I am the controller of Stormwatch, the United Nations special crisis intervention team. I am the world's policeman.
I am the Weatherman — and I've got your New World Order right here.
The comics follow the eponymous Stormwatch, a fictional United Nations-sponsored superhero team in the Wildstorm Universe (originally the Image Universe). Unlike traditional superteams, they receive assignments from the United Nations; the leadership of a UN member nation has to issue a formal request for Stormwatch to act. Once called, they partake in various endeavors, such as foiling terrorist plots, preventing national disturbances or thwarting aspiring super-villains.
Ellis' run on the title introduced several memorable characters, such as the retired and cynical Jenny Sparks and urban empath Jack Hawksmoor. Ellis also didn't shy away from both political commentary (Stormwatch having to fight a corrupt and hostile U.S. government on multiple occasions) and commentary on the genre of comics as a whole (the history of Jenny Sparks). It also had the main leader of Stormwatch, Henry Bendix, reveal himself as a manipulative sociopath before he's forced to leave the organization. In 1997, most of Stormwatch was killed offscreen or Put on a Bus in the Intercontinuity Crossover Wild CA Ts/Aliens when the title was cancelled, and Ellis turned the surviving black ops unit 'Stormwatch Black' into the nucleus of The Authority.
The Stormwatch brand has been revived three times since then: first, Stormwatch: Team Achilles (2002-2005), a paramilitary team of Badass Normal Cape Busters. The title was cancelled unexpectedly when its writer was revealed to be faking the military background he was using to sell the book. The second incarnation, Stormwatch: Post Human Division, drops the paramilitary and advanced tech aspects of Team Achilles, and has a even mix of supers and non-supers trying to do the job with a drastically reduced budget.
The third, going back to simply Stormwatch again, is by Paul Cornell and incorporates the team into The DCU as part of DC's line-wide relaunch in 2011 (the "New 52" or the "DCnU"). Stormwatch is a covert organization of superhumans that has been protecting the Earth from within the shadows for centuries, and they regard themselves as the "professionals" compared to Superman and the new wave of "superheroes" he inspired. The Martian Manhunter was a member of Stormwatch this time around, after an offscreen period serving with the Justice League that ended badly. He summed up the difference between the groups by saying that when he's with the League he's a hero, and when he's with Stormwatch he's a soldier.
As of issue 19, after the first try proved to not be as successful as DC had hoped, it got re-rebooted, with writer Jim Starlin taking things back to something more similar to how they were in Wildstorm, complete with original logo. Previous stories were largely erased, Apollo and Midnighter went back to their old costumes, the Bleed was re-introduced, Skywatch was once again made their base of operations, and more classic Stormwatch characters like Hellstrike and Fuji were brought in. Though some elements of Cornell's set up remained, such as the Shadow Lords, it was pretty much a complete fresh start. The change resulted in a Broken Base. Fans of the first 18 issues were NOT pleased with the change, due to it erasing events from continuity and heading in a whole new direction, while fans of the Wildstorm incarnation mostly rejoiced. Since the first storyline was "Something's happened to Stormwatch history; we need to Set Right What Once Went Wrong", it's unclear how permanent Starlin intended the changes to be (especially given that the new set up contradicted Demon Knights and All-Star Western's "19th Century Stormwatch"). Unfortunately, the re-reboot didn't succeed in winning new readers, and DC cancelled the Stormwatch series, but not before the very last issue re-re-rebooted Stormwatch back to the #1-18 continuity.
- Alternate Universe Jack Hawksmoor Is Awesome: In "The Bleed", we see a universe where most of the membership of Wildstorm's other superteams like the Wild CA Ts, Gen13 and DV8 are part of Stormwatch, under the leadership of Jack Hawksmoor.
- Amazonian Beauty: Flint and Amaze, though this varies from artist to artist.
- Anthropomorphic Personification:
- Rose Tattoo (of Murder no less).
- The Jennys are basically the Anthropomorphic Personification of both the century and the concept they've taken as their surname. Jenny Quantum's power is unlimited, because she's the Anthropomorphic Personification of science we don't fully understand yet (with the implication that, the more we understand of what quantum physics means - and doesn't mean - the more powerful she'll become).
- Bald, Black Leader Guy: Field Commander Jackson King (Battalion), who is eventually promoted to Weatherman after Henry Bendix goes rogue.
- Amusingly enough, Bendix was a Bald White Leader Guy before he Face Heel Turned.
- Bald of Evil: Henry Bendix.
- Black and Grey Morality
- Canon Welding: The incorporation into The DCU.
- Cape Busters: The Team Achilles and PHD incarnations of Stormwatch.
- Catch and Return: Winter.
- Crazy-Prepared: The Midnighter
- Darker and Edgier: Warren Ellis's run, which was almost completely considered a positive change for the series.
- Departure Means Death: Jack Hawksmoor's Weaksauce Weakness is that he can't spend more than a few hours outside a city. Makes all-hands meetings on the team's space station base awkward. The New 52 version has found a way round that; the Eye of the Storm has a cathedral on board, to make it technically a city.
- Diplomatic Impunity: During the original run, members of the team had diplomatic immunity, which was also conferred on family members. In issue #1, Jackson King reluctantly invokes this to keep his little brother Malcolm out of jail after the latter gets involved in an armed robbery.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Almost everyone who didn't join The Authority in the Wild CA Ts/Aliens crossover.
- Eagleland: Very, very Type 2 (evil!imperialist!America). Superpowered police brutality, supplying mutagen to terrorist groups, trying to hide chemical warfare exercises in U.S. cities — the U.S. is practically the Big Bad of Ellis' run.
- Defector from Decadence: The American members of Stormwatch like Fahrenheit and Jackson King tend to be portrayed this way.
- Energy Being: Fuji, though he looks like a giant robot because that's the suit he inhabits. Hellstrike is another energy/gaseous being, but he has a much more humanoid containment suit.
- Evil Stole My Faith: One of the story beats in Warren Ellis's run, which carried over into The Authority a few years later, was that God does not exist. The Doctor mentions it offhandedly in Ellis's final arc, and earlier, a "villain" called the Eidolon had come back from beyond the grave to try to convince people to make the most of their lives.
- Face–Heel Turn: Stormwatch has experienced a few over the years.
- Razer, one of the Mercs, was originally in Storrmwatch before she defected.
- Flashpoint became a spy for the Mercs after an ill-fated mission in Kuwait.
- Henry Bendix famously became a villain.
- Fantastic Arousal: Fuji's infamous revelation that he has the equivalent of an orgasm every few minutes, thanks to the oddities of the suit he inhabits.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Father, a Nietzsche Wannabe cyborg who was the first villain of Ellis's run.
- Girls' Night Out Episode: Averted in one issue, where female members realize they have nothing in common beyond their jobs.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: One character works as an assassin while having the power to make plants grow. He utilizes it by having seeds inside the digestive tracts of his targets grow and burst through them from the inside. Seeds specifically from the cereal they ate that morning.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Winter dies piloting the team's xenomorph-infested station into the sun.
- Human Popsicles: This is how Stormwatch stores its prisoners; unfortunately, most of them are killed when Bendix powers down the satellite to escape Jenny Sparks.
- Knight Templar: Henry Bendix.
- Made of Iron: Flint is literally Made of Diamond, actually.
- Manipulative Bastard: Henry Bendix.
- Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Winter, ex-Spetsnaz, field leader of Stormwatch's "Prime" team, and total badass.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: Citizen Soldier.
- Nigh Invulnerable: Flint. So far, she's only been injured by Xenomorph blood in a crossover. The High, being a Superman Expy, is of course also.
- The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The United Nations "Special Security Council" that Stormwatch's Weatherman reports to. In Ellis' run, it only exists to threaten Bendix about playing too rough with America.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: When Kaizen Gamorra causes 233 deaths with a mutagenic bomb attack and blackmails Bendix to prevent any overt retaliation, he launches a black op on Kaizen's homeland and orders Rose Tattoo to kill exactly 233 people in retaliation.
- Psychic Static
- Put on a Bus: Several characters at the beginning of Ellis' run; one character gets dishonorably discharged in the space of one panel, apparently just for the Take That! value. It's a bit of Reality Subtext as well: Bendix's "housecleaning" of Stormwatch is Ellis' "housecleaning."
- The Real Remington Steele: Kaizen Gamorra first appeared in Wild CA Ts, where he was revealed to be the original "John Colt" that team leader Spartan was based on. The real Kaizen was brought back in Stormwatch.
- Redshirt Army: The swarms of support staff on the Skywatch satellite base, as well as the security teams and fighter squadrons.
- Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: The transfer between issues 17 to 19 were... a bit sudden, to say the least.
- Took a Level in Badass: By the time of Wildstorm's cancellation, everyone who was alive by that point was tougher/stronger/faster than when they were first written.
- To give some context: Battalion goes from carrying guns and having some telepathy to taking out thousands of marauding mutants with little assistance. Fuji goes from being The Big Guy to someone who could use his powers to save the entirety of Stormwatch even as their disintegrating space station fell from orbit. And finally Winter went from badass to, well, a badass who drove the vampire race to extinction within an hour of encountering them.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Notably averted; the "Changers" arc examines the trope in detail.
- Retcon: While still he's an evil arsehole, it's later revealed the Bendix killed by Sparks was actually a counterpart from an alternate universe. The original would later return to haunt the second incarnation of Stormwatch Black a.k.a. The Authority
- Retraux Flashback: Jenny Sparks' flashbacks to earlier in her life are drawn in period-appropriate styles (homages to influential series like Dan Dare or Watchmen).
- Roboteching: Flashpoint.
- Rotating Arcs
- Sealed Badass in a Can: Rose Tattoo, the "Spirit of Murder".
- Spiritual Successor: Most famously, The Authority, made up mostly of characters Ellis created during his run on Stormwatch. The Monarchy tried to follow in its footsteps with other Stormwatch members.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Unless they appeared in The Authority, don't count on many characters sticking around too long.
- Stock Superhero Day Jobs: All are full-time superheroes, with their private lives and out-of-costume identities rarely examined too deeply.
- Superhuman Trafficking: International Operations begins finding superhumans and cutting out their organs to transplant into their own soldiers late in Ellis' run of the comic.
- Teleporters and Transporters: Uses a communicator/beacon to find its target, which gets used and abused as much as would be expected.
- What Measure Is an Alternate Reality?: "The Bleed". Weatherman Jackson King refuses to help the parallel Stormwatch when they're facing overwhelming danger, because he views his jurisdiction as just his Earth. Not everyone in Stormwatch is happy about this, and even King yields enough to send his counterpart Weatherman a key piece of information that helps save the day.
- Aborted Arc: When the Martian Manhunter wants out of the group, the Shadow Lords say he can, but will one day owe them a favor, and that it will be something that he dreads more than anything else in his life. ... nope, never mentioned again.
- Ascended Meme: In the last few issues of the first 18, the characters themselves start cracking jokes and insulting Midnighter's chin-spike, and demanding he explain its purpose. Something that fans online had been mocking his new character design about for months.
- But Now I Must Go: The Martian Manhunter is as straight of an example as this can get. Out of the blue, he decides he must leave Stormwatch, because he has some kind of mysterious mission he must accomplish that he can not tell anyone. He then erases the memories of all the team members that he ever existed, and somehow struck a deal with the shadow lords to allow him to leave. Something that no one else was able to do in the thousands of years they have existed. He was then, obviously, never seen or heard from again.
- Foreshadowing: In the New 52's zero issue, Jenny tells her team members in the final page "I've been watching a movie. But it had a downer of an ending. You really get into the characters and...and then everyone dies...". A rather dark warning to the readers that the series was on its way out the door.
- In-Name-Only: The New 52 relaunch contains only one prominent character from the original Stormwatch and the cast is being whittled down until only the members of The Authority remain.
- In Spite of a Nail: In the New 52 version, Cornell established that Stormwatch had existed for hundreds of years, being a descendant organisation of Demon Knights, which in turn was inspired by several Camelots, all set up by Adam One/Merlin. In Starlin's first issue, the baddies kill Adam One at the beginning of the universe, meaning that none of this history exists. Why that hasn't led to humanity being taken over by the Daemonites/the Hidden People/the Evil Dolphin Army/the Questing Queen has not yet been unexplained.
- Merlin Sickness: Adam One, who was an old man at the beginning of the universe and gets younger as it gets older. Appropriate, since he is Merlin.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Jenny Quantum's powers are... vague. She doesn't actually really know what she can do, or how she does it, and neither does anyone else. It seemed to generally be "If she needs to be able to do this at the moment, then that's what her powers can do."
- Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: The Shadow Lords in the New 52 version; when Stormwatch is removed from history, they just set it up again.
- Sky Pirate: In All Star Western #17, Jenny Freedom of the 19th Century Stormwatch clashes with Smokestack Jack; Steam Punk anarchist Mad Scientist based on a Cool Airship.
- Status Quo Is God: As mentioned in the description, the final issue of the New 52 Stormwatch reset the characters to where they'd been before the Kollective changed history. Except the Engineer, who got reset a bit further back, to before her Face–Heel Turn.