Wildstorm world-building.

The early Image universes were often accused of cribbing from Marvel and DC lore. However, while one could compare characters such as the Coda to DC’s Amazons, Wildstorm truly had a unique voice—even in its infancy. With the announcement of the revival of the Wildstorm universe, I’d like to rummage through previous incarnations to discuss what I believe to be not only salvageable, but vital to the success of the upcoming imprint.

International Operations. Don’t let the name fool you, this organization dealt exclusively with protecting American interests. It was also a cornerstone of the Wildstorm universe. While not entirely villainous, the hats worn here were a very dark gray. Perhaps that I in IO should now stand for intelligence, no? For IO dabbled in everything—reconnaissance, robotics, genetic testing, and more. What would I like to see from a new Wildstorm imprint?

  • Team 7—a highly-skilled IO death squad that went AWOL in ‘98 after being subjected to genetic experiments its members didn’t sign up for.
  • Gen 13/DV8—the gifted children Team 7 sired.
  • Black Razors—IO’s mech-assisted military squad.
  • TAO—an IO experiment gone horribly awry, TAO is a tactical genius and has manipulated his way to the head of a major criminal organization called the Syndicate.

The United Nations. In the Wildstorm universe this organization had teeth. Most nations were eager to comply with the UN publicly, sending military personnel and funds; how nations behaved privately was another matter. With the new Wildstorm imprint the UN should possess one heroic crew assigned to deal with global threats and international disputes:

  • Stormwatch—an international selection of genetically gifted peacekeepers.

The Authority. I’d argue that the most powerful group in the new Wildstorm universe should be virtually unknown. IO’s interests? National. The UN’s interests? Global. The Authority? They should ensure not only the health of the universe, but the multiverse. In fact, it would be beneficial to allow these characters to exist simultaneously in the DC and Wildstorm universes.

Kaizen Gamorra. This character was one of the leading antagonists of the previous Wildstorm universe, so it is my hope that he returns sans stereotypical “yellow peril” references. Kaizen should be a paranoid despot driven to distraction by the machinations of the UN and IO. And yet, the best villains do not know that they are villains. After all, what could be more righteous than a desire to protect the sovereignty of one’s country from global interference? Gamorra should be responsible for:

Aliens. Earth should be home to quite a few galactic expats who use the glittering blue sphere as a luxury resort and trading post.

  • Wildcats—a group of multi-racial soldiers who abandoned the war the Kherubim launched against the Daemonites to become a dysfunctional family of jet-setters and rabble-rousers.
  • Coda—a small band of Kherubim warriors aided by a mercenary organization of women altered by Kheran blood.
  • The Cabal—a loose federation of stranded Daemonite warlords resigned to ruling Earth if they cannot escape it.

Vigilantes. The Wildstorm universe did not have “houses” as Marvel does; it had institutions. Where Marvel can be neatly divided into five realms (superheroic, cosmic, mutated, magical, vigilante), the Wildstorm universe unapologetically stressed science over magic to its benefit and focused on the corruption of military, political, and economic systems. However, while corruption flowers in the upper echelons, its roots are in the streets. In the past, Wildstorm ignored that region. It did not have the equivalent of a Punisher or Luke Cage. Given that a new Wildstorm would not be hamstrung by decades of continuity or tethered to IP devoted to children, it could now provide vigilantes who not only defend the streets, but are actually from them. The idea of inventing a “Wildstorm street” from whole cloth? Delicious.

Comics is obviously a marriage of words and pictures, so concept art is equally as important as a story bible when world-building. I’ve listed what I would like to see in the Wildstorm universe, but it is just as important to note who I would like to see design it.

Sophie Campbell. Her concept art for Voodoo and Zealot is absolutely stunning. Campbell’s ability to both think outside of the box and incorporate a wide range of physical forms are skills that are imperative when designing teams comprised of a variety of species and races such as the Wildcats and victims of Kaizen Gamorra’s experiments such as the Hunter-Killers and Cybernary.

Jamie McKelvie. McKelvie’s work on Young Avengers and The Wicked + The Divine provide proof of his knack for designing youthful characters who are an accurate reflection of the young men and women in our world today. His concept art for a 2017 Gen 13 and DV8 would be magical. Plus, he’s already down to play.

Oskar Vega. Vega is yet another wonder who should be assigned the task of redesigning Gen 13 and DV8. His concept art for the Teen Titans is a clear indication of that.

Adam Warren. Warren is best known for his “good girl” art, but longtime fans of the Dirty Pair are well aware of his talent when it comes to designing military hardware. I would love to see concept art from Warren for the Black Razors and the Engineer.

Jon Davis-Hunt. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Davis-Hunt has already been tapped by DC to work on the new Wildstorm imprint and his clean, simple designs would lend themselves well to a crop of no-nonsense vigilantes more concerned with performance over flashy displays.


Last hired, first fired.

Today I learned of the cancellations of Mr. Terrific, Static Shock, and Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive (late to the party, I know), and the departures of Marc Bernardin and Eric Wallace from DC’s staff of writers. I jokingly referred to it as “Official Black People Pink Slip Day” in comics along with providing a couple of mildly snarky comments about the timing of the news.

“We wanted to make sure we got rid of all the black writers and solo titles before February. That would have been sooooooo awkward.”Cheryl Lynn Eaton

I’m not as angry as I would have been in the past because we’ve been around this block before. But I am disappointed. I’m disappointed that DC didn’t take the careful time and planning needed to create a successful launch of these books and characters from jump. I’m disappointed that Green Arrow is rewarded with Ann Nocenti after performing poorly and Mr. Terrific gets a pink slip instead of Priest. It shows a lack of faith and a lack of concern. And the constant fumbling of what should be clear and easy decisions regarding launches, sales, and marketing is just frustrating.

“And the fact that DC has cancelled Static Shock and will push a Ravagers book instead of Gen 13 is just such a boneheaded move. Static and Blue Beetle should have never started out in solo titles. They should have been part of a group book from jump to build a base. And that base should have been Gen 13, which still has name recognition a decade later. To be fair, I would have cancelled all of those books but Mr. Terrific and Men of War or Blackhawks. The two I kept would be retooled. The four books I would have added to the DC lineup would have been Gen 13, Huntress (w/Cass as the Nu52 Huntress), Lobo…and Wildcats. I don’t give a damn. I love Wildcats and I’m armchair editor here, damn it.”Cheryl Lynn Eaton

Brandon Graham and I went on to develop the best Gen 13 series you’ll never get to read on Twitter this morning. Brandon and Adam Warren switch off writing duties, Emma Rios draws it, and I edit. It’s amazing and it will never exist. Sorry about that, folks. And I’ve changed my mind about the Huntress book now that I’ve realized that The Ray isn’t an ongoing—and clearly should be. Plus, the Huntress is in my imaginary Gen 13 book, which—again—is amazing.

But I’m being silly. And I shouldn’t—not completely. Because in regards to black writers receiving paid work in comics, the industry is actually regressing. A degradation is occurring as opposed to simple stagnation. And this concerns me far more than the loss of solo titles featuring black characters, especially when those characters will receive major panel time in popular team books. (If Black Panther doesn’t take a leading role in an Avengers title, I will be extremely surprised.)

If not for the wonder of self-publishing, we’d be looking at the slow silencing of the voice of an entire group. I believe we are currently down to one black writer receiving paid work in the industry, though I would be positively ecstatic to be proven wrong. Please drop me an email, if so. If not? Tread carefully, Mr. Hinds. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. With the loss of McDuffie, I cannot think of one black person in a position of power in this industry. Yes, we all have power over our own creations, but that is not akin to the type of power held by those who can launch successful lines and create multiple jobs, or who can influence large numbers within multiple industries. Do comic companies even realize how many talented black men and women are slipping through their fingers? How many are simply drifting to advertising, television, music, etc.? Do they even care? Eh, not likely.

Given the option of self-publishing, I wouldn’t care either, but many black creators simply do not have the funds to take that route (nor the option to become Kickstarter successes in an industry filled with fans that can be…difficult in regards to certain projects).

There is no way one can point to low sales as the reason for the lack of diversity in regards to black writers. An Avengers title written by Priest would sell. Detective Comics is being written by a Latino guy right now! You know how well that book is selling? Insanely well. And Batgirl certainly hasn’t suffered from Gail Simone’s estrogen levels. That book is snagging accolades left and right. So why the dearth of black writers? What’s the problem? Seriously, why is this still a problem? And why is the problem getting worse?