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Cover artwork for The Authority #9, by Bryan Hitch
|Publisher||Wildstorm (DC Comics)|
|First appearance||The Authority #1|
|Created by||Warren Ellis|
|Alter ego||Angela "Angie" Spica|
|Team affiliations||The Authority|
|Abilities||Nanotechnology / High intelligence|
The Engineer is the name of two fictional characters in the Wildstorm Universe. The first Engineer appeared in 1997, and was created by Warren Ellis and Tom Raney. The current Engineer, Angela Spica, a member of Stormwatch, first appears in The Authority #1 and was created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch. The Engineer uses nanotechnology to fly, communicate with machinery, create mechanical devices, and to cover the body in liquid metal body armor. The Engineer also appears in the 2008 Number of the Beast Wildstorm miniseries, and The New 52.
The First Engineer
The Engineer first appeared in the 1997 final story arc of Stormwatch volume 1, ("Change or Die"—Stormwatch issues #48–50), by Warren Ellis and Tom Raney. He was part of a superpowered group called the Changers, led by The High, who wanted to change the world by removing the structure of society itself. There would be no more laws, no authoritarian structures, no crime, and no war. The Engineer's role in this plan was to seed nanotechnological oases across the planet. These oases would serve as "horns of plenty" providing every imaginable food, product, and tool anybody needed. This first Engineer died with the rest of the Changers in issue #50 when Stormwatch, under the command of an increasingly maverick Henry Bendix, destroyed their base with Hammerstrike Deep Sanction missiles consisting of biowar payload and tailored acid bombs.
A later Stormwatch arc, collected as the trade paperback A Finer World (Stormwatch vol. 2 issues #2–4) explored this Engineer's legacy: the Nevada Garden, his first and sole surviving nanotech oasis, was secretly commandeered by the United States military and used for weapon creation. Apollo and The Midnighter destroyed the site on behalf of Stormwatch, and brought most of its nanotech 'trees' into Stormwatch custody.
In 1998, writer Warren Ellis brought the Stormwatch ongoing series to an end with the destruction of the team, retaining several Stormwatch characters for his new Wildstorm series, The Authority. The roster of the eponymous team in his new book also included successors to two members of the Changers, a new Doctor and a new Engineer. The latter was introduced in issue 1 as Angela Spica, a Brooklyn-born scientist. Though she had known the first Engineer, she had not known about his involvement in the Changers until his death, when her home computer filled up with his nanotechnology notes and started linking it to her work in human-machine fusion. She distilled an incalculable number of intelligent devices into nine pints of liquid machinery, which she used to replace her blood. This nanotechnology gave her extensive mechanical abilities: she can cover her body with liquid metal at will, fly, communicate with machinery, and create devices, including radio-telepathy bugs, weaponry, rocket engines, replacement lungs to cope with unfamiliar atmospheres and even additional copies of herself. Jenny Sparks recruited her as a founding member of The Authority.
In 2001, Mark Millar, Ellis' successor as the writer on The Authority, wrote a five-issue Secret History of the Authority exploring the team's lives before their joining up. Angie appeared in the fifth issue, describing to Jenny Sparks how her desire to be a scientist—and later a hero—arose from a childhood diet of comic books.
In the "Transfer of Power" storyline, Spica was replaced by "Machine", a woman from Japan who received the nanotechnology extracted from the Engineer's body. Spica's blood was temporarily replaced with that of a heroin addict. She was given memory implants and forced into the life of a minimum wage worker in a 7-11 with an abusive husband and six children (all of them actors paid by the hostile government that had sanctioned the Authority's overthrow), until she was saved by Swift. Spica's deep desire for revenge on Machine was thwarted when it was learned she had been killed by teammate Apollo.
Spica has an open on/off relationship with Jack Hawksmoor, but she also slept with The Doctor on one occasion. She also had a brief fling with a squat, hairy Mexican (a type she is very attracted to) she picks up in a bar. It ends badly.
She also had a deep, even if somewhat short, relation with Captain Atom, a universe-traveling hero hailing from the DC Universe. At first tasked from Jack himself to keep an eye on Captain Atom, using her charms if needed to keep him close and devise a plan to bring him back home or kill him should he become a menace for the Wildstorm Universe. Spica, unable to find his proper universe, uses her nanotechnology to apparently disable the fragment of the Void lodged in Captain Atom's body, defusing the threat posed by his survival in the Wildstorm Universe, and starts a relationship with him, sharing some intimate moments and trying to mold him into the proactive hero needed by her world. However, upon discovering that the Mark of Void was never purged by his system, and upon finding Captain Atom embracing Nikola Hanssen, the current host for the Void entity, Angela turns against him and, mixing jealousy to anger and self-righteousness, attempts to slay him. Captain Atom, still deeply in love with her, disables her powers, until Void is able to reboot the universe, leaving Angela no memories of the events surrounding the destruction and recreation of her world, and possibly, no memories about Nathaniel Adam.
Spica was apparently sexually assaulted during her school-age years by a renegade Doctor who traveled back in time while they were fighting.
The 2008 Number of the Beast Wildstorm miniseries described the devastation of Earth and set the scene for a new Authority ongoing series, World's End, by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. In this series, the Engineer, hit by the same electromagnetic pulses that disabled technology on Earth, lost her powers. She remains in the ruins of the crashed Carrier, jury-rigging and scavenging the last technology left, and caring for a crippled Jack, until discovering a small fighter craft having the same origin as the Carrier, which restarts and upgrades her abilities.
The New 52
In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity, including a merging of characters from the WildStorm universe. In this new timeline, Angela Spica's Engineer appears as a member of the rebooted version of the Stormwatch team. In the new Stormwatch, the Engineer is responsible for maintaining communications between members of the secretive organization as well as maintaining the Eye of the Storm, the Stormwatch space station headquarters that is described as existing in "hyperspace". She has grown increasingly disgruntled with Adam One's leadership and openly challenged his position, saying she should be the leader. She finally took charge from him during a battle against an alien threat, thinking to herself that the team was falling apart but could be one again. She also has a close relationship with Harry Tanner, a comrade who had the power to convince anyone with his lies, which she believed she was taking into account; in reality, Harry backed her as a potential leader because he believed she could be manipulated.
When Harry betrays the team, kidnapping the Projectionist and devastating the Eye of the Storm, Angela takes leadership and leads Stormwatch into beating Harry to various caches of alien technology.
The Wild Storm
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Acting as the entry character for the series, Spica was screened several times for an engineering position in International Operations, eventually being put in charge of creating a new armor for the Razors C.A.T.(Covert Action Team). Taking technology from a recovered Skywatch ship she thought was of alien origin, she created a much cruder version of the Engineer armor, which leaks from her body via holes in her skin to cover her. The armor has several weapons and technological advances, even allowing her to fly on some occasions.
However, once funding became scarce, she personally went to the Director of I.O., Miles Craven, when he was eating out with his boyfriend. Craven was skeptical of Spica, doing everything he could to quell her questions until he noticed she was bleeding due to the armor in her skin. Spica fled. She later found several people looking up at the Halo building. Suddenly, Jacob Marlowe was sent crashing out of a window, caused by a failed assassination attempt by I.O. mercenary Deathblow. Spica quickly changed into her armor and flew up to catch Marlowe, saving him. Marlowe saw her bleeding and offered to help her, but Spica declined the offer and fled to a safe house in Montauk, knowing that I.O. now knew of what she'd done. While I.O. sent in their Razor C.A.T. to apprehend Spica, but not before Marlowe sent in his own, Rogue C.A.T.
The second Engineer is based on a previous creation of Warren Ellis: "Steel Rain", a character Ellis created with artist Gary Erskine. Steel Rain's first and only appearance was in Marvel Comics' 2099 Unlimited #9 (July, 1995).
- Stormwatch: Change or Die TPB
- Stormwatch: A Finer World TPB
- Klock, Geoff (2002). How To Read Superhero Comics And Why. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-8264-1418-2.
- Wildstorm Summer Special one-shot
- Captain Atom: Armageddon
- The Authority #20, January 2001
- Stormwatch (vol. 3) #1–2 (Sept. 2011)
- Stormwatch (vol. 3) #4
- Stormwatch (vol. 3) #6