Warren Ellis on rebooting DC's WildStorm and embracing his comics past

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Feb 14, 2017

In the mid-'90s, Warren Ellis joined Image Comics and took over a team book called Stormwatch. The title wasn't selling well, but the staff at the offices of Image co-founder Jim Lee's WildStorm imprint loved the book so much that they kept right on printing it. Hoping to sell more comics for his employer, Ellis ripped his Stormwatch team apart and from the remnants created The Authority with artist Bryan Hitch in 1999. Together, they pioneered the huge action and grand scope of "widescreen" comics and became two of the most influential creators of the next decade, if not longer.

Ellis eventually left The Authority and WildStorm behind, but the WildStorm characters he created remained a presence in the pages of DC Comics (What up, Apollo and Midnighter fans?) after Lee joined that company as co-publisher. Now, he's making a rare return to reboot the WildStorm universe with a new pop-up publishing imprint kicking off this week with the first issue of The Wild Storm. In an expansive new interview with Vulture, Ellis discussed why he actually decided to accept an invitation to go back to something he previously considered himself finished with.

"I'd started asking myself if never looking back had become dogmatic, and dogmatic thinking is never healthy thinking," Ellis said. "So I was kicking this around intellectually, and wondering to myself what the value was of never returning to a thing or even looking back at it. And then Jim Lee calls me. I'd already reconnected with my old friend Marie Javins, now a group editor at DC, and we'd briefly discussed the idea of me going back to DC. And then Jim calls and says, hey, how about this? And what he asked me to do is pretty much the brief you've seen in the preview material — reboot and reinvent the line, with a free hand, creating four books through two years of publishing."

Ellis is working with artist Jon Davis-Hunt on the core title of the imprint, The Wild Storm, and will curate the rest of the titles in the line, similar to what Gerard Way's done with DC's Young Animal imprint. So far, books on the schedule include a new version of WildC.A.T.S.Zealot and Michael Cray. If you're new to WildStorm and its characters, though, don't worry: Ellis had you in mind when he began sculpting the imprint.

"For one thing, I want a new reader to be able to pick it up without any knowledge of the previous line and get a complete experience from it. This isn’t '25 years later.' This is a fresh start. What I’m doing is gathering up the entirety of the previous material, making it a coherent whole and recasting it in the present day with an original story line that serves the legacy of the work and, hopefully, says something new."

If you're a WildStorm fan from way back, there's something for you too, as the imprint also plans to bring back Voodoo, The Engineer, Henry Bendix, Grifter and more. As for the return of Jenny Sparks ... well, Ellis isn't saying, but fingers crossed.

For more on The Wild Storm, including preview pages, head over to Vulture. The Wild Storm #1 hits shelves on Wednesday.