I know I wasn't the only person a little worried after reading the first issue of "Stormwatch." It seemed surprisingly clumsy in terms of introducing the cast -- especially since Paul Cornell did a much better job doing the same thing over in "Demon Knights" -- but I told myself that I'd give it another issue or two to see if things picked up. Boy, am I glad I did.
A lot of the weak points from the first issue are gone, perhaps because we've had the entire cast introduced. But it feels like already we're getting some of the cast slightly enriched, made more interesting. Swordsman shifting from just a guy good with a weapon to someone who's the greatest at misdirection and "the prince of lies" suddenly elevates him to more than what appeared to be a throw-away character, for example. We start to get a glimpse into who or what Adam One is, and this version of the Engineer with her near-open rebellion is a much more interesting addition to the mix.
Of course, in making some characters interesting, we also get virtually nothing for characters like the Projectionist, Martian Manhunter, or Jenny Quantum; the balance still isn't quite there yet for Cornell juggling all nine characters in the cast. Then again, the book in general is still a little uneven in the plotting. The scenes with Apollo and Midnighter feel like they fizzled out this issue, while the sections on the Moon are all over the place. One of the best pieces we get, though, is learning just how Stormwatch continues to hide its existence from the Justice League and other heroes in the DC Universe. It's a little cruel and brutal when you think about it, but it also helps set their modus operandi in just two panels.
Miguel Sepulveda shares art chores this month with Al Barrionuevo, and I almost hate to admit that I think I like Barrionuevo's rendition of Apollo and Midnighter much more. Apollo seems a little more muscled here (he's got pecs, now) but while still maintaining the streamlined look at Sepulveda established last month. Sepulveda's art is a little more slick and polished, but it's good in its own right; he handles the scenes on the Moon, and he makes the Swordsman visually both smarmy and dangerous, which is a good fit for how Cornell's writing him.
"Stormwatch" #2 is a distinct improvement over #1, and it makes me feel a lot better about the series. If the book keeps getting stronger issue by issue, by the end of the first storyline this will be a comic to be reckoned with. For now, though, it's crossed the line into something strong enough to definitely want to read more. I'm on board.