Comic Book / Stormwatch PHD

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"Earth's post-humans are about to find out humanity's not dead yet."
Christos Gage

The 2007 iteration of Stormwatch created by Christos Gage and (mostly) drawn by Doug Mahnke, Stormwatch PHD emerged from the line-wide event known as Worldstorm. Part of the fallout was that the UN-sponsored Stormwatch Prime could no longer afford to be profligate with their funding. Then Jackson King, Weatherman of Stormwatch Prime, has a brainwave. He introduced PHD (Post-Human Division) with a mission statement of street-level Stormwatch ops on the cheap, crewed (for the most part) by people who would normally be support staff. Technically the series lasted for 24 issues (January, 2007-January, 2010), but it was retooled into effectively a different book after issue #12, due to Worlds' End, another line-wide event.

The lineup was as follows:

Fahrenheit/Lauren Pennington — A veteran of the original team, she sustained brain-damage in the same battle that saw John Doran's ascendancy, losing access to her pyrokinetic gifts. Despite this, her level of experience and knowledge of SPB combat ensure she remains an asset and she's getting fight training from ...

Liam Mendoza aka Callsign Paris — Iliad, not Hilton; otherwise deceptively boring. Late of Stormforce (the special ops army Stormwatch used to have), Paris is a specialist in counter-SPB close-quarters-combat (much like Jukko Hamalainen of Team Achilles.) He has a phenomenal talent for spotting vulnerability in opponents, be it in anatomy or in fighting style.

John Doran — NYPD cop, survived a Stormwatch Prime/horde-of-supervillains fracas and personally took down two supervillains himself. In over his head, but swimming hard.

The Machinist/Dino Manolis — ex-supervillain, low-budget high-effect gadgeteer of no small ability. Too bad he's potbellied, has a Ron Jeremy back and lives with his mother. Answers to whoever squeezes his balls the tightest.

Gorgeous/Wanda Durst — independently wealthy due to a string of supervillain ex-boyfriends/booty calls. On the surface, she's exactly what the codename says, but look north of the surgically-enhanced décolletage and you'll find an dizzyingly-high IQ and a scalpel sense for (post)human behavioural tics. Team profiler. Not to be trusted.

Black Betty — something of a fan favourite, she's a Professor of Metaphysics and assistant to one of the foremost magicians in the WSU (excluding The Doctors). As such, Jackson King recruited her to be PHD's supernatural specialist. She doesn't cast spells herself (for hilarious reasons) but knows magical theoretics inside-out. Her perpetual grin and Vera Black sunglasses hide atramentous depths.

Dr. Mordecai Shaw/The Monstrosity — Dr. Mordecai Shaw has a secret; he's a leftover from experiments in Daemonite/human hybridization. Think Curt Connors meets Ultimate Bruce Banner. He is also a PhD in posthuman genetics and forensics.

Oh yeah, and Jackson King is their Augustus Gibbons. Having paid several prices - small and large alike - for the privilege of putting boot to ass for his planet, he conceived the PHD concept and recruited the team. Ultimately, he plans to have a PHD unit - cheap, effective, human - in every state.


Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Paris' childhood. Saying more would be a spoiler but damn.
    • Jackson King's father was a supervillain. He alludes to having been physically abused by him.
    • Both of Wanda's parents were abusive, though it seems they preferred to hurt each other.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: Daemonites are bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling.
  • An Ice Person: The Cooler, a psychotic blue-skinned teenager who wields ice and is set up as an Arch-Enemy to Fahrenheit for the first half of the series.
  • Anti-Hero: The Machinist for one. The Monstrosity is one in the original sense of the term.
  • Astral Projection Gone Horribly Wrong: Jeremiah, Black Betty's mentor
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Paris' talent is analyzing others to find their weaknesses.
  • Back from the Dead: In Issue #5, Jackson reveals that Fahrenheit, Hellstrike, and Fuji, who had all been killed off in WildC.A.T.s, were successfully revived after the new Doctor restored Winter.
  • Badass Army: Stormforce, when it existed.
  • Badass Grandpa: Slaughterhouse Smith, a superpowered crimelord, woke up from a coma he's been in since the 1960s and kicks everyone's ass while griping about how much better music and girls were in his day.
  • Badass Normal: Excluding Fahrenheit and Shaw, the entire team.
  • Bald Black Leader Guy: Jackson King.
  • Being Good Sucks: Machinist joined the PHD as an alternative to going back to prison. Since his work for the PHD is considered an alternative sentence rather than a job, he doesn't get paid for his work, his teammates constantly disrespect him, and he's forced to go on a diet.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Black Betty. Just because she's the perkiest goth girl you ever met doesn't mean you should ever make the mistake of getting on her bad side.
  • Big Bad: Lord Defile, Daemonite telepath and sorceror.
  • Breather Episode: In the fourth issue, Black Betty, Fahrenheit, and Gorgeous have a girls' night out.
  • Brought Down to Normal/Brought Down to Badass: Fahrenheit loses her pyrokinetic powers to brain damage rather than outright power suppression. As a result, she retains the mildly enhanced healing and durability that all SPBs possess.
  • Brown Note: Black Betty has a tattoo on her chest that causes nausea and vomiting to those who look at it.
  • Canon Discontinuity: According to this series, the events of The Monarchy never occurred, and were in fact merely a year-long hallucination that resulted from Jeroen Thornedike spiking Jackson King's drink.
  • C-List Fodder: A later story arc involved Stormwatch PHD investigating the deaths of retired Stormwatch members, though most of the members who died were created just for the story.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Black Betty, a rare magical example. She has defenses against every form of possession imaginable, to say nothing of her tattoo.
  • Dark Mistress/Hot Consort: Lady Decadence, to Lord Defile.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Though the individual team members appear mostly stable at first, it's revealed nearly all of them have severe issues.
  • The '80s: Invoked in-universe. The tenth issue starts off with an investigation on the deaths of the members of Stormwatch Black, a team from the 1980s including Ebony and Ivory, Urban Cowboy, Deathrace, Flygirl, Ghetto Blaster, and New Romantic. New Romantic's the only surviving member.
  • Femme Fatale: Gorgeous has shades of this, along with The Shrink.
  • Flaw Exploitation: Paris' specialty.
  • Goth Girls Know Magic: Black Betty is a Perky Goth who also happens to be a powerful mystic.
  • Hard Head: Incredibly averted. Farenheit starts the series with no powers thanks to a concussion. Although she regains her powers, they're not as strong or precise as they once were. On a smaller note, Gorgeous gets a concussion later in the series. Though she survives, it's treated as something very serious in-universe (just as it is in real life).
  • Happily Married: Ebony and Ivory, two retired Stormwatch members from the 1980's who are killed in issue 10.
  • Hidden Depths: When not working for the PHD, Paris spends his time caring for rescued animals.
  • Intangible Man: The Walking Ghost, their first (but not biggest) Big Bad.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Amadeus.
  • The Mole: Done by and to the good guys.
  • More Than Mind Control: Jackson King assures Fahrenheit that her actions were the result of Defile messing with her mind and she's not to blame for betraying the team. However, it turns out Jackson was lying. She knew what she was doing, but Jackson realizes Fahrenheit should've received therapy for her PTSD and that she still needs it, and that at the end of the day she helped defeat Defile and his men and no one got killed.
  • Mr. Fixit/Gadgeteer Genius: Dino Manolis is the low-budget version. Can turn your Discman into a laser weapon but probably can't build you a teleporter. He also can't genuinely create anything, just improve on someone else's ideas and creations.
  • Mundane Utility: In the opening of the fourth issue, Black Betty manages to weaken the Ferryman with Greek Orthodox prayers; the Ferryman draws his powers from the Ancient Greek pantheon, which was supplanted by the rise of the Greek Orthodox Church.
  • My Beloved Smother: The Machinist still lives with his mother, who constantly badgers him.
  • Perky Goth: Black Betty all the way. She's even modeled after the Trope Namer, Abby Sciuto.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Black Betty again.
  • Playing with Fire/An Ice Person: Fahrenheit and The Cooler had a bit of a rivalry going.
  • The Profiler: Gorgeous.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The retired members of the 80s iteration of Stormwatch Black.
  • Science Vs Magic: The Machinist in their battle with The Ferryman.
  • Shinigami: The Ferryman, albeit an particularly omnicidal variant.
  • The Siege: Lord Defile, Lady Decadent, The Cooler and a small army of daemonites assault PHD's police station HQ near the end of the first volume.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: Black Betty subtly encourages her teammates to assume that she's sleeping with her mentor Jeremiah in order to cover up the fact that Jeremiah is comatose.
  • Straight Gay: The New Romantic. His father was the original Romantic back in the forties, but he added the New Wave motif to his costume since it was The '80s. He also notes the irony of his pheromone manipulation working only on women while he's gay. Betty and Fahrenheit both mention after they finish questioning him how badly they had to fight back the urge to have sex with him right there.
  • Telekinesis/Telepathy: Jackson King's powerset involves both telekinesis and telepathy.
  • Take That!: Issue #5 includes a dig at the short-lived The Authority spin-off The Monarchy, with Jackson King explaining that he suffered a year-long hallucination after Jeroen Thornedike spiked his drink.
  • The Vamp: Wanda Durst is this, using mind games and sex to get her way with others. However, she does have an honorable side that means she always keeps her promises (i.e. having sex with Dr. Shaw during a deal despite the fact it was only to get him to attack some enemies.)
  • Wedding Smashers: A flashback in Issue #5 shows Jackson and Christine's wedding being attacked by the Mercs.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: In the fourth issue, Gorgeous, Fahrenheit, and Betty encounter two Jerkass members of "Team Xtreme," a super group which fights crime with super-powered skateboards and motorcross gear.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In the second issue, Machinist goes undercover with the Walking Ghost's crew, where he discovers that Dirty Bomb is actually a fan of his and the two strike up a friendship that gives him a much-needed confidence boost. Of course, at the end of the issue, he's forced to turn against Dirty Bomb so that he can go back to the PHD, where he's treated like crap and doesn't even collect a regular paycheck.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The Cooler.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ComicBook/StormWatchPHD