Rereading Stormwatch for the xth time in how many years (the content of the Omnibus covers the first two TPBs Force of Nature and Lightning Strikes), I stumbled upon the first time a covert superhero team actually makes sense. My biggest beef with series like Justice League Elite or Secret Avengers is that those teams don’t actually need to act in secret. While superficially taking place in our world, every hint of real-world politics has been removed. You need secrecy either when operating in enemy territory (in both mentioned series all enemies are of the super-villain variety who don’t dabble with politics but go right to the jugular) or when operating on so-called friendly territory.
And neither of those two present anything resembling a political landscape, both teams act in a void where governments or big corporations don’t matter. Hickman’s Secret Warriors was plagued by something similar, trying to get spy fiction work in the confines of the superhero genre. The first badly needs political powers to make any sense, the second tries it’s best to act as if politics doesn’t play a role. And this is why Stormwatch is superior to all of them.
Even with it’s simplified political landscape, at least there is one that requires Stormwatch to act unfriendly on so-called friendly territory, to have plausible deniability. It’s a world where all governments and big corporations and their officials aren’t pillars of morality, in bed with illegal human experimentations or worse and badly in need of oversight and the occasional shot in the head. For all it’s mindless violence not a worldview superhero fiction likes to participate in.