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The Wild Storm: The Enemy Within Us

The Wild Storm: The Enemy Within Us

By Tim Beedle Thursday, May 17th, 2018

THE WILD STORM is a compelling and thoroughly modern new take on the classic WildStorm universe. In this series of posts, WildStorm newcomer Tim Beedle offers his thoughts on each new issue of this acclaimed series.

After a short hiatus, The Wild Storm is back! Writer Warren Ellis has said there will be 24 issues in total, which would mean that we’re now officially entering the second half. Not that Ellis and artist Jon Davis-Hunt seem to be slowing things down.

In THE WILD STORM #13, we get our first look at a full-fledged Kheran by way of John Colt’s birthday message to Jacob Marlowe. This is a bit of a tangent, but that whole sequence is something of a headscratcher, isn’t it? Doesn’t John work for Jacob and HALO? Why is he trolling him? I’d imagine you longtime WildStorm fans probably know a lot more about this than I do, but clearly there are some issues between them. From what I’ve gathered, Jacob, John and Kenesha all traveled to Earth together, but it doesn’t seem like they’re necessarily all the same. I’m unclear if they’re all the same species, but not the same clade, or if they’re all different alien races entirely? Or do the terms “clade” and “species” mean more or less the same thing? I have to admit, the details regarding the alien presence in The Wild Storm are all still pretty confusing to me. If you’re more on top of it than I am, feel free to help me make sense of it all down in the comments.

But getting back to the Kherans, they’re terrifying, aren’t they? The Kherubim is the second alien race that we’ve now seen in their true form. (The other, the Daemons, make a brief appearance in this issue as well.) I know we shouldn’t prejudge on physical appearance, but we’re a full baker’s dozen worth of chapters into this now, and while there’s a lot I may be unclear about regarding the aliens, there is one thing I know for sure—I don’t trust any of them. Maybe they’re not evil, per se, but they definitely have their own motives and goals, and they’re not being forthcoming about them. It’s entirely possible that in the end, some of the aliens on Earth may be altruistic, but right now the waters are muddied enough that I can’t know for sure, so it’s best to be a little skeptical. Besides, did you see the teeth on that Kheran?!? Yikes!

Aliens disguised as humans is a popular horror/sci-fi trope, but it’s one that has its roots in human behavior and history. We seem to live in constant fear of people not being who they claim to be. In ancient Jerusalem, Christians were personae non-grata. The Puritans of 18th Century Salem lived in fear of witches and devil worshippers. In the 1950s, Americans worried their neighbors were Communists. Today, with so much of our communication taking place online, it’s Russian bots and trolls that have us on edge.

The great irony of The Wild Storm is that some “people” within the story really aren’t people at all, and really may seek to do us harm. Yet, as far as we can see, no one other than a very select few even suspect any of this. People may be right to be suspicious of their neighbors, but not because they’re spies or illegal immigrants or terrorists or whatever else they may live in fear of. In The Wild Storm, the reality is that we’ve been invaded and civilization is being controlled, and we don’t suspect it in the least. We’re paranoid and terrified of potential threats, and completely blind to the biggest actual threat out there.

Speaking of threats, it seems like the threat of war is no longer merely a threat. Last issue, Skywatch had IO analyst Mitch Saunders killed. In response, IO dispatched three CATs to attack Skywatch’s ground division (where Lucy Blaze—the Skywatch operative who killed Mitch—currently holds court), while Skywatch…well, seems to be considering destroying human society as we know it. More troubling still is that this extreme action was suggested not by the hot-headed Henry Bendix, who had asked for more contained options that were still limited enough to avoid escalating the situation into a full-on war of mass destruction, but by Lauren Pennington. That’s right, the very person who, just a few months ago, I was praising as being the rational, more level-headed person at Skywatch. My, how people can surprise you.

All of which gives us one last little lesson we can glean from this excellent issue. Alien threats may be hidden within our society, but the most destructive actions are still taken by our fellow humans. And even the most seemingly humane of us can be monsters in disguise.

THE WILD STORM #13 by Warren Ellis, Jon Davis-Hunt and Steve Buccellato is now available in print and as a digital download.