WildStorm originated in 1992 as comics creator Jim Lee's personal company, Aegis Entertainment, in the partnership making up Image Comics. After the sale to DC in 1999, Lee remained as WildStorm's Editorial Director, a position he continues to hold. The VP/General Manager is Hank Kanalz and the Senior Editor is Ben Abernathy. The WildStorm imprint is editorially separate from its DC parent, with its main studio located on the West Coast. Additional editorial staff includes Scott Peterson, Shannon Denton, Jim Chadwick, Kristy Quinn, and Sarah Farber. The imprint takes its name from the combining the titles of the Jim Lee comic series WildC.A.T.S. and Stormwatch.
Throughout most of its history the studio has published many comic book titles in continuity with each other (the Wildstorm Universe) as well as a wide variety of unrelated, creator-driven titles such as Ex Machina, Kurt Busiek's Astro City and Alan Moore's America's Best Comics line.
Following a few years as a mature-readers-only superhero imprint Eye of the Storm, in September 2006 WildStorm rebooted its Universe in the WorldStorm event.
In late 1992 penciler Marc Silvestri joined the studio to work on the first issue of Cyberforce. Although he worked at the studio, his projects were to debut as a new Image imprint named Top Cow. Silvestri continued to work out of WildStorm's studio for about two years, then moved his staff up to Santa Monica so that he could be closer to Hollywood. Although there was some thought of grabbing 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 then 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 were plagued with inconsistent completion and shipping, resulting in "monthly" comics coming out every few months. This era, however, produced a number of titles of varying popularity including the afformentioned Gen¹³ and WildC.A.T.s, Stormwatch, Deathblow, Cybernary, and Whilce Portacio's Wetworks.
Attempts to get his studio's characters into other media were disappointing. A Saturday morning cartoon series of the WildC.A.T.s suffered from poor production values, and lasted only a single season, 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, leaving Jim Lee frustrated. 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 was able to push Wildstorms 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 Wildcats characters that they released in 1993.
In 1995, WildStorm created an imprint named Homage Comics, centered around more writer-driven books. The imprint was started with Kurt Busiek's Astro City and The Wizard's Tale, James Robinson's Leave It to Chance (with Paul Smith) and Jeff Mariotte's Desperadoes (with John Cassaday). More recently, the imprint has 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.
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 & Carlos Pacheco's Arrowsmith and Warren Ellis's Two-Step and Tokyo Storm Warning.
This year also saw a huge revamp of all the WildStorm Universe titles, including such prominent comic book names 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.
Around this time WildStorm would launch 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 Authority was given to writer Robbie Morrison. They starred in a one-shot called "Scorched Earth," 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 that 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 anthology "Winter special" books were also published, but sales floundered despite critical acclaim. Some titles like Gen 13 were canceled early on;21 Down, was left without a promised second season. Thus, most of the line was canceled two years after its foundation, except for Sleeper, which got its Second Season published and had a definite ending. Wildcats 3.0 was the title fans most derided DC for canceling, considering writer Joe Casey stated that he planned an organic ending in #40. Even though canceled, Stormwatch: Team Achilles last issue never came out due to very low sales and writer Micah Wright lying to the publishers about his military history.
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 less 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 for consumers and retailers.
In 2007 the Wildstorm universe became Earth-50 of the new multiverse in the DC universe.
In May 2008, it was announced that the events of Wildstorm: Revelations. Wildstorm: Armageddon, and Number of the Beast will segue into Wildstorm: World's End, a post-apocalyptic direction for the line.