Tag Archives: Ben Santini

“Black Ops” issues 1 & 2

This entry covers “Black Ops” issues 1 & 2 by Shon Bury, Dan Norton, and Sandra Hope.

blackops_001I’m just going to get this out of the way, the premise of this book is that there’s an undercover I/O Black Razor team out there doing missions. The only person at I/O that knows about them is John Lynch. Lynch is no longer with I/O so there’s no one to either call them back home or vouch for them as I/O employees. Also, Miles Craven is doing business with the main dude they are going after, so this book is pretty much I/O vs. I/O. Why do I want to get that out of the way? Because, maybe it’s just me, but I kept getting this confused the first few times I read it.

The I/O Black Ops team is who we are concerned with. The team consists of Shire, GQ, Redbird and Jason Takomi with Geek back at the safehouse. Don’t get attached to Takomi, he bites it right away on the big I/O mission against a company called Spectrum. Spectrum is a company that manufactures machines of war and is selling them to the highest bidder. The man that runs Spectrum is Gennady Markov and he’s pissed that all the CEOs of Spectrum have been murdered by this black ops team. He goes running to Miles Craven because Spectrum is I/O. Of course, it is! It is an evil corporation profiting off war, damn straight Craven is involved. Craven makes it a point to let Markov know that whoever did this will be dealt with.

An aside: I’m wondering if Lynch knew that Spectrum was involved with Craven and I/O? Is this one of his last few acts as an I/O employee trying to take down the bad elements of the company he works for? We all knew he was paying a visit to the Gen13 compound because he was wanting to see what they were up to, and that’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. If the Black Ops team found out that they were fighting I/O and reported that to Lynch would he have taken flight from I/O with them instead?

So the undercover Black Razor team (our heroes) get a visit from an I/O Black Hammer team. While this is going on, Geek is getting an encrypted file from a mysterious someone inside I/O. The Black Ops team now knows they are on their own as they just fended themselves off from other I/O agents. While jetting away on their plane, the Talon, Geek cracks the code and it is leading them to a former I/O Black Razor leader named Donovan J. Crane, currently residing in Montana.

blackops_002Meanwhile, Miles Crane is telling the new I/O director, Alejandro Rios, that he wants the terrorists who shot up the Spectrum CEOs found and eliminated. Director Rios puts together a small group of I/O talent to talk it over, in attendance is Ben Santini as well as two women, one named Cathrine Kwan and one named Rose. Rios assures the room that he’s dealing with the situation, but if anyone in the room could be of help he’s ready to hear it. Not much happens here other than some I/O director drama.

The Black Ops team are getting a boatload of drama of their own. Namely, one Col.Crane who doesn’t want to be bothered. Things cool down so that they can eventually tell Crane their hard luck story. He kindly decides to train them, because the only reason he took them out so easily is that they’d become too reliant on their I/O gadgets and technology. Speaking of technology, while the rest of the team is training, Geek is building and upgrading a robot that he found in Crane’s backyard.

Just about the time that Geek is showing off his invention, named HERB, he also lets it slip that I/O has located the team and another Black Razor team is coming after them. Brace for a new fight Black Ops! Meanwhile, we see that Gen. Markov’s plan all along was to get enough I/O tech to build his own Black Hammer suit in order to make Russia great again.

Continuity Corner:

  • This book has a tough placement. The first two issues happen before “Deathblow” volume one issue 25 (the death of Miles Craven), and issues 3 through 5 happen after “Fire from Heaven” is over (Jack Lynch is back in La Jolla). When you get down to it though, the time in the WildStorm Universe from “Deathblow” volume one issue 24 through “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 34 is only really a matter of a handful of days, like a week, tops. The problem is, is that there is a whole mess of books between issue 2 and issue 3, and it’s very easy to forget about these characters when you get to see them again.
  • It doesn’t help when there’s a reference on the first page of this book referring to Laslo making a heroin drop off the day before, a nod to “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue #21. Not sure if we are to suppose that Laslo got away as well after the events of that book, or that Laslo is already out on bail after the events of that book and back to his old drug slinging ways. Or if we are to suppose that this book takes place the day after “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue #21. If so, then damn… I think this may be a time where my head canon/no prize explanation of the story makes it fit a little bit in the wider scheme of things.
  • We do have a reference that the last time the Black Ops team got a money drop was four months prior, so it’s been at least that long since Lynch left I/O.
  • Still not sure who that Rose woman was that we see at the I/O meeting. It wasn’t Rose Grady from the Black Razors. This book sure throws a lot of new characters at you, and pretty quickly, too!
  • In “Deathblow” volume one issue #24 we’ll find out why Alicia Turner isn’t at this I/O director’s meeting. Turns out she’s being held by the Brethren because she was caught trying to help former Team 7 members from getting their Gen-Factor sucked out.
  • I’m willing to buy that the time it took Col. Crane to train up the Black Ops team and the time it took I/O to find them that a week or two could’ve passed fitting this all into the timeline pretty well.
  • Lynch has twice left people out in the field. First with the Black Ops team then later with Holden Carver. Get your head together Lynch!

NEXT: “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issues 23 & 24 by Alan Moore, Ryan Benjamin, Jason Johnson, Art Thibert, Terry Austin, Tom McWeeney, Hakjoon Kang, Andy Owens and Harry Thuran

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“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

“WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 15 – 16

this entry covers “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 15 through 16

WildCATsVol1_15-16There’s not too terribly much I can say about these two issues. We have Travis Charest on art and James Robinson on script. It’s like a perfect comic book! Even better it is starring some of my favorite comic characters, the WildC.A.T.s! So yeah, I love it, but it isn’t an overly complex story.

One of the biggest differences of this comic, is that it doesn’t really seem to star the WildC.A.T.s at all! In fact, if this was an episode of a television show, it’d come off more like a backdoor pilot for a spin-off series. It stars I/O’s Black Razor team as lead by Ben Santini. The Black Razor’s are dispatched help keep certain government officials from getting assassinated. Jacob Marlowe has been appointed to an energy commission by the government, who will be meeting up with all kinds of very important, and high ranking people. While on a mission saving one official they start to find out information on the next hit, and that’s where the WildC.A.T.s come in.

As it turns out, I/O have done their homework and figured out that it is a Daemonite plot to take out these government officials. They also find out that one of the ways these hits have been being carried out is with a Daemonite shapeshifter. On the one assassination attempt they manage to foil, they find out that the shapeshifter they were after was already placed for the next assassination. Next on the hit list is an oil baron, who’s meeting with Jacob Marlowe, and just who is this shapeshifter posing as? Oh, a WildC.A.T…. duh! See how it all comes together?

It doesn’t go smoothly and the Black Razors are basically fighting the WildC.A.T.s as they try to establish which one of them is fighting in an unusual style. Listen, I know the WildC.A.T.s haven’t been around long, but I can’t figure out how I/O already has a handbook of their fighting styles created. I mean, geez so much for being a covert action team, everybody knows a little too much about these guys! Anyway, Santini figures it out, turns out it was Maul, and takes him out in the middle of the battle. He smarts off to Jacob and takes off. Now the only mystery left is, where the hell is Maul?

Like I said, not too much to it really. A simple story told and drawn incredibly well!

Continuity Corner:

  • Santini has hated Jacob ever since he shot out his left knee in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 2, just to get attention, that little creep.
  • While he’ll pop in here and there over the years, Santini will get a starring role in the WSU as the leader of “StormWatch : Team Achilles”
  • Though by reading through the letters pages, it seems that there was supposed to be a series starring Santini and this group of Black Razors that never materialized.
  • Speaking of this group of Black Razors, I’m not sure we see them again, except for the Spartan short stories in the first 3 issues of “WildStorm!”
  • Speaking of a particular Black Razor seems as if Adam Fleming changed his name to Cyril between issues. Either that or I didn’t notice if there were twins on the team.
  • On the first few pages of issue 15 we see Jacob noticing that Warblade wants to go on a Daemonite hunt, which means “Warblade : Endangered Species” can’t be too far behind.
  • If you hadn’t already figured it out, the Daemonite that was posing as Maul was the shapeshifting one we saw on the last few pages of “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 14. We saw him showing off his skill to Defile, who is all mixed up in this.
  • One of Jacob’s main jobs on the energy commission he’s been assigned to is undo all the messed up stuff that B’Lail put in place while he was possessing Dan Quayle.

NEXT: “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 15 – 17 by Ron Marz, Mat Broome and Trevor Scott with Ryan Benjamin, Dan Norton, Alex Garner, Sandra Hope, Tom McWeeney, Chuck Gibson and Jim Lee.