The Wildstorm Universe is a fictional shared universe where the comic books published by Wildstorm take place. It represents an alternate history of the real world where ideas such as interstellar travel and superhuman abilities are commonplace. It is also the name of one of three brands launched by Wildstorm to help differentiate their titles set in the same universe from other, separate titles. Originally launched as part of the Image Universe, it broke off as its own separate universe during the "Shattered Image" storyline.
The Wildstorm Universe began as part of the Image Comics Universe. During Shattered Image, Wildstorm broke off from Image and constituted a separate universe. The Wildstorm's universe represents an alternate history of the real world, with further similarities to other comic book universes (especially the DC Universe). Interstellar travel and alien races, including the Kherubim and Drahn, are taken for granted, and centuries or more of alien contact gave rise to a distinctive mythology in Wildstorm worlds. Fictional technologies, or technologies only theoretically possible in the real world, are present in the Wildstorm Universe. Superhuman agents are commonplace and involved in world politics: Stormwatch dealt extensively with the United Nations, and The Authority took over governance of the United States.
The D'rahn are an alien race. They are humanoid in appearance, but are generally larger than humans with grey skin and red eyes without visible iris or pupil. Three bony ridges are on the top of their head. Their ears are rudimentary, little more than large openings in the sides of their heads. There are similar openings in their cheeks, but the purpose of these openings is unclear. Their hands have large claws and a female D'rahn also showed extendable bone claws. While there are recursive traits among members of the D'rahn such as superior Strength, Speed, Flight, Invulnerability, Etc. some possess traits unique to their social standing or generally from individual to individual for starters; Alphas of the hive like breed withhold greater power levels than that of even Kherubim Lords. Other have energy generative and manipulation capability one of the extraterrestrial's most distinguishing feature; prominent only within the female of the species, being the ability of accelerated genetic progression in the form of controlled evolution dubbed 'The Enlightenment'. A process where a fecund entity of their tribe can rework another sentient's very DNA to enhance and progress their developmental evolution by injecting them with her stinger vastly augmenting preexisting attributes and bestowing newer, greater power unto the host involved or irrepressibly destabilize it causing catastrophic biological atrophy and inevitable destruction by effectively rending their very matriculation asunder.
Superpowered characters in Wildstorm, other than those bioengineered for superhuman powers, represent four categories of metahuman:
- Alien-human hybrids: Hybrids are the result of interbreeding between humans and aliens, notably the Kherubim and Daemonites. Examples include Voodoo (a Human-Kherubim/Daemonite hybrid), Warblade (a Human-Shaper hybrid), Maul (a Human-Titanthrope hybrid), Backlash and Winter (both Human-Kherubim Lord hybrids).
- Gen-Actives are those people who were exposed to the Gen-Factor serum giving them special abilities. Examples include the DV8, Gen¹³, and Team 7.
- Seedlings: Seedlings are people who were mutated at birth due to a radiation of a special comet that passed close to Earth. Many who were exposed to this comet became superhumans and were known as "Comet Enhanciles" or "Seedlings". Examples include Battalion, Diva, Hellstrike, Fuji, and Swift.
- Century Babies: They are humans that were born "with the century" - on the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. As they grew each displayed certain superhuman abilities and skills, as well as immortality (not ageing beyond their 20s, late 30s or early 40s). It has been theorized that they act as an immune system for the planet. Each of them supposedly represents an aspect of the century into which they were born. Some of them are Jenny Sparks, Jenny Quantum and Elijah Snow.
Origin of Gen-active humans
In the Wildstorm Universe, one of the sources of superhuman powers is the Gen-factor. The Gen-factor was discovered by Dr. Simon Tsung, who found it in the body of young Ethan McCain, a reincarnation of the extradimensional hero, Sigma. Tsung worked for Project: Genesis, a project run by International Operations for national defense purposes, but Tsung left when he found out that I.O.-leader Miles Craven had his own plans for the use of the Gen-factor. Tsung's work was continued by his protégé Gabriel Newman and after many failures, the first truly successful application of the Gen-factor was the exposure of Team 7 to the substance.
Miles Craven later contacted Kaizen Gamorra and had him create a synthesized version of the Gen-factor. Ivana Baiul, an I.O.-operative and scientist was charged with the creation of activator and booster drugs that would activate and enhance the powers of people who had the Gen-factor, turning them Gen-Active. After Team 7, other experiments were done on humans of their generation; Team 7 and the other successful experiments were all labelled as Gen 12. Kaizen also started selling his synthesized Gen-factor to everyone who could afford it. This led to Gen-active humans worldwide, but many of them were highly unstable and none were as powerful as Team 7.
Project: Genesis restarted 15–20 years later and the subjects this time were the children of Gen 12. Craven hoped that the younger subjects were easier to control and that being born with the Gen-factor made their powers more stable. Apart from children of Gen 12, other children exposed to the Gen-factor in various ways were recruited as well. This time the subjects were labelled as Gen¹³, though this name was taken by a small group of Gen¹³ Gen-Actives. Another group took the name DV8 (also known as the Deviants). Many other Gen-Active teenagers have been seen over the years, mostly the result of various I.O.-experiments; like Nate, Tommy, Sadie (Voodoo Doll) and Leslie (Trauma Queen), four Gen-Actives that befriended Gen¹³ and jokingly called themselves "The Mongolian Barbecue Avengers".
Powers of Gen-active humans
All Gen-Active humans have a telepathic link to each other. This link usually is very weak, even unnoticeable to most, but stronger between relatives (they sometimes can feel when a relative is in extreme pain). The link also allows sensitive Gen-Actives to notice the presence of other Gen-Actives. In case of Team 7, the link also made the sum of their powers greater than each member's individual powers.
The powers that individual Gen-Actives receive, seem to be completely random; most of Team 7 gained strong telepathic and telekinetic powers and some gained a healing factor. Their children though have displayed very different and unique abilities.
In addition to humans, at least one human/Kherubim hybrid (Backlash) has also been affected by the Gen-Factor. It has also affected animals, and was used in creating the Kindred.
List of notable Gen-Active characters
- Copycat (Gem Antonelli)
- Threshold (Matthew Callahan)
- Bliss (Nicole Callahan)
- Stephen Callahan
- Grifter (Cole Cash)
- Grunge (Percival Edmund Chang)
- Absolom Chang
- Philip Chang
- Deathblow (Michael Cray)
- Jackson Dane
- Freestyle (Jocelyn Davis)
- Alex Fairchild
- Caitlin Fairchild
- Sublime (Rachel Goldman)
- Evo (Michael Heller)
- Burnout (Bobby Lane)
- John Lynch
- Sigma (Ethan McCain)
- Powerhaus (Hector Morales)
- Jet/Crimson (Jodie Morinaka Slayton)
- Sarah Rainmaker
- Backlash (Mark Slayton)
- Freefall (Roxy Spaulding)
- Damocles (Simon Tsung)
Though storylines in The Authority had portrayed Wildstorm as a multiverse, the 2006-7 DC Comics event 52 situated the Wildstorm Universe as a single parallel universe among 52 such realities in the DC Comics Multiverse.
52 made crossovers between DC and Wildstorm titles likely. The first of these occurred in Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer - Wildstorm, a team called the Challengers visit the Wildstorm Universe on their tour of the multiverse in search of Ray Palmer, the only person capable of stopping a forthcoming Great Disaster. The Challengers conflicted with the Authority, who had killed a speedster left by Palmer as a marker that he had passed through. The fight ended when Majestic interceded and forced the Authority to let the Challengers go. Meanwhile, Gen13 characters encountered another group of DC characters bent on stopping the Challengers.
Major titles set in the WildStorm Universe include:
- 21 Down
- The Authority
- Black Ops
- Divine Right
- The Kindred
- The Monarchy
- Mr. Majestic
- Point Blank
- Team Zero
- Team One
- Team 7
Team 7 was one of the first comics that served as the backbone in the Wildstorm Universe. It showcased the early days of major characters from many of the ongoing WSU series. Grifter, Dane, Backlash, John Lynch, and Deathblow all starred in books at the time.
The first Team 7 series was four issues and showed how the characters were exposed to a chemical weapon that resulted in their gaining of a "Gen-Factor" which later was the source to many Wildstorm characters. The second miniseries was three issues, the first of which served as a prologue to the first Wildstorm Universe crossover. The final Team 7 miniseries was four issues and helped fill in many of the previously referenced plot points that helped to explain the characters' relationships in the present (why Grifter and Backlash hate each other, how John Lynch lost his eye, and Jackson Dane's apparent amnesia). Team One was, chronologically, a precursor team to Team 7, having character overlaps.
Many Wildstorm Universe stories referred to the Kherubium/Daemonite War, a fictional historical event explored in most depth in the WildC.A.T.S series.
A storyline that crossed over WildC.A.T.S, Stormwatch, and the movie franchise Aliens brought significant changes to the Wildstorm Universe, killing off many established characters and laying the ground for the Wildstorm Universe's new flagship series, The Authority.
Captain Atom: Armageddon
In 2005/2006, DCU character Captain Atom appeared in a nine-part limited series entitled Captain Atom: Armageddon under DC's WildStorm imprint. In this title, he wore the yellow/red outfit seen in the Kingdom Come series.
In the story, Captain Atom experiences a time-shift at the moment of his apparent 2005 death in Superman/Batman, transporting him to the WildStorm Universe. He quickly gets into and appears to win a fight with an overzealous Mr. Majestic. Observing the frightened reactions of onlookers, and puzzling over his own altered appearance, he realizes that he has somehow become trapped on an alternate Earth, one where superheroes are feared by the general populace. Mistaken by the local superheroes as the force destined to destroy their universe, he was in fact an instrument used ultimately by Nikola Hanssen, new host for half the essence of the Void, to reclaim her whole power (partially lodged in his own body, and the cause of his altered appearance). During the story, Atom at first cooperates with both WildC.A.T.s and The Authority; as the story closes, these two teams become enemies and are all killed, as Void triggers the reboot of the WildStorm universe.
The 'reboot' set the ground for a November 2006 relaunch of many Wildstorm titles. At first, the new titles appeared to include major changes to Wildstorm continuity; as stories progressed efforts were made to explain these changes so as to preserve continuity from before the Worldstorm event.
The relaunched titles were:
- Wildcats by Grant Morrison and Jim Lee—cancelled with issue #1.
- Wetworks by Mike Carey and Whilce Portacio—cancelled with issue #15.
- The Authority by Grant Morrison and Gene Ha—cancelled with issue #2.
- Gen¹³ by Gail Simone and Talent Caldwell.
- Deathblow by Brian Azzarello and Carlos D'Anda—cancelled with issue #9.
New titles included:
- Stormwatch: Post Human Division by Christos Gage and Doug Mahnke.
- The Midnighter by Garth Ennis and Chris Sprouse—cancelled with issue #20.
- Welcome to Tranquility by Gail Simone and Neil Googe—cancelled with issue #12.
During this period in Wildstorm's publishing history, the DC Comics year-long series 52 reimagined the Wildstorm Universe as part of the DC Multiverse, designating it Earth-50.
The Worldstorm relaunch faltered as 2007 drew on. Both flagship titles, The Authority and Wildcats, were slated to be written by Grant Morrison with "Wildcats" drawn by Jim Lee and "The Authority" drawn by Gene Ha, but the pair encountered serious delays. Only one issue of Wildcats' and two of The Authority ever shipped. Eventually, amid disapproving fan reaction, both series were cancelled.
Before the announcement that Morrison's series would not continue, Christos Gage filled in with The Authority: Prime. The series shipped promptly, and Gage was hired to write a new cross-universe series Wildstorm: Armageddon. Armageddon comprised six one-shots based on six of the relaunched titles, and led into successive bi-weekly limited series Wildstorm: Revelations and Number of the Beast. These culminated in the World's End storyline, beginning July 2008, which documented worldwide catastrophe and saw several Wildstorm titles relaunched with new creative teams and a new status quo for the universe.
World's End titles:
- Wildcats by Christos Gage, Neil Googe and Trevor Hairsine
- The Authority by Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning and Simon Coleby
- Stormwatch: Post Human Division #13 by Ian Edginton and Leandro Fernandez/Francisco Paronzini
- Gen¹³ #21 by Scott Beatty and Mike Huddleston
Wildstorm editor Ben Abernathy described this storyline as a new direction for the Wildstorm Universe:
[T]his direction evolved following our WorldStorm launch a few years ago. Looking at the landscape of the industry, we realized we needed to move our universe in a different direction, something that the “Big Two” couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do for a long period of time. And we decided that direction should be toward a sci-fi/horror direction of a post-apocalyptic setting (to a degree, an almost logical extension to where the WSU has been headed for years). There have been “visions” of a devastated, bleak future in other mainstream super-hero books, but nothing with the lasting impact or direction that the World’s End books will be tackling.
- Image Comics
- Image Universe
- DC Universe
- List of Wildstorm titles
- Planetary/JLA: Terra Occulta, which showed a slightly different version of the Wildstorm Universe
- Fire From Heaven, an earlier crossover event in the Wildstorm Universe
- Wildstorm Unveils New Branding , Comics Bulletin Archived May 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- SDCC Day 3: Will Pfeifer Talks Captain Atom: Armageddon, Newsarama, July 16, 2005
- Jim Lee Sets The Stage For WorldStorm in Captain Atom: Armageddon #9, Newsarama, May 18, 2006
- 52: Week Fifty-Two
- NYCC '08: The Grant Morrison Panel, Newsarama, April 19, 2008
- NYCC '08: LIVING IN THE RUINS: WS Editor Ben Abernathy on 'Worlds End', Newsarama, April 19, 2008
- "WildCats: World's End #1 details at DC". Dccomics.com. 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- "The Authority: World's End #1 details at DC". Dccomics.com. 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- "Stormwatch: Post Human Division #13 details at DC". Dccomics.com. 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- "Gen¹³ #21 details at DC". Dccomics.com. 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- Wild at Heart: Ben Abernathy, Newsarama, May 19, 2008
- WildStorm Resource Wiki
- Mapping the Wildstorm Universe: The Authority, Comic Book Resources, December 8, 2008
- Mapping the Wildstorm Universe: Gen13, Comic Book Resources, December 17, 2008
- Mapping the Wildstorm Universe: Stormwatch P.H.D., Comic Book Resources, December 30, 2008
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