Tag Archives: Grifter

“Grifter : One Shot”

this entry covers “Grifter : One Shot” issue 1

Woo hoo! A Grifter solo book! Officially! Not just “the Savage Dragon” Vol. 2 issue 13 this time! So yeah, that’s good! The not so good news is that it isn’t by Choi and Lee. Awwwwwww… But, it still is a pretty damn fun book regardless!

So Cole is tooling around DC and he sees a couple at a bar. He knows the loudmouth the next booth over is a spy named Polchow and he is with a date. He also knows that spies like he and Polchow have been winding up dead as of late. Cole’s even betting that Polchow ends up on the chopping block before he does, so Cole hatches a plan to find out how, why and hopefully prevent it! Well, turns out that Polchow’s date was the killer, and Cole fails in trying to save Polchow and even manages to get stabbed with a poisoned blade, which causes him to pass out, at the scene of a crime. This is why you can’t let dames get in the way!

Cole wakes up tied to a chair. Who is holding him captive? An old frenemy named Gallows. He was on the Russian side during the Cold War, that’s the major difference between the two. Other than the fact that Gallows is mostly robotics now. What they have in common, is that they were both trained to be spies by the same man, Hans Arp. Cole is putting it together that the chickie he fought was trained by Arp as well, and Gallows lets him know that Arp has a crew of spy/assassin gals, and he’s using them to take out the competition AKA former Arp trained spy/assassins. It’s kinda like Molotov Cocktease’s plan during the season three finale of “the Venture Brothers” complete with a gaggle of female ass-kickers.

After figuring they can trust each other Gallows and Cole are getting reacquainted, during which we get a flashback to the last time they were together, and what they had thought were the final days of their former trainer. Arp was a real James Bond type back in the ’60s, but after the loss of his wife and kids he couldn’t go on. The US government decided to keep him on as a trainer for future spies, but eventually, Arp went into business for himself and started training spies for any and every country with the cash to pay. All the secret agencies in the world got together and sent their best to take out Arp, which, of course, were all trained by him. This all happened in the mountains of Switzerland, with snow, heights, the works. Gallows got shot down early but managed to survive enough to have a cyborg body built for him later, and Cole was the official last man standing against Arp. Cole had his gun to Arp’s head, and before he could pull it Arp shot his own climbing rope and fell. Everyone just shrugged their shoulders and assumed “Homey’s dead.”

As you can guess, Arp didn’t die at all. Now he’s back and he only has Gallows and Cole to stop him. There’s a bit of business with Cole and Gallows going undercover to find out more information, and dealings with a mad scientist type, but in the end, all leads us to Arp’s home of operation. So, Cole and Gallows burst in and start taking on all these assassin ladies. They manage to take out all the women, save one named Andromeda, and in the process Gallows sacrifices himself to save Cole. The lone woman standing almost gets Cole because he’s distracted by Arp running away, like a little baby. Cole makes short work of her and takes off to the roof after Arp.

On the roof, Cole and Arp are shouting at each other as they fire back and forth. Each of them are going a bit wild with the bullets, but it’s easy to understand because as spies they’re both good shots, but better dodgers. Arp’s main downfall is that he misjudges a gap in the roof as he jumps for Cole and falls to his death. This time, for real. Homey’s dead. Cole is a bit upset about all he’s gained and lost over the last few days. And as he leaves the premises of Arp’s would be spy headquarters he notices that Andromeda’s body is nowhere to be found. He wonders if he’ll see her again, and if they’ll be friends or enemies then, because if there’s anything this caper has shown him, it’s that you never know who’s with or against you.

Continuity Corner :

  • On the scale of WildStorm cybernetics from Ivana Baiul to Ladytron, Gallows rates at somewhere between Henry Bendix and CyberJack.
  • One of the reasons this book is placed here in continuity is due to the fact that Cole is already in Washington DC at the end “WildC.A.T.s” volume 1 issue 18. I figure he needs something to do while the team is busy helping Backlash out with all his lady troubles.
  • For a bit, I thought that this might come before Cole joins the WildC.A.T.s, but he mentions Zealot isn’t the only trainer he’s ever had. This leads me to believe that he may have already with the team. Also, he has his bullet bike and VADs, which I’m pretty sure are Halo issue.

NEXT : “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 20 & 21 and “StormWatch” Vol. 1 Special issue 2 by by Ron Marz, Steven T. Seagle, Mat Broome, Melvin Rubi, Michael Lopez, Cully Hammer, Allen Im, Terry Shoemaker, Pop Mhan, Chuck Gibson, Robert Jones, Gary Martin, Jon Holdredge, Randy Elliot, Jason Martin, Jeff Albrecht, Mike Christian, Saleem Crawford, Richard Friend, John Lowe, Mike Miller and Jason Rodriguez

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“WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 18

this entry covers “WildC.A.T.s : Covert Action Teams” volume 1 issue number 18, as well as the backup story “Savant : Wedding Day Jitters”

This issue is all about Pris and Cole! Yay! Just like the Special! Well, not exactly. First off, they’re not teaming up on a mission. Secondly, while Cole’s part of the story is totally “A Day in the Life of Grifter,” the Pris story is a story of the girl’s history, hopes, and dreams. It’s two stories happening at the same time, and either one would’ve been an awesome full issue, but it was fun to see them unfold side by side.

In our first story, Void takes on a mission to help our gal Pris. So Pris is still knocked out from that Daemonite attack several issues ago. She’s not coming out of her coma, so the best thing to do is put her in some crazy sci-fi contraption to link her brain to Void’s, you know, for easier brain access. Comic books everybody! As Void tours Pris’s mind she finds it divided up into various rooms. In the first, she sees Pris’s background as a dancer of various types, only thing is, Pris isn’t hiding in this room. Void moves to the next to see Pris and Spartan fighting twisted versions of the rest of the team. Void joins in the fight and even takes down her own evil doppelganger. On to the next room and the trio is fighting straight up Daemonites! Finally, there’s one room left, Pris must go there alone and confront her darkness. After all this, both women wake up. End Pris’s story.

Cole is on a mission. He’s been sent by Marlowe to figure out the Daemonites that are after the WildC.A.T.s and sicced Mr. White on them recently. The good news for Cole is that he gets information on a Daemonite that is plotting against the team and follows it up to find where that Daemonite currently is. The bad news for Cole is all roads have led him to Hightower when it was actually Defile that he’s after. I mean, Hightower is usually up to something, but for getting revenge for Pris, he isn’t your guy. I have a feeling that Defile got everything set up to go that way, but we never see it on the page. Cole tracks down Hightower hanging out with a bunch of Coda in Washington DC and calls the team to let them know what is up. This isn’t going to end well…

And, in our final story, Savant’s personal mission is to find King Solomon’s skull. It’s taken her and her pal Mabel all around the world and back to hunt down, and it turns out it’s on an island in the South Pacific. She finds out that she can have the skull if she marries the king of the island. She’s cool with that, as she’s just planning on grabbing the skull, knocking the king out and then flying away with Mabel. Well, not so easy it turns out! See, the king is a gigantic four-armed ape named Loooooth, uh oh! But come on, it’s Savant! She manages to get the skull, bop Magilla on the nose and catch her flight. But before she and Mabel can start high-fiving they find that there’s a gremlin on the plane’s wing! Womp-womp!

Continuity Corner :

  • During Pris’s story, Void finds an encoded memory (or meme, before that word became hijacked and lost all meaning) that fills in how Pris is part Kheribum and part Daemonite. It was a Daemonite experiment to create life, so their evil scientists mixed the blood of each race, twenty thousand souls and then let it bake for 15 days. Out popped the man who would one day lead us to Pris, and as it turns out, he turned on his creators. He’s no friend of Daemonites either.
  • We’ll see Pris’s ancestor again, but not until the “WildC.A.T.s Annual” issue 1, which doesn’t even occur until after “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 50! That’s a long wait for a return Mr. Voodoo’s Grandpappy!
  • For all seriousness, after looking at the cover and reading the book, how badass would it’ve been for Pris to always have a lightsaber? So awesome, right?
  • I’m not going to lie, I usually forget when the hell Pris got hurt. Even reading “WildC.A.T.s” on its own I usually have to pull up issues going backwards until I re-encounter those first few pages of issue 15.
  • I know there’s no possible way for it to be true, but I’d like to think that Looooth arrived on the South Pacific island to rule after he escaped the island of gigantic monsters from “Planetary” issue 2. There’s nothing that contradicts that, and Looooth does have 4 arms, he could probably swim pretty well. Hey, it’s still in the Pacific, just a little further South and warmer, I’m not ruling it out!

NEXT : “Backlash” issues 6 and 7 by Brett Booth, Jeff Mariotte, Sean Ruffner, Dan Norton, Melvin Rubi, Chuck Gibson, Sandra Hope, Edwin Rosell, and Tim Townsend.

“WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 17

this entry covers issue 17 of “WildC.A.T.s Covert Action Teams” volume 1

wildcats_vol1_17The WildC.A.T.s are all looking for Maul. They cannot find him in Morroco, New York City or the Florida Keys. Jacob is sending them out against the remaining members of the Cabal, to pump them for leads or full of holes, whichever gets the job done. Void finally gets a bit of information, collects the other members of the team, then she goes solo to SkyWatch and nabs Maul. Story over for the heroes of this book.

When we take a look at the villains of this issue we get some cool bits of story and characterization. We see a Cabal member almost spill his guts about Defile to Zealot, right before Void teleports her back to NYC. We also find out that Pike once had a drug-fueled vision that he’d kill a WildC.A.T. member. While he isn’t sure which one, he is always seeming to fight Warblade whenever possible, so he’s at least picked a favorite. Finally, we have Defile, breaking into the morgue where I/O had the shapeshifter’s body stashed, and reanimating, and naming, Mr. White.

Continuity Corner:

  • Uh yeah, this is like the fifth time I’ve put this note in the continuity corner, but in case you missed it, Defile turned Maul into a monster, who in turn lead to Battalion “dying” and that’s why he’s all passed out on SkyWatch.
  • The lead that Void gets on Maul’s location is unknown. I would think that it would be Defile, to make sure the two teams totally hate each other, but we see him clearly telling his henchman that StormWatch can do with “the creature” as they wish in “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 17.
  • We have a page of Savant where it says she’s been to Atlantis. Of course, she has, it was ruled by a Kherabim Lord, as we’ll find out in “Backlash” issue 28.

NEXT: “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 18 & 19 by Ron Mars, Mat Broome, Jeff Rebner, Salvador Larroca, Pop Mhan and pretty much every damn inker on the WildStorm Studios payroll at the time.

“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.)

“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 5 through 12

this entry cover “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 5 through 12.

DeathblowVol1_05-12Ugh, where do I start with this one? Yeah, this is one of the longer “runs” of issues together from a single series for this project that usually ping-pongs back and forth between the titles to keep some kind of consistent chronological continuity. The reason for this is that this stretch, once you get to the end of it, never happened. Ugh. I know. Exactly. Maybe “never” is a strong word. Parts of this probably happened… maybe, and most of what came before in this series (issues 0 – 4) mostly happened… I think. See, this is what happens when you wipe some stuff away, but not everything… OK, where to start… I guess we just dive right into issue 5.

So, we are treated to finding out about a young man named Christopher. Kid is amazing, in a Jesus heal-the-sick kind of way, after bringing a drowned orphan back to life. Cray sees this on the news in his doctor’s waiting room, unimpressed. He gets an MRI and is told “Uh… your cancer is worse, sir”. What do you do with this kind of info? Why go out and find yourself a stripper that looks a lot like your ex-wife Gaby. That’s some good thinking!

While this is going on, there’s a serial killer on the loose, he’s named Herod by the media and cops and he’s taking out children. All signs point to him being military, secret military, like an I/O type guy. While everyone seems to think it is Cray for a variety of reasons, we know he’s innocent and that Trickle is the real Herod. Bad news for Cray that Trickle is Herod, because that also means that Trickle is working for the Black Angel.

There’s a lot of nonsense that goes on, backstabbing, double crossing, all that, and if I wanted this entry to be as long as the comics I’d get into it, who’s got time for all that. I don’t, you don’t, let’s cut to the chase. Sister Mary has the magical Christopher and they trust Cray. They get information that they need from Cray’s friends Henri and Ryana and are on the run. Trickle is after them and wants to capture Christopher for the Black Angel, and he manages to kill Gaby. Ok, on with the story!

The Black Angel gets a hold of the sigil headbands that will assist  the Black Angel in getting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse going. The Black Angel then tasks his minions with getting the corpses of the I/O men who died in “Deathblow” issue 0 to turn them into the Horsemen. Bad ass idea Mr. Angel! But before the Horsemen start raising hell, Trickle is still trying to take down Cray and get Christopher, all he has to do is wait for them to exit the abbey that they’re holed up in.

While in Montcairn Abbey, Cray is told he needs to confess his sins, as well as what is holding him back in life, and they’ll give to the Holy Grail. This is what Cray’s really been after this whole time, the Holy Grail, a sip will cure him of his cancer. He hits the confessional booth, sips from the cup and he’s getting ready to leave when he’s suddenly ambushed by Trickle, the Black Angel and a ton of demons. Lucky for him Lynch is near with a Black Razor squad. Why is Lynch around? After those bodies were taken from I/O cryogenic storage he and Craven started to think that Cray was involved in something, so they tracked him down. Lynch and his boys join in the fight, but it matters not, the Black Angel gets away with Christopher and Cray knows it is up to him to save the lad. The monks give Cray the Sword of Heaven and let him drink from the true Holy Grail, those wacky monks and their fake outs, before they take off to save the day.

While Sister Mary, Cray and a bunch of monks get ready to storm New York and get back Christopher before the Black Angel can summon Lucifer, we see Lynch put in a call to Jack Rhodes telling him Cray’s going to need some help, call some of our old Team 7 buds! This works, and just as Cray is seeing the destruction of the Horsemen on television, Cash, Slayton and Backlash show up to help. Holy shit, it’s Team 7 versus the Four Horsemen of the damn Apocalypse! It is pretty awesome. I mean, I dunno, this is as crazy and rad as it sounds. I can’t do it words, just go pick up that fancy trade and see this in its glory!

The Black Angel is atop one of the World Trade Center towers, which is a real sign of when this comic was produced. He’s up there to use Christopher’s life energy to open a portal to Hell. On Cray’s journey up, he encounters “Death” and figures out how to beat him. It’s as easy as breaking the sigil head bands. He puts the word out to the other Team 7 members, but they don’t all hear him clearly over their communication system. They all eventually figure it out though. Cray gets to the top of the WTC with Sister Mary and some others and they are having a hard time. Cash shows up to help, dies. Slayton shows up, half skeletonized, dies. Dane shows up and reminds Cray to use the Sword of Heaven, dies. Cray uses it, stabs the Black Angel through the heart and it’s over.

It being over is Christopher trying to undo ever bad thing that has happened before he leaves. He know he can’t make everything right, and one of those things is bringing Gaby back to life for Cray. We found out earlier that during Cray and Gaby’s honeymoon in London Cray got roped into an I/O operation by Trickle. Things went all pearshaped, and in the middle of it all, a young child wondered into the fray and Gaby protected the little bugger. At that moment is when Gaby actually died and she was used a vessel on Earth for the archangel Gabriel. So yeah, Christopher can’t undo her death in the last few days because her actual death happened 2 years ago. Talk about a bummer. Christopher then ascends to heaven and the archangel has some words of encouragement for Cray, which in turn leads to Cray quitting I/O for good.

Ok, so yeah, this is a long story, and it is worth reading. I couldn’t really do these eight issues justice because there’s a lot going on. I’ve criticized some early WildStorm comics as having too much going on that it becomes a mess, but this isn’t the case. There’s just a lot of stuff going on, it all tracks well, and isn’t complicated for the sake of being complicated. It’s the story of Micheal Cray finding his redemption in this world as well as a way to go forward in it.

Continuity Corner

  • Because this all didn’t happen, and we know that Dane was on his way to New York from “Backlash” issue 5, now that this didn’t go down I’m assuming his plans were to go and have some brews with Cray at the Drop Zone, or just be there for his pal who’s dealing with cancer. Wait… did the cancer get wiped away in story too? See, this is messy!
  • Also, due to this not happening in any way, I guess Lynch didn’t have much going on before throwing in with the Gen13 kids, as he seemed pretty hot to get back to Nevada after helping Cray and the Sister at the abbey.
  • I’m just going to assume for my own sake that the reason Slayton and Cole aren’t acing pissy towards each other right now is because it’s the end of the world, and who cares about past grievances when you have to face the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Not one cocky comment towards each other the whole time.
  • Hey, this mini Team 7 reunion never having happened fits in better with the reactions of Dane and Cash re: the first and second meetings of their new teams. (The WildC.A.T.s crashing the WetWorks team’s pad for a hot second in “WetWorks” Vol. 1 issues 4 & 5 and the follow up conversation in “WetWorks” Vol. 1 issue 8 during the WildStorm Rising cross over.)
  • There seems to be some confusion on Cray’s GenFactor. In these early issues of “Deathblow” it seems as if it is being described as his GenFactor is just now kicking in, in response to his cancer, and hadn’t been present earlier, according to Lynch and Craven. But we’ve seen in “Team 7 : Objective : Hell” issue 3 that he was “killed” but then came back. Maybe the GenFactor only kicks in once he’s so close to death and he reads and GenFactor-less until that happens.
  • The owner of the strip club “the Drop Zone” was also the owner of “the Hot Spot” which is where Voodoo used to dance. His old place got blown the hell up, his new place is the scene of an attempted murder, guy can’t catch a break.
  • We actually see two different men act as Herod in these issues. First a lumberjack type, then later Trickle. Both are tasked to either kill or capture Christopher, and it is a job given to them by the Black Angel. Oddly, this isn’t the only “Herod” that is tasked with killing a supposed Christ child in the WSU. We also see a Herod, who was appointed by Maragret Thatcher get his comeuppance in “Planetary” issue 7. Being a Herod, it’s a job in the WildStorm Universe.

Next“Gen13” Vol. 1 issues 1 – 5 by J. Scott Campbell, Brandon Choi, Jim Lee, Jeff Mariotte, Alex Garner and Sandra Hope

“The Kindred” Vol. 1 issues 1 through 4

KindredVol1this entry covers the miniseries “the Kindred”

Yay, welcome back! So… yeah, it’s been a bit, but here we are, back again… and if you didn’t think a blog covering early ‘90s Image books might sometimes be a few months late… well… dammit, I’ve used this joke before, haven’t I? OK, on with the show!

It’s not often I get to say this, but this series is a mess, a beautiful fantastic mess! Those three last words can be used quite a bit individually to describe different WildStorm books, but all three at once, that’s what makes “the Kindred” a special book. Part of the mess nature of the book just comes down to how most comics were written at the time. Straight ahead narratives didn’t become en vogue for comics until around the time Warren Ellis took over on “StormWatch.” Getting too clever by half, trying to ape the styles of better writers or just plain understanding your story enough to toss in extra stuff to keep it interesting for yourself as the writer all seem likely stories for early WildStorm books. Though “the Kindred” may suffer from the age old problem of too many cooks in the kitchen, I mean it credits Jim Lee, Brandon Choi, Brett Booth and Sean Ruffner with the story. It doesn’t give a breakdown on who was in charge of the final script, but I’m guessing that it was up to Brett and Sean. Regardless, it is still a fun book, and when it came out I felt like it was a big deal, seeing two different guys from team books team up together! Also we get some I/O action, sweet!

Let’s get to the story here. Backlash is still on the lookout for any and all information on Daemonites. He goes to his old pal Cyberjack. Cyberjack AKA Jack Rhodes was a Team 7 member, who was off the team before they got their powers. Not that you’d’ve guessed that by looking at him, considering he’s half cyborg. And even more unlucky for him, all those robotical parts don’t even help keep him out of a wheelchair. I can’t remember if we ever get a straight story on where these cybernetics came from. Was it back when he was in I/O after being rendered paraplegic? A couple “long vacations” in Genosha? Is he more of a DIY kinda guy? Either way, he’s got no info for Backlash and before Backlash can leave, a bunch of I/O goons bust in and kidnap Backlash. Kinda odd, if they needed him why didn’t they say so when he was calling Lynch in the “Prologue” to this book? Don’t worry, it’s not a continuity error, we’ll get to it. I/O talks Backlash into coming with them, and he agrees, as long as they leave Cyberjack alone. Of course, since it’s I/O goons, once Backlash is far enough away, the last I/O man present is ordered to kill Cyberjack. Before that can happen, Grifter shows up to save the day. How’d Grifter get here? Remember that page he got back in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 8? Yep, Cyberjack sent him that page. But how did Cyberjack know he’d be in trouble enough to need saving? Well… read on, we’ll get to it!

Back at I/O proper, Backlash meets up with Frank Colby. Colby, Lynch’s right hand man… well, right hand man after Alicia Turner. Colby is a character I’d never paid much attention to until I started reading all of these books from WildStorm back to back. He shows up so often! And even though he’s usually kind of a dick because he tows the I/O company line, when he decides to go rogue a few years later in “DV8” he gets to be pretty awesome. Anyway, he tells Backlash that Lynch and Turner have been kidnapped by a group calling themselves the Kindred. Backlash isn’t interested, but Colby changes his mind by showing him the carcass of B’Lial, the Daemonite that possessed Dan Quayle! Apparently Youngblood handed it over to I/O after the events of “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 4. Colby agrees to tell Backlash what he knows about the alien creature, in exchange for him leading an I/O Black Razor team to save Lynch and Turner from their kidnappers. Colby’s done his research and already knows where they are hiding out, Caballito Island, and where they are most likely keeping Lynch and Turner.

Before Backlash is off to Caballito Island, Grifter catches up with what’s going on. See, before Grifter left Team 7 and I/O for good, he installed a virus on the Team 7 files that I/O has so that whenever they’re accessed I/O’s system would crash. Cyberjack can tell that the Team 7 files have been accessed once more, but something was odd, it was accessed by Lynch, but Lynch had just recently been kidnapped. How Cyberjack knows most of this boggles my mind, but he’s just trying to tie the “Call to Action” moments together. Maybe his true power is explaining the narrative. Either way, this is why he paged Grifter, someone was accessing the files, it’s just a bonus that Grifter got there in enough time to save his life. Cyberjack gives Grifter a lift to I/O where Grifter breaks in, crawls through the massive ducts and overhears Colby and Backlash talking about the Daemonite and becomes keen to help save Alicia and to a lesser extent Lynch. To tag along, he secretly hitches a ride on the Black Razon’s plane to Caballito Island.

OK, so what exactly is going on on Caballito Island? Well, back in the day, I/O scientists were trying to perfect the Genesis Serum by experimenting on animal fetuses in a research facility on the island. All part of another attempt of Miles Craven to create his own superhumans. Well the scientists leave, after getting the results they needed, and leave their experimental creatures there. Time goes by, and these creatures are all grown up, and somehow a man who goes by the name Bloodmoon finds these creatures and becomes their leader. The creatures are the titular Kindred, and they, as well as Bloodmoon, mean to try Lynch for inhumane crimes against nature for his part in I/O and in the creation of the Kindred.

But who is Bloodmoon? He’s another Team 7 member that left the team pre-Gen-Factor-ing, there so damn many of these guys! This one is named Robert Diaz and Backlash left him for as good as dead on a mission in South America, way back when. This pissed off Grifter, who wanted to go back for Diaz, and it very may well have been the start of the rift between the two. Though shot, Diaz managed to hang onto life enough to get tossed into a prison camp. After a few years he escaped the camp, stole a boat, and landed on Caballito. The Kindred allowed him to live among them, but they didn’t trust him. He eventually finds the I/O base, finds the writings of the I/O scientists and starts taking the Genesis Serum. He gets stronger, smarter and adopts the name Bloodmoon. He lets the Kindred in on how they were created and then becomes their leader. He is also hopelessly addicted to the Genesis Serum and needs to find a way to make more, as he’s recently run out. So yeah, he acts as if his a big animal-man right’s activist, but he’s just a crazy junkie who is all out of his super-science happy-foo drug.

Well Backlash, Grifter and Colby don’t spend too much time on the island before they are found out and brought before Bloodmoon. What they are witness to is Lynch already on trial, and the trail is him fighting one of the Kindred in an arena, Roman style. Lynch fires up his crazy Gen-Factor powers, and correct me if I’m wrong, but this may be the first time he’s using them since the Team 7 book. I assume he doesn’t use them that much because of how crazy it affects him, and it takes Turner to calm him back down after he kicks the hell out of his opponent. Wait… Turner has psy-powers too? Yeah, it’s cool, but it’s kinda dumb how she got them. See… uh… Grifter gave his to her when they were still dating. Uh… yeah…

Now, while Lynch has passed the trial, he’s not free. Instead of being killed, his punishment is to live out the rest of his life on Cabillito with the Kindred and Bloodmoon. Bloodmoon summons Backlash and Grifter to their own trial against a God-damn muscle bound teddy bear. Backlash gets beat up and dumped in a lake. Grifter gets beat up and put in a research tank to heal, as well as get information from his body about his Gen-Factor to help Bloodmoon make new drug. Not sure how that’d work seeing as how most of Grifter’s Gen-Factor is in Turner… but you know, that story hadn’t been written yet, so you know… whatevs. After Grifter is put in a normal prison room, he breaks into the walls and goes to see Turner. Some dude just like climbing through vents. They have a moment, and she says how much she still loves him. The ladies in Grifter’s life toss themselves at him, and he always remarks back that they’re too good for him, so he can’t stay with them. Cole, work on you self esteem, buddy! You’re a pretty alright guy! Also, Colby and Lynch are together and manage to break out of their prison cell as well.

Colby and Lynch go to rescue Turner, find Grifter with her, and it turns out that Backlash wasn’t dead after all, and they all meet up and try to escape. But there’s nowhere to really run! It’s a fucking island! The Black Razor ship was attacked when I/O was first arriving. But, in a moment of deus ex machina, the one I/O member that never went to the research facility, managed to survive the plane crash, avoid other members of the Kindred, rebuild the radio from the downed ship, and contact I/O. Implausible, but not impossible, I guess. It’s a real Billy Madison moment with Grifter saying “I sure am glad I didn’t shoot that guy!” kinda thing. Anyway, he arrives on a helicopter, over a bridge as Bloodmoon and the Kindred are chasing our heroes across it. He lowers a ladder, Lynch, Turner andColby climb up it right away. Then, suddenly the bridge starts to break with Backlash, Grifter and Bloodmoon still on it. Ridiculous names equals ridiculous consequences. Grifter grabs ahold of Bloodmoon’s arm and tells him that he won’t be left behind this time. They start to fall and Backlash catches them with his whippy-hand things. Backlash is too weak from all the fighting to hold both of them up, and since Grifter refuses to let Bloodmoon go, he sends an electric shock up his whip which gives Grifter a spasm causing him to drop Bloodmoon.

Back on the helicopter, on the way home, Grifter decks Backlash for letting Diaz die… again. Lynch calls Craven and tells him what’s been going on. Craven basically says “Glad you’re OK. Oh, the kidnappers were crazy Dr. Moreau creatures and ex-Team 7? Also the entire team of Black Razors are dead? No worries, it’s all good, we’ll take care of it, lates bitches!” and shoots a gigantic lazer beam from space at the entire island. This frustrates Lynch beyond belief. It’s like he knows that I/O is wrong right now, and that Craven is usually a right bastard, but I/O was always doing questionable, yet good things! Now, he’s not so sure. If only there was a rag-tag band of teenagers to show him the way to a more fulfilling life…

The helicopter drops off Grifter and Backlash before they get back to I/O headquarters, because Lynch seriously doesn’t want to have to deal with the paperwork of explaining Grifter’s part in the mission. He gives Backlash a disk with the info on the Daemonites and the Cabal as well. Did Lynch just have this in his pocket the whole time? Whatta crazy wacky guy that Lynch is! Always carrying computer discs with sensitive information in his pockets. Never know when a buddy might need information about the aliens that put his girlfriend in a coma! The helicopter takes off and Grifter and Backlash share some choice words before they each go their separate ways. Grifter plans on taking Backlash down if they ever run into each other again. I mean, we know that won’t happen, but it doesn’t seem like Grifter is big-talking, he’s real-talking. It’s just that future events will put doing the right thing, and not beating the hell out of Backlash, on a higher priority.

Continuity Corner!

  • I/O lazered the living damn out of Caballito Island, but the island and I/O base will become home to the DV8 team later. Also, the Kindred survive, Craven might want to get that space lazer checked.
  • Lynch is becoming more and more disillusioned with Craven and how I/O is being run. Can’t blame him for running off with Gen13 after all this. This is such good set up, I’m not even kidding, I think it works so perfectly! John Lynch is practically the center of the WildStorm Universe and it has been fascinating watching him grow as a character.
  • The Genesis Serum is the product of Project Genesis, the program that lead to Team 7 getting their powers after the serum was perfected, as well as being the government project that was reopened later to find the super powered children in Gen13 and DV8.
  • We also find out that Project Genesis was started after the failure of Team One. Craven really wanted his super powered beings to be on his terms after that mess it seems.
  • It’s not long before we see Grifter and Backlash again, on the same side, and not acting like jerks to each other. It happens in the pages of “Deathblow” and it’s a mini Team 7 reunion too! So sweet! But they laid on their mutual distaste for each other so much in both “Team 7” and “the Kindred” that it feels kinda odd that they’re not snipping at each other the whole time.

Next : “Backlash” issues 1 – 5 by Sean Ruffner, Jeff Mariotte and Brett Booth.

“WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 8 & 9

wildcatsvol009

this entry covers the main story from “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 8 and 9 as well as the back-up story “Warblade : the Bonds of Blood and Steel” from “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 9.

The idea of these issues are to show how the team spends their time off from being a member of a covert action team. Grifter and Zealot hit up a dive bar, Warblade and Maul go out to look at art and mac on ladies, Jacob checks up on an investment, Spartan follows Jacob, Voodoo follows Spartan and Void stays at home all alone… so very alone. Of course something goes wrong eventually and they have to suit up and take down some jackass, but seeing the team with some downtime is fun.

Grifter and Zealot are at one of Grifter’s old haunts, the diveiest of dives. A place so divey that southern redneck types hang out there, despite the bar being in New York City. There’s a bar brawl, Zealot wins and Grifter gets a message on his pager from Cyberjack with the code “T7.” Grifter lets Zealot know that he’s gotta bolt, personal guy stuff. She gives him a rather forward kiss for luck, and he’s off to the pages of “the Kindred” a little dismayed that his ex, that he’s having trouble getting over, just frenched in an NYC alleyway. So if you want to follow the thread of Grifter’s story bale out now and wait a month and I’ll get to it (kidding, I hope it isn’t another month between blogs!)

Warblade and Maul. I’ve already told you. Maccin’ on babes, visiting art shows.

Jacob, Voodoo and Spartan are sailing the high seas on one of Jacob’s cruise liners. Jeeze, Jacob sure got a lot done in the two years after Void found him in the streets! That’s besides the point, Jacob and crew are out on this cruise because he just had another one of his cruise ships go missing in this location. What kind of heroes are these? So one ship goes missing, why not get aboard another ship, strike out towards the same location with a whole bunch more innocent people and see what happens. Nope, let’s not go this alone, let’s endanger folks. Good call. Also, known mutie scum may be aboard this vessel as well.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, just before Voodoo got Spartan all talked into a smooch does Jacob stop by. Even worse is that after Jacob delivers a few lines that the whole ship is sucked up into the air. Voodoo, you’re never going to get to bang that robot at this rate. This brings up an interesting point. Voodoo has never been presented as an innocent, hell she used to be an exotic dancer, but in these scenes with Spartan she’s coming on much more forward than we’ve ever seen and pretty much more than we’ll see going forward. It always stands out to me when I re-read this issue. It’s not totally off base, but just enough to notice.

Back to the main dilemma, a boat being sucked into the sky. Turns out this is the work of Lord Entropy, another one of the Kherubim high lords that came to Earth. And he’s seeking vengeance on our lil buddy Jacob a.k.a. Lord Emp. Why the vengeance? Turns out that back in the middle ages when Jacob and Entropy were fighting as English knights Jacob killed Entropy’s wife. Why? Because she had just become a host to a Daemonite. That’s what Kherubim do, they hunt Daemonites (and if they’re English knights at the time, they also probably give the Scots a hard time as well.) Either Entropy forgets that a Daemonite took over his wife, or he missed that happening, because it doesn’t matter to him a bit. Dude’s out for Emp blood.

Back in New York, Void gets a vision of what’s going on. It helps that Entropy is using an orb/part of an orb to torture Jacob and co. because that helps her clue right in on the problem and where to go. She gets Jules to find Zealot and Zealot tracks down Warblade and Maul and they all rocket out to sea to find their fellow teammates. In a floating castle. With innocent cruiseliner folks lining the walls, while crystals grow around them, embedding them. For some reason.

Entropy is kicking everyone’s ass. The WildC.A.T.s he captured and the WildC.A.T.s that just showed up. As I said earlier, he has the power of the orb/an orb and it is amping his natural Kherubim powers. This give Void the bright idea to bond with Jacob and shut this joker down. Team up and blast ‘em. It works! The ‘C.A.T.s book it back to their plain/spaceship M.I.R.V. and are on they’re way back to NYC. Jules managed to save about 20 civilians while the rest of the team was taking care of business.

While captured Entropy does something to Jacob’s brain that gets him to remember the long life he has had. Dude has virtually no memory of what came before that day in August of 1990 when Void found him drunk in an alley. After Entropy does his thing Jacob’s brain is fixed and he starts to come to terms with who he is as well as what he’s done over his long life on Earth. Technically for this reason the “Team One” stories should probably be placed here, as they “WildC.A.T.s” issues are flashbacks of Jacob thinking over his life, thoughts he couldn’t’ve had prior the the events of “WildC.A.T.s” issue 9, but everyone is always on my case of not putting “Team One” in the “Pre-History” section. But look, the books are from Jacob’s memories, which he just got back from that mess with Lord Entropy! Also, all this thinking makes Jacob want to quit the team. Hell, if he saw what was coming in the next few issues, I wouldn’t blame him.

Back-up story time! Warblade takes down a Daemonite in an apartment. The Daemonite had taken over the life of single father. The son of said father sees Warblade take down his pops, but the kid is none the wiser of the alien possession. Warblade does the right thing and gets kid to the Halo Legal Department and tells them to help the kid find a new and decent home. Kid does an adorable little kid punch at Warblade’s face. Eh, not the worst short story, but not much there except for Travis Charest’s artwork.

Next: “Team 1: WildC.A.T.s” issues 1 & 2 by James Robinson & Rich Johnson and “Team 1: StormWatch” issues 1 & 2 by Steven T. Seagle and Tom Raney