Tag Archives: Michael Cray

“WildStorm Rising” Chapters 8 – 10

this entry covers “WildStorm Rising” Chapters 8 through 10, which includes “Backlash” issue 8, “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 22 and “WildStorm Rising” issue 2

Alright, let’s wrap this crossover up! Slayton gets a call from Diva at StormWatch. He gets into his Backlash gear and meets up with her at Jackson King’s grave. She catches him up on the plot of “WildStorm Rising” and states that someone needs to take down Helspont. So off Slayton goes, solo even, without even thinking much about it. Turns out, it’s trick! A tricky trick! That was actually Mr. White posing as Diva and it’s all part of a plan from Defile to keep Helspont too busy to be nosing around for that Daemonite ship in Nicaragua.

So Slayton is fighting Helspont. Turns out, he’s not as easy to beat the hell out of, like every other weak ass Daemonite that Slayton’s fought. Slayton’s no slouch either, but despite surprising Helspont a few times, Slayton basically gets his ass kicked on Helspont’s submarine and gets left in the drink. Lucky for Slayton he gets saved by StormWatch, who is consisting of StormWatch teams 1 and 2 as well as members of StormWatch Prime. StormWatch just got permission from the U.N. council to try and stop Helspont so they’re going after that jerk as well. Even though Diva is confused at first when Slayton tells her that she asked him to fight Helspont the first time, she takes him along to go and kick Helspont’s booty as part of a team. StormWatch loses that fight. Helspont’s tough, yo!

In the midst of the ill-fated fight against Helspont, Christine is trying to justify going after him to the StormWatch UN Council. None of Council think that the team can take down a mean bastard like Helspont. I mean, they’re not wrong… The Council, in their infinite wisdom, decide to release WarGuard and Despot to deal with Helspont. Because having the WarGuard run free has always worked so well in the past. Despot and the WarGuard immediately fuck right off of SkyWatch saying “Ain’t my fight, bro, laters. Hey, formally frosted fiendish friends, let’s go hang out on the dark side of the moon for a bit. From there we will plot the future demise of StormWatch!”

The StormWatch team isn’t done licking their wounds before they decide they still need to pursue Helspont. Helspont’s in his submarine headed toward Nicaragua, as soon as he gets out to get the lay of the land StormWatch is getting ready to pounce. But what’s that? On the horizon? Is it? Could it be? Yes, it is! The WildC.A.T.s and WetWorks teams along with Cole and Cray! And in the middle of them all, is Savant, Majestic, and Union unearthing the spacecraft. Only, uh-oh, it’s not the Daemonite ship, it’s the Kherubim ship! Whomp whomp.

So now, everybody fights. Well, to be fair, the good guys aren’t fighting each other this time. They’re just taking on the Daemonites. Hightower’s goal is just to get on board the ship and peace out, but he’ll kill anyone to get on it. Defile and Helspont still want the ship to use it to dominate Earth. Spartan is having those same thoughts and boards ship to use its weaponry to help in the fight. Defile shows up to stop Spartan and orders the brainwashed StormWatch Prime members to kill Spartan, then each other. They’re successful in taking down Spartan, but Sunburst starts to kick Defile’s control and Nautika breaks his spine before she comes out of the fog. Meanwhile, Cole kills Hightower, rushes to the ship and lands a hit on Defile. Defile has had enough of this noise and messes with ship’s core and takes off. Whatever he did to that ship has made it so that it’s gonna blow-up. Big time. Right in the middle of our heroes.

Jacob is not having this blood on his hands. He’s going to board that ship to get far enough off planet to save everyone on the ground. Jacob is no dummy, he knows it’ll take a Kherubim Lord’s authority to launch the ship, but he needs some help because he’s lost the rest of his Kherubim technical know how to street livin’ and booze. Zealot is the first to volunteer as she remembers a lot and is the only one who knows how to pilot the ship. After that, all the rest of the WildC.A.T.s opt to get on the ship. The ship takes off, Void promises to teleport everyone off if something goes wrong and they can’t keep the ship from exploding. Then the ship explodes. No WildC.A.T.s members are found teleporting out. Everyone leaves upset except Cole, he’s just upset.

Continuity Corner :

  • Spoilers, but the Kherubim ship didn’t explode, it made the jump to hyperspace or whatever. As far as anyone on Earth knows, they’re dead, luckily for us readers, they’re about to go on a pretty rad adventure.
  • Helspont has a damn submarine? What is he? Some kind of G.I.Joe villain?
  • There’s this moment when Helspont is fighting over the Kherubim ship and he’s all like “Oh, great, here come the half-breeds!” and he’s shown facing Maul, Warblade and Winter. We’ve seen that Helspont can recognize Kherubim ancestry on sight from his battle with Slayton in “Backlash” issue 8. Him recognizing Winter as part Kherubim is a fun easter egg, and one I’m glad didn’t get fully retconned with his intended lineage in the planned and canceled “WildC.A.T.s : Ground Zero” book.
  • This is the last we’ll see of Defile, Helspont and Hightower for quite some time. Most immediately some of the WildC.A.T.s will go time traveling and run into the three of them, but seeing as how Hightower’s dead, that’s it for him. Defile pops up here and there not doing too much, but comes back in a big way years down the road in “StormWatch PHD” and then keeps up appearances from then on out in the WSU. I’m pretty sure the next time we see Helspont is when he’s acting like a goofy perv towards Caitlin Fairchild and getting his ass beat by Tao in “Gen13” Vol. 2 issue 50. Then he goes back underground until the ill-fated Lee/Morrison team up in “WildCats” Vol. 4 issue 1.
  • StormWatch took the remains of Spartan, which explains why he’s on that team during “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 25.
  • Majestic wonders if StormWatch got anything of value from Spartan’s remains, as usually by now Spartan would’ve downloaded into a new body. The only reason I can think he doesn’t is that Jacob has the Spartan backup copy on his person, so it’s out in space with the rest of the original team. Sure, this means there’s two Spartans in the universe now, and it won’t be the last time either.
  • StormWatch also took Helspont saying they had the means to imprison him. Majestic doubts this, but we’ll never know because it isn’t long before SkyWatch comes crashing down and I have to assume Helspont escapes.
  • Cole stays stuck in Nicaragua, which kicks off his solo title that’ll have him ending up in all sorts of places before getting back to New York pretty much in time for “Fire from Heaven” to start.
  • We do get a two-page epilogue to the whole thing, with Savant and Majestic at the Halo Building talking about the end of an era. I have to admit, it is a pretty nice ending, and it doesn’t lead you to think what must come next. I had no idea at the time that “WildC.A.T.s” would even keep going, or that there would be a new team on Earth, or that the original team was alive at all! I appreciate that. It was a pat ending. A rarity! It seems like these big events just chain themselves together and go on and on with fuzzy endings at best these days. I know this makes financial sense, but a true ending like this feels pretty damn great as well as earned!

NEXT : “Grifter” Vol. 1 issues 2 through 6 by Steven T. Seagle, Ryan Benjamin, Randy Green, Cedric Nocon, Tom McWeeney, Sal Regla, John Lowe and Norm Rapmund

“WildStorm Rising” Chapters 5 – 7

this entry covers “WildStorm Rising” Chapters 5 – 7, which consists of “Grifter” Vol. 1 issue 1, “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 16 and “WetWorks” Vol. 1 issue 8

Good old Cole Cash is on a personal mission to find his old buddy Micheal Cray, who he is pretty sure has half of the MacGuffin Daemonite spaceship key/leadership badge, that all the bad guys are looking for. In fact, Defile and his minions are spying on Cole seeing what information he has. Hell, for all they know Cole has the key/badge piece as they only know a Team 7 member has it, but they’re also following Cole to see if he has any idea where Cray is, as they can’t seem to locate Cray at all. Not that Cole was having much luck either until he suddenly remembered Cray’s old shack of a house out in the wilds of Virginia.

After talking to Cray at a payphone (hey kids, remember payphones?) Cole decides it is best to start heading for Virginia. He hardly gets out of the phone booth when he starts getting pelted with lasers by some of the goofiest looking villains that WildStorm has ever coughed up. Seriously, two-tone (red and blue) tights under super boxy gold armor, with a small helmet that has tiny horns. It’s not a good look. But they, they have laser guns and flying sled thingies, so who am I to judge.

Cole manages to take a hit during this battle and keeps passing out. Each time he’s down he has a hallucination about his past. We learn all kinds of things about Cole’s life. Such as him running away from home, getting the nickname “Grifter” from Slayton, and leaving Zealot for the first time. Ultimately he gets it together enough to fight off the goons and steal a rocket sled/chariot dealy to get on his way to Cray.

What’s up with Cray? Well, he’s getting his Virginian shack all set up to be Daemonite proof. More booby traps set up around the property and more firepower contained inside the domicile itself. Of course, the Daemonite goons show up to hunt down Cray, but he’s pretty much got them licked. All except for Mr. White who is predicatively too cool for school about this kind of thing. All the other goons are using brute force and losing terribly to Cray. Eventually with most of the goons wiped out Cole shows up, talks to Cray and gets the bit of the key/badge Cray took so many years ago. Cray was using it as a door handle, ha ha! Cole takes it and takes off. Minutes later Cole is back… wait a minute, Cole is back? Oh no! That first Cole was actually Mr. White! Dammit! Now they gotta find their pal Jackson to bail them out of trouble, you guys!

Why Jackson and not any of the other living Team 7 members? Well, Cray and Cole beat some information out of one of Defile’s men named Harka that was still alive after trying to break into Cray’s place. Harka let him know about the plan and that Defile is sending a man named Bastion after Jackson.

Bastion finds Jackson at the grave of Crossbones. While pouring his heart and regrets out Mother-One butts in and warns him of Bastion’s approach. Jackson makes pretty short work of Bastion, but Bastion ends up teleporting out of there, by means unknown. Jackson then notices two other figures on his tail and scrambles the rest of the WetWorks team to his location. It ends up just being Cole and Cray, so it’s time for a team-up!

Because they now know that Defile has 1 1/2 key/badges Cole leads the WetWorks crew (plus he and Cray) to where Helspont was last seen. You know, the astrological research facility from the first major “WildC.A.T.s” story arc? Yep, that place! There they hope to find Helspont’s dead body and key/badge to make sure there’s no way Defile or Hightower can get to it. Well, they’re not the only team to have this idea and see that the WildC.A.T.s are already there. And since there hasn’t been a team vs. team fight in a while, it’s time for the WetWorks crew to get into it with the WildC.A.T.s. Yawn.

Once again we have superteam fighting superteam, that can only mean that Hightower is sneaking off again to grab a key/badge, just like he did in D.C. when the ‘C.A.T.s fought StormWatch. Hightower comes across what appears to be Helsponts nearly dead body, half buried in rubble, with his key/badge in his hand held aloft. Hightower says “Don’t mind if I do” and reaches in to snag it. Not so fast, Helspont was merely resting, you fool! Yeah, so with Helspont awake he taunts the fighting superheroes and this teleports away, with two henchmen that appeared out of nowhere.

Helspont being back is pissing everyone off. First, Hightower, who got a good neck ringing for trying to get Helspont’s key/badge. Second, the WildC.A.T.s who really don’t want to have to deal with that asshole again, especially now that knows the Daemonite ship has been found. And third, Defile, who doesn’t seem to even want to tolerate Helspont’s foolishness and wants to know if the Daemonite ship has been found yet. Much to his dismay, it hasn’t. Not just for Defile either, Savant hasn’t had any luck either, but she’s going to press on.

Continuity Corner :

  • Remember, Cray found that hand sticking out of the ground on that Nicaragua mission holding the key/badge that he broke off part of for himself back in “Team 7 : Objective : Hell” issue 1. I guess all this time that Cray was held the half rank of Daemonite Lord, who knew!
  • After “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 15 I figure Cray makes his way back to New York to check back in with Rayna about the Los Angeles job. After that we see him in traffic in “WildStorm!” issues 1 and 2, which seems to be like NYC, putting him pretty close to Virginia when Cole calls.
  • Jackson knows Defile becasue Defile is trying to sell the symbiotes of Crossbones and Flattop? What? Is this a plot point I forgot about?
  • Void drops the first hint that Jester has bonded with his symbiote in a way that isn’t immediately obvious and has yet to be made clear to the reader.
  • Look… Helspont is still alive… Yay… Really, Helspont… he’s just such a crap villain. He’s supposed to be the “Big Bad” of the WSU and he just never ever is. Does he even make top five? Let’s see, starting at the top, the five biggest bastards in the WildStorm Universe are 1) Miles Craven 2) TAO 3) Defile 4) Henry Bendix 5) Kaizen Gamorra (both of them). I mean Helspont looked cool, but he was such a crap villain. I’ll give him this though, he was better than the Drahn.

NEXT : “WildStorm Rising” Chapters 8 through 10 (which includes “Backlash” issue 8, “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 22 and “WildStorm Rising” issue 2) by Ron Marz, Brett Booth, Renato Arlem, Kevin Maguire, Sandra Hope, Alex Garner, Chuck Gibson, Sal Regla, Robert Jones, Terry Austin and Al Vey.

“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

“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 15

this entry covers “Deathblow” volume one issue number 15.

This issue opens with everyone’s second favorite bastard doing bastard like things. That’s right, LeGauche A.K.A. Old Frenchy is throwing John Donnely, the leader of Navy Seal Team 6off of a cliff. We’re lead to believe later that this is all under the direction of Craven. And knowing Craven, this is probably true. LeGauche is tasked with killing at least seven of the eight members of former Navy Seal Team, which includes the afore mention Donnely as well as a man named Tom Archer, and seemingly not on the list, Michael Cray.

After the events in Los Angeles, Cray heads down to San Diego, a place that has always felt like home to him. It’s where he ended up after completing his ROTC program back in Rhode Island and started his Seal training. Thinking back on these old days, he goes to pay his old Seal pal Tom a visit. Seems as if Tom is now one of the trainers for incoming wanna-be Seals. While Tom is happy to see his old buddy, his wife Anne is not. Turns out, she was an old flame of Cray’s that he passed on when he was being hired by I/O to be part of Team 7. She never forgave him and hates him to the core.

You wanna know who else is unhappy to see Cray? A bunch of the other Seals. Why? Because they were all friends with Conrad. Remember Conrad? He lead the team that was supposed to kill Cray after he took down Ortega in Costa Rica. If you’ll recall this was all supposed to be hush hush, but somehow this information was leaked. Knowing this, and being friends of Conrad, these boys mean to beat the hell out of Cray as revenge. Now, Cray tries twice to talk to these men, but they won’t hear it. Right before one goes to stab him, Archer pops up and saves the day.

The next morning Archer lets Cray in on all the murders of their former Seal Team 6 members. Apparently, there’s a reporter who knows about these supposed accidental deaths and wants to talk to Archer about it. Cray and Archer are curious how he even knows about their connection and they are anxious to meet him and find out. Before the reporter has a chance to

Before the reporter has a chance to show up, LeGauche calls Archer and lets him know that he’s got Archer’s wife and kids hostage, and will exchange their lives for his. Archer knows he has to go save them, and he’s been told to come alone. That’d be a bad deal if you old Team 7 buddy wasn’t visiting! Archer takes LeGauche head on by plowing into him in a pick-up through the side of his freakin’ house! All the while Cray is sneaking in the back and helping the family get loose from their restraints and disarming the bomb that LeGauche has planted. Cray then hands a shotgun to Anne and heads to help Tom. It’s too late, LeGauche as already killed Tom, and as he moves into to do the same to Cray, Anne blasts LeGauche through a window.

Cray is bummed. Another friend of his is dead. LeGauche got away. He’s no closer to finding out why the rest of this Seal Team is dead and he barely has an idea where to start. I’d like to say things start to get better for Cray, but I’m sad to report that they don’t.

Continuity Corner :

  • Once again we have someone mentioning a past event that went down in Gamorra. This time it’s Tom Archer, a friend of Cray’s back when he was on Seal Team 6. Apparently, Cray saved his life on that mission while they were there w/ the six other members of their eight-member team. The last person to mention this Gamorra mission was Wearing in “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 14.
  • We also get some hints to this Gamorra mission, we find that Cray was still with his Seals and it was a counterterrorism strike.
  • There’s also mention of the Gamorra mission being “nearly 20 years ago” but I’m not sure if that works. Here’s my best theory. We know from this very issue he was with his Seal Team on Gamorra and not on Team 7. But we know from “Brass” Vol. 1 issue 2, that he, Lynch and Chang were on Team 7 and working for I/O in 1967. That’s nearly 30 years ago that he was on Team 7 after leaving the Navy Seals. I was always sure that Cray was working for I/O after the rest of Team 7 got the mojo and he was kinda sidelined, but I guess he could’ve gone back to being a Seal for a bit.
  • This issue, much like “Gen13” Vol. 1 issue 1 seems to be laying out breadcrumbs for “Fire from Heaven.” In this case with LeGauche’s involvement and hunting down people for Craven.
  • From now on LeGauche will primarily be a reoccurring “Deathblow” villain, despite having him first mentioned in “WetWorks” Vol. 1 issue 2 as an agent sent by Craven to either spy on or take down the WetWorks team.

NEXT : “Union” Vol. 2 issues 1 & 2 by Mike Hiesler, Ryan Benjamin and Tom McWeeney and the “Crusade : Release” short story by Jim Lee, Sean Ruffner, H. K. Proger, Bill Kaplan and again, Ryan Benjamin

“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 13 & 14

this entry covers “Deathblow” volume 1 issues 13 and 14.

Armand Waering has a problem. He wants to be featured in a comic book, but Whilce Portacio can’t draw “WetWorks” fast enough. He must take drastic measures and get into the pages of “Deathblow!” Also, something about a killer on the loose in Hollywood and the fact that he knows it’s a werewolf. Waering has to take care of this problem but he can’t be seen taking down a fellow werewolf and everyone knows he’s buddy buddy with WetWorks, so he calls Rayna Masters and she gets her best man on it.

Said man is Michael Cray, who is trying to spend some time at the grave of his former wife. This doesn’t last long before Miles Craven sends some goons to try to bring Cray back to I/O once again. He takes out a few, but the final goon is taken out by Rayna because nothing can ever be boring around Cray. She gets him on the next flight to LAX telling him that he’s got a bodyguard gig in the City of Angels.

He’s there to guard a frightened washed up starlet named Caroline Conroy. She’s afraid she’ll be the next victim of the Hollywood Hills Killer, and she thinks having just one bodyguard isn’t enough, so that’s where Cray fits in. He doesn’t really get along with the main guard Tony, but hey, a job is a job. Speaking of a job, as soon as Cray meets Caroline, it’s off to a party, not downtime in this line of work.

Big time Hollywood schmooze fest kinda party. The kind of party where you just might run into the head of a secret society that employs one of your old war buddies. Yup, here’s where Cray runs into Waering for the first time and gets handed the silver bullet. After he downs his Coors Light, Cray also sees that he’s been handed a silver .45 bullet by Waering. As Waering slips back into the shadows we find Caroline arguing with a man. This man turns out to be John Barry, deputy director of the CIA and former boyfriend of Caroline. As Cray talks down Barry, we see another man make some moves on Caroline, a guy who’s just too damn smooth to live.

Who is this smooth ass ladies man? Why it’s Johnny Savoy, the world’s most beloved vampire rockstar! Seriously, if you hadn’t been reading “WetWorks” and paying attention, Savoy being a vampire is a big “what the hell?” when Cray plugs him through the chest a few times later in the night, after the party, outside Caroline’s estate. So yeah, he’s a vampire and that was a hell of a run-on sentence.

Where was I, oh yeah, later that night Cray shoots Savoy a bunch, but it doesn’t kill him. Then they hear gunfire and Caroline screaming. They both rush to the scene to see a man cloaked all in black with night vision goggles and a syringe, along with 2 other similarly clad buddies. Cray takes down the guy with the syringe, and Savoy makes the other two redundant. Caroline lets on that these men are from the CIA, and were sent by Barry to kill her. Why? Because when she was dating Barry she found out he’s a werewolf, and he’ll kill her to keep his secret! Cray isn’t buying this werewolf stuff and Savoy counters with “Hey, come on dude, it’s possible! Check me out, Imma vampire!”

In order to better protect Caroline from Barry and his CIA lackeys, they move the party over to Savoy’s mansion. It’s a sound plan, as the man has two tigers. Again, John Barry’s CIA lackeys show up, this time in white cover-alls, and even Tony the missing bodyguard is there! Feels like we’re headed to the climax. Savoy and Cray still think Barry and the CIA are the bad guys, with Tony working for them. Unfortunately for them, this isn’t the case and a lot of CIA dudes get killed before we find out that Caroline is the werewolf killer. Yup, the werewolf was inside the house the whole time. Cray makes the killing shot and the job, due to the passing of the lady paying the bills, is over.

Barry, Savoy and Cray promise to never tell the world what really happened that night, figuring it’s better to let Hollywood have one more mysterious killer, for tourists to take bus tours about. At Caroline’s funeral Waering shows up to talk to Cray. They exchange a few words and Cray gives Waering back the bullet. It’s a bittersweet ending for this short chapter in Cray’s life, having to shoot someone he really liked due to their inner, unwanted, evil.

Continuity Corner:

  • What a “WetWorks” ancillary character heavy issue. The plot was set in motion by Armand Waering and featured Johnny Savoy!
  • Another moment of the WildStorm/Top Cow universe connection with Cray running into Stryker from “Cyber Force” in a club.
  • When talking to Cray at the club, Waering mentions not getting a chance to thank Cray back in Gamorra. Later on, there are a lot of mentions about some event in Gamorra that members of Team 7 were a part of, currently I’m either forgetting what that is, or they never revealed it. Because right now, I can’t remember a single book that has Cray, Fairchild and Waering all on Gamorra in a flashback.
  • The last page mentions Cray going back to New York and Rayna being pissed at Cray for letting Caroline die. More so, as she figures that Caroline was just some kind of pawn for John Barry. Eventually, Savoy sends Rayna some security camera footage of that night, and she never brings the subject up again. I like this ending, but it implies that Cray will be back in New York next issue and this all happened before the next issue begins. However, the next issue is just down the coast in San Diego, which kinda makes this ending feel a little hollow after you hit page one of issue 15.

NEXT : “Gen13 : Unreal World” issue 1 by Mike Heisler, Humberto Ramos and Troy Hubbs.

“Blood and Faith”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continuity Corner:

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

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

“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 : “WildStorm Halloween : Trilogy of Terror” short story : “Team 7 : Blood and Faith” by Christopher Golden, Ed Benes and Toby Hubbs