Michael Cray #1 Meanderings [WildStorm]


The first spin-off book to come out of The Wild Storm and the 2nd book for the new Warren Ellis curated WildStorm imprint!  I gotta say, it’s nice to see another book on the shelves staring a non-white lead!  I think it’s exciting to have comics of diverse faces and voices.  There are a bunch of Black leads on the shelves today who have their own books (though mostly male).  Black Panther, Black Lightning, Falcon, Cyborg, Spawn, Luke Cage to name a few.

This is another maxi-series with 12 issues!  It really makes me wonder where the WildStorm will be in one year.  We are still expecting at least 2 more series to spin out of The Wild Storm; Zealot and WildC.A.T.s!  Will each series just overlap another as it’s ending, or will what’s ending be replaced to maintain four books in this new WildStorm Universe?  I suppose the success of this imprint will determine that.

As for this series, last we saw Michael Cray, he was being recruited by Trelane who works for SkyWatch’s Earth Division.  What new areas might we discover in the new WildStorm Universe in this book?  Let’s meander ….

What are Meanderings

On the spot, in-depth analysis/thoughts, questions, and speculation as I go through the material.

WARNING: SPOILERS

WildStorm Michael Cray #1 Variant Cover

WildStorm Michael Cray #1 Meanderings

LINKS


WildStorm Michael Cray #1 Variant Cover

Here is the variant cover by Gene Ha for issue #1

Love this…
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Released: October 11, 2017
Publisher:
 DC Comics

Writer: Bryan Hill with Warren Ellis
Penciller: N. Steven Harris
Inker: Dexter Vines
Colors:
 Steve Buccellato

Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover: Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Steve Buccellato
Assistant Editor: Diego Lopez

Group Editor: Marie Javins

Michael Cray Chapter One Meanderings

Contrast: Upbringing vs Adult Behavior

I really like that they’re continuing the flashbacks we saw in The Wild Storm series for Cray that kinda shows you who he is and why.

It seems here, he’s learning a little about how uneven and unfair the nature of life CAN be.  I imagine if someone DOES say that to themselves every night and believes it, they may be inclined to do what they can, but not worry about what they can’t control, and stay out of other people’s business and not do many favors.

In the opposite panel, mirroring this “THEN” image, we see him shooting through the front windshield of a car as he’s driving and being shot at.  Out of context, we don’t know that he’s a hired killer.  Seeing him do this in contrast to the previous panel, one might think this is a man who might be angry with a world that blames him and doesn’t give back.  This is a man who says “fuck you” to an unfair world and takes matters into his own hands and maybe even takes what he wants.

In context, we know he’s a hired killer, but we don’t know that in his past he wasn’t also a criminal.  Either way, I suppose, repeating that mantra has made him numb to feeling personal consequence which is fitting for either being a killer or criminal.    For all intents and purposes, he’s an assassin for hire.  The reason for killing someone is irrelevant if you’re just doing it as a job.  It’s not personal.  BUT, he definitely can be blamed for whomever he kills even if he’s given the order to do it by someone else.  So, he shares the blame.  And the only thing he gets in return is probably money and perhaps a reputation for being a killer.

To be honest, this is how I saw his character.  He was an assassin who killed for others for most of his career without question.  SO, I felt it very uncharacteristic of him to turn down killing Angela Spica out of nowhere.

The Wild Storm #5

I feel this whole moral stance of Michael Cray is very true to the original Deathblow.  But for some reason, this felt forced for this new Michael Cray from the issues of The Wild Storm.

The Wild Storm #5

I was like WHOA,.. where is this coming from?

Was it because he was dying or is that just a coincidence?

In looking back on finding out that he was dying,….

The Wild Storm #4

He feels “great!”

His death isn’t causing him to look at life differently causing him to second guess who he’s killed.

The Wild Storm #5

He feels so great in fact, he doesn’t want to die!

He’s gonna distract himself from dying by KILLING SOMEONE …. so why does he all of a sudden decide to say NO?

The Wild Storm #5

Ok, he saw raw files, but he’s a hired killer!!

The Wild Storm #5

I didn’t buy that this killer, who took kill orders without a question all of a sudden had this conscience.  All of a sudden he needs to know the truth about who and why he’s killing someone.

I get that it could happen, but I feel like I missed what caused it.  I find that I have to fill in the blanks.  Maybe I shouldn’t need it spelled out, but it wasn’t clear and satisfying to me.  Maybe it’s more obvious to others, or maybe I just missed it.

Let’s dig some more and see if we can figure out my disconnect here ….

Fight for What’s Right

In some flashbacks, he’s depicted as a man who fights for what’s right even though he may be breaking some laws.

Michael Cray #1

Here we see that he’s always fought back even when he was told not to.  So it’s possible he learned not to fight back, but ironically grew up to fight back for other people.  OR, he just never learned NOT to fight back, which is more likely.

And more flashbacks … In previous issues of The Wild Storm it’s been implied that he’s always fought for the right reasons,..

The Wild Storm #5

Sure, I got that from flashbacks he was the type of guy who always fought for what was right, but it didn’t fit in with him having been a hired killer for so long.  I guess that I didn’t buy that this was the first time he knew the “truth.”

The Wild Storm #5

And now he’s questioning every kill he’s ever done for them.  I suppose they could’ve been lying to him all along, but he never thought to question ANYTHING until now?

And He Quits IO

The Wild Storm #5

Still, Something Was Missing For Me To Really Buy It All

What I was missing were the lines in which these two panels use “HURT” from this issue and The Wild Storm #5 in contrast to each other.

Michael Cray #1

This is where IO recruits Michael Cray.

“Putting the hurt where the hurt needs to go.”

Look how it mirrors this other panel from The Wild Storm #5

 

The Wild Storm #5

This is where SkyWatch recruits Michael Cray.

Trelane:

“Protecting the world from dangerous people who deserve to get hurt.”

It’s clear to me now that he always thought the killing he had been doing was for the right reasons.

They both appealed to his sense of the fight for what’s right!

Will he fall for them too??? 

I don’t ever recall the Division (SkyWatch’s Earth Division) being referred to as Executive Protection Services.  Are they lying already?  I think so.  We all know that both IO and SkyWatch are dirty, and both think they’re the “good guys.”  So everything she’s saying is subjective; “Protecting the world from dangerous people,” “honest work” is a lie, and “freedom” which I’m sure is conditional.

ALSO, I also caught this one other line from The Wild Storm #4 flashback for Michael Cray that also fits in with this:

 

The Wild Storm #5

Miles Craven:

“You’re going to help us save the world.”

These panels also go further to show his willingness to kill in general and willingness to kill to do what’s “right.”

He kills, so long as he feels he’s doing the right thing.

Ah, going back to follow his journey and really pay attention really helped as I discovered a few beats I looked over the first time around.

He’s now moved on from a killer who kills without question, to a killer who will ask questions and kills for a “good” reason and to “make the world a better place.”

Michael Cray #1

Returning to the image of him shooting out of a car windshield.  With this all figured out, if he ever was a criminal in addition to being an assassin, I would assume he wasn’t a straight-up criminal; if anything, more like a Robin Hood type of vigilante who fights for those who can’t.

StormWatch Prime/Black/Year One?

Sounds like he’s gonna have a team no matter what.  Perhaps this will begin to introduce other old-school StormWatch members and maybe even Authority members?  There was a StormWatch Prime or Black before the main team that was introduced in the original book.

Also, the fact that she says that it’s an “initiative,” says to “build something beyond you” and uses the word “legacy” implies that this really could be the beginning of a StormWatch team!!!!!!!!

Also, I wonder if any of the tagging or graffiti are references to anything.

Ozee Rock?  Ozee Rook?

Easter Egg or Reaching?!

Hmm, other than a cliche, this could be an easter egg too? 

Who in StormWatch was a sexy ninja with a troubled past?  Err, Blademaster 


Who in StormWatch was a furry sidekick?  errr idk Pagan ha ha 

Who in StormWatch shoots laser beams out of his eyes?  Flashpoint!   I really liked that character!  

 

An Assassin For Hire Who Asks Questions

He’s learned.  He didn’t blindly trust what Trelane had to offer when recruiting him!

Death Blow Touch

More on his disintegrating death touch!  In the case of a living creature, it’s like a death touch,… or a death blow, literally.

The original WSU Deathblow didn’t have a power like this.  His name was just a call-sign that sounded cool but didn’t actually have anything to do with a power.  If anything, he may have provided the “deathblow” to many of his victims. 

Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow

Oh, so we see here that Oliver Queen’s origins seem to be very similar to the one we know…. so far,…

 

Deserted on an island, check.  Trained himself to survive and fight, check and check!

Bruce Wayne/Batman

Oh!  A reference to Bruce Wayne!  Could Batman be far behind?  

Not Robin Hood

Sounds like this Oliver Queen isn’t a very good guy!  Sounds like a stereotype of a “bad” conservative rich white man. :-/  Instead of being like Robin Hood,.. he’s more like robbing the middle class to help the rich and creating the hood to oppress them.  This definitely could’ve been Oliver Queen’s destiny.  

Alternate Arrowverse

Diggle, Thea,.. both characters created for the Arrow show right??

Perhaps they can crossover with the alternate Arrowverse,.. hmmm, maybe not.

Oy, he’s a sleezebag.  I totally vote for a WildStorm Universe on television.  

Kill to Stop More Killing

Here he basically spells it out.  He will kill to stop more killing,…

Survival of The Fittest

He’s an elitist, obsessed with the fact that he survived the island, and tests himself and judges others based on it.  Sounds sick.  What does this man believe?  Survival of the fittest?  Therefore, he tests himself to be worthy and tests others to weed out the unworthy?

What StormWatch really wants: Queen Industries

So this implies, like the Oliver Queen of the DCU,.. this one also has a tech company!

So StormWatch wants his tech and they want to take him out as a competitor.  See,.. they aren’t JUST out to make the world a better place,.. they want more power and his tech,.. but for what?

Also, more proof that Michael is now a man who asks questions first before shooting.

Is he gonna fall for this again?  I bet a lot of his kills from IO could’ve been the same.  It’s not all just black and white and it’s a matter of perspective.  Sure, Oliver Queen seems like a bad guy, but he’s probably no different than IO and StormWatch.  They’re both doing what they think is “good” but can both be seen as bad also.  I suppose for someone like Michael Cray, if you’re gonna kill someone, you’re gonna decide where that line is.  Everyone has some good and bad in them.  Michael draws the line at whether the person kills innocent people perhaps.  But in reality, even the “good” guys have done or do “bad” things.  No world power or even an organization with great power is gonna be squeaky clean perfect.

Green Arrow: Super-Villains Emerge

 

Trelane is telling Cray that if he doesn’t stop him, no one else will.  I take it in this universe, there hasn’t really been any “heroes” on the scene, just corporations.  In this universe, villains emerge first as we’ll also see an “evil” Flash show up.  Will the first heroes come out of The Wild Storm?  StormWatch or the WildC.A.T.s?

 

Final Thoughts: Who Will Buy The Book and Connection to DC

Well, I definitely am looking forward to seeing what team he builds and see what choices he makes moving forward.  I don’t think he should trust StormWatch, and imagine he will continue to struggle with who he kills.

I’m not really sure what this series will come across like for those who didn’t read The Wild Storm.  I imagine they may be a little confused, but that’s ok for a first issue.  I’m more concerned with who would be interested in reading this book.  Some people will pick it up because of WildStorm, and some for the Black lead in the book.  Outside of that, some might find it fun to read as an Elseworld type of story since it features alternate DCU characters.  Infact, that could be its major draw for those who come in knowing nothing.  Seeing popular characters from other media like Green Arrow and the Flash show up in this book will likely get people to take a look.

This new series definitely highlights that this is an alternate DCU as it showcases Oliver Queen and Green Arrow.  And if you look at future solicitations, you’ll also see other DCU characters such as Barry Allen featured.  The one thing that seems to be a reoccurring theme is that these DCU heroes in this WildStorm Universe are mostly antagonists!  Following that pattern then, would Bruce Wayne in this world be an antagonist and Lex Luthor or Joker a protagonist??

I would say that this new WSU is definitely a part of the DC Multiverse and can potentially crossover for sure.  Also, if DCU characters are in THIS universe, then they definitely could possibly be in the regular DCU somewhere in the background.  Perhaps this new WSU will provide a blueprint in which WSU characters could be introduced into the main DCU or even directly FROM this new WSU.

Other Reviews for issue #1

7/10 Adventures in Poor Taste
6.5/10 Black Nerd Problems
Comics Beat

Comic Book Resources
Comic Book Round-Up – a collection of many reviews!!!
8/10 Multiversity Comics
8/10 Weird Scienced Comics

Other Michael Cray

Weathering WildStorm: WSU vs Michael Cray #1 – Love this blog!
Newsarama

Official DC Comics Blog


LINKS

READ MORE WILDSTORM POSTS!
Meanderings from The Wild Storm #1#2#3#4#5#6#07
Pre-Launch Speculation

Storm Warning: What is the Wild Storm

Other WSU Links
WildStorm Universe on Facebook

WildStorm selections on YouTube
Me on Twitter
WildStorm Addiction Web Site
WildStorm Addiction on Twitter
Weathering Wildstorm A great blog going through WildStorm Continuity and comparing it to the new WildStorm!
Wild Times: An Oral History of WildStorm Studios on Twitter
Wild Times on Facebook
WildTimes Web site
WildStorm Old Official Twitter
Daarkanjel on Twitter
Daarkanjel on Instagram

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