About halfway through THE WILD STORM #5, Adrianna Tereshkova tracks down the wayward Angela Spica and invites her to have coffee with her, promising to tell Angie her story in hopes that Angie might then tell Adri hers. It’s an absolutely crucial scene, giving us the first character backstory we’ve gotten in the series and pulling back the veil a little more on the mysterious Skywatch. And it’s all intriguing, fascinating stuff—Adri continues to be one of my favorite characters in this reinvention of the WildStorm universe. However, when I was done reading the issue, I realized it wasn’t Adrianna’s story that stayed with me, but her interactions with Angela.
You see, kindness really seems to be an alien concept in the world of The Wild Storm.
Admittedly, we’ve only seen the first five issues out of an intended twenty-four in Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt’s series, but in those 100+ pages, we’ve seen cutting edge drysuits, techno-powers, teleportations, city-sized space stations, explosive gunplay, aliens and one bummer of a brain tumor. What we haven’t seen is much in the way of compassion or understanding. At least, not until now.
This isn’t meant to be a knock on anyone in The Wild Storm—or at least not anyone in particular. I understand that this is a high-stakes game everyone’s playing, and with this level of competitiveness, kindness isn’t a virtue. But Angie has never been a player in this game. She’s an office worker who got pulled into it after making some fateful choices. Of course she wasn’t going to respond to HALO’s initial show of force, even if it arrived under a flag of friendship.
It’s pretty obvious, really, but the problem with focusing on the impossible for so long is that you often overlook the obvious. I’m not sure where I stand on Jacob Marlowe and HALO yet, but I do believe that Cole and Kenesha meant well when they apprehended Angie in issue #3. I think they were sympathetic and wanted to protect her, but they went about it the entirely wrong way. Adri realized this, mentioning in issue #4 that she was going to do “what they should have done the first time, instead of going in like a CAT.”
Let’s not forget, as comic fans, we love super hero and sci-fi showdowns. But I doubt we’d find it very fun if we were to witness one in real life. Hell, if it were me, I have no doubt that I’d be terrified. Angie certainly is. Adri—whom let’s not forget was taken quickly out of commission during the earlier encounter with Angie—seems to be the only character in the series who realizes this. (Well, one of the only characters, but we’ll get to that in a moment.)
This is pretty remarkable, when you think about it. I mean, just about everyone in this comic is talking about, studying and looking for Angie and yet no one else thought to treat her with a little compassion. All that technology and power at IO and HALO’s disposal, and the thing that looks most likely to succeed at bringing Angie in is a cup of coffee.
Even more fascinating is that Adrianna isn’t the only character to display some real kindness in this issue. To be honest, I never would have expected Michael Cray to be the voice of humanity at IO, and it’s entirely possible that under other circumstances, he wouldn’t be. But faced with his own mortality and wrestling with all of the questions that accompany a looming death, it’s likely that he’s seeing things in a different light. Or maybe he’s always lived by a code in his ethically dubious line of work—we haven’t really seen all that much of him so far. Either way, his refusal to kill Angela after seeing the video of her captured by the Razor CATs both sheds some real light on him as a character and seems to have placed him on an entirely new path away from IO.
I suspect longtime WildStorm fans may have anticipated something like this, but I didn’t. Michael seemed to be firmly in camp IO to me. Now, I can’t help but think he’s going to eventually find himself aligned with Angie. If I’m right, that would seem to do some real damage to IO.
I’m sure there’s much we don’t know about their capabilities, but everything IO has done to solve the Angela Spica problem has failed. How many options could they have left at this point? If International Operations is a leaky boat, as Christine Trelane calls it, and if they are on the brink of sinking, the damage has been largely self-imposed.
Michael Cray makes the point that Angie is “a woman who needed someone to hear her.” And he’s more right than he realizes. Remember, this whole thing started when Angie approached Miles on the street, hoping to talk to him. When Miles brushed her off, she left and wound up directly beneath Jacob Marlowe as he was thrown out of his office. If Miles had given her the respect of listening to her, she would’ve been nowhere near Jacob Marlowe that afternoon. Miles’ lack of kindness helped to create the situation at the heart of The Wild Storm, and now, Adrianna and Michael’s acts of kindness may have determined how it’ll get resolved.
Yes, I know it’s a peace-loving cliché to say that kindness can change the world. But when the world in question is that of The Wild Storm, it really does seem to be true.
THE WILD STORM #5 by Warren Ellis, Jon Davis-Hunt and Steve Buccellato is now available in print and as a digital download.