Tag Archives: Hunter-Killers

“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 17 – 19

this entry covers issues 17 through 19 of “Deathblow” volume 1.

Deathblow_Vol_1_17Reporter Karl Woodbern has info on Kaizen Gamorra. It’s information that Kaizen does not want to get out, in fact, the Gamoran leader wants him dead. Who’s a hotshot reporter supposed to turn to for protection? Why Rayna Masters of course! Not that Woodbern wants Rayna to protect him, or even her main dude the Sergeant-Major. Nope, Woodbern wants the protection of Micheal Cray more than anything! Here’s the kicker, Cray and Woodbern have a past and in the past Woodbern’s actions resulted in the death of one of Cray’s soldiers. Thusly, Cray hates Woodbern and does not want to work for him. Woodbern gets Cray to come around once Woodbern mentions that the information he has concerns Cray and is tied into files about Project Genesis.

Alright, then we get into some business with Woodbern needing to get his computer disk of information, but it’s all kind of too much. I mean there’s a strip joint and a stripper involved after all. And then Kaizen’s goons show up to shoot up the joint and kidnap Woodbern. While the goons get away Frank Colby and the Black Razor’s show up to spoil the fun. Rayna manages to intimidate Cobly into leaving them all alone, and the stripper hands off Woodbern’s info disk to Cray. Cray hits up his information buddy Henri Rothchild for help reading the disk, and finds more information on it than Woodbern let on! Not just information on Project Genesis but also about an organ harvesting program, Gabriel Newman and Cray’s Pops! Uh oh! Time to high-tail it to Gamorra!

Deathblow_Vol_1_18Rayna and the Sergeant-Major get into Gamorra by plane as Cray parachutes in, because that guy is bad ass always takes the hard road. Rayna pretty quickly gets taken in by more of Kaizen’s goons. And while the Sergeant-Major thinks he’s hot on the tail of these kidnappers, it turns out he’s been faked out too. Time to break into Kaizen’s compound. Not that he’s alone in that action.

As Cray descends down into the ocean to then swim to Gamorra after the skydiving (see, dude’s bad ass!) he recounts a previous mission in Gamorra where he met up with a freedom fighter named Mai-Li and took on a round of Hunter-Killers. Wouldn’t you know it that twenty years later, Cray’s contact for the compound infiltration happens to be Mai-Li! And damn if they don’t have to hunt down some more Hunter-Killers! While breaking in Cray and Mai-Li come across the Sergeant-Major. Ou boy Kaizen, trouble is headed your way!deathblow_18_trio

deathblow_v1_19So the Sergeant-Major, Mai-Li and Cray are hacking into Kaizen’s system to try and find exactly where Woodbern and Rayna are being held. First hurdle, they’re not together. Second hurdle, they’ve been noticed and the chief of security is throwing his big guns at the three of them. The Minotaur, Borgia, and Gila have been dispatched. They are the toughest of the tough, and come with their own Hunter-Killer army!

While things are looking dire for all our heroes, at least the Sergeant-Major has gotten Woodbern, and they’ve all converged on where Rayna is being held, the problem is the same as it has ever been. Mainly these: Kaizen, Kaizen’s goons. After the Minotaur kills Mai-Li, who was sacrificing her life for Crays, Colby and the Black Razors show up again. Seems as if they were sent by Craven, who was instructed to save Rayna and her employees by the First Lady of the United States. Rayna and the First Lady were old college pals, and Rayna used her influence to help wrap the mission. Though it could’ve gone sideways at any point, everyone is really lucky that Colby can get a job done. Too bad Woodbern is so brain damaged from his torture during his kidnapping that he can’t remember a bit of the information he wanted to protect.

Continuity Corner:

  • While it doesn’t weigh on our main character much in this story, we see Craven getting in trouble with Senator Killory about Project Genesis being reactivated. We’ll see more of Senator Killory later in the pages of “DV8.”
  • deathblow_17_tranceWe clearly see that Trance is in the shadows of Craven’s office. Posed much like when we saw him during “Gen13” Vol. 2 issue 2. And just like in that appearance he’s willing to give out information on the whereabouts of John Lynch. This time he’s seeking information about Kaizen Gamorra from Craven, where as before he was asking for information on Craven from Defile. Because he is in silhouette I’ve never really put together it was Trance before, but yeah, it’s totally Trance and I’m totally dense.
  • We’ve had a few references to some big operation that went down in Gamorra years back in a few past issues and here we have some flashbacks to it. Cray is with his Seal Team 6 team, so Tom Archer is accounted for, but I don’t see Armand Wearing at all! Maybe he was one of the kidnapped scientists?
  • No word if Mai-Li Tsung is related to the Tsung family we meet later on during “Fire from Heaven” but I’m going with a pretty strong “maybe” and am thinking it probably goes back a few generations. Third or fourth cousins at best for Mai-Li and the Doc.
  • deathblow_19_cybernaryWe have a small cameo by Cybernary in this run. While it was originally intended that when the “Deathblow/Cybernary” flip-book was coming out, they were occurring at the same time (this was in the letter pages) we now see that that cannot be the case. Those issues open with a Cybernary free of her creators running around before being captured by other curious parties and having her origin recounted. It’s not until her proper series begins that we even see the conclusion of her story concerning her escape from her creators. She recounts the escape story as happening in the not too recent past, which means for best reading, we should still put her books off a bit more to build some time between this appearance and the next. But how cool was it to see her and Cray in the same book again?
  • This story line starts laying out a lot of what is to come in the WildStorm Universe. We learn about Kaizen and Craven working together. We also see that they’re working on a project concerning Gen-Actives. And we have Craven laying out his plan to hunt down the Team 7 members as well. Not to mention the first hint of what happened to Cray’s parents. We even have a doctor examine Cray and then start to refer him to genetics expert Dr. Tsung! There’s a lot of set up that slowly starts to pay off in the pages of “Deathblow,” “Gen13,” and the “Fire from Heaven” crossover.

NEXT: “Gen13” volume two issues 6 – 7 by Brandon Choi, J. Scott Campbell, Jim Lee and Scott Williams

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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

“Spartan : Warrior Spirit”

this entry covers the four issues of the “Spartan : Warrior Spirit” mini-series.

SpartanWarriorSpiritVol1_01-04I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t like this book when I was a kid. I didn’t like it two years ago when putting the chronology together for this website/blog. But I have to admit, I didn’t find it too bad going back to this time around. Not sure what changed. I’d always been a fan of Busiek, so there was no “later in life appreciation” or anything. Maybe it was just a case of lowered expectations. Or it is a good book and I couldn’t see past the art, because while fine for a regular book, we’re talking about a WildStorm/Image book, they’re supposed to be a bit flashier than this, right?

The story opens up with four of Spartan’s spare bodies waking up at the HALO building and flying off, cut to the WildC.A.T.s in the middle of a Daemonite battle, one in which Spartan is sacrificed. Lucky for us this means there won’t be a “but who’s the real Spartan” showdown later with Cole pointing a gun at both as he keeps switching which one he’ll pull the trigger on. The team is dismayed to get home and see the bodies are gone and they can’t reboot their team leader, pal and part-time lover.

When Spartan does wake up he finds himself in a small Tibetan village in the Alps. He’s being woken up by Dr. Able and the doctor’s daughter Allison, who is supposedly Spartan’s wife. Spartan doesn’t remember all of this, but once a Gamorran Hunter-Killer breaks into the base he remembers how to fight. This is all that Dr. Able really wants Spartan for, to fight off the Gamorrans as they continue to come after his scientific research base built into a Tibetan temple.

What is Dr. Able up to? Well, legend has it that an ancient evil was trapped deep underground long ago, and the temple was built on that spot. Dr. Able wants to bring this evil presence back out and into the world, but this time trap it in his computers so that he can control its evil energy.

Not that any of this is easy for Dr. Able to do. Mostly because Hunter-Killers from Gamorra keep crashing the gates. Why? Oh, because up until recently Dr. Able was working with the Gamorrans. He was even the creator of the Hadrian-7 android, which is the kind of machine Spartan is, and he tells Spartan to think of him as his dad. So, Spartan’s pop is basically chaotic neutral and Spartan married his own sister? Anyway, because Dr. Able backed out of his deal with the Gamorrans, Kaizen Gamorra keeps sending wave after wave of Hunter-Killers to either confiscate the research, kill Dr. Able or both.

Meanwhile, Spartan is growing frustrated that he can’t remember his life, but can remember how he’s an awesome team leader. Turns out Dr. Able tried to shield all that information from Spartan by way of memory wipes to the ole computer brain. After all, he just needed Spartan for defense purposes. Some images of his past life do come through on occasion, but nothing ever sticks long enough to make a lasting impression.

Eventually, the rest of the WildC.A.T.s team locate Spartan and go to get him. They meet a bit of resistance at first, as Spartan has no real idea who they are, and has been told they are mercenary bandits after Dr. Able. Dr. Able convinces Spartan of their “no-good-ness” when he tells them the WildC.A.T.s were responsible for inserting an override chip in his circuitry. Spartan eventually snaps out this falsehood just in time for the ancient evil to escape Dr. Able’s computer system and infect the doctor himself. Spartan, of course, saves the day and confronts Marlowe about the override chip. Marlowe admits it was for safety, but confesses it had never been used and promises Spartan there will be none in the future. Then everyone flys home. Happy ending.

Continuity Corner:

  • This book came out quite a bit later than you’d think. It was actually published after “WildStorm Rising” so it was odd to see a story with Spartan and the old WildC.A.T.s as he was leading StormWatch and the rest of the team was presumed dead/in space.
  • Falling where it does in continuity here gives us our first look at Hunter-Killers as well as Kaizen Gamorra. This is Kaizen as we’ll never see him again. Pudgy, cyborgian and of green skin. It almost makes more sense for it to be the first we see of him, as comics retcon small first appearances like this all the time. Also, it’s a flashback that could be old enough that Kaizen could’ve looked like that… I mean considering at this time we’re still not talking about the real Kaizen Gamorra. We all know that fake one had a lot of work done! More on this ridiculous WildStorm plot point in the “Fire from Heaven” cross-over.
  • In this story, the features for the Hadrian robots were said to be based on a man named Zachary Krieger. We also know just about everything that Dr. Able says is a lie, but his daughter seems to back at least that story up. We’ll soon find that Spartan’s look was more or less based on John Cole’s. Also, there’s an off-handed remark that Spartan’s face is wrong by Pris, even though it’s drawn pretty much the same as when the bodies woke up at the HALO building and flew off, as well as when the then active Spartan who perished in the opening fight. This is like that “disguise” that Taboo cooked up for Backlash isn’t it?
  • The first time we ever got any information on Spartan’s backstory, and how he was from Gamorra was in “WildC.A.T.s” vol. 1 issue 6 where Marlowe and Jules just acquired the Hadrian-7 tech shortly before finding Warblade washed up on the beach.
  • I’d like to imagine that the battle we meet the WildC.A.T.s in the middle of was the one that Void, Pris and Zealot were running off to join at the end of the “Zealot” mini-series.
  • Also, that battle featured the words “Daemonites splinter group.” This is at least the second time we’ve seen that phrase. The last was in “WildC.A.T.s” vol. 1 issue 14, and I’m wondering “a splinter from what? Daemonites are Daemonites!” Maybe a splinter group from The Cabal, perhaps? Seeing that the team was fighting Hybridroids would suggest that Hightower might’ve been behind this evil plot.
  • Oh, said evil plot was Daemonites taking over the bodies of the children of influential world leaders so that in a generation the Daemonites would be in charge. Holy heck, that’s a hell of a good plan!

NEXT : “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 11 – 14 by Ron Marz, Mat Broome, Joe Phillips, Trevor Scott, Jason P. Martin and Karl C. Story.