Tag Archives: Phillip Chang

“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 29

This entry covers “Deathblow” volume on issue 29 by Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner, and Trevor Scott.

deathblow_v1_029We pick up on this story with Rayna Masters getting ready for Michael Cray’s funeral following his death on the moon during “Fire from Heaven.” While she’s narrating what is going on, we keep getting the media’s reaction to what happened on the moon and in Gamorra on various televisions. StormWatch is very “deny, deny, deny” on all fronts. They’re saying there’s no connection between what happened on the moon and what happened in Gamorra, and moreover, there’s a peaceful exchange of power going on in Gamorra.

Rayna, however, isn’t the only one getting ready for Cray’s funeral. We are also treated to seeing all the members of Team 7 that are still around getting ready, or headed to New York for the event. Once in the big apple the remaining Team 7 members of Cash, Dane, Fairchild, Lynch, and Slayton meet up to toast to Cray at one of his favorite haunts, the Drop Zone. Meanwhile, the Gen13 kids and Jodi have to wait outside, because, you know, kids aren’t allowed in strip clubs.

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Later in upstate New York for the funeral, we meet up with a lot of the “Deathblow” book’s extra cast members. Other than Rayna and the Sergeant Major, we get reacquainted Alicia Turner, Frank Colby, Alex Cray, and Sister Mary from the Order of the Cross. There are four people at the funeral who aren’t named, but from the looks of them, one could be Henri Rothschild and thusly two of the others may be his two young assistants, Balthazar and Yvette from the Bibliotheque. As for the last woman, I have no guesses on who she could be.

After the service, the funeral continues to the burial site, where both Alex and Rayna say many kind words about Michael. All of the present Team 7 members also say their peace while remembering their friend. Hell, even Grunge manages to say something sweet at the end of it all, despite being a total clod during most of this issue.

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After everyone leaves the cemetery something crazy happens. No, it doesn’t turn out that Cray isn’t dead, not that at all. That’s far too “comic-booky” for this era of WildStorm. No, two mysterious men and a qeelocke teleport in next to the gravestone. One of the men scratches into the tombstone the same poem that Grunge was reciting earlier, before leaving, promising to continue to fight the good fight, lest Cray’s sacrifice mean nothing.

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Continuity Corner:

  • I like to put this issue directly after the “Fire from Heaven” story mainly because it is the denouement for that story arc. In reality, it is possible for the events of “Black Ops” issues 3 – 5 to go before this issue because we see that Lynch goes back in La Jolla before flying to New York for the funeral, as we see him, the kids, and Alex Fairchild in a plane over the Rockies headed there. But putting this issue here just feels and works better from a storytelling perspective.
  • We also know that “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 31 picks up very soon after the events of “Fire from Heaven” too, but due to Savant being in pretty good condition we know those issues have to come after this issue of “Deathblow.”
  • The moment where Sister Mary recognizes Cash and Dane is a fun one. She’s one of the few that remembers the events of “Deathblow” volume one issues 5 through 12, so she’s met them before, but they haven’t met her.
  • Of the two men that teleport in at the end of the issue, one is named Cain, while the other isn’t named. Later, in the pages of “Gen12” we will find out that it was Phillip “Bulleteer” Chang from Team 7, Grunge’s father. It is implied that Phillip taught Grunge the poem phrase that Grunge recites that Phillip then engraves on Cray’s headstone.
  • It is also implied that Phillip knew a bit about Damocles as well, and hell, his partner does have a qeelocke! Where ever this was headed never got much further, as we only see Phillip and Cain once more before the whole story-line gets dropped.
  • Speaking of dropped story threads, in this issue we have more flirting between Jodi and Bobby, something that started and was building up during “Fire from Heaven.” Poor Bobby, keeps getting linked to all kinds of girls, Rainmaker, Bliss, now Jodi and it never works out.
  • While Michael Cray is dead he still manages to pop up here and there. Mainly in the flashback book “Gen12” and then “Slipstream” alternate timeline crossover story where he’s a member of Gen13 with his daughter Rachel. Oh yeah, Rachel Goldman of DV8 is his daughter. Then there’s also this whole mess with a bunch of clones of him, too! Which sounds dumb, but is somehow awesome in “Deathblow: Byblows.” Cray casts a long and large shadow over the WildStorm universe before he comes back for the second volume of “Deathblow.” That book is… ugh… probably an alright book if it wasn’t a “Deathblow” book… but hey, he comes back again near the end of the WSU when the world is in its apocalyptic stage. He and Cole end up as members of the Authority and create some of my favorite moments in all of the WSU, so that’s awesome.

NEXT: “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issues 31 through 34 by Alan Moore, Jim Lee, Travis Charest, Josh Wiesenfeld, Mat Broome, Pat Lee, Rob Stotz, Richard Bennett, Trevor Scott, Jason Gorder, Troy Hubbs, Scott Taylor, JD and Sandra Hope.

“Brass” Vol. 1

This entry covers “Brass” volume one issues 1 through 3 by Richard Bennett and Aron Wiesenfeld.

Brass_v1_001Hershel Goldstein has a lot of problems. First, he’s working a job he hates scrubbing toilets in a dance club. The upside is that this job, and a good friend, is what helped him out of homelessness. Second, he had a cat that I’m not sure if he likes or not. Such is the way with kitties. Finally, Hershel Goldstein is dying of cancer. A soon to be hero unsure of life because he is dying of cancer? That sounds a little familiar…

After getting the bad news Hershel is riding the city bus back home. Coincidentally there’s another guy on the bus with similar build, longish hair and a trench coat similar to Hershel’s. This doppelganger first exposes himself to a child and then shoots and kills the bus driver. The bad guy gets away and Hershel ambles on home, once again bemoaning his fate as a reason why he shouldn’t care about what just went down. The world sucks, so why should I try, an edgy teenager who just read Nietzsche kinda thing.

Due to a murder in a public place, there are police questioning witnesses to the crime. Not sure how they got ole Hersh’s info, but they show up at his doorstep. As mentioned, Hershel has long hair as well as a trench coat. The cops see this, as well as some blood on Hershel’s shirt, and they like him for the murderer. Hershel smartly notices this, and then not-so-wisely runs. Hershel tries to lose the police by running down a subway tunnel. As he’s booking through the subway he falls down into a strange room full of highly advanced tech. He touches some and becomes a kick-ass robot bastard!

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How did this hidden room full of tech come to be? Well, if it walks like crazy fringe science and talks like questionable super-powered human upgrades, it’s gotta be Miles Craven. It seems as if I/O found the Brass Virus, of course, and that means Miles wants them to use it to see if they can create some superhumans to do his bidding for the government. So the I/O scientists injected it into a fly as well as 4 humans. They all got teched out, but then went on a rampage. It took I/O and some pre-superpowered Team 7 members to calm this new species down. In the end, I/O decided to hide all the Brass experiments as well as the virus in the sewers and tunnels under the NYC subway. Not a bad place I guess, it’s been the hideout of everything from ninja turtles to a beastly Ron Pearlman.

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Deathblow and Arclight are just as curious as we are about their Team 7 cameo.

Back to the Present: Just as Hershel is getting used to his big brassy body, the Brass virus also infects the cops that were after Hershel. These others start to cause destruction in New York City. Hershel tries his best to stop them and is helped out by not only I/O’s jet fighters but also an electromagnetic pulse from the goddamned MIR space station. That last one takes out the final member of the Police Brass, but it takes down Hershel along with it.

While Hershel is down for the count he enters a dreamlike state while his body is hauled away by I/O. In this dream, he meets a representation of the Brass Virus. The virus tells Hershel that I/O has implanted a retrovirus into him to control the Brass Virus, and thus control each of them. The virus suggests that they merge together which will destroy I/O’s retrovirus and also keep I/O from being able to control either of them. Hershel pulls an “Invisibles” move and becomes friends with the virus and manages to survive it, beating I/O at their own game.

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I/O and Craven send him home figuring their retrovirus beat out the Brass Virus. I guess they figure they can activate Hershel at will and he’d do their bidding to have them shut down his Brass body. This could’ve been a cool idea, but hey, it’s also cool that Hershel is in control and I/O doesn’t even know it. This may’ve come to a head if Craven was around longer to do anything about it. By the way, seems Hershel’s cat got loose, but I/O finds him and Craven personally returns the cat. It seems lil Micho has managed to become to be Brassed up as well!

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Continuity Corner:

  • I always liked “Brass” volume one placed here because we see Roxy and Grunge in issue 3 trying to sneak into a bar in NYC. I figure it’s after they got to NYC, but before they meet up with Team 7. Grunge’s short hair point to this being a solid placement. The only problem with that is the “Weeks later” caption we see when Craven comes to return Hershel’s cat. I doubt the Gen13 kids spent a week in NYC waiting to raid the I/O Towers, and due to the events of their raid (Craven’s death) we can’t assume this “Weeks later” event took place weeks after the next batch of books we’re about to read. So we have to ignore the “Weeks later” caption because even if we ignore Grunge’s short hair, I can’t place the Gen13 team in NYC at all. Their trip to Coda Island didn’t have a layover there (it flew from San Diego to Puerto Rico) and their flight back from Rome was direct to San Diego (Roxy mentions it was 16hrs straight, and that flight would indeed be 16 without layovers.)
  • Pretty sure the reason we see Craven with this woman Sharon by his side is that all his other lackeys are busy. It’s telling that we never see her again, once Craven was gone she high-tailed it out of I/O. She was probably as dirty as he was. Also, it is nice that by using Sharon we can’t come across any other continuity errors like we could’ve if had been one of the Brethren, Alicia Turner or Frank Colby in that role.
  • All the Brass Virus experiments are going on in an I/O underground bunker in Arizona. We know that I/O has Sector 52, which is a vast underground bunker in the Mojave Desert, and part of the Mojave Desert is in Arizona, so I’m going to figure this is the same place we see later on as Sector 52 starting in “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 37.
  • The initial 4 Brass Virus victims must move fastly, as they’ve gone from Arizona all the way to a tropical island in the Gulf of Mexico. Also, Craven and Lynch seem to get to the Gulf of Mexico pretty quickly from wherever they’re at… it looks like somewhere in the Rockies.
  • Craven is drawn in 1967 as looking pretty much the same as modern-day Craven, we’ll see later in “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 39 that young Craven had blond curly hair. I’ll admit, it helps us here track who he is and how it relates to this story, even if we’ll encounter a slight continuity wrinkle later.
  • The Team 7 scenes take place back in 1967 and we already see John Lynch working with Miles. We know that Lynch had his little adventure in the “Lynch” one-shot in 1968. In that story, the narrator states that after the ’68 adventure Lynch went on to great things in the military. For me that doesn’t mean he wasn’t already in the military and wasn’t in Team 7 yet, he had just yet to attain the greatness that the narrator spoke of.
  • In “Brass” volume two we find out that the Brass Virus is from another dimension that unloaded it to our dimension because it was too dangerous to be near and they couldn’t destroy it. So that’s some crazy alien robo-tech that Hershel has going on up in his bloodstream.

NEXT: the rest of “Deathblow” volume one issue 24 and then all of issue 25 by Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner, Jeff Mariotte, Scott Kolins, Geof Isherwood, Trevor Scott and Rick Bryant

“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

“Team 7 : Dead Reckoning” 1 – 4

this entry covers “Team 7 : Dead Reckoning” (aka Team 7 series 3) issues 1 – 4

Team7series3Here it is the final series of Team 7… kinda. More on that later, but first up; Lynch finally loses that pesky eye! So, there we go, one Wildstorm Universe mystery totally solved! Unfortunately this series is a bit of a letdown because it moves so fast and so herky jerky in time that it seriously could’ve been at least 2 if not 3 different mini-series. The biggest problem is that we have no sense of time outside of flashbacks to Team 7’s final mission.

The team’s final mission is a trip to Leningrad to rescue a young scientist who is at work for a superhuman program in Russia. This is the program that was set up by the Old Russian dude on crutches that bought it in the last “Team 7” series. When Cray, Slayton & Zig Zag took care of Old Dude, Fatty & Girl in Cambodia it more or less wiped out the fruits of the Russian superhuman program. Now the Russians are trying to get back in the game and it is up to our old buddies in Team 7 (minus Dane who was banished to Level 9 at the end of series 2) to stop those Evil Ruskies and gain a brilliant scientific mind in the process. Of course the mission goes pear-shaped almost immediately.

First things first, Team 7 finds Russia’s one new super-powered being and Lynch takes it on to give the rest of the team time to find the young scientist. Lynch is using all the psi-power he can muster to fight this being. The being is kicking Lynch’s ass, and Lynch tries to pour it on as much as he can to fight back. The drawback is that Lynch’s psionic powers are creating such a pressure on his skull that Lynch knows that he has to tear out his own eye to release a torrent of a psi-blast to take on his enemy. Time being of the essence, and with Lynch literally being the Clint Eastwood of the WildStorm Universe, he goes for it, explodes the other dude’s head and then passes out while the rest of the team meets their objective. While the team his having better luck, they certainly aren’t all that happy.

The team easily finds the man they’re after, a man by the name of Dbovchek, who wants to defect to America with all his scientific knowledge. They grab him, wrap him in the flag of the Soviet Union, grab Lynch and get the hell out of there. One twist, now that Lynch is down for the count Slayton is in charge and this pretty much pisses off the rest of the team, primarily Cash, who thinks he should be in charge. They rest of them don’t like Slayton either, but Slayton doesn’t care. He has secret orders and those orders are to get rid of Dbovchek when he has a chance. He sees his chance when Team 7, after a harrowing chase through the sewers of Leningrad, is being airlifted to safety. This is when Slayton shoves Dbovchek out the door of the helicopter to his death. Cash tries to save him, but has no luck. Why would Slayton do what he did? Because the powers that be want to keep the Cold War running, and a man like Dbovchek on either side threatens that balance. Who would give Slayton that kind of side mission? You guessed it, Miles Craven!

Ok, go back and re-read those last two paragraphs up there, go ahead, I’ve got time. Ok, you back, realize that those paragraphs, that single mission in the USSR, take place via flashbacks throughout the four issue run. You might think to yourself “What? But the actions of that mission inform the whole rest of the series, how can we get a feeling of what is going on when we don’t know how that mission resolved?” And I’d say to you “You’re damn right!” Reading this is kind of like a fever dream, a lot of things happening at once and you’re not sure how it folds altogether in a single satisfying story. Well, it doesn’t, but the structure is only half of the problem, the rest is a lack of year sign posting on the story in progress as well as trying to squeeze in a bunch of references to the WildStorm Universe at large.

Alright, back to that evil bastard Craven. Apparently when the most recent Presidential Administration took charge they reinstated Craven back into his former job as head of I.O. The members of Team 7 are very upset that Craven is their boss once again and most of them quit Team 7 and I.O. in protest, just like at the end of the first series. Much like that time when most of them quit Lynch, Slayton and Cray stay with I.O.. Cash and Callahan both quit I.O. and end up going to work for other military agencies. While Chang and Fairchild also quit I.O. they both go back to work for I.O. at some point. I’m not sure when, as we see them quit, but then we see them working for I.O. again, so without any more information (like when things are happening) it gets a bit confusing. Dane remains locked up down on Level 9 of I.O. and is starting to get along with his C.H.U.D.-like roommates down there.

Now, as we’re moving quickly through the late ‘70s we’re also starting to get more connections to the WildStorm Universe that is occurring, more or less, in the real-time of the ‘90s. We find out about Callahan’s first wife who he knocked up. When she had her baby the doctor, under orders from Craven, told Callahan both his wife and his baby died. Craven wanted to raise this Gen-Factored baby for his own (evil) ends. Callahan’s wasn’t nearly as passed out as the doctor things, and she gets wise to things, knocks out the doctor, takes her baby and high tails it to an Indian reservation in Arizona where her family lives and convinces her uncle to raise it. Thus we see the secret history of Sarah Rainmaker of Gen13. We see Lynch pissing off either his wife or Christy Blaze, not quite sure which, with his suicidal actions. Cray, under Craven’s direction finds and kills the man supposedly responsible for the death of his parents, which we’ll find out more about later in the “Fire from Heaven” crossover story. Slayton almost biffs a mission in Germany and we see that Craven wants him to infiltrate the U.N.s emerging super-group as a spy for him and I.O.. While Slayton initially balks at the idea, he eventually decides to sign up for Stormwatch anyway. We also see baby Grunge as well as baby Threshold and Bliss when we check in on Callahan and his new wife. Heck, there’s even passing mention of former Team 7 members Diaz, Johnson, MacNamara and Rhodes, but oddly nothing on Breckmann. But what of Dane?

Dane, mind-wiped and all from the Old Russian in series 2 is locked on Level 9, and has been getting brainwashed by his buddies there. He knows he can break free with their help. He also knows that when he breaks free he should warn his friends; because somehow Dane knows that Craven is after all of their kids. How does he gather his best buds back to I.O. to tell them this? He makes them glow. They all come running, and Cray brings along Zig Zag who was just getting settled in at college. Dane busts loose with his Level 9 buds, Team 7 takes care of them, the armed forces of I.O. show up, Zig Zag scares the hell out of them, most of the team then make their escape with a Team 7 members left standing around with Craven. The Team 7 members that ran off are all the parents (Callahan, Chang, Fairchild and Lynch) along with Cash, because he just plain ole hates Craven. Dane is passed out on the ground and Slayton knocks out both Zig Zag and Cray to join Dane.

This is pretty much how it ends, Zig Zag is now in service of Craven and I.O. along with Cray. Slayton is working for the U.N. and Stormwatch, but is spying for I.O.. Callahan, Chang, Fairchild and Lynch want to protect their children and Cash says he has an idea, but first, get all the kids into hiding. Where do we go from here? Well, it’s going to take even more time for that story to be told. We have to wait until the first issue of “Gen13” to start to put it together, and that isn’t too long, but for all the real answers we have to wait until the “Gen12” series which is so much farther down the line. Why not review it next? Well, because unlike the “Team 7” series, the “Gen12” series is told in flashback to an investigative government agent while he is dealing with the after effects of “Fire from Heaven.” So I can’t get ahead without spoiling too damn much, besides, it really is worth the wait! Oh, and no, we never really find out how Dane gets better enough to kick ass leading Wetworks, so don’t expect to ever really solve that mystery.

Next Week : “WildStorm Winter Special : Deathblow Gets Dusted” Preview by Allen Warner, Carlos D’Anada and Carrie Strachan

“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.