Tag Archives: Amanda Reed

“Backlash” 17 & 18

This entry covers “Backlash” issues 17 and 18 by Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Mel Rubi, John Tighe, Mark Irwin and Mark Pennington.

backlash_017Slayton is feeling odd ever since he woke up to save the day against that space-vampire. Where can a guy go to see what’s up with his crazy bod? Why not the guy who’s been like a doctor to you for the last several years? That’s right, Slayton drops in on his old pal Link from StormWatch. Link is happy to oblige, as well as meet Jodi and Amanda.

As soon as the tests are concluded StormWatch shows up to… well I guess to take Slayton in for being a wanted felon. Not only that, but they’re none too keen to find out that Slayton had, at some point, been funneling information about StormWatch to I/O. They even accuse him of being glad that LaSalle is dead because she was on to him. But ultimately the StormWatch team cannot take down the man who trained them.

While Slayton was taking down the StormWatch kids, Amanda and Jodi were busy stealing their transport ship. As soon as Slayton is finished with Jackson, Link tells him to get the heck out of there, so Slayton, Amanda and Jodi fly off in their ill gotten jet. The flight doesn’t last long as Slayton gets a call from Cray to meet up with the other Team 7 members in New York. Now if Slayton had thought to ask Cray, he would’ve known that kids were invited to this party, but he didn’t and so he drops Amanda and Jodi off at the nearest payphone and leaves.

backlash_018Amanda calls up CyberJack to get back to the safe house and hears that he’ll be staying in Gamorra longer than previously thought, but they are free to stay at the safe-house as long as they need. Amanda immediately picks up on the fact that there’s something wrong with this message. In it, Jack calls her Taboo. Jack never calls her Taboo. This can only mean one thing: Girls Weekend Trip in Gamorra!

I wish I had more to say about these issues, but really, unlike other “Backlash” stories there isn’t too much going on plot wise. Character development wise? Yeah, it’s in there. Seeing Slayton have to take on his former students? It’s rad as hell, especially when we have Rubi and Booth drawing it for us. But when it comes to a the type of recaps I do here, it looks a lot more slight than the book actually is. I have to say, it was really fun to see StormWatch vs. Slayton before we get to “Fire from Heaven” and it’s StormWatch vs. Everyone for a bit. It’s like a preview of what’s to come.

Continuity Corner:

  • When Link is examining Slayton they find that Slayton’s Kherubim blood has mostly burned out all the Gen-Factor in his system, which explains why LeGauche couldn’t get much off him in “Deathblow” volume one issue 23.
  • Slayton will catch up with Cray, Lynch, Cash, Dane and the Gen13 kids near the end of “Deathblow” volume one issue 24.
  • Seeing the stealth suits that StormWatch put on for this issue made me angry that they don’t really stick around. For the most part they are just streamlined and better looking versions of their current outfits. Except for Fahrenheit. That isn’t a good look, it’s far too basic and boring. Her original outfit is awesome and I’ll forever miss it when she abandons it completely after “Fire from Heaven.”
  • After their beat down, the StormWatch team heads back to the U.N. StormWatch base in “StormWatch” volume one issue 34.

NEXT (if you need to get back to “StormWatch” 34): “StormWatch” volume one issue 34 by H.K. Proger, Renato Arlem, and Joe Pimentel.

NEXT (if you already finished “StormWatch” 34): “WildStorm!” issue 4 by Michael Jan Friedman, Merv, Sarah Becker, Ryan Odagawa, Tom Raney, Randy Green, Mark McKenna, Randy Elliot, John Tighe and Rich Ketchum.

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“Backlash” issues 15 – 16

This entry covers “Backlash” issues 15 & 16 by Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Mel Rubi, John Tighe and Mark Irwin.

backlash_015This issue opens with CyberJack being all “Peace out, Imma go to Gammora and hope they don’t screw me over while you, Marc Slayton, my best friend, deal with yr dead ex-fiance, later yo!” I know they’re supposed to be hardened badasses, but Slayton literally just saw his ex get murdered right in front of him! So, Jack, maybe stick around for your buddy, a least a little bit before taking off. That’s such a jerk move that I really wish that Cray had drunk all of Jack’s Zimas. We’ll get back to Jack’s adventures in Gamorra in a bit, first, we have to talk about hard-luck Slayton.

As stated previously, Slayton’s former fiance is dead and he’s bummin’. Then his friend with benefits, Amanda, starts to put the moves on him, only for the whole thing to be interrupted by Jodi. Slayton, in a huff, decides to go and get a beer at a local dive. Of course, he ends up befriending a man who is sitting in the in the seat of local tuff Beck, who is all set to beat Slayton and his new “pal”  down for this infraction along with the help of his posse. When Beck calls “seat save” he means it. While all of Beck’s buds go down easy, it turns out that Beck is much more than he first appears and it doesn’t look good for Slayton.

Also not looking good for Slayton is his daughter Jodi hitting on his best frenemy Cole Cash. Wait, what? How does Cole figure into all this? Well, it turns out Cash needed a part for his bike that he is cruising cross country on. He called his old pal CyberJack about it and sure, Jack could help, and if he’s not there, one of his “roommates” would be happy to hand over what Cash needs. Amanda is a bit distrustful of Cash, but Jodi is completely and totally enamored with the man. Amanda sends Cash on his way with his fixed motorbike and mentions that Cash can get a bite to eat at the dive in town, which is when Cash meets up with Slayton.

backlash_016As it turns out, Cash’s arrival is not a moment too soon! Beck has turned into a huge lizard creature and is starting to thrash Slayton and the back up certainly helps. My personal favorite bit of this story is the little old lady who is happy to see someone kicking Beck’s ass. Apparently, she’s been harassing StormWatch to send someone to deal with him. Doesn’t she know that StormWatch isn’t allowed to take care of American problems? At any rate, Cash makes quick work of Beck, save Slayton’s bacon and then it’s time for each of them to move on. Cash to find more trouble in Colorado and Slayton back to Amanda and Jodi.

Meanwhile, in the exciting adventures of CyberJack, we have our old pal Jack Rhodes meeting up with an old cohort in Gamorra. Makoto used to work with Jack and he even stayed there working after Jack left. The reason Jack left the first time was mainly that he saw his work being used to create things like Hunter-Killers and he wasn’t about that life, fam. Based on what Jack had left behind Makoto was able to keep working from Jack’s plans and he wanted to show them all to Jack. I mean, this is Gamorra, of course, Makoto was going to double cross Jack! But why? Kaizen wants Jack back in Gamorra to invent more stuff and Makoto was the willing lure. Kaizen says that Jack skipped out on their contract, and he means to have Jack back by hook or by crook, and yeah, that even means siccing the Mercs on Jack to keep him in line. Looks like CyberJack’s stuck in Gamorra now, he certainly is in a pickle!

Continuity Corner:

  • Cash must’ve picked up his bike in Vegas. Not sure if he or Halo had it stashed there or he bought it, but I figure that’s where he got it, as the last time we saw him, he was hoping a bus from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
  • In human form, Beck looks an awful lot like the form of Richard McNamara from Team 7 took when he popped up in “Grifter” volume two issue 3. Coincidence, right? Eh, Mel Rubi drew them both so maybe not too big of a coincidence.
  • When the little old lady asks if Cash is Cannon or Flashpoint he joking says that he’s Condition Red. I mean, us the readers get the joke, but how did he know that was Max’s code name in the new WildC.A.T.s? I don’t think we’ve seen them speak yet.
  • At the end of issue 16, Kaizen confronts Jack and he’s flanked by a guy in big ass eff-off armor. His name is Aries. He’s apparently Jodi’s twin brother and thusly Slayton’s son. I always forget this because I can’t remember if this was ever stated in the actual comics or not. I came across this info in “WildStorm Universe ’97” issue 3 when I was trying to look up his name real quick.

NEXT: “Grifter” volume two issue 1 by Steven Grant, Mel Rubi and Richard Friend.

Backlash issues 12 – 14

This entry covers “Backlash” issues 12 – 14 by Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Chuck Gibson, Al Vey and Mark Pennington.

backlash_012Get this everybody, Amanda Reed is pissed off! Say what? Is she acting sassy, too? See, she is on the hunt for Gilbert Branum. Gilbert is the guy that can set her clear her name so she can officially be a free woman again. Of course, Slayton is going to show up and help her, it’s what friends do. Especially friends who are newly single and happened to have hooked up with other said friend in the past.

Slayton already has the inside scoop on Branum’s whereabouts, because Slayton called his old friend Giavonni at the government agency Paranormal Search & Investigations (P.S.I.) and got the skinny. After getting reacquainted, Reed and Slayton make a stop at CyberJack’s latest safehouse to get ready to capture Branum. Amanda also gets to meet Slayton’s daughter, Jodi, which was new to her (and still pretty new to us all.) The duo then jet off to the Florida Keys on their self-serving mission.

backlash_013So, how can Branum help Slayton and Reed? Well, it turns out that he was a mole for the government in the Cabal. In fact, he helped stage the murder of Professor Hoagland, which Reed was wrongly accused of just so he could rise up the Cabal’s ranks and get further embedded for his spy work. He is the only guy that can say on the record that Reed is innocent, not only that but if Reed is innocent then Slayton breaking her out of Purgatory Max can’t be illegal because she was never supposed to be imprisoned in the first place. Getting close to Branum is the hard part, this is due to the government getting him round the clock protection, you know, due to him being a spy while being in the Cabal. Sure, the Cabal really isn’t a thing anymore (I mean the WildStorm Universe seems to still think it is, but it doesn’t really write to it being truly active anymore) but there’s Pike and the Cabal’s pet Coda still running around, so an order of protection is sensical. Heck, those two fantastical futuristic mercenaries Serge and Mahkinot are helping protect Barnam.

You know what happens. Reed and Slayton come up against Serge and Mahkinot and they all start to fight. It takes some crazy event for them to all see that they are on the same side. In this case, it is space monsters. Specifically a space vampire and a space mummy. I kind of wish this was a joke because of how silly it sounds, but with the drawing talents of Brett Booth, it works. In an instant Mahkinot takes Barnum away to safety, Reed and Serge get stunned by the space vampire Lilitu and Slayton… well… he dead.

backlash_014The action relocates to Arizona where Lilitu has a pyramid built. Slayton’s “dead” body is be monitored by Lilitu’s people, Serge is in her thrall and Reed is some sort of transfixed. This is all due to Reed’s body armor. There was some deal between Lilitu’s space vampire big daddy Calobis and Helspont. Helspont was supposed to cure the space vampires of their space vampirism. Helspont failed, but they apparently built Reed’s suit with DNA that the Cabal had taken from Calobis. Complicated, sure, but this is comics, and this is why we LOVE comics. Well, at least it is why I love comics. Oh, ready to get more complicated? Turns out Calobis is still kinda sorta alive in this suit, but he’s too bonded with Amanda for anyone to remove it and not kill him. Turns out there’s another suit like this out there, and if Lilitu can find it, she can smoosh them together and Calobis will be free of Reed. Neat.

Through Calobis puppeting Reed, a small beat down is happening against Lilitu and her space mummy sidekick. Even Serge is coming in and out of his thrall to through a few punches in the correct direction. CyberJack and Jodi are on their way to save Marc and Amanda when they encounter Mahkinot and decide to team up. Meanwhile, newly re-alive Slayton is playing out an old memory of him being in ancient Japan. It works wonders and he ends up where all the action is going down until he snaps back into the real world. Before he can do anything heroic to save the day, Mahkinot Kool-Aide Man’s it and bursts through the wall. This throws sunlight everywhere and even though she’s a space vampire, Lilitu can’t be in sunlight. Thusly, our heroes manage an escape on Mahkinot’s jet.

Arriving back at CyberJack’s safehouse Jodi notes that a proximity alarm has been tripped. Slayton commands everyone to stay back as he goes to investigate. Who’s waiting for him? Turns out it’s his old pal Cray, fixing himself a bowl full of Cheerios. Hell of a time for a drop in Cray.

Continuity Corner:

  • The end of this story picks right up in “Deathblow” volume one issue 23. We’re presented with only Cray in the kitchen in “Backlash” 14, but both he and Dane will be present in the “Deathblow” issue. It doesn’t seem like more than a few seconds have even passed, that’s why I’m not a fan of the reading order in the back of an issue of “Deathblow” that has Dane return to Wetworks to do a training exercise between the two issues. It just doesn’t work as well as my somewhat wonky way to read issues 14 and 15 of “Wetworks” volume one.
  • Next time we’ll meet Lilitu is in “WildCore” issues 5 and 6, so keep her in the back of your mind.
  • While it is never specified in the comic which government agency Branum was working for, he eventually goes on to work for P.S.I. as does the entire cast of “Backlash” after “Fire from Heaven.”
  • We’re getting our first vision of Slayton’s long life with his memories of old Japan. It is 1642 and he’s in the Edo area of Japan as a ninja, fighting other ninja and samurai because he was betrayed by the current warlord in charge, Lord Tokugawa. Edo is now known as Tokyo, and the year lines up with when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate. Score one for historical accuracy (for once).
  • Serge and Mahkinot have that cool jet, I figure that’s how they got from one paying job in LA in “Grifter” volume one issues 7 through 10, to the Florida Keys in “Backlash” issue 12 so quickly.
  • Something’s been bugging me… how did Serge & Mahkinot get to the mid ’90s? I’ll admit, I may’ve missed it, but they’re from Mars and from the year 2017, right? So how did they get to Earth and in their past? Is it ever explained?

NEXT: “Deathblow” volume one issue 23 by Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner, Jeff Johnson, Scott Kolins and Trevor Scott

“Backlash” issues 9 – 11

this entry covers “Backlash” issues 9 through 11

Backlash_Vol_1_9So Slayton, nice chap that he is, is going to spring Amana Reed from her incarceration now that he’s back from Nicaragua. Through CyberJack he’s found where she’s being held in preparation for her transfer back to Purgatory Max prison, a place called Stonewall Prison. He knows it’s dangerous, as he’s still on the Most Wanted list and he’s breaking into a government facility. What he doesn’t know,  is that he’s going to be running into Dingo again during this rescue.

Well, to be fair, Dingo will be running into Reed first, as she’s being chased by the aptly named Chasers. It doesn’t take long before the trio all meet up and take the hell off. Even though they just escaped the Chasers they all split up. Dingo’s done due to his stealth mission for info busted up, but as we’ll find out later, his real job was to free Reed, attach a tracker to her, follow her to Slayton. He did one better and got it on the target directly. Amanda leaves because she got all “I don’t need you to fight my battles, Marc” leaving Slayton to go hang with CyberJack. This could be a relaxing time, save for Slayton’s apparent long lost daughter, Jodi, showing up!

Backlash_Vol_1_10Turns out Slayton did the nasty in the pasty with Jodi’s mom. 1980 to be exact. So he thinks it’s plausible. He even thinks to himself that even if Jodi isn’t his, he still owes it to her dead mom, his past love, to take care of Jodi. Awwwww, so sweet. The biggest thing we miss when we’re not seeing Slayton in “Backlash” or “WildCore” is seeing his sweet side. He can be such a lovable guy, but he usually chooses to ignore those impulses.

The next day CyberJack goes to pick up more supplies for the new safe house.  Also, Slayton decides to take Jodi to Coney Island for a day of fun. This is when the Kindred start to track the homing beacon Dingo placed on Slayton during the Amanda rescue. They arrive at an empty house. The Kindred, in this case, are Fennix, Kamin, Slider, the aforementioned Dingo and of course their leader, Bloodmoon. As Jack gets home he sees it being ransacked, before he can roll into action the creatures all leave. During this their tearing of the place down,  they find Slayton’s note about being at Coney Island and they head off to confront him there.

Backlash_Vol_1_11Well, it’s not hard to catch a man when it’s five against one, so the Kindred just the best of old man Slayton. Bloodmoon’s plan is to get some of Slayton’s blood, look more into the Gen-Factor contained in his blood to refine the Kindred process. Unfortunately for them, the Gen-Factor has been mutated by Slayton’s Kheribum genetics. But hey, the got Jodi and low and behold, her blood just might work. This upset Dingo, it’s not what he signed on for, hurting innocent girls. In fact, if it wasn’t for his change of heart, Slayton and Jodi wouldn’t have gotten out of that mess at all. I mean Slayton did do some damage after escaping from his shackles, and Jodi did manifest her Gen-Active powers during the fight, but Dingo saved the day in the end.

Continuity Corner :

  • During a battle with the Chaser Gaze Slayton start seeing more of his past. There’s a shot of him as a samurai in Japan which we’ll see more of in “Backlash” issue 14, as well as Gaze and Slayton stating there’s block in his memories, and they aren’t sure why. I mean, we know why, but not how or by whom.
  • At the end of the big fight with the Kindred, we only see Bloodmoon and Slider get away. I assume Fennix is dead from her gunshot wounds and Kamin just kind of disappears. Never sure what the final fate of those two was. EDIT: reader DAMartin points out that Kamin was electrocuted. And I’m ashamed as to where my head was at while writing this, because, yeah, it’s right there, blatantly on the page! Thanks DAMartin!
  • Throughout these issues both Slayton and CyberJack keep making mention of how Giavonni can help them out. We’ll meet Giavonni soon.

NEXT : “Wildcats : Ladytron” by Joe Casey, Eric Canete, Jason Johnson, Mark Irwin, Mark McKenna, Arthur Nichols, Luke Rizzo, Joe Rubinstein and Juan Vlasco

“Backlash” issues 6 & 7

this entry covers “Backlash” issues 6 and 7

So after Slayton had gotten Dane to go on one adventure with him, he decides that his extended cast isn’t big enough and calls Dane back and tell him to bring a friend for his next mission. This new mission is to two fold. Part the first, Cyberjack and Taboo go and kidnap Dianne LaSalle from a bunch of StormWatch ground crew scrubs. Part the second, Slayton, Dane and Grail go to the lair of the Daemonite Lord S’ryn and nab him from right in front of Pike and pals.

Why do all this now? Well, good question. I mean, in the end, we see him calling in his favor with Jacob and the rest of the WildC.A.T.s and since they have Voodoo, a better understanding of Daemonites, and crazy sci-fi equipment they can get LaSalle back into her right mind. But do we know all this going in? How does it get set up? Ugh, I’m going to have to go reread this again aren’t I? Ok, just did, and nope, no elucidation. When Slayton shows up at the Halo building, via Void’s transport, he says to Jacob that he’s “calling in his favor” which doesn’t make much sense, as he must’ve called in that favor earlier because Jack and Taboo are already there with LaSalle and Void is the one who got him there, this was all set up already. Either Slayton is kind of dense or he’s super socially awkward.

Pris is able to extract the mind of LaSalle from the Daemonite, but is having trouble extracting the Daemonite from the body of the man it was possessing. S’ryn isn’t going down with out a fight. S’ryn pops out of the dude’s body, but as we’ve seen, that’ll probably leave the host brain dead. S’ryn is looking for a new host, but that’s not the best plan as there isn’t a lot of options for him in a room full of Kherubims and such. Taboo pops him one and then Slayton goes all smoke-form and gets into S’ryn mouth then reconstitutes and tears S’ryn apart from the inside out. As he’s dying, S’ryn makes fun of Slayton for not knowing himself. S’ryn is taunting Slayton’s Kherubimness with his final breath. This is confusing to Slayton as he doesn’t even understand the term. Jacob explains it to him, as he’s saying “welcome to the family!” This doesn’t last too long as LaSalle is back and she wants to spend some time with Slayton after all he’s done.

The next issue is split into three stories. The first of which concerns Slayton trying to connect back with LaSalle. It isn’t going so well. She’s having trouble coming to terms with all the people that he’s killed along the way to save her. Also, she’s not too keen on him hooking up with Taboo. Slayton goes for a walk to clear his head. When he’s out Taboo calls, saying that there’s some sketchy folks following her, and that message goes straight to the answering machine. Which LaSalle hears. After that call she phones StormWatch asking to be put back on active duty and where to go to catch the next shuttle to SkyWatch.

In Taboo’s story, we see her making the call that broke up Slayton and LaSalle, and we meet the crew that’s been following her. We saw a bit of these guys a few issues earlier, but they were yet to make their move. Now, without Slayton and Jack around, it is time to strike and capture that scofflaw Taboo. For all her powers, Taboo is really crap when she’s in a fight alone. You could say “but it’s 4 against one, the odds aren’t in her favor!” and I’d counter that saying that when she’s part of a group of as little as her and Slayton, she can take out at least 20 goons. You can’t tell me Slayton is carrying her the whole fight! Besides, these jokers are going at her one at a time anyway! But yeah, in the end, she done got captured.

Our final story introduces a new character. An Aussie dog-man named Dingo. Yes, yes, Dingo is a Kindred, but a member of the Kindred that was brought to Australia from Cabillito Island at a young age. We see his past as a young dog-boy who is adopted by an Australian military man and raised to be a respectful member of society, as apposed to being raised as the weapon he was brought to the country for. After the passing of his adopted father, he goes out into the world to see what it is like. Of course he ends up running into and working for Bloodmoon and other members of the Kindred. As soon as we saw his “such-a-good-puppy” face, we knew this was going to be a Kindred thing? Right? Was it just me?

Continuity Corner :

  • After Slayton takes off with S’ryn, Pike mentions to Hestia, the Cabal’s pet Coda, that this is the second Daemonite Lord they’ve lost in their service. This is what you get for selling out your people Pike!
  • At one point S’ryn calls himself a High Lord of the Daemonites. Is that because he took Hellspont’s place in the Cabal? We know that both Hellspont and Defile are High Lords, and then there’s the dead one that had his hand sticking out of the ground, but that’s it, right? Isn’t there only three High Daemonite Lords that came to Earth, and each one holds a key? And isn’t that why Hightower is trying to get a key? To up his level? Without actually having Hellspont’s key why does S’ryn think he’s automatically granted High Lord status?
  • Good thing Slayton visited the WildC.A.T.s when he did with Cole out on assignment in DC. I’d hate to have to sit through another few panels of them being bitter towards each other.
  • I’m not entirely sure that issue 7 was originally drawn to be issue 7. Excepting a few exposition panels, you can swap it with issue 8 and be kinda fine. Maybe there was some reason why the “WildStorm Rising” crossover had to be issue number 8. My main reason for thinking of there is something up, is that Slayton says that it had been 2 weeks since the WildC.A.T.s helped with LaSalle in issue 7. There may be something do this, as according to comicbookdb.com issues 4 and 5 each had a cover date of February, meaning they may’ve gotten ahead, thus the slight wrinkle in continuity. Was there a last minute rewrite on the first page of  issues 8 and 9 to address this? Who knows.
  • More at odds is the fact that in issue 8 Slayton says he stepped out on LeSalle to help Taboo… but we saw him leave in a huff not knowing about Taboo’s trouble, LeSalle doing what she could to get out of there and rejoin StormWatch and then the message being left on the machine by Taboo. Did Slayton come back, not see LeSalle, heard the message, and bolted, figuring she’d be back soon, not knowing that LeSalle had already taken off? Again, who knows. I’m probably overthinking this one!
  • Slayton has spent a handful of issues of “StormWatch” volume 1, four issues of “the Kindred” volume 1 and six issues of his own series trying to save his lady, and LaSalle just ditches him? Because he killed? Really? What did she think he occasionally had to do in Team 7 or for StormWatch? Oh, I see LaSalle, it’s alright to kill for your government but not for love.
  • To be honest, I’m of the mind that the WildC.A.T.s did take a little bit of time from the end of issue 18 to the start of issue 19 of “WildC.A.T.s” volume 1 to properly mount an attack on Hightower and the Coda in DC, (more of that in the next entry) but 2 weeks seems a bit long for them to wait.

NEXT : “Grifter : One Shot” by Steven T. Seagle, Dan Norton, Chuck Gibson, Troy Hubbs and Edwin Rosel.

“WildStorm!” issues 1 – 3

this entry covers issues 1 through 3 of “WildStorm!” an anthology of short stories, some which were longer stories divided up between issues 

I’m just gonna start off this entry by letting you all know that I’m just going to break it up into the individual stories. I’m not sure if there is very much to tell as some of these stories are rather short. When it comes to short story collections, they sometimes work better if you divide all the stories up so that they can occur better with their respective titles, but in this case, the first three issues work pretty great all together like this for their respective titles.

In the Gen13 story, “Now Departing from Gate 37” we have Roxy and Grunge shipping a package for Lynch at the San Diego airport. While on this chore they witness two shady individuals try to kidnap a child. Of course, they save the kid, by crashing a helicopter, and also find out that the would-be kidnappers are from I/O! They figure the boy must be gen-active and that’s why I/O was after him. Roxy and Grunge tell the family, due to no one seeing them cause the helicopter crash, a freaking helicopter crash, it would seem that anyone from I/O would assume that the boy died in the crash along with the agents. Since the family is going to Chile, Grunge just tells them to stay there and hide, no one knows the boy survived, so if you keep a low profile you shouldn’t be bothered again by any secret government kidnappers.

The “Deathblow” story isn’t so much a story of Michael Cray, so much as it is something that happens while Cray is around. This seriously could’ve happened to any of the WildStorm heroes, but it happens to befall Cray. So there Cray is, stuck in traffic and there’s a crazy guy yelling in a Celtic language who rode a stolen horse over Cray’s car and busted the windshield. I’m not being rude, the dude is legitimately crazy. Of course, Cray has no idea of this until after he’s done kicking this dude’s ass and the guy’s doctor fills him in. Not that Cray seems to care, he just wants to know who to bill for his car repair. To be honest, this doesn’t really feel much like Cray at all. It feels a lot more like Brock Sampson, to tell the truth.

In the “Spartan” story we find the titular Spartan scoping out a factory that’s producing Hunter-Killers. In fact, they’re new improved Hunter-Killers! Also, Spartan’s not the only one, Ben Santini and the Black Razors are there too. No one is really happy about this “team-up” to stop a bigger bad and spend more time bickering amongst themselves rather than investigate the factory. Worse comes to worse and Santini is knocked out and the Razors aren’t sure who to follow. First, they follow Fleming, until they all decide he’s a dink and they start taking orders from Spartan. During all of this Spartan is having a crisis of conscious as to why anyone would follow him, a robo-man. In the end, the Hunter-Killers are stopped, the factory is in ruins, Santini is fine and Spartan learns a valuable lesson about himself and teamwork. Gag.

In “Taboo” we finally learn how Amanda Reed ran afoul of the Cabal and ended up in Purgatory Max. I’ll admit I had my doubts about this tale, but the creative team pulled it off fine. See, the Cabal was trying to trick Amanda into killing the doctor that first bonded her symbiote suit to her. Amanda, didn’t want to, she fled, and Pike finished the job. Once the doctor was found dead, the authorities reviewed the security footage from the doctor’s office and found Amanda all over them. They hunted her down, captured her, had her stand trial. She was found guilty and then sentenced to Purgatory Max for life. Well at least up until Slayton came to break her out.

Finally, we get Union starring in “My Enemy, My Monkey” a short little yarn that is… well, it’s about the dumbest story in these books. Union sees a giant cyborg gorilla being ridden by some kind of samurai lizard man in the middle of New York City. Union dives in to stop this crazy occurrence, only to find out he’s on the set of a movie. How hilarious. For me, it doesn’t track, simply for how damn long the fight goes on before the director yells “Cut!” Also, throughout the whole story Union is still treating the man in the gorilla suit as if he is an actual gorilla, and Union has never seemed that dense or ignorant before. Hell, he just saw the lizard samurai take off his mask, he should’ve put two and two together like we’ve seen him do before! Also, there’s a crazy fan that wants revenge on the actor playing the lizard samurai, revenge by shooting, and Union stops him because, hell, he’s there. Man, this is dumb. I’d almost rather see this lizard samurai/cyborg gorilla movie!

Continuity Corner :

  • I’m basing the Gen13 story placement off of that fact that it was reprinted in the “Backlist” trade along with other early adventures of the team. In that book, it occurs between issue 0 and issue 1 of volume 2. From a storytelling perspective, you need something in between those issues to justify the time jump that occurs between issues, most noticeably seen with Rainmakers hair length. “Now Departing from Gate 37” is just another one of the things they did in the period. With us reading this as part of the WildStorm Universe, on the whole, we have other titles showing us time progression to account for that.  So, yeah, we’re keeping it in the early days where it is needed, but we are having a different placement than if we were reading it as just a perfect progression for “Gen13”
  • For the placement of “Deathblow,” I think this is the time that Cray spent in New York telling Rayna about the Los Angeles job, in “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 13 and 14. It also explains why he’s so close to Virgina before we see him in “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 16.
  • From the way that Spartan talking about Marlowe, it’s pretty clear that the little guy is still around, so it has to take place before “WildStorm Rising.” Also, Spartan isn’t wearing his StormWatch gear so it can’t have happened after “WildStorm Rising” at all. And because Marlowe basically disappears after he gets back to Earth during “Fire from Heaven” there’s no place for this story to take place at any other time.
  • I also like to think that this is what Spartan was up to when Warblade was off in “Warblade : Endangered Species”.
  • It is nice to see the Black Razors as depicted in WildC.A.T.s Vol. 1 issues 15 & 16… well pretty much. Coleman isn’t really the right skin color, but everything else is close enough.
  • There’s a member of the Black Razors being referred to as simply “Fleming.” No word on the first name being either Alex or Cyril.
  • While everyone wants to seem to place this Taboo story much earlier in the timeline, because it is her origin, both parts are clearly labeled “Five years earlier,” so it’s a flashback. Also, having this story take place right before she’s on the lam again in “Backlash” issue 7 adds a certain sense of tragedy to that storyline. She’s not good at running on her own. Also, “Backlash” issues 1 through 5 are so tightly strung together there wasn’t room to put it closer to her introduction.
  • When Slayton was breaking into Purgatory Max to get Taboo in the first place there was such a big deal made about him both breaking in and out, as if no one had ever done that before. Obviously, Pike had, or else how could he have been there to taunt Amanda? I just don’t see the authorities letting Pike just come and go as he pleases.
  • I think this is a good place for “My Enemy, My Monkey” as well, because Union is still in New York at the end of “Union” Vol. 2 issue 2. He goes to Chicago in “Union” Vol. 2 issue 3 and we don’t see him leave that city at the end of the issue. Also, there’s no real explanation as to how he got onsite to start fighting with Majestic by the time issue 4 rolls around, he’s just there. There’s not a lot of decent windows for this story to take place, honestly. I was surprised I found this one!

NEXT : “Union” Vol. 2 issue 3 by Mike Heisler, Ryan Benjamin, and Tom McWeeney

“Backlash” issues 1 through 5

this entry covers the first five issues of the title “Backlash”.

BacklashVol1_01-05

Alright, Backlash is still on the hunt to find more out about Daemonites so that he can help out his girlfriend before she dies of terminal coma! Heck yeah, he’s totally going to do it! He got some info from I/O, he may’ve picked up a thing or two from Grifter while they were on Caballito Island, and you know, it’s about time to save her. So he’s totally going to get that done in these first few issues, right? RIGHT? Nope, even with her life on the line Backlash decides to find a new chick, go to a party with the WildC.A.T.s, almost get arrested by the Savage Dragon and plays video games with his old pal from Team 7. Way to dick around and not save your lady Slayton!

Well, let’s give him some credit, he started with the best of intentions. He meets up with Diva from StormWatch to get some more info on what is going on with his beloved LaSalle. Turns out that she’s in worse condition, and she’s being moved from SkyWatch to a hospital in Detroit for closer inspection. Why Detroit would have better medical staff and tech than a crazy sci-fi satellite is beyond me, but I’m just reading these comics, not writing them. Backlash visits the hospital and while there the Daemonite that had possessed LaSalle is there in it’s new host, along with Pike. So Backlash has found the Daemonite that he needs to save LaSalle, but the Daemonite kicks his ass, and seems to be in league with a newly forming version of the Cabal.

So now Backlash has another problem. He has no real knowledge of the Cabal, and he just got his butt handed to him by only two members of the group. Time for “Operation: Hire a Tough Sidekick with Insider Knowledge!” To this end he finds out about a former member of the Cabal named Taboo, AKA Amanda Reed, who claims the Cabal framed her for murder when she was threatened to quit their little tea party. Upon being found guilty of murder… Sorry, aside; murder? A Cabal member getting found guilty of murder? Really? The first time we meet these jerks they are murdering people. They are murderers! That’s what they do on their way to enslave the planet! How does a member of the Cabal get captured in the first place, and then how does the rest of the Cabal co-ordinated with each other and the local judicial system to get Taboo both arrested and framed and they don’t get in trouble themselves? It is a stretch too far. Anyway, after being found guilty (smh) Taboo is locked up in the Edward H. Levi Federal Penitentiary, better known as Purgatory Max, a huge prison for super powered criminals. It’s also located in the far far North of Alaska, inside the Arctic Circle.

Thing about Purgatory Max, is that no one has ever broken out, but Backlash is planning to break in! That’s new and different, he might pull that off! Then he’ll get Taboo and break out! Woah! Doing the one thing that’s never been done! Backlash, you have your work cut out for you! Wouldn’t you know it, he pulls it off, his name is on the book after all, but in the process of the escape he does have to remove Taboo’s power inhibitor to beat some the guards back as they run. Taboo has a symbiotic suit that gives her strength, claws and green eyes (for now, later wings). It’s kinda like a WetWorks suit in that it can come out of nowhere and is related to vampires and aliens, but it is different, because no one thought all of this through or talked to each other while writing it. Just when you think Backlash and Taboo are cornered, they sink into the ice and are suddenly on a sub with CyberJack! Ah, Jack Rhodes, you’re the best bud Backlash will ever have!

Cut to a super secret Cabal club meeting! We find that the Cabal has been running under the rules that Hellspont had put in place by a Daemonite (I assume) named H’Tar. Not all is well in Cabal-land as a challenger approaches. It’s K’Rul, but he’s not there to step into that role, no, he states that not just any Daemonite should run the Cabal, but a Lord Daemonite should run, and it just so turns out that he is a representative of Lord Defile, and hey he’d make a good leader. This may be the earliest reference we get to Defile in the WildStorm Universe, and I was surprised to find it on my re-read! While the other Cabal members talk about what a terrible idea it is to rope in Defile, Pike and S’Ryn (the Daemonite that put LaSalle in her coma) show up and says “put me in charge guys, I’ll get those pesky Kherubim!” Even gets K’Rul to renounce Defile in favor of him! Woah! Now, let’s drink some blood and get this party started!

Meanwhile, back in Chicago, Backlash, Taboo and CyberJack and chilling out in one of Backlash’s many safe houses. Through a convoluted story that doesn’t bear repeating, the trio find out that S’Ryn is going to be at a charity bash, so they’re going to get him. At one point Taboo does something to Backlash’s face with her symbiote. At first I thought she was just giving him a shave, but he remarks “Doesn’t look at all like me.” and she responds “Yeah, quite an improvement, isn’t it?” and I’m left thinking “Is he supposed to look a lot different? Are they joking? He just got a shave, right? Or is Booth’s art here so samey that I can’t tell a difference that was intended?”

This little shindig is going down in Chicago, so you know what that means, right? Yup, Savage Dragon time! In my mind there is a Savage Dragon in most universes of the multi-verse, and this is the WildStorm U version of that character. He’s slightly different than the one appearing regularly in “Savage Dragon,” the one that teamed up with Madman in “the Atomics” and the one that we find in “Invincible” a few times. It’s just a co-incidence that he just seems like the same guy in most universes. Hell, the most different version I’ve ever seen is named “Dino Cop” as part of a DCU multiverse, but that was due to several factors, including being unlicensed, but I mean, come on, we all know what Grant Morrison was pulling with that. Oh, uh, yeah, back on point, if you’re a comic character and you find yourself in Chicago, you may just meet up with a Savage Dragon, and that likelihood increases if you are a creator owned or an Image Comics character. This is getting out of hand, look, what I’m getting at is that the Savage Dragon will be working security at the charity ball. Also, he mainly took the job because he saw that Jacob Marlowe was going to be there.

So at the party Taboo is getting flirty with Backlash, he’s all “I tells ya woman, Imma taken!” and we see Marlowe getting drunk, living it up since he quit his superteam. S’Ryn notices Marlowe and wants to get in close, as the new leader of the Cabal (stop trying to make the Cabal happen, it’s not going to happen!) he needs to take out this problem Kherubim Lord. S’Ryn is in human form without the goofy ass, middle school tossed together outfit he had on earlier, and has Pike by his side. Pike is a large guy, and I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that before. A note on what Pike looks like out of outfit: I like that Pike is depicted as no particular ethnicity. I’m not sure if that is necessarily intended or is another case of Booth’s artistic flair. I know I’m coming down hard on Booth and his art, but he is crazy hit or miss, and when he hits (look at any drawing of Zealot that he does) he’s amazing, and then there’s times like this…  come on Brett, we know you can do better! Eventually a fight breaks out and S’Ryn flashes into his dumbass suit, Taboo and Backlash notice this and suit up as well, and then the Savage Dragon busts in to try and break up the fight. Marlowe runs off and tries to call the WildC.A.T.s, but he’s followed by Pike who puts a stop to that, and Pike’s followed by Taboo who puts a stop to his attempted murder of Marlowe. In the main ballroom the Savage Dragon takes out S’Ryn and tells both he and Backlash that they are both officially under arrest.

Backlash is at a loss because he can’t afford to take the time to go to jail, or to lose S’Ryn to the feds before getting the information he needs to save LaSalle. Meanwhile Pike has suited up in his bootleg Deadpool cos-play and takes out Taboo as Marlowe finally reaches the WildC.A.T.s and Void and Zealot teleport in. Lots a fighting goes on, Zealot accidentally stabs Taboo and Pike gets away. CyberJack threatens to shoot Void if she doesn’t step away from Taboo until she let’s him know “Nah, Rhodes, the silver chick is with me.” Rhodes gathers the troops enough to go save Backlash and the Savage Dragon from being taken out by S’Ryn because they’re too damn busy fighting each other. This is where the bad guys make a play to blow up the good guys, but they each get away, ultimately leaving Dragon alone in the rubble.

Marlowe and Backlash talk a bit, Marlowe offers Backlash a job, which Backlash turns down due to his past trouble with Grifter. Fair enough, besides Zealot and Backlash will get to be teammates later and they butt heads constantly too. As he, Taboo and CyberJack are ‘ported off to CyberJack’s place Void makes comment that Backlash will have to face his destiny soon. Ooooo, ominous!

Back at CyberJack’s crash pad we see Jack walk! Wha! Turns out the special cybersuit he has on gives him limited mobility… which if we or any of the characters had been paying attention the past 2 issues we would’ve noticed his walking while saving the day! If you noticed it you’re a swifter person than me, Backlash or Taboo. But walking takes a lot out the man so he starts to crash on the couch while Backlash and Taboo go out for a drink. Drinking and superheroics lead to them hooking up when they get back home. Oops! Oh, and CyberJack totally spies on them with his motion sensors! Whatta perv.

The next day CyberJack mentions that there’s some technology that if he got, would help him track down S’Ryn’s base of operations, so they can take the fight right to him. Turns out that this kind of Virtual Reality tech is in a building owned by Waering Enterprises, the same Waering that that helps run a little outfit we all know as WetWorks. Turns out that Waering is having Jackson Dane upgrade the security on that building, the same night as his old pal is trying to break in. Backlash leaves Taboo behind while he breaks in, Dane finds Backlash, they start to tussle, a mysterious stranger sneaks up on Taboo and takes her down, Dane and Backlash recognize each other just in time for the same mysterious stranger to take them both out, while he drags in the body of a nearly unconscious Taboo.

The mysterious stranger turns out to be a loser named Virtual Bob, and he’s working for an entity known as Mindscape. Mindscape was a man whose body was destroyed while he was in his virtual reality machine, the machine saved his soul. Virtual Bob eventually discovered him while doing some hacking. The two of them build Mindscape a new body out of computer parts. Mindscape is now building robots and wants the soul of a top fighter to use a template so he can have an army of robots to take down the company that he was working for when his body blew up. So when he comes along Backlash and Dane he pits them against each other in the VR realm to see who is strongest and the winner will be the template for his murder-bots. He says he doesn’t intend to harm them in the long run… but he already seems like the kind of guy who totally would.

Mindscape eventually enters the VR realm itself and gets wailed on by Dane. Backlash is starting to figure out how everything works and finds a way to hi-jack Virtual Bob’s mind and tell Taboo how to help them get out of the VR world. The boys are freed, Taboo literally unplugs Mindscape to “erase his ass” and it is a happy ending for all! Dane even lets Backlash and Taboo borrow the bit of VR equipment that they went to the Waering building to steal, as long as they promise to return it! A pretty happy ending for all… well, everyone except for LaSalle who’s still in a coma, being sent to Detroit, no closer to having the Daemonite information she needs to live, and her boyfriend just cheated on her with a criminal. Dammit, Slayton!

Continuity Corner!

  • I’m trying to figure out why Marlowe doesn’t recognise Backlash. I know it had been several decades since their time with Team One, but I expected something. Further proof that the Team One books should be pushed back in the reading order, as Marlowe gotten all his memories back yet!
  • It makes sense that Zealot doesn’t say much to Backlash, she didn’t seem to be too fond of him during Team One and she’s probably heard stories from Grifter about him.
  • Speaking of remembering who they were, is there any real reason that Backlash only seems to remember as far back as the ‘70s? Is there anything anywhere that says what happened? Not a one off line someplace about trauma he experienced during the failed Team One mission?
  • When the crew gets back to CyberJack’s place Taboo makes fun of how run down it is. He blames it all on Backlash on the I/O goons that trashed it in “the Kindred” Vol. 1 issue 1.
  • When Mr. Waering asking Dane what he’s doing while WetWorks has some R&R, he remarks he’s going to New York for personal reasons. I’d always assumed these reasons to be joining up with Deathblow.
  • Also, when Dane is talking to Waering he mentions that this is going on during “WetWorks” Vol. 1 issue 5. While that might be, it doesn’t really invalidate any of the overall narrative going on in the WSU and keeps the arcs in both “WetWorks” and “Backlash” pretty much intact.
  • I don’t know if it was intended, but seeing how Purgatory Max is both one of the highlights in Backlash’s life (meeting Taboo) and the worst moments in his life (the final mission of WildCore) is a pretty decent narrative call-back/mirror when we get to it.
  • Also, unmentioned above, but there’s some super powered bounty hunters hired by the government following Backlash around and trying to catch him for freeing Taboo. They don’t do much now, but are become important later.

Next: “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 25 and 9 by Steven T. Seagle, H. K. Proger, Scott Clark, Ryan Benjamin, Sandra Hope, Trevor Scott, Troy Hubbs, Tom McWeeney and Frank Percy