won't get into at this point. Yvel gave the Weird his new look.

Nrama: Is Jenny Soul another earth's version of Jenny Q?

Starlin: Yes, Jenny Soul is the new version of Jenny Sparks/Quantum. But I really don't want to put anything out about her at this time because that would be a major spoiler. All I'll say about her at this time is that she's the odd man/teenage girl out in this group of very unconventional and flawed characters. Big plans for her.

Nrama: What can you tell us about some of these other characters you've revealed on the cover to issue #20? Who are they? And can you describe them a little?

Starlin: Apollo, Midnighter and the Engineer are basically what the reader already knows, only how they got to where they are has changed. The team is headed up by a new mystery character called Storm Control. He's assisted in this work by an alien code-named The Forecaster and a new and more complex version of Hellstrike, who's the away team's leader. We've already briefly touched on Jenny Soul. Two other new characters are coming onto the team. One of them, as seen on the two revealed covers, is the Weird. The other new team members are going to be a surprise. Early threats to Stormwatch include a new mystery group — whose name I can't even reveal just yet — and Lobo.

Nrama: You mentioned all the designs you've been working on with Yvel, which sounds like a pretty collaborative working relationship. How has it been working with him on the comic?

Starlin: At first I thought I would be working with Will Conrad on Stormwatch. But it was decided that bringing on a new art team, when I took over the writing, was the way to go with this revamp. Yvel and I were then introduced to each other, via e-mail and told to get to it. So we decided to connect better on the phone and get to know each other. What developed very quickly is one of the best collaborative relationships I've had in comics of late.

 

We were taking over and recreating a book that was already on the schedule and getting behind schedule. We missed our deadline for getting in issue #19's cover in time. So we were scrambling. Yvel and I split up redesigning many of the characters. I worked up Jenny Soul and Storm Control. Yvel completely reimagined the Weird's visuals and designed the Forecaster from scratch. The two of us batted Hellstrike back and forth until we settled on something we both liked, with Yvel doing the majority of the work on that character. Then Yvel had a lot of other characters and things to rework along the way. It's been quite a job and we've been having a great time doing it.

Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Stormwatch?

Starlin: Only that I'm trying to make Stormwatch a book of surprises. I want each issue to be a journey of rediscovery for the reader. My goal is for the audience to learn something new each issue about characters they thought they already knew. Storm Control, in particular, will be a wild ride. Who he actually is will be a mystery that will take several issues to unwind.

Another goal is to explore different cosmic territory. The initial threat to Stormwatch is pretty off-the-wall. I want to take Stormwatch into some rather unorthodox situations. I think anyone, who gives the new series a chance, will find that they're getting good value for their entertainment dollars.

Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!

Twitter activity