Tag Archives: Michael Cray

“Team 7 : Objective : Hell” 1 – 3

this entry covers “Team 7 : Objective : Hell” (aka Team 7 Series 2) issues 1 – 3

Team7series2Welcome back to the Wildstorm Universe. Yes, we’re still in the ‘70s. Yes, we see Team 7 come out of retirement for the first of many times. Yes, Dane still has that awesome beard. No, we still don’t know how John Lynch loses his damn eye! But we find out that Lynch has risen through the ranks in the military to be the main government liaison and blah blah blah, I’m boring myself. Basically, Lynch is in charge, Craven isn’t and Lynch needs to get Team 7 back together again to go on awesome missions!

First mission? Make sure that the Russians or the Khmer Rouge don’t get ahold of the nukes that the U.S. military left in Cambodia during ‘Nam! Also, to find out exactly how hard Team 8 got the shit kicked out of themselves. Answer: They dead. Wait, there was a Team 8? Yup! There was even a second proposed Team 8 (hell, there was even another Team 7, but we’ll get to that later in the pages of “Wetworks.”) So Lynch tracks down the prison that Cray had been incarcerated in and convinces him to help find the rest of the old crew. They head down to South America, where Cray finds a bone that’ll be important 20 years down the line and then he and Lynch team up with a few guerillas and find the rest of the living Team 7, minus Slayton. I guess minus Beckman, too, but we don’t know if he’s alive and blind somewhere or dead.

Fast forward to the actual mission and the team is parachuting into Cambodia and Slayton is with them, so it’s like the old gang is kicking it again, just in a different war torn area. Good news, this isn’t some crazy set up by Craven and his goons; bad news, that Russian on crutches that was after them in the last series is still after them, and he has some psionic agents of his own. I’m unclear why he wants to destroy Team 7; it’s either out of military strategy or just jealousy that the U.S. has weaponized agents similar to his own. Also, that old Russian dude also has psionic powers.

I don’t know why it bothers me so much that we have no idea where these Russians got their powers, but it really does. In the next “Team 7” series we will see the Russians trying to create more super powered beings, but I want to know how they’ve pulled it off successfully before that point. I typed a bit last week about trying to understand exactly how the Gen-Factor worked, and I still don’t have a concrete idea about it. It does seem like there are a bunch of folks that at some time were exposed to something that gave them the Gen-Factor, hence all the kids in “Gen13” and “DV8,” but we only really focus on Team 7 in that regard. In fact there aren’t many different ways to manifest some kind of superpowers in the Wildstorm Universe. Here they are in order of most common.

  • 1. You have been exposed to the Gen-Factor, or are a child of someone who was exposed to the Gen-Factor.
  • 2. You are an alien, have an alien parent or 2, get an alien suit or aliens messed with you.
  • 3. You were exposed to a magic superpower giving comet or the child of someone who was exposed to that crazy comet (seriously, no one believes me when I tell them this.)
  • 4. You were born on January first at the turn of a century, and are thus dubbed a Century Baby, or are the child of a Century Baby.
  • 5. You are a robot, have had robot parts put on you, hence a cyborg or own robo-armor.
  • 6. You come from an alternate dimension, or were altered by alternate dimension technology.
  • 7. You were created by a mad scientist.

I know, 7 different ways (with a handful of subsets, mostly due to heredity) to attain “super” status in the Wildstorm U seems like a lot, but look at the DCU or the Marvel U and start counting all the different ways you can gain superpowers and 7 will seem like a very short list. This limiting way to get superpowers kind of gets lost along the way, but holds up for so long in the Wildstorm U that even the outliers remain unique (the Doctor, Rose Tattoo and the Drummer).

Truth be told, the 7 numbered limit of Wildstorm U superpowers really stops holding up after the soft reboot in 2006 when we’re suddenly introduced to a bunch of superheroes we’ve never heard of before from Wildstorm’s supposed past. Up until then the only pre-1992 action we’d seen Team 7’s action in the ‘70s, got a look at Team 1 in the ‘50s, Elijah Snow and Jenny Sparks’ lives throughout the 1900s and heard a bit about the $tranger$ in the ‘80s. Only after the soft reboot is the universe filled with all kinds of crazy characters that must’ve had their superpowers come from something other than the main 7. When the Wildstorm Universe was coming together in the early ‘90s it really seemed that this was near the ground zero for superhero activity in their universe. Now it is cool to get a bit of backstory, like the “Team 7” books, but I felt they eventually over did it.

Speaking of Team 7 and the ‘70s, the team has found themselves in the jungles of Cambodia and an earthquake is erupting! But wait… is it a real earthquake? Nope! It is either a psychic projection or it is another psionic attack that is churning the ground and trees around the team. Cash twigs on pretty quickly that whatever is happening to them isn’t trying to hurt them, only scare them so he tells the rest of Team 7 to chill out and put out good vibes. Once this happens things calm down and they meet young blind girl who asks them what they hell they are doing in her jungle. This kid doesn’t take shit from anyone, and gives war back to anyone who brings war to her village. By literally peace-ing out Team 7 is saved her wraith and makes a new friend, name X’ing X’iang, and I kid you not, they end up calling her Zig Zag.

One of the many good things about Zig Zag is that she is much more powerful than Team 7, which comes in handy when the more experienced Russian psionics catch up with them. Also, she knows where the missiles are that Team 7 came to destroy, so Lynch and Cash go to investigate. Lucky break that Zig Zag knows where the missiles are! Well, maybe not so lucky because suddenly there are 3 powerful Russians attacking Team 7. The old man in crutches apparently kills Cray and then starts to work on brainwashing Dane. Callahan, Chang and Fairchild take on the Russian woman while Slayton takes of the fat Russian dude. How will Team 7 get out of this one? Don’t worry, I’ll tell you in the next paragraph!

How does Team 7 takes down the bad guys? Luck and good timing! Cray wakes up from his supposed death and shoots the old crotchety Russian. This is the first hint of Cray having any kind of powers, well before they just come out right and say exactly what those powers are at least. While fighting the fat Russian Slayton develops his trademark psionic fist whips and snaps chubby’s neck. Then the Russian chick begins to wail on them and Zig Zag has had enough and tears her apart. That’s it. Lynch sets the missiles to self-destruct and Team 7 collectively adopts Zig Zag and fly back home to the states to start working for the government. The only causality seems to be Dane’s mind, as it is a blank.

In the end this is my favorite of the Team 7 books, mainly because I didn’t have such high hopes as I did with the first series, and because of how the third series is plotted. Multiple flashbacks, things going a little too fast to keep up with, it’s an all around mess, as if they had 3 more books they wanted to do and decided to smash them all into one last series, so get ready for that. “Team 7 : Operation : Hell” is fun because it is so linear, the boys are getting or getting used to their powers, and they’re going on missions! In my youth as well as my adult hood, I could read another dozen Team 7 books like this!

Where to find this story:

  • Excerpts from Issue 1 of “Team 7 : Objective Hell” is in the “WildStorm Rising” trade paper back.

Next WeekTeam 7 : Dead Reckoning” (aka Team 7 Series 3) issues 1 – 4 by Chuck Dixon and Jason Johnson

“Team 7” Vol. 1 issues 1 – 4

this entry covers “Team 7” volume one (aka Team 7 Series 1) issues 1 – 4

Team7series1I’d like to start out saying that while “Team 7” isn’t the first book that Wildstorm ever put out, it is integral for the history of the Wildstorm Universe that we start here. The first several years of Wildstorm comics (up through the disastrous “Fire from Heaven” cross over) all, to some degree, revolve around the members of Team 7 and their former bosses at International Operations, an intelligence agency for the United States Government. Second, this book was never presented as a character telling a story to others, or even features a wraparound to set the book in the present timeline with flashbacks to Team 7’s exploits in the ‘70s. Finally, it must be said that when this series started the readers knew most of the key players already, and were excited to see their collective past together. In the end, knowing these characters going in is a bit of a hindrance, in fact, I remember hating this when it came out. I wanted answers to some of the built up mysteries in the Wildstorm U and I wasn’t getting them here at all. All I was getting was a sci-fi war story from the ‘70s and that wasn’t what I was getting hyped up to read.

When we meet Team 7 they are already in the middle of a mission that is already going wrong. The team is being led by John Lynch under the direction of Mile Craven at I.O. and consists of Stephen Callahan, Cole Cash, Phillip Chang, Michael Cray, Jackson Dane, Alex Fairchild, Andrew Johnson, Richard MacNamara, Mark Slayton and a member that we only ever get the last name of, Breckmann. The mission goes south, but we get to see how resourceful Team 7 is in saving their skin in a tough situation. The mission was screwed from the start with the team being tasked with saving some hostages that had already been killed, I’m guessing that the idea was to draw out Team 7 and pick them off. It didn’t go as well as the “bad guys” had planned, the team survives and I.O. gets revenge on the source of the bad intel.

If you were me at the time, you were thinking “Who the hell are Johnson, MacNamara and Breckmann? And where the hell are Diaz1 and Rhodes2? We’ve never heard of the first three and the last two have been mentioned as Team 7 members by both Backlash and Grifter!” Well, as an adult I see that the book needed some cannon fodder as Craven is sending Team 7 on their second doomed mission, the mission that imbued the boys with the Gen-Factor.

Let’s be honest, I’ve never been exactly clear on what the Gen-Factor means. I had always assumed that it had meant there was a structural change to one’s genes that gave the recipient super powers. It may have very well been this at one point, but as time goes on we find that you can freely give your Gen-Factor to another person, or it can be stripped from you by someone for their own use. My initial understanding always made more sense to me, as it tracked that the Gen13 kids would get their Gen-Factor powers due to the enhanced genes their fathers are passing down to them. That’s just me, I didn’t write this stuff, and I can be kind of an idiot.

Let’s talk about the Team 7 members we do know. We’ve seen Lynch in the pages of “WildC.A.T.s” before he became the mentor of Gen13, whose roster includes the children of Callahan, Chang and Fairchild. We’d gotten to know Cash as Grifter very well in “WildC.A.T.s” as well as Slayton in “Stormwatch” and also we saw him in an uneasy team up with Grifter in “The Kindred.” Cray had recently started his own solo title with “Deathblow” so we didn’t know him that well quite yet, but enough to be interested to see how he started to work for I.O. as well as why he didn’t seemingly have any powers at all. Finally we’d seen Dane in “Wetworks”, even if he looked and acted a bit different back in his Team 7 days. Oh, and Callahan had died in the open pages of “Gen13” Vol. 1 #1. During the time that “Team 7” was coming out, the only members that we didn’t know the final fate of were Breckman, Chang, Johnson, Fairchild and MacNamara. I should’ve known that if you weren’t alive in the current Wildstorm books, you were assumed dead or would be dying soon in “Team 7,” and to keep Chang and Fairchild live long enough to have kids, they’d need a few people to fall early on to keep the stakes high. The last we’d see of Breckman and MacNamara is in I.O. headquarters where they are both having trouble controlling their new powers. Breckman has torn his eyes out and sits bloody on the floor of a padded cell, while MacNamara commits suicide because he can’t control his body from sending blasts out from it, having already killed a few I.O. staff members.

Through this initial “Team 7” series we find that Craven had been trying to create super powered beings for a while under his own command, and Team 7 was the first to mostly be intact after receiving those powers. We also are introduced to Gabriel, a telepathic assistant to Craven. Where he came from, and how he gained his powers are unknown, but we do find that Craven has been keeping all his failed super-soldiers on I.O.’s 9th level, which technically doesn’t exist and Gabriel is frightened of it. We also meet Alicia Turner as a nurse where Team 7 is waking from their post Gen-Factor induced comas. Wildstorm readers had already known her from “WildC.A.T.s” and I have to say, she ages just as well as Cash & Dane do, to say, in 20 years, she really doesn’t age at all, unlike Craven, Lynch and Slayton.

Wait, I haven’t told you the final fate of Johnson yet! Johnson just goes on to be a real dick on the first Team 7 mission with Gen-Factor powers and Cash kills him for it. Johnson had pretty much become a monster, mind controlling the team’s enemies into commenting suicide with a smile as he laughed at them. Cash wanted to win, but not like this, so he takes out Johnson. This starts a real rift between him and Lynch and as a result we start to see the team fall apart. Some want to remain loyal to Craven and I.O., others want to get away from the craziness that their lives had become. Also Fairchild gets kinda rapey trying to mind control a girl at a bar and Cash kicks his ass for it. Cash really hates mind controlling. The team fraying all comes to ahead when Craven decides to send Team 7 on their final test.

Oh, the final test. I’m still not sure what Craven was hoping for. He takes all of Team 7, except for Cray, as he’s not showing any powers, and sends them on a mission to a temple in Middle East. While there the team finds that there’s no strategic reason for them being at the temple and Lynch and Cash start to have a mind battle. Then Craven launches a low yield nuclear missile at the Team to see if they’ll survive. Yup, that’s the final test; let’s see if this can destroy them. The team that without super powers was already surviving the near impossible by working together and being smart. I know that Craven is a jerk, but come on, from everything we’ve seen, even if we didn’t know they’d all survive, we’d still assume they’d all survive. Team 7 huddles and concentrates on their psionic powers to shield them in a bubble force field and protects themselves from being blown up. They don’t give a shit about any of the monks in the temple though, them monks is dead.

Predictably having a nuke lobbed at Team 7 is the final straw and the only members willing to work for I.O. are Lynch and Slayton. Cray is pretty much blackmailed/coerced in to staying with I.O. by Craven after he threatened to murder half the crew of the boat that launched the missile at the rest of Team 7. Callahan, Cash, Chang, Dane and Fairchild all retire to a small town in Nicaragua, hoping to hide from I.O. and anyone else who would try get them to use their powers for purposes they disagree with. Good call, as we’ve seen a very creepy Russian man on crutches who has been one step behind Team 7 this whole time, who seems very interested in what they’ve been up to.

That’s it, that’s the first series! As an adult I really enjoy it. I enjoy seeing what good friend Cray and Dane were back then. I enjoy seeing Cash as a brash young man, but I wish he would’ve developed his sense of humor a bit back then. It was also fun seeing Lynch as a being highly fallible, which we’ll go years in the Wildstorm U before we see a hint of this again. When I picked up this book as a kid I really wanted to know how Lynch lost his eye, why Dane acts so different in “Wetworks” as well as how I.O. was founded. None of this is really answered in this series. In the future we’ll get an answer to the first, clues to the second and some murky details on the third, but nothing all that definitive. Also most of the team winds up in a small South American town? What? Really? How do they get to be who they are? I thought this was a prequel to some of Wildstorm’s biggest names! I want more story, dammit!  As an adult comic reader I’ve learned patience, but I really wish we would’ve gotten a bit more into the personalities of Callahan and Chang, who we never really see again for any true measure of time. They and Fairchild really come off as bit players in this book, and I feel the book is suffers a bit because of that.

Where to find this story:

Next Week : Team 7 : Objective : Hell (aka Team 7 Series 2) issues 1 – 3 by Chuck Dixon & Chris Warner

1 We’ll see more with Robert Diaz in “The Kindred” mini-series
2 Jack Rhodes, also known as Cyberjack, is a supporting cast member in the “Backlash” comic.