One question we’re always asked is “If I want to get into Wildstorm, where do I start?” I’m going to list below the Wildstorm series that, in my personal opinion, are worth checking out. You can also choose where to start by reading the list below and simply picking a spot that sounds good. As with any universe, it would be ideal to start at the beginning but the Wildstorm Universe has several key runs that you can enjoy without going all the way back to the beginning. (If you’d like to know which trades to follow the integration of the WSU into the DCU New 52, check those out here.)
Ok, I guess we’ll start at the beginning as they say. The older Image stuff will probably be the easiest to find in discount bins.
#1-13 (Jim Lee’s run)
WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams (1992-1998)
It’s not everyone’s favorite but it’s one of mine. It shows the team come together and introduces Majestic (known as Mr. Majestic then) and the villain Tapestry. Plus it has all that pretty Jim Lee art. 😉 (Collected in trades: WILDC.A.T.S. Vol. 1 Deluxe Edition (Wildc.a.T.S. Deluxe) solicited for September 2012. WildC.A.T.s: Compendium, WildC.A.T.s/Cyberforce: Killer Instinct, WildC.A.T.s: A Gathering of Eagles)
#15-20 (James Robinson’s run)
A fun little run by James Robinson and Travis Charest that I feel is overlooked because of Alan Moore’s run that follows. (Collected in trade; James Robinson’s Complete WildC.A.T.s)
#21-34 (Alan Moore’s run)
This is the first critical point in Wildcats history because it’s the story that began to give the team an identity of its own instead of being considered “X-men rip-offs”. Also introduces the villain Tao who is later important to Ed Brubaker’s “Sleeper” and later in World’s End. It’s also noteworthy that Alan Moore did a story in #50 that features the death of one of the characters he introduced in his run.
(Collected in trades WildC.A.T.s: Homecoming, WildC.AT.s: Gang War, Alan Moore’s Complete WildC.A.T.s, Alan Moore’s Wild Worlds)
WildC.A.T.s / Aliens (Warren Ellis)
Wildcats Volume 2 (1999-2001)
#1-28 This run starts with Scott Lobdell and Travis Charest and it’s pretty cool then, but it really kicks into high gear when Joe Casey and Sean Phillips take over with #8 until the end. (Collected in trades Wildcats-Vol. 1: Street Smart, Wildcats-Vol. 2: Vicious Circles, Wildcats-Vol. 3: Serial Boxes, Wildcats-Vol. 4:Battery Park)
#1-24 This picks up directly from “Wildcats” and is considered to be the seminal Wildcats run. Also by Joe Casey. (Collected in trades Wildcats 3.0-Brand Building: , Wildcats 3.0-Vol. 2: Full Disclosure, Wildcats 3.0: Year One and Wildcats 3.0: Year Two
Wildcats: Nemesis (2005)
9 issue mini. Introduces the character of Nemesis who plays heavily into the Armageddon storyline later. (Collected in Wildcats: Nemesis trade)
#37-50 (Warren Ellis’ run) This is where the seeds were planted for The Authority. Ellis does a good job of getting you up to speed on the characters. (Volume 1 Collected in Stormwatch Volume 1 – Hardcover 2012, Stormwatch-Book 1: Forces of Nature, Stormwatch-Book 2: Lightning Strikes, Stormwatch-Book 3: Change or Die)
11 issue run. Warren Ellis completes his second arc which paves the way for The Authority. It’s important to note that the one-shot crossover issue WildC.A.T.s/Aliens is vital to understand what happens between Stormwatch Vol. 2 #10 & 11. (Volume 2 Collected in Stormwatch Volume 2 – Hardcover 2012, Stormwatch-Book 4: A Finer World, Stormwatch-Book 5:Final Orbit)
The Monarchy – (2001)
This is where Stormwatch went astray. Jackson King and Christine put together an odd-ball team with the intention of still “making a finer world” but in his own forced way. We even have some old Wildstorm characters as regulars on the team, can you believe Union?!?!
Stormwatch: Team Achilles (2002-2004)
23 issue series. This one takes place just before, during, and shortly after Coup d’etat. It’s the non-superhuman answer to teams like The Authority. Interesting thing about this series is it was canceled one issue before the finale because writer Micah Ian Wright was fired for lying about being in the military. (Collected in trades Stormwatch: Team Achilles Vol. 1 & Vol. 2, unfortunately rest of series is currently not collected)
Stormwatch P.H.D. (Post Human Division) – Worldstorm & World’s End (2007-2010)
This team kind of filled the void left by Team Achilles and is a great “superhero cop-drama” for the first 12 issues written by Christos Gage. At #13 it picks up the World’s End storyline. (Collected in trades Stormwatch: P.H.D. Vol. 1, Vol. 2, & Stormwatch: P.H.D.-World’s End)
Picks up directly from Stormwatch Vol. 2. #1-12 (Warren Ellis’ run). Warren Ellis completes his run and it is arguably the best of the series. The series gets a little iffy afterward. Mark Millar picks it up at #13-16 which introduces Jenny Quantum. After that, problems with scheduling really messed up the series. (Collected in The Authority: Relentless, The Authority: Under New Management, The Authority: Earth Inferno & Other Stories, The Authority: Transfer of Power)
The Authority Vol. 2 (2003-2004)
I personally think you can take or leave this series. It basically shows the team with Jenny Quantum growing up along side their adventures. (Collected in trades The Authority: Harsh Realities, The Authority: Fractured Worlds)
Coup d’etat (2004) / The Authority: Revolution (2004)
Coup d’etat is a 4 issue mini-series that shows how The Authority takes control of the U.S. (Collected in the Coup d’etat trade). This arc was a cross-over with Sleeper, Wildcats 3.0, Stormwatch: Team Achilles, and The Authority Volume 2 which leads into the Authority: Revolution. A 12 issue series that shows how The Authority loses control of the U.S. and shows Jenny Quantum becoming a teenager. (Collected in The Authority: Revolution Book 1 & The Authority: Revolution Book 2)
The Authority Vol. 3: Worldstorm / The Lost Year (2006, 2010-2011)
This is the Grant Morrison/Gene Ha series that got put on hold after the first 2 issues in 2006. But Keith Giffen took over writing it in 2009 and it has been re-titled “The Authority: The Lost Year”. This series is just ok as a whole. It’s a 12-issue mini that shows what The Authority was doing before World’s End. (Collected in The Authority: Lost Year-Book 1, Book 2 was cancelled)
Not the best story in the world, but it shows what the team was doing right before Worldstorm. (Collected in trade The Authority: Prime). We then go into World’s End, the series that ended the Wildstorm Universe. (Collected in trades The Authority: World’s End & The Authority: Rule Britannia)
Midnighter / Grifter & Midnighter (2007)
This mini-series followed by a solo series follows Midnighter. Grifter & Midnighter, Midnighter Vol 1: Killing Machine, Midnighter Vol 2: Anthem, & Midnighter Vol 3: Assassin8)
There are two ways you can go with Gen 13. You can check out some of the earlier stuff or you can skip ahead and start with Gail Simone’s Vol. 4. She wrote it in such a way as to re-introduce the characters. So it’s your choice.
Gen 13-Vol. 2
#1-18 (J. Scott Campbell issues) Similar to the Jim Lee WildC.A.T.s issues in that they’re more for the fun stories and great art than anything else.(Collected in trades Gen 13: Starting Over, Gen 13: Lost in Paradise, Gen 13: European Vacation, Gen 13: Issue #13 ABC Collected Edition)
#60-71 (Adam Warren run) Most of the Gen 13 series isn’t that great, but if you like Manga inspired-stuff, Warren’s run is for you and it actually ends the series. (Collected in trades Gen 13: Superhuman Like You & Gen 13: Meanwhile)
You can pretty much disregard this series. But, if you insist…This only trade released contains #0-6 of the 16 issues released. (Gen 13: September Song)
Gen 13-Vol. 4
Gail Simone did #1-13 and it is a decent re-introduction to the kids. #14-20 is a story arc called “15 Minutes” which I don’t think is very good but it’s important to note that #20 has a cliffhanger that leads directly into #21 (the 1st World’s End issue). (Collected in trades Gen 13: Best of a Bad Lot, Gen 13: Road Trip, Gen 13: 15 Minutes, Gen 13: World’s End)
Divine Right: The Adventures of Max Faraday
A fun series that does have ties to the WSU but can also be read as a stand-alone. Max Faraday does have importance in World’s End as well. 12 issue mini with the one-shots Divine Intervention: Wildcats and Divine Intervention: Gen 13 fitting between issue 11 & 12. (Collected in trades Divine Right-Book 1 & Book 2)
Pretty much anything with Planetary is good. The entire series is collected in trades. (Planetary Vol. 1: All Over the World & Other Stories, Planetary Vol. 2: The Fourth Man, Planetary Vol. 3: Leaving the 20th Century, & Planetary Vol. 4: Spacetime Archeology).
Point Blank / Sleeper: Season One & Sleeper Season Two
Point Blank is the prelude to Sleeper, which is one of the most (if not the most) highly regarded WS stories ever. By Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. (Collected in trades Point Blank, Sleeper: Season One, Sleeper: Season Two)
Original 4 issue Team 7 mini-series is the best and it establishes a lot of characters who later become prominent in the WSU. (Collected in Team 7 trade).
Welcome to Tranquility
While simultaneously writing Gen 13, Gail Simone introduced the town of to the WSU (retroactively). Can be enjoyed without knowing too much about the WSU because it focuses on new characters. (Collected in Welcome to Tranquility Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 and there is a follow-up mini-series called Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave.)
Wildstorm: After the Fall
The Wildstorm: After the Fall trade that collects the back-up stories that ran through the 1st year of World’s End titles (read concurrently with the 1st 4 World’s End trades).
Wildstorm: Armageddon, Revelations, Number of the Beast, Dreamwar (2008):
And then the Armageddon Trilogy that leads to World’s End (all traded): I know it’s a lot so feel free to ask questions if you got them. 🙂