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WildStorm Productions, or simply WildStorm, (often rendered Wildstorm) was an American imprint of comic books. Originally an independent company established by Jim Lee and further expanded upon in subsequent years by other creators, WildStorm became a publishing imprint of DC Comics in 1999. Until it was shut down, the WildStorm imprint remained editorially separate from DC Comics, with its main studio located in California. The imprint took its name from the combining of the titles of the Jim Lee comic series WildC.A.T.S. and Stormwatch.
Its main fictional universe, the Wildstorm Universe, featured costumed heroes. WildStorm maintained a number of its core titles from its early period and subsequently continued to publish material expanding its core universe. WildStorm's main titles included WildC.A.T.S, Stormwatch, Gen¹³, Wetworks and The Authority, though it also produced single-character-oriented series like Deathblow and Midnighter, and has at times published secondary titles like Welcome to Tranquility.
WildStorm also published creator-owned material and licensed properties from other companies, covering a wide variety of genres. Its creator-owned titles included Astro City, Danger Girl, Red Menace, A God Somewhere, and Ex Machina, while its licensed titles included Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, World of Warcraft, StarCraft, the Dante's Inferno game and The X-Files.
DC shut down the WildStorm imprint in December 2010. In September 2011, the company relaunched its entire superhero line with a rebooted continuity in an initiative known as The New 52, which included Wildstorm characters incorporated into that continuity with its long-standing DC characters.
The Image years
WildStorm became one of the founding studios that joined together in 1992, to form Image Comics. It grew out of Homage Studios, founded by artists Scott Williams, Whilce Portacio, Jim Lee, and Joe Chiodo in San Diego, California. Lee, Williams, and Portacio had gained notoriety from their work on various X-Men titles at Marvel Comics.
In late 1992, penciller Marc Silvestri joined the satudio to work on the first issue of Cyberforce. Although he worked at the studio, his projects would debut as a new Image imprint named Top Cow. Silvestri continued to work out of WildStorm's studio for about two years. Although WildStorm considered attracting talent from the "Big Two" (Marvel and DC) such as John Romita Jr., Lee decided instead to find new talent.
Lee's talent search yielded Brett Booth in 1992, and J. Scott Campbell in 1993. Apart from McFarlane's Spawn, WildStorm produced the most consistently commercially successful comics from Image, including Lee's own titles WildC.A.T.s and the teen-hero title Gen¹³, illustrated by J. Scott Campbell. Like many other Image titles, some of the WildStorm titles suffered from inconsistent completion and shipping, resulting in "monthly" comics coming out every few months. This era produced a number of titles of varying popularity including Gen¹³, WildC.A.T.s, Stormwatch, Deathblow, Cybernary, and Whilce Portacio's Wetworks.
In late 1993 Lee launched WildStorm Productions as a sub-imprint of Image. He explained, "During the startup of Image Comics, I incorporated my business activities under the name Aegis Entertainment. As Aegis grew and the marketplace changed, I decided a new name would more accurately define the nature of the titles we produce ..." In conjunction with the name change, former DC editor Bill Kaplan was brought on to oversee production and scheduling of books, in an effort to combat the studio's problems with erratic publication schedules.
His attempts to get the studio's characters into other media proved disappointing. A Saturday morning cartoon series of WildC.A.T.s lasted only a single season (1994–1995), while a full-length animated version of Gen¹³ was produced but never released. Disney, who had acquired the distribution rights, later released the film only in a few foreign markets. Toys from both titles were less successful than those made by Todd McFarlane, partly due to bad marketing and partly because the McFarlane toys were targeted for a more mature audience. However, they had a big success copying Wizards of the Coast's Magic: The Gathering with their introduction of the Superhero card game, Wildstorms, which later spun off into a crossover set of cards with Marvel. The crossover was the swan song for the Wildstorms game though, as Marvel's merchandising clout succeeded in pushing WildStorm's out of the spotlight. Although the timing was right with their card game, they were too early by a year with a Pog game which used the WildC.A.T.s characters that they released in 1993.
In 1995, WildStorm created an imprint named Homage Comics, centered around more writer-driven books. The imprint started with Kurt Busiek's Astro City and The Wizard's Tale, James Robinson's Leave It to Chance (with Paul Smith) and Terry Moore's Strangers In Paradise. Subsequently the imprint featured works by Sam Kieth, including The Maxx, Zero Girl and Four Women, and three of Warren Ellis' pop-comics mini-series, Mek, Red and Reload.
Also in 1995, WildStorm released WildStorms: The Expandable Super-Hero Card Game featuring artwork directly from their comic books.
In 1997, Cliffhanger debuted a line of creator-owned comic books which included such popular works as J. Scott Campbell's Danger Girl, Joe Madureira's Battle Chasers, Humberto Ramos' Crimson and Out There, Joe Kelly & Chris Bachalo's Steampunk, Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco's Arrowsmith and Warren Ellis's Two-Step and Tokyo Storm Warning.
1997 also saw a revamp of all the WildStorm Universe titles, including comic-book such as Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Adam Warren, Sean Phillips and Joe Casey. After this revamp the new Wildcats series, Stormwatch and DV8 took the places of the most popular and most commercially successful comics of the WildStorm Universe. WildStorm also gave a presentation to Lucasfilm Ltd. for the lucrative Star Wars license, but lost to the incumbent Dark Horse Comics.
The DC years
This section is outdated.(November 2014)
As sales of comic books went into decline from 1993, Jim Lee started to look for a buyer in the mid-1990s. The result was the 1998 acquisition of WildStorm by DC Comics, which went into effect in January 1999. According to DC, this was meant to "strengthen both WildStorm's ability to expand its editorial goals and diversifying DC's output". The WildStorm imprint remained editorially separate from DC Comics, with its main studio located in California, distinct from DC's editorial offices, which at the time were located in Manhattan, in the US east coast. DC's acquisition of WildStorm allowed the two universes to interact with each other, with the result that characters from each universe would soon make appearances in each other's titles.
In 1999 WildStorm launched several new titles, including The Authority, a dark and violent superhero comic, whose heroes had total disregard about things such as honorable battle or not killing their opponents; its goal was only in making the world a better place. Warren Ellis created The Authority from the ashes of Stormwatch. He would write its first twelve issues before handing the series over to Mark Millar. The Authority fused the hope and strivings of the Silver Age superheroes with a cynical look at humanity. The fight between the heroes and the corrupt parts of humanity would lead the series into the 2004 Wildstorm crossover, Coup d'Etat, where the Authority would take control of the United States of America. Ellis and artist John Cassaday would create Planetary, a story about explorers of the strange. This would be an experiment in intermeshing a look at pop culture, comic book history and literature with Cassaday's unique artwork.
Around this time, WildStorm also launched a new imprint titled America's Best Comics. This was specifically to allow Alan Moore to create a number of comics based on his own ideas. The line has been widely lauded and awarded, giving life to titles such as Promethea, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Tomorrow Stories, Tom Strong and Top 10.
The studio launched Eye of the Storm in 2001 as an experiment. Most of the WildStorm imprint morphed into "Mature Readers" superhero comics. Joe Casey kept writing Wildcats, although it became Wildcats 3.0. The new version was penciled by Dustin Nguyen with inks by Richard Friend. Gen 13 was relaunched with a new first issue, written by X-Men's Chris Claremont. Gen13 spinoff 21 Down was written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey. After Point Blank, a mini-series starring Grifter, Ed Brubaker carried on with the same ideas and launched the critically acclaimed Sleeper, set in the WildStorm universe.
2001 also saw the start of Warren Ellis' Global Frequency. The rights for Global Frequency were bought by Warner Bros. in 2004 and a pilot for a TV series for the WB network was made. However, the show was not picked up, although the pilot was later leaked to the internet. Stormwatch was relaunched as Stormwatch: Team Achilles, an anti-superhero book featuring Black Razors leader Ben Santini and his group of soldiers marking humans stand in the WildStorm Universe.
The studio gave The Authority to writer Robbie Morrison. The Authority team starred in a one-shot called "Scorched Earth" (2003) and appeared in a back-up story that ran in all the "Eye of the Storm" titles. After this, they finally received a new ongoing series. It was the series that featured a storyline that became the "Coup d'État" crossover, which ran through Authority, Sleeper, Stormwatch: Team Achilles and Wildcats 3.0.
Two "Winter Special" anthologies also came out. Most of the line was canceled two years after its foundation, except for Sleeper.
In 2004, WildStorm revamped its system of sub-imprints. The company properties fell under the Wildstorm Universe imprint, the creator-owned properties fell under the WildStorm Signature Series imprint and all the licensed properties fell under the WildStorm imprint.
In the post-Eye of the Storm state, WildStorm published fewer titles centered around its Wildstorm universe titles, including Majestic, whose series grew out of his spotlight in Superman titles and Wildcats: Nemesis. In August 2006, WildStorm consolidated all its output under a single "WildStorm" label to simplify the imprint brand for consumers and retailers. In 2007, the Wildstorm universe became Earth-50 as part of the DC Multiverse.
In April 2008, it was announced by Ben Abernathy that the events of Wildstorm: Revelations, Wildstorm: Armageddon and Number of the Beast would segue into Wildstorm: World's End, a post-apocalyptic direction for the line. In July of the same year Christos Gage and Neil Googe published a new WildCats: World's End #1. There followed in August 2008 a new Authority: World's End #1 by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning with art by Simon Coleby, Gen13 #21 by Scott Beatty with art by Mike Huddleson, and Stormwatch: PHD #13 by Ian Edginton with art by Leandro Fernández & Francisco Paronzini.
The Stormwatch: PHD title ended in November 2009. The remaining series each received another creative-team shake-up as 2010 began: February's The Authority #18 by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman with art by Al Barrionuevo, Wildcats #19 by Adam Beechen with art by Tim Seeley and Ryan Winn and April's Gen13 #35 by Phil Hester and art by Cruddie Torian.
WildStorm varied its publishing with licensed properties, such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Mirror's Edge, World of Warcraft, The X-Files, Dante's Inferno, and God of War. WildStorm has also published original graphic novels from the pens of writers Kevin J. Anderson, John Ridley and David Brin.
DC Comics relaunched its DC Universe imprint in September 2011, which included the integration of the Wildstorm characters into the DC Universe. The initial wave of relaunched titles included Voodoo and Grifter solo series and a revived Stormwatch title featuring Jack Hawksmoor, Midnighter, Apollo, the Engineer, and Jenny Quantum. The Teen Titans spin-off title The Ravagers featured Caitlin Fairchild and Warblade as part of the cast, while WildC.A.T.s villain Helspont appeared in Superman #7 and #8, Grunge appeared in Superboy #8, Zealot appeared in Deathstroke #9, and Spartan appeared in Team 7 #5.
Major WildStorm Universe
- Ex Machina by Brian K. Vaughan
- Astro City by Kurt Busiek
- The Wizard's Tale by Kurt Busiek
- Arrowsmith by Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco
- America's Best Comics by Alan Moore
- Danger Girl by J. Scott Campbell
- Battle Chasers by Joe Madureira
- Crimson by Humberto Ramos
- Out There by Humberto Ramos
- Steampunk by Chris Bachalo and Joe Kelly
- Red Menace by Danny Bilson, Paul DeMeo, Adam Brody and Jerry Ordway
- A God Somewhere by John Arcudi and Peter Snejbjerg
- Leave It to Chance by James Robinson and Paul Smith
- Strangers In Paradise by Terry Moore
- The Maxx by Sam Keith
- Zero Girl by Sam Keith
- Four Women by Sam Keith
- Mek by Warren Ellis
- Red by Warren Ellis
- Reload by Warren Ellis
- Two-Step by Warren Ellis
- Tokyo Storm Warning by Warren Ellis
- Friday the 13th
- A Nightmare on Elm Street
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
- World of Warcraft
- Dante's Inferno
- The X-Files
- Ching, Albert (September 21, 2010). "DC Co-Publishers Announce End of WILDSTORM Imprint, Zuda". Newsarama.
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- Harper, David, "Multiversity Comics countdown: Our Favorite Brubaker Books", 4 January 2012, retrieved 12 June 2012
- All The Rage: You're On The Global Frequency
- Arrant, Chris. "NYCC '08: LIVING IN THE RUINS: WS Editor Ben Abernathy on 'Worlds End'" Newsarama, April 19, 2008
- "WildStorm & Zuda Imprints Close Amidst DC Changes". Comic Book Resources. 2010-09-21. Retrieved 2010-12-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Trunick, Austin (7 June 2011). "DC Embraces Its Dark Side". The Source. DC Comics. Retrieved 9 June 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Hyde, David (9 June 2011). "Welcome to the Edge". The Source. DC Comics. Retrieved 9 June 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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