Originally created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, this took a set of Wildstorm Universe characters, largely from Ellis’ Stormwatch run, and moulded them into a new team, designed to be more pro-active in the world’s problems than normal superteams.
Originally led by the spirit of the 20th century, Jenny Sparks, the team is based on The Carrier, a Shiftship parked in orbit around Earth, which due to its inter-dimensional nature also exists everywhere on Earth at every time, allowing the team to open “doors” to anywhere they need.
Consisting of Jack Hawksmoore (The King of Cities), The Engineer (technical genius who’s swapped her blood for liquid nanotech), the Doctor (Shaman of the Global village – not the time travelling one), Shen Li-Min the team’s resident flyer, Apollo the team’s heavy hitter and Superman analogue, and Midnighter the team’s Batman analogue, the team take a much more active role in world affairs, not afraid to intervene in human rights abuses and topple Governments they see as corrupt (which eventually goes so far as the team removing a corrupt US administration and taking control of the US).
The book’s known for its violence and sense of the epic, be it depictions of the carrier traversing the various universes through “the bleed”, or encountering word-threatening menaces that can reshape reality. I’ve collected a lot of the run in trade format now, from Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s initial run, through the controversial run of Mark Millar and Frank Quitely, through to the more recent Ed Brubaker and Dustin Nguyen stories and beyond.
While I must admit, I’ve not been as into the current run (although I’ll probably still get the trade and try reading it back-to-back), largely due to it following on from a Wildstorm event that really changed the status quo of everything, I still find the back issues really easy to go back and re-read. The characters all have their own distinctive voices, and its quite fun seeing the team evolve, as Jenny Sparks is lost as the 20th century closes, to them finding Jenny Quantum, who is raised by Apollo and Midnighter before aging herself to 14 and pretty much taking over the team during the second half of Ed Brubaker’s run.
Its not a series to read though if you’re not a fan of adult content. There’s frequent graphic violence, swearing, sex and drug-taking. But if these things don’t bother you, then its definitely worth a look.