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 event.
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.
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 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 aging beyond their 20's, late 30's or early 40's). 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.
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.
- Main article: List of Wildstorm titles
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 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.
- Main article: WildC.A.T.s/Aliens
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 Wildcats 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 WiIdstorm 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.
- Main article: World's End (comics)
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 Wildstorm Universe.
- Fire From Heaven, an earlier crossover event in the Wildstorm Universe.
- 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. http://www.dccomics.com/comics/?cm=9772. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- "''The Authority: World's End'' #1 details at DC". Dccomics.com. 2010-04-21. http://www.dccomics.com/comics/?cm=9854. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- "''Stormwatch: Post Human Division'' #13 details at DC". Dccomics.com. 2010-04-21. http://www.dccomics.com/comics/?cm=9852. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- "''Gen¹³'' #21 details at DC". Dccomics.com. 2010-04-21. http://www.dccomics.com/comics/?cm=9851. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
- Wild at Heart: Ben Abernathy, Newsarama, May 19, 2008