Review by Frank Plowright
In Change or Die Warren Ellis took a leap as a storyteller, and the improvement continues in this collection, which is the equal of his acclaimed work on The Authority. It’s packed with clever ideas that utilise science-fiction elements appropriate to the series, but never overwhelms, and human problems remain at the heart.
A question running through A Finer World is whether corruption by power is inevitable. It’s certainly been an issue for Stormwatch before now, and while not the primary plot motivation, it’s running in the background of both stories here. At different points Jackson King and Jack Hawksmoor take a shift as the Weatherman, connected to global information feeds and Stormwatch’s computer system, and both have planet-changing decisions to make
To begin with some encrypted Stormwatch files are finally cracked there’s a terrifying discovery. There are apparently two covert operatives directly controlled by a man now believed to be dead. A Finer Day introduces Apollo and the Midnighter. It also introduces Bryan Hitch to Stormwatch. Until this point Hitch’s art had been very strongly based on that of Alan Davis, and that’s still apparent here, but he’s also developing the graphic style that would very shortly elevate him beyond his influences to great commercial success. A further hint of what’s to come is Michael Ryan having to fill in on one chapter.
The second story is very much a change of pace for writer Warren Ellis. Stormwatch have developed the capability to view the Stormwatch of an alternate universe, the wherewithall neatly explained by Ellis, and that world is being threatened by an alien incursion. Much time is spent exploring the alternate universe, with regular followers of other Wildstorm characters seeing familiar superheroes in unfamiliar situations. In many ways this is a precursor to the ethics Ellis applied to The Authority, and can be seen as a trial run. It’s widescreen intelligent superheroics and well worth reading today.
If you’d prefer, this is collected with the some of both the following Final Orbit, and the previous Change or Die as Stormwatch volume two.