Stormwatch 5: Final Orbit

stormwatch volume 5 final orbit cover trade paperback
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10

Stormwatch meets its end

Trademarked Aliens limits the wider effect of the killings

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Stormwatch (Volume 2)/WildC.A.T.s/Aliens

Publisher:  Wildstorm/DC/Dark Horse

Writer:  Warren Ellis

Artists:  Bryan Hitch/Paul Neary/Michael Ryan/Luke Rizzo/Chris Sprouse/Kevin Nowlan

# of Issues: 3

Release Date:  2001

stormwatch #10 cover jackson king

Stormwatch (2) #10

Reprints Stormwatch (2) #10-11 and WildC.A.T.s/Aliens #1 (September 1998-August 1998).  Questioning his leadership abilities, Jackson King is faced with Stormwatch’s biggest challenge.  When an asteroid is headed to Earth, Stormwatch finds a threat that could destroy them all.  The WildC.A.T.s respond to an emergency distress signal from the Stormwatch satellite and find horror unleashed.  Will Stormwatch survive or will the horror consume them all?

Written by Warren Ellis, Stormwatch Volume 5:  Final Orbit is the end of Ellis run on the Image superhero comic book series.  Following Stormwatch Volume 4:  A Finer World, the collection features art by Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary, Michael Ryan, Luke Rizzo, Chris Sprouse, and Kevin Nowlan.  The series features the Dark Horse Comics crossover storyline WildC.A.T.s/Aliens #1.

I remember hearing about WildC.A.T.s/Aliens when it was released and needing to read it.  I found it at a random comic book store and thoroughly enjoyed the issue though I wasn’t reading Stormwatch at the time (or much of Image for that matter).  Having a culminating story featured strictly licensed characters has both advantages and disadvantages.

The story is interesting in that it actually happens within the context of the Wildstorm world.  Normally when there is something like a company crossover (here being Wildstorm and Dark Horse), it is usually a stand-alone issue that has no ramifications for later issues.  Here, Stormwatch gets out-and-out slaughtered by the aliens and killed many of their popular (but generic) characters.  When it is over, the characters remain dead and it isn’t all some Dallas “dream” issue where they all just say, that was weird and move on.  The decision to make the Aliens crossover WildC.A.T.s based was also interesting since the story really is a Stormwatch story.

wildcats aliens #1 cover stormwatch

WildC.A.T.s/Aliens #1

This decision did cause some stickiness for the storyline.  Outside of the WildC.A.T.s/Aliens issue, the aliens can’t be shown.  So in Stormwatch (2) #10 there is a very creepy “something is coming” feel.  The shock of the WildC.A.T.s/Aliens massacre was such a surprise and a lot of fun, but the Stormwatch (2) #11 didn’t make much sense because they couldn’t really talk about or show the aliens that killed all their teammates which seems unrealistic.  We’re just treated with a funeral and a “that really sucked” type feel instead of trying to find out more about the origin of the aliens and if they could be a threat again.

Warren Ellis’ big Stormwatch saga comes to the end with this Stormwatch book.  It was an interesting run that pushed the limits of the Wildstorm books.  The edginess of the series was continued with the Stormwatch Black team (made up of Swift, Jenny Sparks, and Jack Hawksmoor…all characters who were conviently missing for the Aliens massacre) which goes rogue after Stormwatch (2) #11 and forms the Authority (a comic book you could argue changed how comic books looked at super-teams).  The Authority’s first exploits are continued in The Authority 1:  Relentless.

Related Links:

Stormwatch 1:  Force of Nature

Stormwatch 2:  Lightning Strikes

Stormwatch 3:  Change or Die

Stormwatch 1:  The Dark Side

Stormwatch 2:  Enemies of Earth

Stormwatch 3:  Betrayal

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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