This is the first issue of this comic that I have been disappointed in. The lead-up to this issue was very good but the payoff wasn't there. Issue #8 set up a murder mystery (or, more accurately, an attempted-murder mystery) which is resolved here in issue #9. The previous issue was an excellent look at the differences between the PHD team and Stormwatch Prime. It highlights all of the ways that the (mostly) non-powered PHD people can hold their own against the powerhouses of Prime.
I can't talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the story without blowing the end of #8. I will not reveal the identity of the murderer, however.
So if you don't want to know who the victim is read no further.
Jackson King, Stormwatch's director, has been shot in the head with a high-powered laser. Officer Doran goes into super-investigative mode and interrogates each of the suspects. The problem is, that's all that happens in this issue:
1. Talk about who the next suspect is.
2. Meet with the suspect.
3. Wait while the suspect acts indignant about the questioning.
4. Cross suspect off the list.
Each of the questioning scenes is featured in its entirety without adding anything to the story or providing any clues to the reader. We don't learn anything about any of the characters that didn't come up during the previous issue. There was a really cool moment with the new Weatherman but that was the only one that wasn't repetitive. It might have all been worth it if the attacker's motivation had been at all cool but it felt tacked on and out of character. To top it off, the final scene took all the wind out of the story's sails.
Christos Gage's writing and Doug Mahnke's art got this series off to a great start and Andy Smith's pencils on the last couple of issues continue the excellence. Next issue they will go back to doing PHD-only stuff and I think things will be back on track for this excellent series.