Tag Archives: Sean Ruffner

“Backlash” issues 9 – 11

this entry covers “Backlash” issues 9 through 11

Backlash_Vol_1_9So Slayton, nice chap that he is, is going to spring Amana Reed from her incarceration now that he’s back from Nicaragua. Through CyberJack he’s found where she’s being held in preparation for her transfer back to Purgatory Max prison, a place called Stonewall Prison. He knows it’s dangerous, as he’s still on the Most Wanted list and he’s breaking into a government facility. What he doesn’t know,  is that he’s going to be running into Dingo again during this rescue.

Well, to be fair, Dingo will be running into Reed first, as she’s being chased by the aptly named Chasers. It doesn’t take long before the trio all meet up and take the hell off. Even though they just escaped the Chasers they all split up. Dingo’s done due to his stealth mission for info busted up, but as we’ll find out later, his real job was to free Reed, attach a tracker to her, follow her to Slayton. He did one better and got it on the target directly. Amanda leaves because she got all “I don’t need you to fight my battles, Marc” leaving Slayton to go hang with CyberJack. This could be a relaxing time, save for Slayton’s apparent long lost daughter, Jodi, showing up!

Backlash_Vol_1_10Turns out Slayton did the nasty in the pasty with Jodi’s mom. 1980 to be exact. So he thinks it’s plausible. He even thinks to himself that even if Jodi isn’t his, he still owes it to her dead mom, his past love, to take care of Jodi. Awwwww, so sweet. The biggest thing we miss when we’re not seeing Slayton in “Backlash” or “WildCore” is seeing his sweet side. He can be such a lovable guy, but he usually chooses to ignore those impulses.

The next day CyberJack goes to pick up more supplies for the new safe house.  Also, Slayton decides to take Jodi to Coney Island for a day of fun. This is when the Kindred start to track the homing beacon Dingo placed on Slayton during the Amanda rescue. They arrive at an empty house. The Kindred, in this case, are Fennix, Kamin, Slider, the aforementioned Dingo and of course their leader, Bloodmoon. As Jack gets home he sees it being ransacked, before he can roll into action the creatures all leave. During this their tearing of the place down,  they find Slayton’s note about being at Coney Island and they head off to confront him there.

Backlash_Vol_1_11Well, it’s not hard to catch a man when it’s five against one, so the Kindred just the best of old man Slayton. Bloodmoon’s plan is to get some of Slayton’s blood, look more into the Gen-Factor contained in his blood to refine the Kindred process. Unfortunately for them, the Gen-Factor has been mutated by Slayton’s Kheribum genetics. But hey, the got Jodi and low and behold, her blood just might work. This upset Dingo, it’s not what he signed on for, hurting innocent girls. In fact, if it wasn’t for his change of heart, Slayton and Jodi wouldn’t have gotten out of that mess at all. I mean Slayton did do some damage after escaping from his shackles, and Jodi did manifest her Gen-Active powers during the fight, but Dingo saved the day in the end.

Continuity Corner :

  • During a battle with the Chaser Gaze Slayton start seeing more of his past. There’s a shot of him as a samurai in Japan which we’ll see more of in “Backlash” issue 14, as well as Gaze and Slayton stating there’s block in his memories, and they aren’t sure why. I mean, we know why, but not how or by whom.
  • At the end of the big fight with the Kindred, we only see Bloodmoon and Slider get away. I assume Fennix is dead from her gunshot wounds and Kamin just kind of disappears. Never sure what the final fate of those two was. EDIT: reader DAMartin points out that Kamin was electrocuted. And I’m ashamed as to where my head was at while writing this, because, yeah, it’s right there, blatantly on the page! Thanks DAMartin!
  • Throughout these issues both Slayton and CyberJack keep making mention of how Giavonni can help them out. We’ll meet Giavonni soon.

NEXT : “Wildcats : Ladytron” by Joe Casey, Eric Canete, Jason Johnson, Mark Irwin, Mark McKenna, Arthur Nichols, Luke Rizzo, Joe Rubinstein and Juan Vlasco

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“Backlash” issues 6 & 7

this entry covers “Backlash” issues 6 and 7

So after Slayton had gotten Dane to go on one adventure with him, he decides that his extended cast isn’t big enough and calls Dane back and tell him to bring a friend for his next mission. This new mission is to two fold. Part the first, Cyberjack and Taboo go and kidnap Dianne LaSalle from a bunch of StormWatch ground crew scrubs. Part the second, Slayton, Dane and Grail go to the lair of the Daemonite Lord S’ryn and nab him from right in front of Pike and pals.

Why do all this now? Well, good question. I mean, in the end, we see him calling in his favor with Jacob and the rest of the WildC.A.T.s and since they have Voodoo, a better understanding of Daemonites, and crazy sci-fi equipment they can get LaSalle back into her right mind. But do we know all this going in? How does it get set up? Ugh, I’m going to have to go reread this again aren’t I? Ok, just did, and nope, no elucidation. When Slayton shows up at the Halo building, via Void’s transport, he says to Jacob that he’s “calling in his favor” which doesn’t make much sense, as he must’ve called in that favor earlier because Jack and Taboo are already there with LaSalle and Void is the one who got him there, this was all set up already. Either Slayton is kind of dense or he’s super socially awkward.

Pris is able to extract the mind of LaSalle from the Daemonite, but is having trouble extracting the Daemonite from the body of the man it was possessing. S’ryn isn’t going down with out a fight. S’ryn pops out of the dude’s body, but as we’ve seen, that’ll probably leave the host brain dead. S’ryn is looking for a new host, but that’s not the best plan as there isn’t a lot of options for him in a room full of Kherubims and such. Taboo pops him one and then Slayton goes all smoke-form and gets into S’ryn mouth then reconstitutes and tears S’ryn apart from the inside out. As he’s dying, S’ryn makes fun of Slayton for not knowing himself. S’ryn is taunting Slayton’s Kherubimness with his final breath. This is confusing to Slayton as he doesn’t even understand the term. Jacob explains it to him, as he’s saying “welcome to the family!” This doesn’t last too long as LaSalle is back and she wants to spend some time with Slayton after all he’s done.

The next issue is split into three stories. The first of which concerns Slayton trying to connect back with LaSalle. It isn’t going so well. She’s having trouble coming to terms with all the people that he’s killed along the way to save her. Also, she’s not too keen on him hooking up with Taboo. Slayton goes for a walk to clear his head. When he’s out Taboo calls, saying that there’s some sketchy folks following her, and that message goes straight to the answering machine. Which LaSalle hears. After that call she phones StormWatch asking to be put back on active duty and where to go to catch the next shuttle to SkyWatch.

In Taboo’s story, we see her making the call that broke up Slayton and LaSalle, and we meet the crew that’s been following her. We saw a bit of these guys a few issues earlier, but they were yet to make their move. Now, without Slayton and Jack around, it is time to strike and capture that scofflaw Taboo. For all her powers, Taboo is really crap when she’s in a fight alone. You could say “but it’s 4 against one, the odds aren’t in her favor!” and I’d counter that saying that when she’s part of a group of as little as her and Slayton, she can take out at least 20 goons. You can’t tell me Slayton is carrying her the whole fight! Besides, these jokers are going at her one at a time anyway! But yeah, in the end, she done got captured.

Our final story introduces a new character. An Aussie dog-man named Dingo. Yes, yes, Dingo is a Kindred, but a member of the Kindred that was brought to Australia from Cabillito Island at a young age. We see his past as a young dog-boy who is adopted by an Australian military man and raised to be a respectful member of society, as apposed to being raised as the weapon he was brought to the country for. After the passing of his adopted father, he goes out into the world to see what it is like. Of course he ends up running into and working for Bloodmoon and other members of the Kindred. As soon as we saw his “such-a-good-puppy” face, we knew this was going to be a Kindred thing? Right? Was it just me?

Continuity Corner :

  • After Slayton takes off with S’ryn, Pike mentions to Hestia, the Cabal’s pet Coda, that this is the second Daemonite Lord they’ve lost in their service. This is what you get for selling out your people Pike!
  • At one point S’ryn calls himself a High Lord of the Daemonites. Is that because he took Hellspont’s place in the Cabal? We know that both Hellspont and Defile are High Lords, and then there’s the dead one that had his hand sticking out of the ground, but that’s it, right? Isn’t there only three High Daemonite Lords that came to Earth, and each one holds a key? And isn’t that why Hightower is trying to get a key? To up his level? Without actually having Hellspont’s key why does S’ryn think he’s automatically granted High Lord status?
  • Good thing Slayton visited the WildC.A.T.s when he did with Cole out on assignment in DC. I’d hate to have to sit through another few panels of them being bitter towards each other.
  • I’m not entirely sure that issue 7 was originally drawn to be issue 7. Excepting a few exposition panels, you can swap it with issue 8 and be kinda fine. Maybe there was some reason why the “WildStorm Rising” crossover had to be issue number 8. My main reason for thinking of there is something up, is that Slayton says that it had been 2 weeks since the WildC.A.T.s helped with LaSalle in issue 7. There may be something do this, as according to comicbookdb.com issues 4 and 5 each had a cover date of February, meaning they may’ve gotten ahead, thus the slight wrinkle in continuity. Was there a last minute rewrite on the first page of  issues 8 and 9 to address this? Who knows.
  • More at odds is the fact that in issue 8 Slayton says he stepped out on LeSalle to help Taboo… but we saw him leave in a huff not knowing about Taboo’s trouble, LeSalle doing what she could to get out of there and rejoin StormWatch and then the message being left on the machine by Taboo. Did Slayton come back, not see LeSalle, heard the message, and bolted, figuring she’d be back soon, not knowing that LeSalle had already taken off? Again, who knows. I’m probably overthinking this one!
  • Slayton has spent a handful of issues of “StormWatch” volume 1, four issues of “the Kindred” volume 1 and six issues of his own series trying to save his lady, and LaSalle just ditches him? Because he killed? Really? What did she think he occasionally had to do in Team 7 or for StormWatch? Oh, I see LaSalle, it’s alright to kill for your government but not for love.
  • To be honest, I’m of the mind that the WildC.A.T.s did take a little bit of time from the end of issue 18 to the start of issue 19 of “WildC.A.T.s” volume 1 to properly mount an attack on Hightower and the Coda in DC, (more of that in the next entry) but 2 weeks seems a bit long for them to wait.

NEXT : “Grifter : One Shot” by Steven T. Seagle, Dan Norton, Chuck Gibson, Troy Hubbs and Edwin Rosel.

“Union” Vol. 2 issues 1 & 2 and “Crusade : Release”

this entry covers the short story “Crusade : Release” that was originally published in the “Killer Instinct Tour Book” and reprinted in “WildStorm Rarities”, also being covered is “Union” Vol. 2 issues 1 and 2

We open with a short history of Voyager 1, leaving Earth in 1977. Suddenly, now in the ’90s, Voyager 1 has struck and object. In doing so, Voyager has found intelligent life. Life is a large naked bald man… baldish… he’s got a rat-tail… made out of dreadlocks… not the best look. The object struck was also some kind of rock/bunker that kept Baldy McGee in stasis but also had several sets of full armor, which Baldy dons. He seems pretty happy to see the Sun again, as well as to “clean the stain from the universe!” So he heads off towards Earth, on his, ahem, crusade!

Alright, now let’s see if we can boil these two issues of “Union” down. Mnemo sees that Baldy is coming, so he needs something to defend himself against that. He pulls out the body of another Protectorate he just had laying around, that he can also kinda/sorta remote control, and sends it after Baldy. Now I’m not sure where Big Blady was headed, but Mnemo is in China, not sure if that’s where the fight started, but it ended up in New York City, right outside Jill Monroe and Union’s apartment.

While all that is going on Union foils a terrorist plot at the U.N. Good for Union! Well, lucky timing at best, as he’s really there to try to score a job from StormWatch. Due to Jackson King being, well, “dead” his meeting is with Christine, in all her Weather Man glory. Why she’s planetside on not on SkyWatch is not brought up. Even though he’s hat in hand Christine has just too much going on with StormWatch to do much, but she tells him to keep his nose clean, and she’ll see what she can do.

Also at the same time, Jill, Union’s nominal girlfriend, is having a shit day. Jill is probably the most put-upon woman in all of WildStorm comics. I really feel sorry for her. By the end of the series, she’ll go through a lot, but she’ll stay alive. No worries about her being refrigerated, but life certainly does seem to suck more for her once Union becomes a part of it. So, at the end of her suck day, she sees a dude that looks like her boyfriend outside her window fighting a huge bald man in the air. In fact, she’s shocked once she sees Union walking in the door being all low key.

Naturally, Union has to join this fight, because hey, that’s his buddy Serren getting the snot beat out of him! Several dumb ass fight pages later, and the three calm down enough to talk things out. In fact, during the fight, only two things of note even happen. 1) Mnemo’s hold over Serren is lost and 2) Baldy says “You will fall before the might of Crusade” which clues us in, in story, to his name. So yeah, Crusade, who’s on a crusade against evil. That’s easy enough to remember. Anyway, as they all discuss how they’re going to go get Mnemo they’re all sitting in Jill and Unions apartment. There’s a nice visual bit with Crusade sitting on a chair flipped around backward. I know this is due to his bulk, and it’s the best way for him to fit and rest on a chair, but I’d like to think it’s because Crusade is fresh as hell.

The plan is this. Fly to Mnemo, kick his ass. Well, amend that, fly over water as much as they can, to remain incognito and if Mnemo throws anything at them as they’re flying, it’ll minimize human casualties. Once in China, and nearing Mneno’s base, the trio encounter some Chinese military jets. After smashing the first to bits, Union lets on to Crusade that those are the good guys, and to stop busting up their toys. They make it into Mnemo’s lair and the bastard sets off a chain reaction in Serren’s justice stone. It’s gonna go kablooie, and we saw what happened in Chichester, NY when a justice stone went supernova bang bang! Union flies Serren’s body up to the edge of space and says good-bye to his friend as he explodes. Meanwhile, Crusade is trying to make good with the Chinese military and Mnemo is getting away.

Back at home Union is kinda bummed. His old friend, Serren, that he just met back up with is dead. This new friend, Crusade, is just too crazy to hang out with. That douchebag Mnemo got away… again! On top of all that, he’s still jobless, and his lady hates her job. That’s when he gets a call from Christine Trelane! She heard about the help he gave to China, and she wants him to be a StormWatch member on retainer, available whenever needed. Good work Union! You got the job buddy, you got the job!

Continuity Corner :

  • Because this is post-1990, we know that Crusade’s space rock was past Neptune. That’s a pretty long haul for the big guy!
  • We find out a lot about Crusade later in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 35 and 36. Turns out he’s human but obviously augmented. Also, he’s calling the Kherubim the stain of the universe. He never explains why he hates them so much, but he just does. It really comes off as brainwashing and was probably part of the package when he got his powers. While hating the Kherubim first makes me think that maybe the Daemonites did this to him, I start thinking of another alien race. One that had contact on Earth long ago and also hated the Kherubim. Yup, I think this might be the first hint toward the Drahn storyline.
  • We last saw Mnemo with Serren’s broken body in “Union” Vol. 1 issue 3.
  • Also, there was mention of Serron, Union’s friend that went missing in “Union” Vol. 1 issue 0.
  • The terrorists outside the U.N. were there in support of Yurgovia, none too happy about the U.N. support of Kasmia, which we saw a bit of in”WildC.A.T.s” Special issue 1 and  “Voodoo / Zealot : Skin Trade”
  • We only ever see Union officially working for StormWatch once, when he’s called into action in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 20 to deal with what is happening during “WildStorm Rising.” I guess one could argue that in “Fire from Heaven” that Union was also called in by StormWatch, but we don’t see that event on the page. In the long run, Union does kind of end up working with Jackson and Christine in “the Monarchy” further down the line.

BONUS :
After seeing this entry online, writer Mike Heisler responded to with this on Twitter:
Michael Heisler Mnemo

NEXT : “WildStorm!” issues 1 through 3 by a whole host of various writers and artists!

“Backlash” issues 1 through 5

this entry covers the first five issues of the title “Backlash”.

BacklashVol1_01-05

Alright, Backlash is still on the hunt to find more out about Daemonites so that he can help out his girlfriend before she dies of terminal coma! Heck yeah, he’s totally going to do it! He got some info from I/O, he may’ve picked up a thing or two from Grifter while they were on Caballito Island, and you know, it’s about time to save her. So he’s totally going to get that done in these first few issues, right? RIGHT? Nope, even with her life on the line Backlash decides to find a new chick, go to a party with the WildC.A.T.s, almost get arrested by the Savage Dragon and plays video games with his old pal from Team 7. Way to dick around and not save your lady Slayton!

Well, let’s give him some credit, he started with the best of intentions. He meets up with Diva from StormWatch to get some more info on what is going on with his beloved LaSalle. Turns out that she’s in worse condition, and she’s being moved from SkyWatch to a hospital in Detroit for closer inspection. Why Detroit would have better medical staff and tech than a crazy sci-fi satellite is beyond me, but I’m just reading these comics, not writing them. Backlash visits the hospital and while there the Daemonite that had possessed LaSalle is there in it’s new host, along with Pike. So Backlash has found the Daemonite that he needs to save LaSalle, but the Daemonite kicks his ass, and seems to be in league with a newly forming version of the Cabal.

So now Backlash has another problem. He has no real knowledge of the Cabal, and he just got his butt handed to him by only two members of the group. Time for “Operation: Hire a Tough Sidekick with Insider Knowledge!” To this end he finds out about a former member of the Cabal named Taboo, AKA Amanda Reed, who claims the Cabal framed her for murder when she was threatened to quit their little tea party. Upon being found guilty of murder… Sorry, aside; murder? A Cabal member getting found guilty of murder? Really? The first time we meet these jerks they are murdering people. They are murderers! That’s what they do on their way to enslave the planet! How does a member of the Cabal get captured in the first place, and then how does the rest of the Cabal co-ordinated with each other and the local judicial system to get Taboo both arrested and framed and they don’t get in trouble themselves? It is a stretch too far. Anyway, after being found guilty (smh) Taboo is locked up in the Edward H. Levi Federal Penitentiary, better known as Purgatory Max, a huge prison for super powered criminals. It’s also located in the far far North of Alaska, inside the Arctic Circle.

Thing about Purgatory Max, is that no one has ever broken out, but Backlash is planning to break in! That’s new and different, he might pull that off! Then he’ll get Taboo and break out! Woah! Doing the one thing that’s never been done! Backlash, you have your work cut out for you! Wouldn’t you know it, he pulls it off, his name is on the book after all, but in the process of the escape he does have to remove Taboo’s power inhibitor to beat some the guards back as they run. Taboo has a symbiotic suit that gives her strength, claws and green eyes (for now, later wings). It’s kinda like a WetWorks suit in that it can come out of nowhere and is related to vampires and aliens, but it is different, because no one thought all of this through or talked to each other while writing it. Just when you think Backlash and Taboo are cornered, they sink into the ice and are suddenly on a sub with CyberJack! Ah, Jack Rhodes, you’re the best bud Backlash will ever have!

Cut to a super secret Cabal club meeting! We find that the Cabal has been running under the rules that Hellspont had put in place by a Daemonite (I assume) named H’Tar. Not all is well in Cabal-land as a challenger approaches. It’s K’Rul, but he’s not there to step into that role, no, he states that not just any Daemonite should run the Cabal, but a Lord Daemonite should run, and it just so turns out that he is a representative of Lord Defile, and hey he’d make a good leader. This may be the earliest reference we get to Defile in the WildStorm Universe, and I was surprised to find it on my re-read! While the other Cabal members talk about what a terrible idea it is to rope in Defile, Pike and S’Ryn (the Daemonite that put LaSalle in her coma) show up and says “put me in charge guys, I’ll get those pesky Kherubim!” Even gets K’Rul to renounce Defile in favor of him! Woah! Now, let’s drink some blood and get this party started!

Meanwhile, back in Chicago, Backlash, Taboo and CyberJack and chilling out in one of Backlash’s many safe houses. Through a convoluted story that doesn’t bear repeating, the trio find out that S’Ryn is going to be at a charity bash, so they’re going to get him. At one point Taboo does something to Backlash’s face with her symbiote. At first I thought she was just giving him a shave, but he remarks “Doesn’t look at all like me.” and she responds “Yeah, quite an improvement, isn’t it?” and I’m left thinking “Is he supposed to look a lot different? Are they joking? He just got a shave, right? Or is Booth’s art here so samey that I can’t tell a difference that was intended?”

This little shindig is going down in Chicago, so you know what that means, right? Yup, Savage Dragon time! In my mind there is a Savage Dragon in most universes of the multi-verse, and this is the WildStorm U version of that character. He’s slightly different than the one appearing regularly in “Savage Dragon,” the one that teamed up with Madman in “the Atomics” and the one that we find in “Invincible” a few times. It’s just a co-incidence that he just seems like the same guy in most universes. Hell, the most different version I’ve ever seen is named “Dino Cop” as part of a DCU multiverse, but that was due to several factors, including being unlicensed, but I mean, come on, we all know what Grant Morrison was pulling with that. Oh, uh, yeah, back on point, if you’re a comic character and you find yourself in Chicago, you may just meet up with a Savage Dragon, and that likelihood increases if you are a creator owned or an Image Comics character. This is getting out of hand, look, what I’m getting at is that the Savage Dragon will be working security at the charity ball. Also, he mainly took the job because he saw that Jacob Marlowe was going to be there.

So at the party Taboo is getting flirty with Backlash, he’s all “I tells ya woman, Imma taken!” and we see Marlowe getting drunk, living it up since he quit his superteam. S’Ryn notices Marlowe and wants to get in close, as the new leader of the Cabal (stop trying to make the Cabal happen, it’s not going to happen!) he needs to take out this problem Kherubim Lord. S’Ryn is in human form without the goofy ass, middle school tossed together outfit he had on earlier, and has Pike by his side. Pike is a large guy, and I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that before. A note on what Pike looks like out of outfit: I like that Pike is depicted as no particular ethnicity. I’m not sure if that is necessarily intended or is another case of Booth’s artistic flair. I know I’m coming down hard on Booth and his art, but he is crazy hit or miss, and when he hits (look at any drawing of Zealot that he does) he’s amazing, and then there’s times like this…  come on Brett, we know you can do better! Eventually a fight breaks out and S’Ryn flashes into his dumbass suit, Taboo and Backlash notice this and suit up as well, and then the Savage Dragon busts in to try and break up the fight. Marlowe runs off and tries to call the WildC.A.T.s, but he’s followed by Pike who puts a stop to that, and Pike’s followed by Taboo who puts a stop to his attempted murder of Marlowe. In the main ballroom the Savage Dragon takes out S’Ryn and tells both he and Backlash that they are both officially under arrest.

Backlash is at a loss because he can’t afford to take the time to go to jail, or to lose S’Ryn to the feds before getting the information he needs to save LaSalle. Meanwhile Pike has suited up in his bootleg Deadpool cos-play and takes out Taboo as Marlowe finally reaches the WildC.A.T.s and Void and Zealot teleport in. Lots a fighting goes on, Zealot accidentally stabs Taboo and Pike gets away. CyberJack threatens to shoot Void if she doesn’t step away from Taboo until she let’s him know “Nah, Rhodes, the silver chick is with me.” Rhodes gathers the troops enough to go save Backlash and the Savage Dragon from being taken out by S’Ryn because they’re too damn busy fighting each other. This is where the bad guys make a play to blow up the good guys, but they each get away, ultimately leaving Dragon alone in the rubble.

Marlowe and Backlash talk a bit, Marlowe offers Backlash a job, which Backlash turns down due to his past trouble with Grifter. Fair enough, besides Zealot and Backlash will get to be teammates later and they butt heads constantly too. As he, Taboo and CyberJack are ‘ported off to CyberJack’s place Void makes comment that Backlash will have to face his destiny soon. Ooooo, ominous!

Back at CyberJack’s crash pad we see Jack walk! Wha! Turns out the special cybersuit he has on gives him limited mobility… which if we or any of the characters had been paying attention the past 2 issues we would’ve noticed his walking while saving the day! If you noticed it you’re a swifter person than me, Backlash or Taboo. But walking takes a lot out the man so he starts to crash on the couch while Backlash and Taboo go out for a drink. Drinking and superheroics lead to them hooking up when they get back home. Oops! Oh, and CyberJack totally spies on them with his motion sensors! Whatta perv.

The next day CyberJack mentions that there’s some technology that if he got, would help him track down S’Ryn’s base of operations, so they can take the fight right to him. Turns out that this kind of Virtual Reality tech is in a building owned by Waering Enterprises, the same Waering that that helps run a little outfit we all know as WetWorks. Turns out that Waering is having Jackson Dane upgrade the security on that building, the same night as his old pal is trying to break in. Backlash leaves Taboo behind while he breaks in, Dane finds Backlash, they start to tussle, a mysterious stranger sneaks up on Taboo and takes her down, Dane and Backlash recognize each other just in time for the same mysterious stranger to take them both out, while he drags in the body of a nearly unconscious Taboo.

The mysterious stranger turns out to be a loser named Virtual Bob, and he’s working for an entity known as Mindscape. Mindscape was a man whose body was destroyed while he was in his virtual reality machine, the machine saved his soul. Virtual Bob eventually discovered him while doing some hacking. The two of them build Mindscape a new body out of computer parts. Mindscape is now building robots and wants the soul of a top fighter to use a template so he can have an army of robots to take down the company that he was working for when his body blew up. So when he comes along Backlash and Dane he pits them against each other in the VR realm to see who is strongest and the winner will be the template for his murder-bots. He says he doesn’t intend to harm them in the long run… but he already seems like the kind of guy who totally would.

Mindscape eventually enters the VR realm itself and gets wailed on by Dane. Backlash is starting to figure out how everything works and finds a way to hi-jack Virtual Bob’s mind and tell Taboo how to help them get out of the VR world. The boys are freed, Taboo literally unplugs Mindscape to “erase his ass” and it is a happy ending for all! Dane even lets Backlash and Taboo borrow the bit of VR equipment that they went to the Waering building to steal, as long as they promise to return it! A pretty happy ending for all… well, everyone except for LaSalle who’s still in a coma, being sent to Detroit, no closer to having the Daemonite information she needs to live, and her boyfriend just cheated on her with a criminal. Dammit, Slayton!

Continuity Corner!

  • I’m trying to figure out why Marlowe doesn’t recognise Backlash. I know it had been several decades since their time with Team One, but I expected something. Further proof that the Team One books should be pushed back in the reading order, as Marlowe gotten all his memories back yet!
  • It makes sense that Zealot doesn’t say much to Backlash, she didn’t seem to be too fond of him during Team One and she’s probably heard stories from Grifter about him.
  • Speaking of remembering who they were, is there any real reason that Backlash only seems to remember as far back as the ‘70s? Is there anything anywhere that says what happened? Not a one off line someplace about trauma he experienced during the failed Team One mission?
  • When the crew gets back to CyberJack’s place Taboo makes fun of how run down it is. He blames it all on Backlash on the I/O goons that trashed it in “the Kindred” Vol. 1 issue 1.
  • When Mr. Waering asking Dane what he’s doing while WetWorks has some R&R, he remarks he’s going to New York for personal reasons. I’d always assumed these reasons to be joining up with Deathblow.
  • Also, when Dane is talking to Waering he mentions that this is going on during “WetWorks” Vol. 1 issue 5. While that might be, it doesn’t really invalidate any of the overall narrative going on in the WSU and keeps the arcs in both “WetWorks” and “Backlash” pretty much intact.
  • I don’t know if it was intended, but seeing how Purgatory Max is both one of the highlights in Backlash’s life (meeting Taboo) and the worst moments in his life (the final mission of WildCore) is a pretty decent narrative call-back/mirror when we get to it.
  • Also, unmentioned above, but there’s some super powered bounty hunters hired by the government following Backlash around and trying to catch him for freeing Taboo. They don’t do much now, but are become important later.

Next: “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 25 and 9 by Steven T. Seagle, H. K. Proger, Scott Clark, Ryan Benjamin, Sandra Hope, Trevor Scott, Troy Hubbs, Tom McWeeney and Frank Percy

“The Kindred” Vol. 1 issues 1 through 4

KindredVol1this entry covers the miniseries “the Kindred”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continuity Corner!

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

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

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 8 and “the Kindred : Prologue”

this entry covers issue 8 of “StormWatch” Vol.1 and the 2 part prologue for “the Kindred,” originally printed in two issues of “Previews” and later reprinted in “WildStorm Rarities.”
StormWatchVol1-008
OK, here we go, diving deeper into the interconnectivity of the WildStorm Universe. Also, bonus Ripclaw! Shorty after Ripclaw got back from Gamorra he got a call from the Apache Nation that one of their own had gone missing. Ripclaw takes on the mission to hunt down this child, a girl by the name of Sarah Rainmaker, a character we haven’t seen since she was a baby in “Team 7 : Dead Reckoning.” As Sarah is telling Ripclaw why she left (government goons) they are set upon by the Keepers (more government goons.)

Meanwhile back on SkyWatch we see Jackson and Slayton talking about the mission in Gamorra and how WeatherMan One pulled Jackson’s fat out of the fryer. They both know that repercussions are on their way for that. Also Slayton let’s Jackson know that he’s quitting StormWatch. He needs to learn more about the Daemonites and the UN will only hold him back.

Then comes the call, StormWatch is called by the Apache Nation to come help with all the craziness going on there. WeatherMan One sends in the team, minus Hellstrike due to being messed up, and with Malcolm instead. Jackson is told to suck it up, this could help them out due to Sarah and Malcolm being similar in age.

The mission mostly works! The StormWatch team fends off I/O’s Keepers with the help of Ripclaw and Sarah is staying on the reservation with her family. Here’s the catch, those repercussions that were due from WeatherMan One’s actions on Gamorra strike. One of the conditions turns out to be that Sarah be turned over to I/O’s Project Genesis. So in tears Sarah enters a limo with Ivana Baiul.

OK, some questions are raised. At this time StormWatch the team and “StormWatch” the book are made up of seedlings, meaning they got their powers from that magic comet. (Except Backlash, but he’s supposed to be a mole for Craven, so he most likely lied to the UN about where his powers came from.) So if StormWatch is headed to the Apache Nation under the idea that there is a seedling, and it turns out the seedling is not a seedling but a human with the Gen-Factor what do they do? Take her in anyway? Tell her to wait for enough other Gen-Factored types to show up and start a team book with them? While seedlings still play a part as “StormWatch” continues, it stops being the common factor for why and how the team members received their respective powers.

Now, on to the prologue for “the Kindred!” You may ask yourself, why isn’t this right before “the Kindred?” Why is there two issues of “WildC.A.T.s” between the prologue and series proper? Well, we need to get Grifter into place, and we need it to make a little sense with what’s going on in both “WildC.A.T.s” and “the Kindred.”

After the events of “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 8, Backlash is looking to find out all about aliens. First he calls I/O and gets a bunch of static from Lynch. Craven must’ve never told Lynch about Backlash being a plant in the StormWatch organization. Classic Craven. After that, for some odd reason, Backlash tracks down Grifter for help. Not sure why, they kinda sorta hate each other! In fact Backlash ruined Grifter getting ready for a night out on the town, that jerk! So they fight and it’s dumb and they part ways. Backlash off to Cyberjack’s and Grifter to meet Zealot at a bar for some pool.

Next : “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 8 & 9 by Jim Lee, Brandon Choi with Jeff Mariotte and Travis Charest

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 0, 4 & 5

this entry covers “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 0 as well as issues 4 & 5.
stormwatch000

“StormWatch” is a book that never seemed to give a damn about any marketing gimmick that it was supposed to participate in. Take the concept of a 0 issue. Image comics came up with this strategy, their first comics published would be a number 1 issue, but it wouldn’t burden you with backstory, instead it would get right to the action. The backstory would come at a later date via the 0 issue, and they would also be set before the events of the number 1 issue. But no, not “StormWatch,” “StormWatch” is too good for all of that! While the 0 issue of “StormWatch” would have a boat load of backstory in it, it also couldn’t be read prior to the events of the first two issues (and due to the writing, issue 3 as well) lest you spoil the death of Mr. Windsor.

This book opens with Jackson and Fuji fighting in a Danger Room-Holodeck kinda thing. “StormWatch” at its worst is just a mash-up of “X-Men” and “Star Trek : the Next Generation.” Which is another reason I probably liked it so much as a kid, because both those things are super rad! I say “worst” because it is taking a lot of those elements and not doing anything really interesting with them. Also, Danger Room’s for anyone but the X-Men are super lame. Hell, I even think the one the X-Men have is lame, and makes for lame story openers. I can only suspend my disbelief so far before I feel insulted, and the Danger Room/Holodeck in “StormWatch” is one of them. Just let the X-Men be the X-Men and have their Danger Room, and even though you’re super sci-fi “StormWatch” leave the Holodeck to ST:TNG. Smack each other around in a gym or something, I dunno, just always comes off as super lame.

While this lameness is going on there’s a group of terrorists on a small space ship approaching SkyWatch. They have a cloaking device; they attach their ship to the side of SkyWatch and then literally break in. The main dude, Tony, of this group, has a grudge against Jackson for messing up his brother during a StormWatch mission years ago. We cut back to the ’70s where we see StormWatch in its younger days, presumably not long after John Stone left when the organization was known simply as S.T.O.R.M.

We meet Jackson on a treadmill talking smack with another early StormWatch member known as Flashpoint. This is all being egged on by Windsor. Jackson mentioned how great Windsor was, and we know he died a hero, but he comes off very douchey here. We also learn that Flashpoint has the same bad attitude as Canon, there’s always one on every team. We go to a wider shot and see another member of StormWatch Prime, Nautika, not just the team girl, but also the team member without a nose.

We see the mission in which Jackson, Flashpoint and Nautika are being lead by Backlash against a group known as the Third World Liberation Front. Of course this is the group that Tony was in at the time with his brother Pedro. They were breaking into a government facility to steal information for Ivana Baiul, who is trying to get her “Project Genesis” started at I/O, for now looking at “seedlings” before switching to “gen-actives.” Jackson freaks out at Pedro and pretty much mind wipes him. This was the reason why Tony was out for revenge. This issue was the first that let us meet other older StormWatch members other than Jackson and Backlash. One more will get squeezed in soon, so be prepared to add one more member to the family tree.

When we get back to the present in issue 4 we see a StormWatch scout ship checking the perimeter of SkyWatch as we wouldn’t want any more space jock terrorists breaking in! The scout ship finds a piece of a Daemonite ship that got partially through to Earth’s atmosphere due to the events of “Reunification Day” AKA “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 0 – 4. It should be noted, these Daemonites are tough, they’ve been floating in space from April ’92 – Sept. ’93. Of course the Daemonites take over the SkyWatch workers and infiltrate SkyWatch.

Meanwhile we see Backlash trying to work up the nerve to propose to his girlfriend Diane LaSalle. He wusses out, way to go Slayton! Wouldn’t you know it, the Daemonites run into LaSalle and one of them takes her over but not before she sounds the shipping alarms. While “riding” LaSalle the Daemonites find out about the WarGuard. The WarGuard was a group of scientists that were on a satellite when the magic comet passed by the Earth. Being so close to the comet they got stronger powers and went crazier than seedlings on Earth. The WarGuard were locked up on SkyWatch for the safety of humanity. With the Warguard now on the loose, hosting Daemonites, we know StormWatch is in some serious trouble.

While StormWatch goes up against the WarGuard, Backlash is trying to figure out what had gotten into LaSalle. Hint: it’s an alien (I mean besides… wait… I’m too mature to make this joke.) He electrifies her with one of his little whippy things which separates LaSalle and the Daemonite. The blunt separation sends LaSalle into a coma. The WarGuard tumbles out of a SkyWatch window and for some reason everyone just assumes they’re going to burn up on re-entry. Not sure why, but we have to get to seeing a super sad Backlash with LaSalle in the medical lab of SkyWatch, so no time for worrying about possible future plot lines.

It’s important to note that the public at large has no knowledge of the Kheribum and Daemonite war, or even their existence. This is all a shock to StormWatch, who usually deal with human and super-human problems on Earth, not aliens in their space home. We know a bit more about what’s going on with LaSalle than the team, and that’s cool. Tight continuity and world building is front and center as well as seamlessly integrated for both of WildStorm’s lead titles.

Next : “StormWatch” Vol. 1 Special issue 1 by Ron Marz, Dwayne Turner, Richard Johnson and Kevin Nowlan.