Category Archives: I.O.

“Black Ops” issues 3 – 5

This entry cover “Black Ops” issues 3 – 5 by Shon Bury, Dan Norton, and Sandra Hope.

Why do I keep getting confused reading this series? It all seems straight forward on review, but when reading closely I just lose the thread constantly. Basically, it’s a deep undercover I/O team (our heroes, the Black Ops) that even I/O doesn’t know are I/O vs. an evil Russian named Markov and his company Spectrum, who were funded by I/O, so before he died, Craven sent out I/O’s Black Hammer’s to hunt down and kill the Black Ops. I’m not going to sit here and lie, I’m not the brightest guy, but I’m not that dim, so I constantly wonder why this book keeps confounding me. Have I experienced this on other books written by Shon Bury? Nope! Have I ever experienced confusion over the art of Dan Norton? Hell no! Do I experience any of that with the follow up “DV8 vs. Black Ops” by the same creative team? Of course not! It’s just this book, so bear with me as I try to gather my thoughts for all of you.

BlackOps-003So as we’re picking the book back up we need to recall that the Black Ops team was in Montanna, training with Col. Crane, who is now joining up with the Black Ops team to lead them. Col. Crane lost his significant other Rachel while on a previous mission in Gamorra at the hands of one Gennady Markov. While he and one of his other crew members, Lee Gardener, made it out alive, he just didn’t have it in him to continue. However, with I/O closing in on the Black Ops team at his house, he takes up the burden of leadership to help the team make short work of them.

Wait, Black Razors and Black Hammers are closing in? Yup, and a mole in I/O sent that message along to the Black Ops team! If John Lynch is the only person from I/O to know that the Black Ops team are I/O, and if Lynch is too busy hanging out with a bunch of teenagers at the beach to know I/O is after them… then who is our mole? Either way, as soon as the I/O teams are getting close Col. Crane sends the Black Ops team off to a safe house while he keeps the Razors and Hammers distracted.

Crane is successful in distracting the I/O groups, and hey, check that out, we know those Black Razors! It’s Cyril Fleming and Rose Grady! And their failure is not appreciated when they call up Santini to let him know how it went. Guess who else it upsets that “the terrorists” got away? Newly minted I/O director Alejandro Rios, that’s who. Though a few of his reports at I/O are starting to find out that “the terrorists” aren’t so bad after all and in fact, they may be I/O, and despite what the I/O records show, they’re not dead. News to Director Rios, but not news to some nerdy guy spying on this information download from Marisa. Nerdy dude is very worried about I/O figuring this all out too soon, and that Catherine Kwan will not be happy about it.

Getting back to the Black Ops team, we see the safe house they were sent to belongs to Lee Gardner, Col. Crane’s old friend, who fills the team in on Crane’s past. Once Crane catches up (by pick up truck from Montana to West Virginia?) the team takes off to Estonia to find Markov and put an end to his plan. Markov’s plan? To make a more advanced form of Black Hammer type weaponry. He’s planning to use that to take down any and all comers who challenge him at anything. Maybe it’s for the glory of Russia, but you never can tell with this chap, and I’m sure as hell Craven wasn’t bankrolling him to develop anything other than I/O.

Once the Black Ops team touches down in Estonia they fight a bunch of robots guarding Markov’s research facility. Once that’s done, the Black Razors are back with Cyril Fleming heading them up. This puts Col. Crane even more on edge, as he thought he’d shaken those bastards. And then it all hits the fan, there’s a new heavily armored person present, they go by the name Cricket and they’re working for Markov. With this obviously being no good, the Black Ops team decides to launch an EMP grenade to shut down all electronics. This includes some of their equipment, the Black Razor’s suits, and supposedly the new player on the field. But no, somehow the Markov’s agent has enough power to get back to the facility, and with the Razors taken care of, all the Black Ops team has to do is follow the leaking coolant that Cricket is leaving behind.

BlackOps-004Once inside the facility Crane and Shire head one way, and GQ and Redbird head another. There are lots of things to disable to keep Markov from interfacing any more humans with tech to make more creatures like Cricket. I mean, they’re a little late on that, there’s already two more finished, and they’re calling themselves the H.E.A.T.E.R.S and they are hunting down the Black Ops team as they sneak around trying to prevent a fourth H.E.A.T.E.R. from coming online. Of course, right about now is when Shire notices Markov’s head scientist, and old friend of her’s named Misha, who is naturally the bio-matrix engineer that the Soviet Union ever had.

Now things in the narrative are coming together a bit. The three H.E.A.T.E.R. units online are all Americans. So that sorts out what Craven was up to, he was having Markov get the units created and ready for him. We also now find out that the H.E.A.T.E.R.s are still reporting to Kwan at I/O and she and her little weasel are trying to get away from I/O quickly. We also now know that Markov was “skimming off the top” a bit by creating some of this advanced technology for himself to use as needed. He’s currently trying to interface with said tech inside a bio-bath chamber at Misha’s misgivings. Sweet, straightened out… time to get back to the action? Sure!

BlackOps-005So we have GQ and Redbird fighting Cricket, Crane and Shire fighting the H.E.A.T.E.R known as Pinpoint, and Geek and H.E.R.B. fighting the giant red unnamed H.E.A.T.E.R. (I say unnamed because I cannot remember it, and flipping through the book a few times I couldn’t find it… yet someone in the comments will probably correct me, and I look forward to that.) Despite being at a slight disadvantage, the Black Ops team manages to hold their own against the H.E.A.T.E.R.s, but it isn’t easy. A stroke of luck occurs when Kwan decides the best course of action for her is an immediate disavowal of everything that Markov was up to. This means zeroing out Markov’s slush fund, erasing all information on having anything to do with his organization, asking Cricket and Pinpoint to immediately destroy the building and all inside and leave.

Things don’t go exactly according to plan for anyone. Geek and H.E.R.B. take out the big red robot while H.E.R.B. is pulling the same media quoting schtick as Jeff the Monster from “Scud the Disposable Assassin.” Cricket and Pinpoint were told to leave their fights, so our Black Ops team is safe for now, and even when they all have the same agenda, to destroy Markov’s work, they still won’t get along. In fact, a bit of a pissing match between Crane and Pinpoint on who gets to kill Markov ultimately leads to H.E.R.B. becoming destroyed. Either way, neither one of them could’ve done the job from outside the bio-bath and Misha ends up sabotaging it to kill Markov and set the self-destruct countdown for good measure.

The Black Ops manage to get out of there, with Geek carrying H.E.R.B.’s head, in the nick of time. While flying over the Atlantic back to who-knows-where (Montana?) they are discussing something that didn’t feel right, and how ultimately their mission isn’t quite over yet. There are things they’ll need to get into once the heat is off but until then Col. Crane still has a few friends in high places. Oh, and that mole at I/O who was in communication occasionally with the Black Ops crew? Oh, that was Marisa Chambers. Also of note, not only did she trace everything back to John Lynch, but also went to find him and ask that he contact I/O so that Director Rios can officially “bring them back home.” But clever-clever Lynch is all “Nah, we need folks like Crane out there fucking shit up old skool. Besides, I’d like to point the Black Ops at my old enemy Ivana, because mark my words, that bad-ass so-n-so is up to something… she always is…”

Continuity Corner:

  • At the end of “Black Ops” issue 2, the team was being trained by Crane to be able to rely less on their Razor suits to get their jobs done. I figure this could account for the days that “Fire from Heaven” took place over.
  • I consider “Black Ops” issues 3 through 5 and “Hazard” issues 1 through 4″ happening at pretty much the same time. Pretty much a few days after “Fire from Heaven” and lasting a week or so.
  • We have the flashback to the Gamorra mission that went wrong for Crane, I figured it might’ve been tied to the one that we’ve been reading references to in various books, but I didn’t see Cray, Waering or Alex Fairchild anywhere near it.
  • It’s nice that when we’re dealing with the Black Razors, we’re seeing a familiar face in Cyril Fleming, but also, if you keep your eyes peeled, there’s a cameo by Rose Grady too. I really thought WildStorm was building to a full-on Black Razors title.
  • From the battle we saw, the H.E.A.T.E.R. named Cricket survives, but I don’t think we ever see her again.
  • We see Shire start to mention that at the initial CEO meeting that the Black Ops team broke up, there was one person that wasn’t there that should’ve been, one of Craven’s best puppet directors, and all she says is “Arm-” before getting cut off. Who the hell is she talking about? Armand Waering? He worked with/for Craven? Am I not remembering something right? Who else could it have been?
  • At the end, we also have Crane saying that he’ll be contacting his friend Giovanni, who we’ve seen a bit of in the pages of “Backlash” at this point, but don’t know too much about. He’s the director of P.S.I. and when we see the Black Ops crew again in “DV8 vs. Black Ops” they will indeed be working at P.S.I.
  • On the last page, we see a set up for the upcoming conflict between the Black Ops team and the DV8 team, and the DV8 team is clearly on Caballito Island. This is where they had been previous to “Fire from Heaven” once we get to their full-on book they’ll be based out of New York. I don’t take this to literally mean Ivana and the DV8 kids stopped there after “Fire from Heaven” before continuing on to New York (they didn’t, Frostbite even says as much in the first issue of “DV8”) it’s just a rad and relevant establishing page.

NEXT: “Grifter” volume two issues 2 through 4 by Steven Grant, Mel Rubi, Richard Friend, Luke Rizzo, Mark Irwin, Danna Stewart, and Peter Guzman

 

“Gen12” issues 1 & 2

This entry covers “Gen12” issues 1 and 2 by Brandon Choi, Michael Ryan, Sal Regla, Luke Rizzo, Armando Durruthy, John Tighe and Peter Guzman.

Gen12-01coverIt’s Miles Craven’s funeral and everyone is celebrating the life of a well-loved public servant. Come on, the American people don’t know any better and don’t know what a right bastard he was! One man is tasked with getting to the bottom of what was really going on with Craven and I/O and that’s Commander Thomas Morgan and he’s working for Senator Kilroy and his group of cronies that want to fill the intelligence power vacuum that Craven left behind. They’re called the Intelligence Oversight Committee, and they mean business! So where to go first, why not I/O’s Black Razor director, Ben Santini.

Meeting Santini is no easy task, well I mean meeting him is easy, but he immediately has Morgan suit up with the Black Razors and go take on a crazy militia group. They do the job, Morgan performing perfectly, pretty much for Santini to tell him “You got the goods kid, hell you coulda been Team 7 material. By the by, I purposly kept myself outta all that mess, go find Alicia Turner.” With that, Morgan is on his way to the next part of his fetch quest.

Alicia Turner also doesn’t tell Morgan much. In fact, all she does is show off some fancy remote viewing technology and reveal that the Iraquis are “at it again.” I know kinda thin stuff that builds to nothing later in the WSU. Morgan asks her about the Gen-Actives and the picture of Cole she has behind her desk. All she does is kick him the name Joseph Brockmeyer and tells him to scram.

Gen12-02coverMorgan sets up a meeting with Brockmeyer to meet in Chicago and get whatever information on Cole there is to have. Morgan was a bit puzzled as to why Brockmeyer is so much older than Cole but lets it go the hear some intel. We hear a bit about Cole’s home life and him leaving it behind and trying to join a life of crime. Even though he was a driver for some small-time thieves, he drew the line at taking hostages and killing. This put him in the good graces of the FBI agent that was busting Cole’s new friends. This man was Brockmeyer, and he got Cole into the military where he impressed everyone enough to get into Team 7.

We then have Brockmeyer filling in a lot of life/story details about Cole. Like leaving and returning to Team 7 over the years, finding out his mother had passed and becoming a soldier of fortune. We even get a glimpse of what I suppose is the first time he meets Zannah. We then see Cole and his involvement from the first issue of “Gen13” vol. one, and the aftermath when he’s tracked down by Colby. Colby says some ominous words and then leaves, giving an opportunity for the rest of the patrons at the Hot Spot that night to reveal they are Daemonites. Soon into the fight, when all hope is lost, Zannah shows up and saves Cole. After that, Brockmeyer lets us know, Cole was never seen again. Morgan takes this information in stride and bids Brockmeyer ado. We then find out that Brockmeyer was Cole in disguise all along, and wondering how much of what he told Morgan was even true in the first place. (But, uh, it seems like much of it is true…)

Continuity Corner:

  • The Team 7 story we see in issue 1 is based on a real event, commonly called “Operation Opera” when the Israeli Air Force bombed the first active nuclear reactor in Iraq. The Nuclear reactor was started in 1979 and while there was a bombing that year of components meant for the reactor by Israeli actors, this is when that equipment was still in France. A full-scale bombing of the Iraqi site by the Israeli Air Force, as depicted in Gen12 #1 did not occur until 1981 and would be at odds w/ the WSU timeline re: Team 7 and their defection from I/O to protect the Gen13 children in 1979 in “Gen13” volume one issue #1, it must be assumed this incident occurred slightly sooner in the WSU than in ours.
  • The main reason it must happen sooner is due to Fairchild, Cole, and Chang being on that mission. If the Team 7 mission took place in 1981, Fairchild and Chang would still be with the Gen13 tots on Coda Island (as we’ll see in “Gen12” issue 4) after the opening events of “Gen13” volume one issue #1. Also, right after the 1979 event, Cole headed straight to the Hot Spot and encountered Colby, followed by some Daemonites, which lead straight into teaming back up with Zannah, whom he sticks with this time (so it seems) until they join up w/ the WildC.A.T.s in 1992 (in “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 1)
  • We see a lot of the Team 7 members that we currently know the whereabouts of at the small Arlington cemetery burial of Craven. I figure most were still in the area after Cray’s funeral, except for Cole who went up to NYC, only to come back. It’s a little messy, but there’s no decent reason to put this before the WildC.A.T.s issues due to the flow of that story also following hot on the heels of “Fire from Heaven.” I suppose we could put the first issue before “WildC.A.T.s” vol. 1 issue 31, but the second issue is only a 48hrs after the first so while that may be enough time for the ‘Cats defeat of TAO, I’m not sure if it is enough time to account for the third funeral that Cole goes to that week. Also, the double dose of getting to know Morgan with both issues at once is good for the readability.
  • When finding out about Cole’s backstory we also see his two step-siblings, which will come up in the pages of “Grifter” volume two issue 2
  • Speaking of “Grifter” volume two issue 2, we also meet the real Joseph Brockmeyer!
  • Because we now have Cole in Chicago for this meeting in the Sears Tower (it’ll always be the Sears Tower to me, take that Willis Tower nonsense somewhere else,) we have him right in place for “Grifter” volume two issues 2 and 3 which also take place in Chicago which we’ll cover soon.
  • Getting a LOT of Cole and Zannah backstory here… but still not the full story of their initial meeting! Goddamn it WildStorm!
    colezannah1colezannah2

NEXT: “Hazard” issues 1 – 4 by Jeff Mariotte, Roy Allan Martinez, Gerry Alanguilan, and Edgar Tadeo w/ some help from Whilce Portacio

“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 29

This entry covers “Deathblow” volume on issue 29 by Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner, and Trevor Scott.

deathblow_v1_029We pick up on this story with Rayna Masters getting ready for Michael Cray’s funeral following his death on the moon during “Fire from Heaven.” While she’s narrating what is going on, we keep getting the media’s reaction to what happened on the moon and in Gamorra on various televisions. StormWatch is very “deny, deny, deny” on all fronts. They’re saying there’s no connection between what happened on the moon and what happened in Gamorra, and moreover, there’s a peaceful exchange of power going on in Gamorra.

Rayna, however, isn’t the only one getting ready for Cray’s funeral. We are also treated to seeing all the members of Team 7 that are still around getting ready, or headed to New York for the event. Once in the big apple the remaining Team 7 members of Cash, Dane, Fairchild, Lynch, and Slayton meet up to toast to Cray at one of his favorite haunts, the Drop Zone. Meanwhile, the Gen13 kids and Jodi have to wait outside, because, you know, kids aren’t allowed in strip clubs.

AReasonToToast

Later in upstate New York for the funeral, we meet up with a lot of the “Deathblow” book’s extra cast members. Other than Rayna and the Sergeant Major, we get reacquainted Alicia Turner, Frank Colby, Alex Cray, and Sister Mary from the Order of the Cross. There are four people at the funeral who aren’t named, but from the looks of them, one could be Henri Rothschild and thusly two of the others may be his two young assistants, Balthazar and Yvette from the Bibliotheque. As for the last woman, I have no guesses on who she could be.

After the service, the funeral continues to the burial site, where both Alex and Rayna say many kind words about Michael. All of the present Team 7 members also say their peace while remembering their friend. Hell, even Grunge manages to say something sweet at the end of it all, despite being a total clod during most of this issue.

Ashes2Ashes

After everyone leaves the cemetery something crazy happens. No, it doesn’t turn out that Cray isn’t dead, not that at all. That’s far too “comic-booky” for this era of WildStorm. No, two mysterious men and a qeelocke teleport in next to the gravestone. One of the men scratches into the tombstone the same poem that Grunge was reciting earlier, before leaving, promising to continue to fight the good fight, lest Cray’s sacrifice mean nothing.

BigPhil

Continuity Corner:

  • I like to put this issue directly after the “Fire from Heaven” story mainly because it is the denouement for that story arc. In reality, it is possible for the events of “Black Ops” issues 3 – 5 to go before this issue because we see that Lynch goes back in La Jolla before flying to New York for the funeral, as we see him, the kids, and Alex Fairchild in a plane over the Rockies headed there. But putting this issue here just feels and works better from a storytelling perspective.
  • We also know that “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 31 picks up very soon after the events of “Fire from Heaven” too, but due to Savant being in pretty good condition we know those issues have to come after this issue of “Deathblow.”
  • The moment where Sister Mary recognizes Cash and Dane is a fun one. She’s one of the few that remembers the events of “Deathblow” volume one issues 5 through 12, so she’s met them before, but they haven’t met her.
  • Of the two men that teleport in at the end of the issue, one is named Cain, while the other isn’t named. Later, in the pages of “Gen12” we will find out that it was Phillip “Bulleteer” Chang from Team 7, Grunge’s father. It is implied that Phillip taught Grunge the poem phrase that Grunge recites that Phillip then engraves on Cray’s headstone.
  • It is also implied that Phillip knew a bit about Damocles as well, and hell, his partner does have a qeelocke! Where ever this was headed never got much further, as we only see Phillip and Cain once more before the whole story-line gets dropped.
  • Speaking of dropped story threads, in this issue we have more flirting between Jodi and Bobby, something that started and was building up during “Fire from Heaven.” Poor Bobby, keeps getting linked to all kinds of girls, Rainmaker, Bliss, now Jodi and it never works out.
  • While Michael Cray is dead he still manages to pop up here and there. Mainly in the flashback book “Gen12” and then “Slipstream” alternate timeline crossover story where he’s a member of Gen13 with his daughter Rachel. Oh yeah, Rachel Goldman of DV8 is his daughter. Then there’s also this whole mess with a bunch of clones of him, too! Which sounds dumb, but is somehow awesome in “Deathblow: Byblows.” Cray casts a long and large shadow over the WildStorm universe before he comes back for the second volume of “Deathblow.” That book is… ugh… probably an alright book if it wasn’t a “Deathblow” book… but hey, he comes back again near the end of the WSU when the world is in its apocalyptic stage. He and Cole end up as members of the Authority and create some of my favorite moments in all of the WSU, so that’s awesome.

NEXT: “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issues 31 through 34 by Alan Moore, Jim Lee, Travis Charest, Josh Wiesenfeld, Mat Broome, Pat Lee, Rob Stotz, Richard Bennett, Trevor Scott, Jason Gorder, Troy Hubbs, Scott Taylor, JD and Sandra Hope.

“Fire from Heaven” Chapters 4 – 6

This entry covers “Fire from Heaven” chapters 4 through 6, which include “Wetworks” volume one issue 16, “StormWatch” volume one issue 35 and “Sigma” issue 2 by Jonathan Peterson, Drew Bitner, Brandon Choi, Cedric Nocon, Renato Arlem, Randy Green, Chuck Gibson, Danny Bulanadi, Jose Pimentel and Sal Regla.

wetworks_v2_016Welcome back to the ongoing coverage of “Fire from Heaven” here at Weathering WildStorm. The thing about this crossover is is that it seems to jump around in time a lot more often than I remember. A lot of times we have books that are trying to present to us how their main characters got involved in the mess on Gamorra. So that’s not really a big deal if we keep rewinding in time to find out what certain groups were up to before they join a big fight with the other characters. Other times there’s some through stories that aren’t adding up correctly and that’s the kind of thing I point out in the “Continuity Corner” at the bottom. Right now the big fight everyone is heading to is in Kaizen’s lab where he’s just awoken his greatest feat, the Gen-Omega!

But first, there’s trouble on the moon! The Sword and several of Damocles’ crew are attacking the StormWatch moon base. They are trying to secure even more power to fully bring Damocles to this universe. Not only are they doing that, but they’re also readying a gigantic pulse cannon to fire at SkyWatch II! Yeah, this sure isn’t StormWatch’s day. SkyWatch II gets blasted, and it isn’t too terrible except for their communications array. They only end up being cut off from the Earthbound teams for a short time, but for a few pages there it could’ve been big big trouble!

Time to talk about “Wetworks”. This book doesn’t feel like it wants to be part of this crossover. It seems like “Fire from Heaven” is just getting in the way of the story they want to tell in that book. Now I’m not saying that “WildC.A.T.s” doesn’t encounter this to a small degree, but that book doesn’t go out of its way to show off far too much stuff that doesn’t relate to the overarching crossover. “Wetworks” just… well, they show us Armond Waering going to a party. We also see a population of fish people that aren’t too happy about what’s going on among the Night Tribes. Also, the team doesn’t do much before they decide to escape to find Dane after Mr. Waering takes off. Oh, we do see Mother One mack on Grail. Alright sure, finding out that Mr. Waering has a business rival is kind of cool, and we finally get full on confirmation of Waering being a werewolf, but man, those both could’ve waited until after the crossover. I want to see how the rest of the Wetworks team managed to find out where Dane was and how they snuck their way on to Gamorra, and that stuff is all sidestepped… frowny face is me.

stormwatch_v1_035Speaking of Dane, we catch back up to him and Amanda run from a StormWatch jet trailing them. They lose the jet by jumping off a waterfall. The StormWatch operatives must’ve never seen an action movie because they swear both Dane and Amanda couldn’t survive that drop and they fly off. Dane and Amanda are of course fine and after they come to they are confronted by a bunch of hunter-killers. After making short work of the HKs they run into Jackson King, who after a hard fight, including Amanda going super nuts, sees King best them and take them both into captivity.

TurncoatMageeElsewhere on the island, we see Flashpoint getting some drinks at a local bar. While he’s having a pint he’s recognized by Brutus of the Mercs. Brutus is still pissed about Flashpoint having killed Kilgore right before the last big WildStorm crossover. A fight breaks out, and Flashpoint is the eventual winner. Razor then shows up and starts to make out with Flashpoint!? What the heck? Turns out Flashpoint is working with the Mercs, but not all the Mercs know, just Razor and Deathtrap apparently. Flashpoint tells Razor that he needs to meet with Deathtrap soon.

Alright, before we get to our next few big happenings, here’s a few small things that have happened over the course of these issues. Slayton and Cybernary agree to join forces to take out Kaizen Gamorra. Fahrenheit, Cannon, and Battalion all wonder when Winter will be well and what happened to him. We check in with Ethan’s nerd friend hanging out with Ethan’s jock friend while they get coffee and are gawked at by the ladies. And finally, without telling us how, Wetworks finally arrives on Gamorra.

sigma_002Outside of Kaizen’s compound Bobby, Jodi and Aries arrive. Aries is expecting Kaizen’s guards to take out Bobby and Jodi but is surprised to see them all dead. It seems the DV8 crew did a pretty good job as they gained entry. Once inside Bobby finds his friends and joins the fight immediately. Jodi, unsure of what to do, let’s Aries go, as he actually ended up helping them get to where they wanted to be. While Aries walks right out the front door, Alex Fairchild and Capt. Lucius Morgan walk right in and join the fight alongside their Team 7 pals.

While we have all this action with Team 7 and Gen13 fighting the DV8 crew, there’s still a matter of what is going on in the basement, and that’s a Gen-Omega Craven! Fortunately, it is having no luck taking down Ethan, Dr. Tsung or Secret Agent Maggie, even w/ LeGauche’s help. Cray comes to even the score, but the fight doesn’t last too much longer. The Gen-Omega Craven starts to deteriorate. Craven claims this is because Kaizen forgot to account for the virus in Slayton’s Gen-Factor. The reborn Craven burns away into nothing and Ethan absorbs the Gen-Factor into his own body. Dr. Tsung reveals that Ethan is the source of all the Gen-Factor in the world. He said his original plan was to get some of the Gen-Factor out into the world to give superpowers to various people so they can help stop the madman he dreams about. But it was taking too long, so he redoubled his efforts into making Ethan the strongest and best wielder of the Gen-Factor so that he can single-handedly defeat Damocles.

CravensLastStand

Around this time The Sword and his minions have generated enough power to bring Damocles to the moon. Once there Danocles feels an overwhelming source of Gen-Factor on Earth and knows it to be his mortal enemy, Sigma AKA Ethan. He gets to Earth to find Kaizen hiding from all that is going on. After a quick scan of Kaizen’s mind to find out where Sigma is, he goes to confront Ethan, Dr. Tsung and Secret Agent Maggie in Kaizen’s basement lab.

DamoclesArrives

Continuity Corner:

  • We have a page out of no where of Lucius and Alex parachuting… wait Lucius and Alex are parachuting? Into where? We’ve already seen them on Gamorra twice! Once at the end of “Gen13” volume two issue 9 and in issue 10. If they needed to cross the island there has to be plenty of easier ways than to fly up in controlled airspace and parachute! I mean their pilot got vaporized right after they jumped out of the plane! They could’ve easily gotten to where they needed to go without that risk.
  • Lucius ever the cool dad tells Rainmaker that Daphne says hello, remembering their bond from “Gen13” volume two issue 5.
  • So Lucius is Team 7? We saw in “Gen13” volume two issue 10 that guy Pigmy calls him and Alex Team 7, but also that guy also didn’t know Alex, meaning he only really knows that Lucius was Team 7. Then when they join in the fight, all the other Team 7 dudes know him. Also, that’s when we find out Lucius has powers too. Oh, there was also that giant 7 on his pirate boat… At any rate, it’s odd they never retconned him into any of the old stories somehow. They still had the “Gen12” book to finally squeeze him in with and they didn’t even take the opportunity.
  • When Craven’s Gen-Omega body is burning up he blames Kaizen for not accounting for the virus in Slayton’s Gen-Factor. Is it not a virus, is it due to Slayton being Kherubim, so he has different blood? Did Kaizen not notice this because [SERIOUS SPOILER THAT WE’RE SO CLOSE TO GETTING TO FINALLY REVEAL]?

NEXT: “Fire from Heaven” chapters 7 and 8, which include “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 29 and “Deathblow” volume one issue 27 by Alan Moore, Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner, Travis Charest, Ryan Benjamin, Trevor Scott, JD, Richard Friend, Mark Irwin and Luke Rizzo.

 

“Fire from Heaven” Chapters 1 – 3

This entry covers “Fire from Heaven” chapters 1 through 3 which include “Fire from Heaven” issue 1, “Backlash” issue 19 and “Gen13” volume two issue 10 by Alan Moore, Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Brandon Choi, J. Scott Campbell, Jim Lee, Ryan Benjamin, Ryan Odagawa, Chuck Gibson, Richard Friend, Mark Irwin, Mark Pennington, Alex Garner, JD, Tom McWeeney and Scott Williams

firefromheaven_001Ok, now it is time for us to properly get this crossover started! We see StormWatch making their presence known on the island nation of Gamorra. The leader of this island is Kaizen Gamorra, and he’s mixed up in researching the Gen-Factor. While this is usually enough to get Team 7 involved, they have more reason after finding out he’s been working with their former boss Miles Craven, the man who recently had the Gen-Factor extracted from many former Team 7 members. Kaizen knows that Team 7 will be coming for him, so he’s requested StormWatch to come and protect him from the rebels that threaten him. Little does StormWatch know that the rebels aren’t actually all that bad once you consider Kaizen, and that Team 7 and the Gen13 kids aren’t really part of the Gamorra rebel group, they’re just concerned citizens trying to find their friends and family that have been captured by Kaizen and the Bountyhunters. Yeah, the Bountyhunters and Kaizen have struck up a shaky alliance. Hey, it’s a cross-over, pretty much every major player in the WildStorm Universe is tied-in somehow, that’s the whole point!

While Team 7 and Gen13, along with Ethan and Secret Agent Maggie, are on their way to Gamorra, their jet gets shot. While the jet is going down Slayton, Bobby and Dane get into an escape pod and safely land far from the rest of the team. Yeah, even though their flight plan was changed due to a frickin’ laser from space, Cole, Caitlin, Grunge, Sarah, Lynch, Cray, Ethan and Secret Agent Maggie manage to survive the landing. While getting their bearings on the beach they are attacked by Flashpoint, Cannon, and Fahrenheit of StormWatch. Depending on which book you read (“Fire from Heaven” issue 1 or “Gen13” volume two issue 10) shows you a different outcome to the fight. Either way, the fight is resolved and StormWatch moves on.

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Before we check in with the trio in the escape pod, we first need to catch up with a few other characters. To this end we see Jodi and Amanda looking for leads on where CyberJack might be. While lurking they see and are squicked out by, Ivana and the DV8 kids, who are on Gamorra because Ivana found out about the clone of Ethan, and she wants it. Eventually, Jodi and Amanda end up in a bar where they overhear from Kaizen’s right-hand man Aries, that Team 7 is on the island. They take off, hoping to find Slayton, before Aries, the Minotaur or his goons see them.

backlash_019Now back to Marc, Bobby, and Dane, who get separated from the rest of their crew when their plane was shot down by a frikkin’ space laser! The boys argue a bit while the girls are catching up to them. Just as suddenly as Jodi and Amanda get to Bobby, Dane, and Marc they are joined by Aries, the Minotaur, Borgia and a number of hunter-killers.

Our heroes seem to make short work of the bad guys before an earthquake occurs. Turns out this earthquake is over a volcano and magma starts pushing itself up to the surface. At this point, Bobby grabs Jodi and Aries and flies off, Marc tosses Amanda to Dane and a font of magma flies up between Marc and the rest knocking him over. Fearing him for dead Amanda and Dane mournfully move on. But come on, nothing like that could kill ole Backlash! Truth be told, he his holding on for dear life on the edge of a cliff hoping not to drop when Cybernary comes to save the day! She’d been watching the brawl, and anyone who’s against Kaizen and his crew are friends to her.

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Back in New York, we are seeing the WildC.A.T.s team start to splinter. Zannah leaving the team to follow Cole to Gamorra and we have Pris and Jacob straight up leaving everything. The new team wants the old team to stay behind and help out with the crime war, but Zannah isn’t hearing it.

We get one quick page of seeing what Kaizen has done to CyberJack after all his time on this island. He’s more Cyber than Jack now and has seemed to have lost his personality. Kaizen’s plan is to turn Jack on his old friends… uh oh!

Up on SkyWatch II, Henry Bendix is sensing some crazy shit going on behind the moon. It looks like the Bountyhunters are using some crazy tech to open a portal for Damocles to come through. All this power so close to the moon is also starting to affect the tides on Earth.

gen13_v2_010Back down on Gamorra Alex Fairchild and Lucius Morgan are combing this island for info about what’s going on. They eventually find out pretty much everything on their first try! That Team 7 killed Craven, that Team 7 is on the island, and that Kaizen is keeping a hostage, that of a Team 7 child. The duo surmises that Team 7 is on Gamorra to kill Kaizen and they head off to join their old friends.

Ivana wants that Gen-Omega so her and the DV8 kids are breaking into Kaizen’s compound through the front gates. While a slight annoyance to Kaizen, he isn’t too worried. He just decides it is time to awaken the Gen-Omega a little ahead of schedule. What could it hurt, it’s probably what they’re after anyway. As Dr. Tsung and Roxy talk about how they each ended up on Kaizen’s floor in chains, their friends in Team 7 and Gen13 are sneaking in the back door.

Meanwhile, Jodi and Bobby get to know Aries. Well not really. All they know is that he’s their key to getting to Kaizen and that his and Jodi’s powers go all wonky when they get too close to each other. Aries reluctantly agrees to take them to Kaizen.

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Back to Berkley for a quick page to see Colby and Alicia leave the Tsung ladies to go back to work at I/O. Mrs. Tsung and Celia are devastated by what they’re seeing on the news about Gamorra but know that Colby and Alicia could do more good back at the newly Craven-free I/O.

In Gamorra there’s less good news. Team 7 and Gen13 reach Dr. Tsung and Roxy and before anyone can celebrate too much Ivana and the DV8 kids burst into the same room. Predictably a fight is on! It doesn’t go too well for the DV8 kids, and it seems that Ethan is the secret weapon, as he even took down Threshold! During the fight, Ethan starts to feel woozy, and Dr. Tsung thinks it might have something to do with the Gen-Omega coming online. Ethan, Dr. Tsung and Secret Agent Maggie head down the same corridor that Kaizen disappeared into earlier. They arrive at the Gen-Omega pod just in time to meet it… the reborn Miles Craven! In a fresh new body, complete with the Gen-Factor stolen from Team 7. This… this is gonna be trouble!

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Continuity Corner:

  • Jesus, is Hellstrike miscolored here! I mean they even allude to his “jade glow” later and still managed to miscolor him for pages! Which colorist and editor were asleep at the wheel for this one?
  • Speaking of, seeing Frostbite and Evo in DV8 colored as pale white guys gives me the heeby-jeebies! It just looks so very very wrong!
  • We’ll see an expanded version of the WildCATs scene from “Fire from Heaven” issue 1 in “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 29.
  • At the end of “Fire from Heaven” issue 1 we see Hunter-Killers move in on the Team 7/Gen13 crew after StormWatch has subdued them and leaves. When we get to “Gen13” volume two issue 10 we never see that scene. We have Team 7 and Gen13 kicking the StormWatch boy’s asses and then moving to Kaizen’s place after Fahrenheit takes Flashpoint and Cannon away.
  • One of the reasons I always forget that Minotaur has a horse-body is because sometimes he doesn’t! Like in the bar in “Backlash” issue 19. I figure that Minotaur must be mostly cybernetic and any of his organic parts left are must be in his upper body so that he can just mount himself on either robot-horse legs or robot-human legs, his choice on how centaur-like he feels in the morning. This would also explain how easily he can replace his left arm after Slayton lops it off.
  • Cray mentions the sneaky way into Kaizen’s place cost a friend of his their life, I assume he means Mai-Li T’Sung from “Deathblow” volume one issue 19.
  • An odd bit of continuity here with the Bountyhunters in chapters 2 and 3. In “Backlash” issue 19 (Chapter 2) we see them already on the moon getting the portal ready for Damocles. In “Gen13” volume two issue 10 (Chapter 3) we see the Bountyhunters with Kaizen, then they leave to go to the moon. I have to figure these events are happening at the same time, because later on in the “Gen13” issue we see Bobby with Jodi and Aries. If we wanted to get super picky I’d say that “Backlash” issue 19 should be read after the first 10 pages of “Gen13” volume two issue 10, right after the Bountyhunters attack the StormWatch members on the moon. But man… that’d be super convoluted, even for me!

NEXT: “Fire from Heaven” chapters 3 through 5, which include “Wetworks” volume one issue 16, “StormWatch” volume one issue 35 and “Sigma” issue 2 by Jonathan Peterson, Drew Bitner, Brandon Choi, Cedric Nocon, Renato Arlem, Randy Green, Chuck Gibson, Danny Bulanadi, Jose Pimentel and Sal Regla

“Fire from Heaven” Prelude

This entry covers “Fire from Heaven” issue 1/2 and the “Fire from Heaven” Prelude parts 1 through 3, which include “Sword of Damocles” issue 1, “Sigma” issue 1 and “Deathblow” volume one issue 26 by Johnathan Peterson, Warren Ellis, Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner, Randy Green, Tomm Coker, J.J. Kirby, Ryan Odagawa, Mel Rubi, Danny Bulanadi, Bob Wiacek, John Tighe, Mark Irwin, Richard Friend, Troy Hubbs and Trevor Scott.

firefromheaven_halfTime for the great big never-ending WildStorm crossover known as Fire from Heaven! This crossover is long… very long! Fourteen official chapters, a three issue prelude, a three issue finale, an almost unconnected preview type issue and an unofficial coda in “Deathblow” volume one issue 29. For those keeping count, reading the full story is 21 and a half issues of comics. That’s a LOT of story, so let’s get into the “Prelude” to it all, starting with that weird half issue I mentioned above.

We open on our first of four short stories in this half issue with Kaizen Gamorra admiring the major city of Gamorra, known as Zodome. Turns out Kaizen has no time to lollygag, as there’s science trouble down in the Gen-Lab. Kaizen has his scientists working on Gen-Active individuals, trying to figure out what makes them tick. But, for the final test, of the undefined goal, the latest Gen-Active guinea pig explodes. Leaving Kaizen upset and down a few scientists.

Meanwhile, across the Pacific Ocean in Berkley, CA, we encounter a pickup game of basketball. We have four kids playing with only one of them named. I’m pretty sure one of them is supposed Ethan McCain, who we saw in a page of “Gen13”. The guy who I think is Ethan sinks a three pointer by unknowingly using his powers and we move on to our next short story.

StormWatch is getting set up with all the military hardware they can think of! Every nation on the globe is willing to sink more personnel and weaponry into the StormWatch program. Good for Bendix, but will it be good for everyone else? We also check in on the moon based StormWatch members! Yay, looks like the StormWatch moon base got rebuilt after Argos wrecked it!

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The final story before we get to the “Prelude” proper is introducing our big-bads for the crossover. They are Damocles and The Sword. A bunch of mercenary bounty hunters (unrelated to The Mercs, but kinda related to The Bountyhunters) has found an Earth in an alternate dimension. The kind that both The Sword and his master Damocles have been asking about. This pleases Damocles, for now, he has found his next target! Oh yeah, this Earth is the WildStorm Earth, if you didn’t see where this was going, I really can’t help you.

thesword_001It’s time for us to better get to know these villains! First, we see The Sword and he’s got company. These four are a bit familiar to us, they’re The Bountyhunters that faced off with Gen13 a few issues ago. They’re there letting him know they failed to get the Qeelocke. It’s a big deal. The Sword’s boss Damocles needs easier ways to hop from dimension to dimension, and a Qeelocke would be much more effective. Currently, only The Sword can easily skip around from universe to universe, the other means of transfer gates personally offend Damocles and thus are only to be used sparingly.

Damocles lets The Sword and the Bountyhunters know that on the latest new Earth that they’ve found, there are creatures with Gen-Factor. That mean only one thing, there’s a representation of Damocles’ greatest enemy there; Sigma. Sigma apparently destroyed the world, as well as Damocles’ family. Damocles isn’t sure if they’ve found a different version of Sigma, or if it is the same Sigma that ruined everything for him. He tells The Sword to forget the Qeelocke, go to this new world and find Sigma.

The Sword and The Bountyhunters wind up in Gamorra following on a Gen-Factor hunt. You see, after another failed Gen-Factor science mishap, this time a clone of Sigma, Kaizen has unwittingly sent up a telltale sign to The Sword that Gen-Factor shenanigans are going on over here. The crew Sword-ports to Gamorra and confronts him. Kaizen, ever the smoothy, tells The Sword to learn more about the Gen-Factor that he needs to hunt down our old pal Dr. Tsung in San Francisco and bring him back to Gamorra. Oh, also, before that, Kaizen recommends that The Sword take out Winter in NYC. Kaizen lets The Sword know that Winter is the only real threat he’d have on this planet, so it’s best to get him out of the way first.

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You little stinker Kaizen! You’ve got quite the double cross going on here.

In a crazy turn of events, The Sword was able to take down Winter. That’s not good! Now he’s on his way to meet up with the rest of The Bountyhunters and their raid on Dr. Tsung’s house. Oh man, is this fake plan actually working for them?

sigma_001Okay, rewind back to before The Sword and pals are busting through the side of Dr. Tsung’s house. We meet Ethan McCain and he is having a hell of a day at college. Spilling acid on himself, contemplating joining a frat and watching the gal he has a crush on hanging out with a bigger oafish guy. All that and he’s being followed by some secret agent chick.

Once he gets back at home Ethan is involved in some kind of VR experiment with his adoptive dad. That dad just happens to be Dr. Tsung! Whaaaaa? I guess these are some kind of tests to open up Ethan’s Gen-Factor potential, but I’m really not sure. Dr. Tsung has also been pulling visuals from his nightmares to plug into the VR environment to test Ethan. One of these enemy combatants looks an awful lot like Damocles! Just as the test ends Dr. Tsung’s house is invaded by a bunch of Hunter-Killers sent by Kaizen. Ethan reacts on instinct and manages to fire some kind of multi-phasic energy blast! It works! Ethan has real powers! And it might be enough to take out some HKs, but suddenly he’s staring down The Sword and he knows things are only going to get harder!

deathblow_v1_026There’s really no time to worry for Ethan and Dr. Tsung as Team 7 arrives with Gen13 to try and even the odds/save the day. Oh, don’t forget that secret agent chick, too! Her name is Maggie Monroe and she’s there to protect Ethan and the doc. In a case of too little, too late The Sword manages to capture Dr. Tsung and the Bountyhunters nab Qeelocke and then ‘port back to Gamorra. Roxy jumps into the portal to save Qeelocke and ends up in Gamorra with Dr. Tsung and most of the bad guys for this arc. We also find out that Maggie was hired by Cray’s father to always watch out for and protect Dr. Tsung and Ethan as long as Miles Craven lives. With Craven dead, she thinks she’s out of a job, but after what she’s seen, she knows she needs to team up with this group of near strangers to save Dr. Tsung from Kaizen.

Back in Gamorra, Kaizen lets it slip to LeGauche that he’s planning to bring Craven back to life. Also, he contracts LeGauche to do a job for him while he’s in between masters. LeGauche teams up with Minotaur and his goons to murder a handful of United Nations members while they’re touring Zodome. The idea is to frame the rebels, such as Cybernary and her group, and have StormWatch come to Gamorra to protect Kaizen from anyone that could stop him from his ultimate goal of creating a Gen-Omega!

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Continuity Corner:

  • “Fire from Heaven” issue 1/2 might be able to have been read between issues 24 and 25 of “Deathblow” volume one. The science “accident” Kaizen had could account for the break in the connection that Craven experienced.
  • Man, that basketball scene in “Fire from Heaven” 1/2… Like I said, I’m pretty sure the blond kid is Ethan but you wouldn’t know it from the art or the fact and no one calls him by his name. Seriously, the only person named is the redhead girl, Laurie. Also, I think the woman that gets hit by the basketball is the secret agent Maggie Monroe who was hired to follow and protect Ethan, despite her looking nothing like what we see in “Sigma” issue 1.
  • We see Team 7 and Gen13 in “Sigma” issue 1, they’re on a plane that is called “a commandeered I/O stealth transport.” Later we’ll come to find that the jet wasn’t procured from I/O, it was taken from the WildC.A.T.s by Cole. That doesn’t keep it from being a plane that was built by I/O as we all know that Jacob had access to that kind of stuff. At least I think that’s what’s happening in “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 29. Either that or no one told Alan at the time where Cole was supposed to be and he wrote that before he was informed and then wrote “Fire from Heaven” issue 1.

NEXT: “Fire from Heaven” issue 1, “Backlash” issue 19 and “Gen13” volume two issue 10 by Alan Moore, Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Brandon Choi, J. Scott Campbell, Jim Lee, Ryan Benjamin, Ryan Odagawa, Chuck Gibson, Richard Friend, Mark Irwin, Mark Pennington, Alex Garner, JD, Tom McWeeney and Scott Williams

“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 25

This entry covers pages 18 – 22 of “Deathblow” volume one issue 24 and then all of issue 25 by Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner, Jeff Mariotte, Scott Kolins, Geof Isherwood, Trevor Scott and Rick Bryant.

deathblow_v1_025The Gen13 kids are on their way to meet Team 7 out in the wilds of Virginia. While the kids are wondering why they’re alone in the middle of nowhere, Lynch informs him that his old friends are already all around them. Cash, Cray, Dane, and Slayton emerge from the foliage to meet the young group. While most of the guys are either giving Lynch the business for becoming a “family man” or teasing Cray because of his report with Grunge, Roxy is the only thinking that, hey, one of these Team 7 guys could be her father. Is it a coincidence that all Team 7 members that are Gen13 fathers are dead or in hiding except for Lynch? Is there something here about not wanting our heroes to be dads for some reason?

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Soon the group comes upon the I/O towers. Team 7 and Gen13 are going to break into them to take the fight directly to Craven in revenge for stealing their Gen-Factor. As they’re figuring out the best way to break in, we see Craven sending LeGauche to Gamorra with the Gen-Factor extracts. He’s also giving other members of the Brethren (who are joined by another member named Animus) orders to keep everyone out of I/O at all costs. Finally, he calls up Kaizen, straps into some crazy contraption and starts an up-link to Gamorra and the Gen-Omega.

Craven’s idea of leaving the Brethren in charge comes to a head once Frank Colby clocks in. He immediately questions why the hell the Brethren is in the Tac-Ops department, and where the hell Alicia Turner is. The Brethren threaten Colby’s life and he relents to working with them. Just at that moment Team 7 and the Gen13 kids are breaking into I/O via the old service tunnels. Colby eventually meets the group in the service tunnel and agrees to help them continue to break into I/O. Colby is a straight shooter and even though he’s been seen as Craven’s stooge, he’s only been doing it for the better of his country. Until Craven shows exactly how crazy he is being, Colby will do as directed by him. Locking up Alicia and calling in the Brethren is too much for Colby to ignore. If Team 7 is at I/O to exact revenge, he’ll help them out.

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Well, Colby helped Team 7 and Gen13 right into a Black Hammer ambush. Uh oh! The two sets split up, Team 7 will handle the Brethren and the Black Hammers, Gen13 will take Colby and go rescue Alicia. After a few twists and turns, this eventually happens and the two teams are reunited to confront Craven. Well, kinda. Team 7 wants to take care of Craven themselves, leaving the Gen13 kids with Alicia and Colby outside of the crazy tech room where Craven is residing.

When Craven is confronted he starts spilling even more secrets that Gabrielle did an issue back. Turns out that Cray’s parents were killed by LaGuache on behalf of Craven because Craven was pissed that Cray Sr. helped Dr. Tsung get away with his research. Then, Craven, had Cray kill the man that had gotten the blame for the “terrorist attack” that ended up with both his parents dead. When I say that Craven is a certified dick, these are the kinds of things I’m talking about. Then Team 7 goes around and tells Craven exactly what he’s stolen from each of them. Suddenly, off-panel a gun goes off and Craven receives a single shot in the head. For now Craven is dead, and Team 7 can stand down for a night.

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Continuity Corner:

  • We pick up on page 18 of issue 24 of “Deathblow” because we need the Gen13 kids to get the call from the full Team 7 group at the end of “Gen13” volume two issue 9, and on page 17 Slayton isn’t with the crew yet. While I really hate to split up books in the middle of pages, I think this one is reasonable and necessary.
  • And yes, Grunge is sporting longer hair again, despite having it cut and a big deal made about it in “Gen13” volume two issue 8. It’s a bit of a common mistake that will plague a lot of Grunge’s depiction in the “Fire from Heaven” crossover.
  • Old service tunnels, the air duct system, a wall in a top level bathroom, all ways to break into I/O, and all but the last one are super obvious. What kind of high security are the I/O Towers supposed to have?
  • Colby full on admits to Lynch that if he was really Craven’s stooge, that Lynch wouldn’t have made it out of I/O after being caught in “Gen13” issue 0.
  • Wait, aren’t the Brethren Gen12 like Team 7 is? Why doesn’t Craven just steal their Gen-Factor? Are they not powered with the Gen-Factor? If not, why are they also labeled as Gen12? Or is it that because Craven likes the Brethren and hates Team 7 that he only wants to steal the Gen-Factor from them?
  • What exactly is Craven attempting to do in his tech room? He’s uploading himself to a new body, a Gen-Omega body soon to be chock fulla Team 7 Gen-Factor. This body was constructed by Kaizen Gamorra and is in Gamorra. Not sure why he’s spilling all this truth to Team 7 as he doesn’t think he’s really going to be dying. If he was dying what would he have to lose? Sure, tell away! But he plans on being back, in a younger body… so… uh… why give your enemies MORE reason to want to come after you?
  • We found out about Cray killing the supposed architect of the terrorist attack that killed his parents back in “Team 7 : Dead Reckoning.”
  • While it is never stated who fired the shot that killed Craven, I’ve always assumed it was Cray. Mainly because it is his book and the title of the book is “Deathblow.” Kinda works on two levels.

NEXT: “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issues 25 – 28 by Alan Moore, Travis Charest, Scott Clark, Aron Wiesenfeld, Kevin Nowlan, John Nyberg, Dave Johnson, Troy Hubbs, JD, Scott Williams, Dexter Vines and Bob Wiacek.