The Wild Storm: Michael Cray #11 – Bryan Hill, Writer; N. Steven Harris, Penciller; Dexter Vines, Inker; Nelson Blake, Flashback Artist; Ross Campbell, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: Finale Coming. Will Cray Survive?
Ray: Michael Cray #11, the penultimate issue of Bryan Hill’s gritty, brutal reinvention of the Wildstorm Universe pulls back the curtain on one of its villains while setting up the ultimate conflict of the series – Michael Cray versus the alien creature lurking in his head. As the issue opens, a flashback shows that the creature has been laying in weight since the day he was shot on the battlefield and nearly died. The creature brought him back from the brink of death, and now it views him as owing him a life in return. N. Steven Harris’ depiction of this alien beast is terrifying – alternately surreal and monstrous. When Dion shows up, the creature tries to goad him into killing her, but she says the one thing he needs to hear to spare her life.
This issue pulls back the curtain a lot on Michael and the creature he shares a mind with, but it’s as much Diana Prince’s story. It was clear that this isn’t truly Wonder Woman, and from the start of this flashback segment, the big differences are explored. This is a young woman whose formative moment was seeing her father die, and she has been seeking out power over death ever since.
Her obsession with death and with the Greek Gods, in particular, was formed out of her father’s dying words, and as she reached adulthood she formed a pact with dark forces to achieve it. The first adult flashback segment was curious because it featured her cutting a deal with a man who looked a lot like this world’s Constantine – but it’s actually Lex Luthor, as cruel as he is in the main world, pointing her towards Constantine. But first, there’s a stop-off to get an artifact from Kent Nelson, who meets a horrible fate along with his wife. There’s something off in this segment – where’s Constantine, and why does he look so much like Lex Luthor? That’s a mystery I want to see resolved in next issue, but there’s a lot going on here, including a brutal final scene between Cray and Dion. There are dark powers lurking around every corner of this issue and they’re using the characters like toys. With only one issue left, this is pretty clearly the best Wildstorm story I’ve read in the modern era.
Corrina: I might argue that Sleeper/Point Blank is the best Wildstorm story of the modern era but Michael Cray is definitely in that league, which means that Hill and Harris are in the same league as Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, and, yes, Michael Cray is that good.
Here we have the calm (somewhat) before the storm, where the mystery of Cray’s new powers is revealed, and he struggles to realize that he owes his very life to the alien/demon creature within him. It’s a good metaphor for the central theme of the series, that power corrupts. Each villainous doppelganger of the Justice League that Michael Cray has taken out has been corrupted by their own power. And, now, here is the source of Michael’s power, growing inside him and becoming more dangerous and tempting each day.
How much will Michael risk to conquer death? The reader already sees how far Diana Prince will go to have mastery over death. Will Michael give into his literal demon or will he do what it takes to protect the world?
Part of me expects Michael to die in this finale saving the world, while his parasite infects someone else, to try again. But I like to think that, perhaps, Michael will triumph and see a glimmer of light at the end of his story.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.