“Voodoo / Zealot : Skin Trade”

this entry covers the one shot “Voodoo / Zealot : Skin Trade” as well as the short story “Voodoo : Skin Game” from “Overstreet’s Fan” magazine issue 3.

VoodooZealotSkinTradeVol1_01This book… this effing book. Ok, let’s be serious for a minute, this book is basically a bunch of pin-ups arranged as a story. But trashier than that sounds. For all the cheesecake glory that is “Gen13” when compared to this book “Gen13” ends up looking rather tame. And, if I was a better reviewer, and thought this was the place to get into it, I’d comment on how WildStorm went from putting out a book like this, where the women are all posed as sexual objects first and to serve the story second, to eventually putting out books that dealt with a more mature take on sex and sexuality in such a small span of time. Not to mention how much ahead of the curve on that kind of thing they were in regards to DC and Marvel. But this isn’t the blog for that and I’d never do that argument justice anyway!

We catch up with Zealot training Priss in the ways of the Coda. Along for the “It’s Not the Danger Room!” session is Cole and Jeremy who both admonish Zealot for being too harsh with Priss. Little Big Jake tells Zealot that she needs to lay off of Priss a bit and she needs a break. Zealot storms off and is then confronted by Providence. Providence tells Zealot she has information about her Zealot’s previously unknown child and proceeds to give some long convoluted story of how it’s been cryogenically frozen and will still be a young kid. Also, it’s in Yurgovia and she should go save it. Most of this is a lie, but Providence needs to get Zealot to Yurgovia and Zealot will meet her kid, so she embellished a lot.

So why does Providence need to get Zealot to Yurgovia? Well, ok, remember Yurgovia from the “WildC.A.T.s Special”? Remember how there was this Coda gal named Destine that was running it? Remember how she died getting shot in the back by Cole? Welp, I guess it didn’t take because she’s back and she’s pissed. She’s out to take Yurgovia back from the people that’d been running it since she’d been assumed dead, and also to grow her own little branch of the Coda as well. She has a few recruits already and she’s looking for more to train, which means kidnapping the children of Yurgovia. In the end, it seems that Providence didn’t like all this, because who would, and vowed to put and end to Destine’s schemes. Oh, and Destine has a bit of “the Orb” that created her and Void and she means to have it back. Not that Providence went about it attaining her goals in any logical manner, she handed out half truths to Zealot and double crossed Destine.

Long convoluted plot short, a woman named Cathy is trying to save a bunch of Yurgovian kids from the horror on the civil war by secretly getting the kids to Greece. Providence says she’ll help her. Destine’s forces are after Cathy and the kids because one of the kids was supposed to be in Destine’s Coda Scouts troop. This girl has white hair. Destine encounters Providence, says she wants revenge on Zealot in exchange for her orblet. Providence provokes Zealot to show up, Zealot brings Priss under Jake’s orders. Everyone assumes the little white haired girl is Zealot’s kid. Priss and Zealot kick Destine’s ass, and eventually Zealot tosses the orb in the sky and Destine grabs it and blows up. This pisses off Providence, who basically tells Zealot to suck it. Zealot is all “No, you suck it, bitch, my kid ain’t even here! Also, why do you get hair and Void has to be bald?” To which Providence is all “Your kid is in the room, look around” and Zealot sees StormWatch, who’ve come to rescue the kids by order of the UN and sees Winter with his white hair.

I mean, ok it’s not just the white hair, it’s that Zealot left her baby with a Russian couple. Get this, unless you haven’t been paying attention, but Winter is Russian. I know, mind blown. Not sure why the white hair was such a big thing considering that [seriously, the WildStorm revelation that I’m not going to spoil yet] doesn’t have white hair. Now, I thought all the members of StormWatch were supposed’ve been superpowered by a magical comet, how come Winter gets to be half Kherubim?

That about wraps that one up. Except for the ladies go on vacation to Greece before they get back to New York. I mean it was the cover story that Zealot gave to Priss in the first place, and they did live it up for a few days before going to Yurgovia. So you know, why not, more excuses to draw the girls in bathing suits.

Let’s finish this off with another short story featuring Priss and Zealot written by Steven T. Seagle as well. Priss is out for a night on the town, she gets a letter and rose delivered to her from an anonymous admirer. The note says to meet her out back in the rose garden because most bars have those. Once she’s back there she’s attacked. Don’t worry, it’s only Zealot surprise testing her, seeing if she’d fall back on her Coda training or on her instincts. Priss fails and Zealot lets her know there’s going to be more homework because of this.

Continuity Corner:

  • Winter is Zealot’s kid, we all got that right? I mean he’s supposed to be, later we’ll get some background on Kheran mating practices and the rarity of births in “WildStorm Winter Special” no less more than one (that’s another spoiler kids, sorry). Maybe it works differently with Human and Kherans though…
  • This book makes mention of a book called “WildC.A.T.s : Ground Zero” that never came to be. It seems like it would’ve outlined the adventures Zealot was having, who Winter’s father was and how she dealt with her pregnancy.
  • When we last saw Destine in the “WildC.A.T.s Special” she looked much different. Long hair, red outfit. She still has black hair (which was sometimes drawn long in this issue) and some tech over her right eye, but other than that she looks like a new character. When first reading this a few years ago (yeah, this wasn’t a story I grew up with, I found it while doing research for this blog) I knew that I knew her, but I couldn’t recall from where due to the complete redesign.
  • We do get a few callbacks to the storyline in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 10 – 13 with mentions of Tapestry and how Providence snuck into the HALO building.
  • The art on this book is something else. Starts off pretty solid and then gets worse and worse as it goes one. Also, there was like 15 different inkers on this book. There’s a handful of miscolorings as well as a handful of speech bubbles going to the wrong characters. Not to mention that the “white haired girl” is always seen with black hair. This book was kind of a mess in the final act of the story.
  • Speaking of the art seriously, am I the only person who thinks all the visual references for Priss and Zealot were from the pages of nudie magazines? Was that the point considering the name of the book?
  • Was this book popular? I mean, it came out pre-internet so it should’ve been a hit based on the “artwork” alone, but I had never heard of it before doing research into WildStorm books, and I was a teenage boy and a WS fan when this came out.
  • Regarding the placement of the “Skin Game” short. I feel it is odd to see Priss using her “were-form” here, as we don’t see that until a bit later. But we really aren’t going to see it until they get into space, and once they’re back from space Priss quits the team. So when’s this training taking place? Ultimately, Priss’s were-form isn’t really too crazy of a deal, so it is fine that it makes it’s appearance here, but I’m torn if the story should come before or after the “Skin Trade” book or not. They seem to be on better terms with each other in “Skin Game” as a result of “Skin Trade” but, Zealot getting on Priss’s case for being out of practice in “Skin Trade” could be a reference to the events in “Skin Game.” Like I said, it could go either way.

NEXT: “WildStorm : Chamber of Horrors” by Ron Marz, Steven Grant, Merv, Jeff Mariotte, Bernie Wrightson, Alex Baily, Trevor Scott, Jason Johnson, Tom Raney, Aron Wiesenfeld, Chris Carlson, Al Vey, John Beatty and Alex Garner. As well as the short story “Portrait” by Ron Marz, Ryan Odagawa and Jon Holdredge.

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“WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 10 – 13

this entry covers “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 10 through 13 and two of the back-up stories, issue 11’s “Interlude: Mr. Majestic” and 13’s “the Price”. (Issue 10’s back-up story “Soldier’s Story” was covered earlier.)

WildCATsVol1_10-14I’m not going to mince words when these issues came out, I was really torn. I didn’t like them that much, but I really loved the new heroes it introduced. Well, not Huntsman so much, but Savant, Mr. Majestic, and Soldier! But that was back in the day when I didn’t have that much comic reading under my belt, and scarcely knew the name Chris Claremont. Now that I’ve grown up, and read all those classic X-Men back issues and I’m more on board with this run than I was as a kid. Hell, thanks to “Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men” I can’t help but hear some of Wu’s narration in their “Angry Claremontian Narrator” voice. I’m a more nuanced comic reader now that I’ve learned some more history… some 20 odd years later, and I actually kind of enjoy it. Mind you, not as much as I did later issues of “WildC.A.T.s” but I didn’t dislike this as much as I did in my youth.

The first issue in the arc kicks off with Zealot trying to combat train Priss down by the waterfront near New York. Now, I have no idea if this kind of area even exists in New York City, but it does in the WSU, so we’re going have to accept it. Priss isn’t high on becoming a Coda warrior and Zealot seems chill not to take it that far (well, chill as a clef blade to the neck) when suddenly a ship explodes into the sky featuring a wounded man named Alabaster Wu. Mr. Wu’s being pursued by a beast known as a Raksha. Zealot makes short work of the Raksha, decapitating it in front of Priss, as she goes to investigate the ship while Wu takes the hell off. Turns out, Wu knows Jacob, and he needs his help! But getting to Marlowe is easier than it sounds, as he’s being chased by Priss. Oh yeah, that cut up Raksha, it totally infected Priss, taking over her mind and body, giving her a mad on to hunt down Wu.

Zealot is working her way through the ship, and she comes upon a small and passed out girl. She vows to protect this child from the beasts and starts kicking some Raksha booty. Eventually, the girl’s protector, the Huntsman, shows up and they declare a truce after a bit of back and forth between them. During the battle, Zealot took some damage from a Raksha, and a Raksha has blood that’ll eff you up, it’s a “turn you into a literal Raksha” eff you up kind of problem, so Huntsman wants to help get Zealot someplace where they can get her some help. I mean, a good idea would be to go meet back up with the rest of the WildC.A.T.s, right?

Well, the rest of the team is busy. See, Wu got a hold of Jacob and Jacob goes to meet Wu alone. While this is happening, Raksha possessed Priss convinces the team that Wu is trouble and that they need to go save Jacob from him. So Void teleports the team to where Wu and Jacob are and they’re suddenly under attack from the Troika (Attica, H.A.R.M., and Slag) who are joined by Void Jr. AKA Providence. It’s all a set up by the true villains of the story, Tapestry and Lord Soma. They hired the Troika, who I guess brought Providence along for the hell of it, and are quite pleased to see a Raksha take over one of their enemies already, Priss.

Who is Tapestry? She’s some kind of witch that can undo your life’s events and rewrite them. Not sure if she’s overwriting these events in reality, or just in one’s brain. Either way, in the end, it’ll bend your personality to whatever Tapestry wants. Lord Soma? Oh, he hangs out with Tapestry. That’s about it. We’re not even sure if he’s a Kherubim or Daemonite high lord, like everyone else who has the title “Lord” in WildStorm books. Maybe Lord is just his first name, and his parents didn’t spell it “Lorde” because he’s a precious little snowflake with his gray skin, facial tattoos and on point mustache and soul patch game.

While all that is going down we cut away from the action to meet a young woman with a short haircut, who’s at an art gallery, getting hit on. She introduces herself as Cordelia Matheson, but we’ll quickly come to know her as Savant (AKA Kenesha AKA Zealot’s little sister AKA I ain’t spoiling the dumbest reveal in WSU history if you don’t know it already.) Zealot sent a message to her, because when there’s big trouble, like turning into a beastly alien trouble, you call family. Savant get’s a hold of our old friend Soldier, as it is up to her to round up the cavalry, mainly because I don’t think she knows about the rest of the WildC.A.T.s, not that it would do her much good right now anyway. Hell, the only other person she knows to call on is Mr. Majestic.

Who’s Mr. Majestic you ask? Mr. Majestic lives above the arctic circle and is basically Superman. I mean, so is Union, but Mr. Majestic more so. Also, he’s Kherubim, so he fits in the WildC.A.T.s side of the WildStorm Universe a bit better. He was also on Team One, so he knows Zealot and Marlowe at least. Savant, using her skills and artifacts, finds him, and talks him out of his self-imposed exile to help Zealot. And boom, he changes from a flannel and jeans to a full on superhero outfit, complete with cape, and he’s off to save the day.

Ok, back to the main action, Tapestry has royally messed with all of the WildC.A.T.s she can get her hands on, in one way or another, and they’re all beholden to her. To stave off become a Raksha, Zealot unleashes the powers that she learned from Tapestry in their shared history (more on that later.) So now Zealot has frizzed out hair and wields the same ability to rewrite souls/back stories (or what have you) that also Tapestry wields. Savant and Mr. Majestic show up and they are not having it! Hell, even Zealot knows it and is pissed that Savant took too long to get there to help her, and she had to manifest this unknown power. Hell, Zealot used it to take down Slag! While Savant, Mr. Majestic, Zealot and Huntsman are sitting around arguing, Zealot realizes that H.A.R.M. had been taken out, too! Turns out, that was thanks to our old buddy Cole, back from Chicago! Yay, Cole!

So, game plan time. Mr. Majestic, Savant, Cole, Soldier and Huntsman take on the Tapestry altered WildC.A.T.s, Zealot goes after Tapestry and Lord Soma, while everyone forgets about Priss. Don’t worry, Priss gets totally saved by the power of friendship from the two HALO employees that don’t have superpowers, go Stansfield and Jules! The fight mostly works and all the pieces fall into place, and in the end it is Huntsman who saves that day. He does it with a piece of the orb that gave Void and Providence their powers. Tapestry and Soma make their escape and the heroes are all kind of left standing around trying to figure out what to do with crazy god-mode Zealot.

How do you calm a crazy all powerful being? Well, Savant and Mr. Majestic want to kill her, and Zealot isn’t as opposed to it as much as everyone else is. It takes the combined powers of Priss, Mr. Majestic, and Zealot herself to get her back to the normal benevolent bitch that we all know and lover her as. Before Huntsman leaves, he kisses Zealot good-bye earning the ire of Cole and Priss. It’s fun to see those two together like that, as it doesn’t happen often, and was a highlight of the “WildC.A.T.s Special.” Then Priss lets Zealot know she’s ready for Coda training and Zealot basically says “you’ve earned it, kiddo!”

Ok, now time for the secret origin of Tapestry and her ties to Zealot in a story coda named “the Price.” Alright, Tapestry was once an old crone, who apparently always had her powers, not much is know beyond that. Savant had become poisoned somehow, so Zealot sought Tapestry out to fix her. Tapestry tells Zealot that the price of helping her sister will be 100 years of servitude, and because she can, she’ll remake Zealot into a subservient personality type for the next 100 years as well. Zealot submits, and it’s the end of the whole story. It even says “Fin” at the end, which is infuriating when you know how often Claremont likes to end stories with the text “the beginning” and how that would’ve been 100% relevant this time!

These issues really take me back. I had kinda stopped picking up mainstream comics on a regular basis around this time, focusing more on black & white independents, and  yeah,  it was a money issue. The only WSU title I’d keep up on was “Gen13.” Whenever I could scrape enough cash together, I would pick up issues like these at a drug store. I pretty much picked up 10 through 12 at the same time from a Walgreens (or Walgreens equivalent, coulda been a Rite Aid I guess) where their comics newsstand employee got too lazy to return unsold out of date comics. Their slacking off equaled my gain! I also read them in the back of a car that night. Why was I reading comics in the back of a car as a teenager? Well, my best friend was bringing me along on would-be-dates with a girl he wasn’t into, I was supposed to be running interference, but I was too dense to get that at the time and ended up mostly staying out of the way. Too into comics, not enough into the real world, yup, I was that kid! (A revelation shocking no one.)

Continuity Corner:

  • I know I’m reading too much into things, but we have a ship, bursting into the air out of nowhere, and a bad guy yelling about chasing Alabaster Wu across one or a thousand worlds, and I’m starting to think “Is this the first time we have a reference to “the Bleed” and a type of Carrier? Nah, you’re right I’m just reading into things too much again.
  • Is it a shame that we don’t see Tapestry again until “Savant Garde” issue 3? Nah, she was only an OK villain in the end, wasn’t she?
  • I always assumed that Majestic went into his self-imposed hiding because of “killing” John Cole back during the Team One days, but how is that represented by a dolly? Is there something that we’re not knowing? Something that seemed like a good idea at the time, but after Alan Moore took a crack at Majestic it no longer made a lot of sense? I can’t remember, is the dolly or an incident regarding a child ever made clear or referenced again?
  • I really have to hand it to the WildC.A.T.s creative crew. Just because Cole was gone for a handful of issues, they didn’t have to try and release “the Kindred” in real time alongside them. Just because Cole is gone for 4 issues in “the Kindred” Vol. 1 doesn’t mean he has to be missing from halfway through issue 8 of “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 until the last few pages of issue 12. I mean, ok, yeah, it is that sort of thing that kept me thinking about WildStorm all these years and eventually lead me to want to create this blog in the first place but…

NEXT: “Voodoo / Zealot : Skin Trade” by Steven T. Seagle, Michael Lopez and Gary Martin (with Jeff Albrecht, Rick Bryant, John Lowe, Tom Raney, Edwin Rosell, Josef Rubenstein and John Tighe.)

“Savage Dragon” Vol. 2 issue 13

this entry covers “Savage Dragon” Vol. 2 issue 13, the Image X-Month version written by Brandon Choi and penciled by Jim Lee.

savagedragonvol2_13Alright, right at the top, why am I doing an issue of “the Savage Dragon?” Well, listen up kids, here’s a story about the craziness of ’90s comics and it’s called “Image X-Month!” See, “Image X-Month” was a “clever” “marketing” “ploy” that was a lot more fun than was intended. In it, each of the 6 Image Comics founders, would take on an issue of another Image Comics founder’s main book. I mean, each book was pretty closely tied to each of the creators, so this would be a silly little shake up. I only picked up Eric Larsen doing “WildC.A.T.s” and Jim Lee doing “the Savage Dragon” as I was picking up “WildC.A.T.s” regardless, but I wanted to see the other side of the coin with Lee and Choi doing “the Savage Dragon.” Little did I know it was going to end up being a pretty important Grifter book!

Seriously though, and I’ll get into this in a few weeks, but Eric Larsen gave us a pretty fun little “WildC.A.T.s” book for Image X-Month. Sure, Savage Dragon and the Freak Force figure into the story, but it is mostly a “WildC.A.T.s” cross-over issue. In “the Savage Dragon” the Dragon is a mere bit player. If I was a “Savage Dragon” fan back then, I would’ve felt super short changed! Not sure how the other four books fared, but this always seemed a bit unbalanced to me, even though I was basically getting what I wanted, a Grifter solo book!

So we pick up with Cole and Alicia Turner living it up in Chicago. We find out that this is the old stomping grounds of Cole, he grew up in Chicago, not only that, but he used to do some work for the mob as well. The mob is alive and well in Image’s Chicago, as regular readers of “Savage Dragon” know. One booth over and there is some of that well-known mob action going down. Also, out on the street, the Savage Dragon and some of Chicago’s finest are monitoring the situation.

Of course, a fight breaks out. Mobsters never do mob stuff subtly anymore. Cole, seeing bullets flying gets in on the action too. Whether it’s to protect Alicia or just shoot some obviously bad dudes, it’s unclear, actually, it’s probably both. The main guys shooting up the joint are Spetsnaz and Max, and they are shooting on behalf of a new wanna-be boss named Demonseed. It’s at this point I wish I’d read “the Savage Dragon” because seeing Demonseed, who has a Darth Vader Mask on under the bubble dome on his bright red armor, that has bat wings, being taken as a credible mob boss type is nuts. But, as not a regular “Savage Dragon” reader, I guess I don’t know what Dragon nemesis Overlord looks like, so this could be keeping in line with the tone of the book. Cole recognizes Spetsnaz clearly, and Max a bit, before Max fires a bullet at Cole that causes him to pass out. Then the Savage Dragon and the police kick down a wall to join the fight. Some of the mob guys have goddamn “flash suits” and the Dragon’s partner gets shot up by Spetsnaz as he and Max get away. As sad as that all is, all I’m thinking is that “flash suits” are still hella-dumb.

Next thing we know Cole is waking up in a hospital and getting grilled by the Dragon. It doesn’t last long as Alicia soon turns up pulling US government rank on behalf of I/O to get Cole out of there. While Alicia wants to get Cole to safety, he knows that he has to go find this Max character.

What is so special about Max you ask? Turns out, he’s Cole’s little brother. Not only that, apparently he’s also an I/O secret agent, infiltrating the Chicago mob scene. While Cole is off talking to his bro filling the readers in on the former, Alicia is looking up I/O files figuring out the latter. Bad news for Alicia, this is when Spetsnaz breaks into her hotel and kidnaps her, leaving a note for Cole, written in lipstick on the mirror, like some horrible 1980’s urban legend. Of course during the kidnapping someone in a neighboring room called the cops, so when Cole shows up, so does the Dragon. This series of near-misses and misunderstandings is hitting a “Three’s Company” kind of level.

So Cole fills the Dragon in on what’s going down. There’s an arm’s shipment at the docks for Demonseed, so he and Spetsnaz will be there to collect. Also, they have Alicia. Also, Cole has a guy on the inside, Max. The team up happens, the Dragon and Cole burst in guns blazing, Max jumps in and as soon as Alicia is free she also picks up a gun. Demonseed and Spetsnaz are on the run, trying to get away in a small boat when Cole opens a crate to find a rocket launcher and blows the escape boat to hell.

And that’s it, team up over. The Dragon feels like he got what he wanted, the bad guys and their weapons off the streets, so he has no reason to detain or delay the Cash brothers or Alicia any longer. Max and Cole exchange hugs and catch up a bit, and now it’s time for Cole to Alicia to head back to New York.

Continuity Corner:

  • I’d always had this happening right before “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 14, the other Image X-Month book, but I realized, we have Cole here with Alicia and not in New York. It makes the most sense that this is post “the Kindred” series and before his return to New York in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 12.
  • When Cole is in the hospital we’re introduced to nurse Ann Stevens. We’ll see much more of her in “WildC.A.Ts” Vol. 1 issue 14.
  • This is the first we see of Max Cash AKA Max Proffit, who will become a big player in the book in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 21.
  • Real world moment, Cole and Max’s secret spot is up on top of this apartment building across the street from Wrigley Field where they would watch Cubs games together. I’m trying to figure out where this could be. I grew up in Illinois, I made it to a handful of Cubs games, and have hung around the general Clark & Addison area, can’t think of any logical place this could be. Then again, it’s been ten years since I’ve been around there, there could be gaps in my memory.

NEXT: “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 10 – 13 by Chris Claremont, Jim Lee and Scott Williams (with H. K. Proger, Ryan Benjamin, Dan Norton, Richard Johnson, Al Vey, Tom McWeeny and Karl Story)

Maul : Thinking Big

this entry covers the short story “Maul : Thinking Big” from “WildStorm Rarities”

wildstormraritiesThis is the only original story that was in “WildStorm Rarities.” It’s like when a band puts a new single on a greatest hits album. Fine, the completest in me will buy it… but I’m not happy about it! Actually, that’s not entirely true, until “WildStorm Rarities” came out I had never seen the prolog to “the Kindred.” Other than that though, I had all the other shorts tracked down, but I can see how difficult that could be and why others wouldn’t.

Anyway, we see Jeremy, about ready to go on vacation with his ladyfriend Brooke. They’re at an airport, which I can only assume is in New York, and it is snowing quite heavily.  While Brooke is grilling Jeremy on what exactly his job is at Halo, we see a plane start to get out of control on the runway. It’s headed for the tower.

Jeremy manages to shake Brooke, go all Maul and try to save the plane. To save the lives of the passengers Maul is going to need to be both smart and strong, two things he can’t do at the same time. So he keeps switching from too big to think but and then shrinking down to see his mistakes and growing again to fix them, but once again find that he was too big/dumb to consider how things could get botched. After a few tries, he gets it right, but the plane is a loss, even if the passengers are fine. Also, he assumes, his relationship to Brooke is a total loss.

Lucky for Dr. Stone, Brooke saw the whole thing and it doesn’t make a bit of difference to her that he’s some kind of super-hero. She seriously says that she’s dated weirder. Their flight gets canceled due to weather, and to giant green and purple guys on the tarmac, so they decide to spend Jeremy’s weekend off doing… other things…

Point of Clarity :

  • I once thought this issue came shortly after issue 8 or 9 of “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1. I was wrong. In the spirit of honesty, I’ve left several of my previous notes unedited but struck through and corrected where wrong.

Continuity Corner: 

  • The last first time we saw Brooke was in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 8 when Reno and Jeremy ran into her and her friend Ashley at an art show. I’m sure it’s just an artist reference mistake, but Brooke is drawn like Ashley. That or Brooke went full on “Single White Female” and assumed Ashley’s look.
  • The last time we actually saw Brooke (with her original look from “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. issue 8) is in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 37 where Jeremy was drug away from a fancy dinner date with her by the Puritans.
  • In reality, this short story could also go after this next lot of “WildC.A.T.s” issues, but having it here it shows what Jeremy was up to before being summoned by Void in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 10. Well, I was wrong, the only really place for it is near the end of the run. In issue 37 Jeremy is taken by the Puritans and Brooke has no idea why he’s being summoned away. At the end of this story Brooke very well knows Jermey’s alter ego and obviously doesn’t here. Also, Jeremy doesn’t make it back to New York City or is off duty until after issue 49 to meet back up with Brooke. Ultimately the story reads anywhere after issue 50, and before “Wildcats” Vol. 2 issue 1. It can slot in between Vol. 1 issue and “WildC.A.T.s Annual” or between that and “WildC.A.T.s / Aliens” or after that as long as it is before the first issue of Vol. 2.
  • Another good reason to have it before issue 10 and not after issue 13 is seeing how hung up Jeremy gets about seeing his ex Margo in issue 14. I know, it’s possible to be in a new relationship and still care about an ex, but also the way he also turns down Ann is that he includes every excuse except for “and I already have a girlfriend” so I assume they’d broken up by then. Jeremy’s a good guy and cares for former loves, I shouldn’t be such a jerk.
  • Another blogger brought this up, and it’s something I’ve been thinking over for a bit myself, but does anyone else think H. K. Proger a pseudonym? Little is known about them and they are usually credited as writer for short stories, usually containing a lot of continuity connective tissue, until a short run on StormWatch. In this story, H. K. has a credit of “dialogue” which is a hell of an odd credit for a story like this. The mystery of H. K. Proger will always haunt me…

NEXT: “DV8” Preview and issues 14 through 18 by Mike Heisler, Tom Raney, Jason Johnson and Randy Elliot

“Gen13” Vol. 1

this entry covers all five issues of volume 1 of “Gen13” also known as the “Gen13” miniseries.

Gen13Vol1_01-05At long last, John Lynch becomes the hero that he was always destined to be! I mean, we still have almost the entire page run of “Gen13” Vol. 1 before we get to that! And it’s about damn time! It might be obvious, but much of how the early part of my reading chronology is arranged is watching the heroic rise of John Lynch. Look at the section named “Part 1 : WildStorm Rising” and you’ll find “Gen13” Vol. 1 right smack in the middle of it! Maybe I’m not being clear, but “Gen13” was one of my favorite books when I was younger, with “WildC.A.T.s” being a close second and I always thought a lot about John Lynch and his history.

I fanboyed hard for this book, I even bought 2 copies of each issue so I could cut out the coupon and mail away for what ended up being “Gen13” Vol. 2 issue 0. I gave my cut up versions to my Cousin Sean, just to spread that WildStorm love! I remember getting that 1/2 issue from my friend Randy because I’d missed out on that issue of “Wizard.” I should reverse that, at the time Randy wasn’t my friend, but a good acquaintance who was also into comics and ska music who I formed a solid friendship with years later. But issues 0 and 1/2 are still a bit of time away, for now, we need to get to issue 1!

This issue opens in the late ’70s with Stephen and Rachael Callahan getting taken down! In front of their children, lil Matthew and Nicole, how horrible! Even worse, Frank Colby was the trigger-man on Stephen! Well, that might be worse for us, see, we know both of these characters, I’m not sure at that time if Colby knew Callahan or not, but he did need to be convinced to pull that trigger. After that, the team from I/O brings in the kids as instructed, fulfilling Dane’s warning in “Team 7: Dead Reckoning” that “Craven wants your children.”

Ok, we skip to the relative present and meet Caitlin Fairchild, a Princeton student at the end of her sophomore year. She suddenly is getting an offer for a Summer internship that she knows nothing about. Well, we know what it’s about, it’s H.B.I.C. of I/O’s Sci-Tech department, Ivana Baiul’s Project Genesis, now renamed Project Gen13. This is the closest that Miles Craven will ever come to having his own team of super-powered beings… and still, it fails for him. If he wasn’t such an evil bastard, I’d feel sorry for him. But, yeah, this entire “Summer internship” is just a cover for what’s really going on out here, and by out here I mean in a government compound built into a goddamn mountain in the Nevada desert. Several children of Gen12 parents are brought here in order to see if they can get their powers to manifest and in turn work for I/O.

Caitlin soon comes to find herself as part of Pod 7, where her and her pod-mates, Grunge, Roxy, and Bobby, are subject to a battery of physical tests. These tests are set up to see if they are indeed gen-positive and will manifest powers or not. Not only does it include weight lifting and treadmill running, but also being placed into an “incubation” tube. If that wasn’t enough, the food in the commissary is full of drugs meant to jumpstart the student’s latent powers.

While up late one night feeling sick due to her gen-factor kicking in, Caitlin discovers Roxy and Grunge goofing off after hours. This leads to a full on altercation with the security team at the Nevada base. Which in turn leads to a group of I/O’s Keepers to start chasing them down. When the kids hit a dead end, suddenly, to the rescue is Bobby and Rainmaker along with a mysterious new pal that turns out to be Matthew Callahan in disguise.

Oh wait, I hadn’t told you about what happened to Matthew and Nicole after being captured. They were raised by I/O and they’re kinda messed up because of it. Ivana seems to have done a number on Matthew personally, and Nicole is suffering from what seems to be all kinds of abandonment issues. Also, unlike their Gen13 (the team) counterparts, they usually go by their code names full time, so from now on, I’ll pretty much call them Threshold and Bliss.

Ok, so Threshold in disguise leads the Gen13 kids out into the Nevada desert and tells them that they need to take the fight back to I/O and Ivana. It’s all just a ruse to see in their powers will activate under pressure. Everyone except for Grunge has, and is using their powers by the end of it. Caitlin makes it clear she’s done fighting, so she stays behind as the others return to the compound and get captured. She gets a psychic flash from Roxy saying that she and the others are in trouble and she grabs a gun and is headed towards the compound to get her buds back.

If only breaking back into the compound was easy. Ok, actually it was. But once inside Caitlin encounters a huge hulking noseless beast named Pitt. Pitt was brought to this compound by Lynch, as he re-enters the narrative. Lynch picked him up, and as I/O protocols say, until he can get a captured threat to a more secure location, that he is to house any capture at the nearest I/O location, in this case, the Nevada compound. Lucky for Pitt, his buddy Timmy was captured by Ivana for being possibly gen-positive, so that’s what Pitt was doing in that area in the first place. Anyway, Pitt breaks free as Caitlin is on the search for her pals, and they start to tussle. Not sure why I don’t have as big of a problem w/ Pitt being in these comics, as I did w/ Youngblood in WildCATs. Perhaps, like Savage Dragon, we don’t need to know too much about Pitt’s backstory. Also, by tieing Timmy and his possible powers into it, it gives us a bit more of a narrative reason for them to be there whether we know the characters are not.

Caitlin and Pitt continue to fight until they fall through enough floors that they’re right in front of Lynch and Ivana. Meanwhile, Grunge finally manifests his powers and knocks out Threshold and as they begin their escape they find the hole left by Caitlin and Pitt’s fighting. As Caitlin and Pitt are lying in front of Ivana and Lynch, Lynch gives the order for his men to stand down, as there’s been too much destruction already. Ivana pissed off at that statement, and at Lynch in general, just starts shooting up both her and his soldiers. The rest of the Gen13 kids catch up, Pitt and Timmy escape, and the fight just gets bigger.

Lynch sees that the kids are pretty good at what they do, battling back the Keepers, but he thinks their inexperience could get them killed. Lynch calls in his experimental task group, the Black Hammers, and helps the kids escape. When asked why he would do this, he relates to them the story of Team 7 and their fathers. Basically, we’re watching a man as he realizes his career is crumbling as he has far too much doubt about what the company he’s worked for has done to the world, and to the children of his friends. So he sends the kids down a garbage chute and goes to confront Ivana.

Ivana is busy freezing and trying to get gen-active kids into transport to continue Project Genesis elsewhere. When Lynch gets to her he finds out that she’s replaced much of her body with robotics. That bionic bitch! After she gets Lynch to use his powers to save himself she takes off in her helicopter and activates a self-destruct sequence on the compound, knowing that using his powers tuckers Lynch out. But Lynch still as access to the Black Hammers, who save his ass, and not a moment too soon! While all that was going down, the Gen13 kids were getting their asses kicked by Threshold until Rainmaker manages to get ahold of Bliss and reach a stalemate. With Lynch and the Black Hammers arriving, the stalemate is over and the two Callahan kids take off. Lynch agrees to take the kids underground and help them find a way to do something good with their powers. It’s a sweet ending to a pretty sweet comic.

Unlike a lot of the comics at the time, this was a pretty straight forward story. I’ve complained earlier about the wonderful mess that is many of these books. One of the reasons I think that “Gen13” caught on right away was the storytelling in both the art and the script. It didn’t constantly double back, it didn’t toss in a bunch of unnecessary information, it was just some good comics! But there are a few lingering questions, not so much story related ones either…

John Lynch has always been called “the Nick Fury of the WSU”. I find it interesting that they took that character type to be the mentor to the WSU’s teen team group. It was a good call, but I’ve always wondered whose call that was. Was it always intended that Lynch would leave I/O at some point? Or was it a choice Lee & Choi made once they wanted to do Gen13? I have so many questions just about the creation of this book!

Grunge ends up being the only character that goes by his “code name” at all. I mean, OK, in all reality Fairchild and Rainmaker’s code names are just their last names, and Bobby does go by Burnout every now and again. Is Roxy ever called anything but Roxy? She’s called Freefall so infrequently it’s kind of hilarious that she was ever given a code name of any sort.

Of all the gen-active kids, we know precious few of their parents. If we’re talking both Gen13 and DV8 we know of only 8 of their lineage (Roxy, Caitlyn, Grunge, Bobby, Sarah, Matthew, Nicole, and Rachel) and that’s only from 5 different Gen12 parents. Where the hell did all these other kids come from in Project Genesis?

Continuity Corner:

  • Ivana Baiul got her version Project Genesis started in “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 0 back in the late ’70s (when the Gen13 kids were just tiny tots) and we see it in full swing with the recruitment of Rainmaker in “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 8.
  • Had “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 5 – 12 actually happened, it’s pretty funny to have Lynch refer to Pitt as an “S.P.B. biker” in issue 9, hell, it’s pretty funny either way.
  • Final pages of “Gen13” Vol. 1 issue 5 show the set up for “DV8”, with Ivana freezing and stealing the bodies of other Gen-Active kids, but it still takes so long for us to get there!
  • Going by the 3 kids on ice that we get a good look at, it could be argued that two of them are Rachel Goldman and Hector Morales but I don’t know that we ever see the third one make another appearance. Then again, when they unfreeze Jocelyn Davis again in “DV8” issue 11, it’s implied that Ivana still has many gen-actives on ice somewhere, who don’t suit her needs and therefore remaining frozen.
  • Speaking of “DV8,” if Colby didn’t know Callahan when he shot him in issue 1, we find out in “DV8” issue 30 that Colby went to great lengths to save the (now retconned to be) severely wounded Callahan. That Colby, always surprising you! (EDIT: commenter Arclight points out that Colby indeed knows Callahan and with out saying it basically said “look at the panel again and read it, ya dummy!” Just kidding, Arclight didn’t really imply that, but yeah, they’re right! See their comment below.)
  • Oh, Helga! I loved this character. No nonsense tough gal. As much as I always thought there could be some kind of place for her to come back, when she did in Vol. 2 issue 50… it was kinda…well, horrible.
  • Bit of a real-time calendar S.N.A.F.U. but “Gen13” Vol. 1 issue 1 takes place in May/June 1994, and “WetWorks” Vol. 1 issue 5 takes place in November-ish of 1994. I’m sure there’s a way to move all this kind of stuff around to get it to even out correctly… but frankly I don’t know that you could ever get it perfect enough, I mean in all reality “Gen13” Vol. 1 issue 2 was coming out shortly after “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 8, and that was quite a while ago by my reading chronology. I also tend to arrange in story arcs for the best reading experience, while knowing a lot of these stories are happening at the same time, so yeah, little inconsistencies (to me at least) are bound to happen.
  • Speaking to the marketing, in the letter column for issue 4 it said to watch for the upcoming issue 6 after the mini-series was over. Part of me was glad they restarted the series, but on the other hand that put the second issue of volume 2 smack dab in the middle of “WildStorm Rising” not the best marketing move for a new book.
  • The orginal name for this book was “Gen-X” and was marked in other WildStorm comics as such, but that soon ran into some copyright issues with Marvel, who had planned on launching a book called “Generation X” as part of it’s X-Men line. Not sure if lawyers got involved, or just a “Hey, knock it off” kind of phone call, but the name had to be changed. If you’re wondering why they got to “Gen13,” it’s because an alternate name for what we currently call Generation X was The 13th Generation (among several others). In the end, I think it ended up becoming a much better name for the group. Much more distict and doesn’t feel as dated as the term Gen-X would become.

NEXT: StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 10 by Ron Marz and Dwayne Turner

“WetWorks” Vol. 1 issues 4 through 7

this entry covers “WetWorks” Vol. 1 issues 4 through 7.

WetworksVol1_04-07The thing about “WetWorks” is, is that it isn’t as ingrained into the greater WildStorm Universe as the other titles, especially the launch titles. Sure, Dane was a member of Team 7, but considering that he also seems like the victim of a mind wipe/personality overhaul, it comes off as tenuous at best. I know I’ve said this before, but these issues kind of get to the heart of it. The WetWorks team is so busy hunting down the Night Tribes that they don’t have time for dealing with the craziness of the Daemonites… usually… but when a certain vampire wants to speak to a certain Daemonite Lord… well I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

Deep below San Fransisco is a massive base owned by Armand Waering, and it is home to his personal new team. They were once Team 7 Jr., but now they’re WetWorks. Or that’s what we the readers call them, do they ever call themselves that? I mean, sometimes the WildC.A.T.s called themselves that, but not often. And for that matter did Gen13 ever call themselves that at all? I certainly don’t recall that. Team names in the WSU; sometimes they’re not used. Anyway, down deep in this underground lair is Dozer who is growing seriously huge, so huge the guy is confined to this basement level while Waering’s people are trying to figure out how to help him. Grail is chilling with Dozer telling him that he symbiotes are just giving each one of them what they really want. He suggests that Dozer just aways wanted to be big, just like Tom Hanks. But wait, it’s time for a mission!

The mission takes us South America, near the Columbian/Amazonas border. There’s a lab there, and it seems that Drakken and his men are meeting up there with a mysterious figure. WetWorks are out to get Drakken so they’re on their way! Waering and co. weren’t the only one to get the message of Drakken’s whereabouts, Miles Craven does too! Thing is, homeboy knows who Drakken is meeting with, a Daemonite Lord named Defile. Santini (yay Santini!) suggests taking some Black Razors and blasting the hell out of the place, but Craven says he has plans, his puppets will move as he wishes. I’m not sure what Craven’s ultimate plan was. We have the bait for both WetWorks and WildC.A.T.s meeting up. Did he plan for a huge fight? To take out one team or the other? Not sure as to what Craven wanted to happen, because as soon as WetWorks starts shooting Defile takes off, and as soon as the WildC.A.T.s show up, it’s enough of a distraction for Drakken to escape. With both of their enemies gone, the fight between the two teams dissipates quickly and the ‘C.A.T.s are exiting right as Cash starts to recognize Dane.

Alright, following that mess it’s time for leave of action! Grail visits his ex-fiance, lets her think he’s an angel, coming to say goodbye one last time. Jester and Claymore go get drunk, and while sobering up the next morning, Claymore drops a coffee mug into Jester! Waering finally reveals to the reader that he’s a werewolf, and also the leader of all werewolves know as the Jaquar.

On the vampire side of things we see the Blood Queen as she is about to address her loyal pointy toothed subjects. Seems like every 50 years or so she does this. But this year, her brother Drakken attacks her men! Oh no! He’s leading a coup to take over the vampire nation! Waering gets wind of all this and is fearful that is Drakken wins, that means the current truce between the Night Tribes and Humanitiy may be broken, he of course blames Dane and the rest of his team. Drakken in the end does convince many of the vampire families that he should be the one in charge… this does not look good for WetWorks

Also not looking good for WetWorks is that Mother-One is talking to entity known only as “Mother” who doesn’t seem to be on Waering’s side. We also see that Pilgrim finds that when she’s going undercover for trackib, she goes deep undercover, like invisible and stuff. This comes in handy as all of sudden on a mission an alternate universe version of Pilgrim pops up to attack her. This alternate version of Pilgrim infers that she’s been killing several different version of herself in several different universes, and our Pilgrim is the last to go. She mentions there’s a prize to be had as well, this is kind of reminding me of the movie “the One” in a way. I’d be more sure if I’d seen that movie more than once, and I wasn’t completely intoxicated at the time. Either way, during the fight our Pilgrim accidentally trips a “safety command” that takes both her and alternate Pilgrim back to alternate Pilgrim’s alternate universe. Alternate.

And that’s where they leave the reader. Cliffhanger for sure! Waering unhappy with Dane and the team. Drakken in charge of all the vampires. Mother-One having a mystery friend and Pilgrim so very far from home!

Continuity Corner:

  • I guess in reality issues 4 and 5 could come earlier in the sequence and not change too much, I’d put them before “Backlash” issue 1, but I like keeping Slayton’s story arc of hunting down the Daemonite that put Diane in a coma all together.
  • To be fair, issues 6 and 7 don’t even need to really be filed together either, just drop them both in sometime before “WildStorm Rising” and you’d be fine continuity wise.
  • Another reason I group these issues all together is that we don’t ever get to spend enough time with the “WetWorks” crew due to the high number of team members and the low number of issues coming out. So getting a blast of four that follow a small arc together helps me at least, keep everything and everyone straight.
  • Speaking of issues slow to come out, the next issue we meet up with the WetWorks team will be during the “WildStorm Rising” cross over. Yeah, it’s a long time before we see these cats again!
  • One last thing about keeping these four issues in a group here, is that we get the canonical first reunoin of Cash and Dane, in “WetWorks” Vol. 1 issues 4 and 5, sure, they re-meet again in that “Deathblow” story that never happens and then once they see each other in “WetWorks” Vol. 1 issue 8, they comment on their meeting in issue 5. Because the “Deathblow” arc never happened we’re clear either way, but them not commenting on “Hey, didn’t I just see you?” in the pages of “Deathblow” seems a bit odd to me. Sure, it doesn’t break anything, or create any kind of big continuity error, but for me it is just a bit cleaner.
  • Look, it’s Defile and his rude boy zombie, up to no good as usual.
  • Nice touch that when the WildC.A.T.s pop in that Marlowe isn’t there with the team, after all, he quit the team in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 9.
  • At this point in the WSU, I think this is our first “alternate universe” mention. Up until the introduction of the Bleed in “StormWatch” Vol. 2 issue 7 we don’t even get that many of them. We have the ones mentioned by alternate Pilgrim, the Sideways from “Union” Vol. 2 issues 5 and 6, and that’s all I can recall.
  • Issue 7 also introduces us the first part in a series of back-ups entitled “the Lone One : a Story Every Vampire Knows.” This series stops and starts as the back-up several times, so I’ll tackle it all a bit later.

NEXT: “Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.S : Grifter VS. Daemonite” special edition issue 1 by Dan Vado, Terry Shoemaker and John Holdredge

“Blood and Faith”

this entry covers the short story “Blood and Faith” starring Team 7 from the “WildStorm Halloween : Trilogy of Terror”

wildstormhalloweentrilogyofterrorTo be honest, I’d completely forgotten about this story. The “Gen13” short in this collection stuck with me, but “Team 7” one didn’t, and more than likely I never read the “WetWorks” one back in the day. Perhaps it was because the “Gen13” story was set in the modern continuity of the time and both the “Team 7” and “WetWorks” stories both had to have notations as to when they occurred. You expect that with “Team 7” but “WetWorks” get your stuff together!

This is an odd little story, featuring just a small number of Team 7 members, and set before they got their any kind of special abilities. I know this for sure because in the table of contents it tells me so. And by smaller team, I basically just mean who the readers really care about: Lynch, Dane, Cray, Cash, Fairchild and Chang. That’s right, we don’t have to suffer through Slayton being a dick or Callahan standing around. Filling the “Oh damn, I keep forgetting about this guy” roll that Callahan usually steps into for the artist, is Chang. The dude is usually seen from the back, and the only frontal drawing of him is covered up by a word balloon!

Ok, onto the story, it’s the early ’70s and there’s trouble on the Yucatan Peninsula. Seems like there’s a group of revolutionaries that want to take the land of their heritage (the Mayans) back from the Mexican government. Big Mexico doesn’t like that, and calls their pals in the US government for Team 7 to make an “unofficial” visit. Running with the revolutionaries is a man by the name of Terence Crandall, he seems like he’s a reporter that wants to witness and document what is going on with the revolutionaries. That isn’t true, what he’s really doing is looking for is the temple of Mayan bat god named Camazotz. While Crandall finds his temple in a cave, Team 7 is making short work of the revolutionaries.

Team 7 is indeed taking out all the revolutionaries, Dane sees the cave, and he never leaves a job half done, even if I/O said it was fine to leave a few of the rebels alive. Once inside the cave, half of Team 7, Dane, Lynch and Fairchild see Crandall reviving Camazotz and having his form take over the mummified body of a long dead Mayan king. This crazy creature really takes it to Team 7, for a bag of bones it is really scrapping hard.

Fairchild doesn’t do much except get almost strangled to death, Dane brings the firepower and Lynch tries to stab the bat god in the chest. Also Dane butts Crandall in the head with gun to knock his crazy ass out. As Fairchild gets free all three of them leg it out of the cave with Camazotz screaming about a curse he’s placing on them and their blood. Once they are to safety, Chang blows the hell out of that cave, and Lynch swears nothing can survive, they’re finally in the clear… not so fast, Johnny boy!

Somehow Crandall survives the explosion, and vows revenge on all of Team 7, but he’ll becoming for Dane first. He’ll do it, too, in the third part of comic, but not for several more years. And indeed does Camazotz’s curse bear fruit later on, too! The bat god just didn’t count on Fairchild and Lynch’s kids having powers to thwart him. We’ll read and talk about those stories, all in good time.

Continuity Corner:

  • Because this story is set pre-powers it would’ve been a perfect time to include Johnson, Diaz, Rhodes, MacNamara or even Breckmann, but nah, let’s stick to what people really wanna see, and that’s the Gen13 dads kicking some ass!
  • It does kind of feel odd to read this story so far ahead of the other two, but we’re going by a timeline dammit, and it’s already messed up enough with me forgetting about short stories like these as it is!
  • Also, it’s great how all these stories tied together. At first I wasn’t really sure why it wasn’t just two stories, a Team 7 and a Gen13 one, just because of how tightly those two stories are tied together. But “Trilogy of Terror” is a better title, just wish they would’ve had the third story be about a crazy haunted time in Cray’s life instead. But that’s me, I just dig Cray!

Next: “Team 7” by Chuck Dixon, Aron Wisenfeld, Trevor Scott, Scott Williams, JD, Alex Garner and John Tighe

One fanboy's chronological journey through the Wildstorm Universe