So, for the last month or so I have been speaking really highly about the next step in the evolution of the Wildstorm Universe. What started with Worldstorm, an event that was supposed to change the face of the Wildstorm Universe forever unfortunately sputtered out because of the projects that some of the head creators had on their plates. Grant Morrison didn't really realize just how big his workload was going to be with this ambitious idea that had begun over in the DCU ... it was called "52". And Jim Lee was working on two little projects, one that was a little more public than another, the public one was a 12 issue commitment to work with another innovator in the industry ... it was called All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder ... and the not so public one was doing a handful of character designs for what would become known as DCUO ... or DC Universe Online ... yeah an MMORPG. So, despite some really great work from writers like Mike Carey, Gail Simone, and Christos Gage, as well as some really great artwork by Neil Googe, Talent Caldwell, Doug Mahnke, and Whilce Portacio the line started plummeting down the sales charts and all of a sudden the only title that was still on the shelf was Gen¹³ ... which was on it's second writer and was starting to dip in sales as well. Then something big happened.
One thing to remember is that the world ended because of three men, Christos Gage, Scott Beatty, and Ben Abernathy.
December 2007 ... something unexpected started happening. Wildstorm: Armageddon began. A six issue bi-weekly mini-series of sorts, all written by Christos GageVoid started appearing to characters from all the major titles of the current WSU, to Midnighter of The Authority, Caitlin Fairchild of Gen¹³, John Doran of Stormwatch: PHD, Jackson Michael Dane of Wetworks, Maximum Man resident of the Tranquility Retirement Home, and Nemesis the sometimes friend sometimes foe of The WildCATS. Upon encountering each of these individuals she explains that she knows that the world is going to end and that she must show each one of them what the world will be like if they cannot save it. So one by one each character is transported into the future in order to try and understand what has happened to the world and how the heroes might be able to stop it. We slowly start to learn that super-humans are the cause of the devastation of the world, and no one knows where they came from or who they were, but some seem to believe that they were individuals long thought dead or disappeared. The mini-series worked on a lot of levels, in particular the art of some of the issues was truly fantastic, in particular the art of Brandon Badeaux on Wetworks: Armageddon was truly stunning. Each issue served as a great introduction to the world of Wildstorm as well as the base of characters that the main character for each issue was pulled from, it also showed a terrifying world post the coming armageddon and much like any other event in any other universe the reader is certainly left with the impression that the heroes will win in the end.
And so began the sewing of the seeds of discontent.
January 2008 saw the beginning of the 8 issue bi-weekly mini-series Wilstorm: Revalations written by Scott Beatty & Christos Gage with artwork by industry newcomer Wes Craig. Beatty and Gage team well and tell a fantastic story but more importantly Wes Craig made a hugely impressive showing and quickly went from guy who works on shlocky horror comics to artist to watch, he has a really kinetic style that manages to show his influences without relying on them. The mini-series follows Nemesis, Savant, and Backlash as they stomp around the WSU trying to uncover the reason behind the coming apocalypse. Along the way they make enemies of pretty well every major team in the WSU, realizing that explaining what is coming would take longer, and be more complicated than just stealing the infromation they need. As they start to peel back the layers they start hearing some disconcerting things. The name "The Number of the Beast" keeps cropping up along side some other disconcerting names like Henry Bendix and Miles Craven as well as the name of an unknown "Gen. Zebulon" ... all things considered though you'd never want to be associated with those two names. Also they had a sit-down conversation with Maximum Man who confirmed a lot of the suspicions about missing heroes and whatnot. Ultimately they wind up raiding the facility of the Number of the Beast and find that indeed they are imprisoning super-humans for some purpose or another ... they destroy the facitlity and consider the threat neutralized.
But little do they know ...
April 2008 saw the beginning of Number of the Beast, an 8 issue bi-weekly mini-series written by Scott Beatty with art by industry stalwarts Chris Sprouse & Karl Story. And here is where it all ends. The Number of the Beast has more than one facility ... as a matter of fact they have dozens ... and in each there are super-humans who are being tortured. Driven insane. Each station has their subjects trapped in a virtual world, kind of like the Matrix, only there are soldiers who subject these men and women who were all once heroes to the end of the world over and over and over ... And why? They were subjected to the end of the world over and over again in hope that it would serve as training to save humanity when the end of the world came. But when you are planning to save the world from it's end with super-humans you have to realize that there is a remote possibility that the super-humans might be the reason for the end. So how does one solve that? You take the genetic material of one of the greatest super-humans ever to grace your planet ... sure he may have also been one of her greatest threats, but if you can raise him however you want you can make him perfect right? You could make sure that The High never became the meglomaniac that tried to remake the world in his own image right? You could make sure that if each clone couldn't achieve it's goal of destroying the world's super-humans that they wouldn't throw a temper tantrum and try to destroy the whole world since instead ... right ... right?
Reap What You Sow. Change. Or. Die.
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