Tag Archives: Steven T. Seagle

“Grifter” Vol. 1 issues 7 – 10

This entry covers “Grifter” volume one, issues 7 through 10 by Steven T. Seagle, Ryan Benjamin, Cedric Nocon, Roy Martinez, Chuck Gibson, Sandra Hope, Danny Bulanadi and Gerry Alanguilan.

Grifter_v1_007Our old buddy Cole Cash finds himself in Los Angeles. In fact, he’s dropping into the ocean just off of Venice Beach. What’s with this dude and falling into the ocean? Cole comes to and makes friends with a bum named Eddie. While Cole’s getting to know his new buddy a strange handoff is going on in the background, and it isn’t going well.

The handoff is a book. And the book details Los Angeles’ mayor John Thomley’s mismanagement of the subway system fund. A former assistant to the mayor is selling it to the man running against Thomley, Mario Reynaldo, so Reynaldo has blackmail on Thomley, hoping to get him to drop out of the upcoming election. Reynaldo sends a street gang, the Carnivores, who work for him to pick up the book. To stop the exchange of the book, Thomley hires mercenary Serge to snag the book back for him. With all this going on the exchange is getting pretty violent, that’s where Cole steps in.

ColesTooOldForThisShit

Not that Cole does a whole lot of good either. He pretty much gets hit with some kind of poisoned bullet that causes him to hallucinate a whole bunch. First, he starts to hallucinate his fight with Serge as a crazy wild west scene. Serge eventually sees that Eddie the bum has ended up with the book as all hell was breaking loose, and manages to get it from Eddie. At the point Eddie goes to hide, Serge takes off to return the book to Thomley and Cole starts to hallucinate seeing Zealot.

Grifter_v1_008Why Zealot? Well, Prayer is also in LA, only she’s looking for vengeance. She’s a tough no nonsense kinda chick who knows her way around a battle. You can see how he could get them confused if he was way way out of his mind. What is Prayer doing here? Turns out Prayer’s sister was an assistant to Mayor Thomley and they had a child out of wedlock together. Thomley then had his assistant killed and aimed to have his daughter in hiding. Prayer means to find this girl, her niece, and goddaughter, and give her a better life. Oh, and Reynaldo already had a reporter killed and has kidnapped this little girl too so he’ll have more leverage over Thomley. Reynaldo, it’s called overkill, but you can’t blame a man for having some backup contingencies.

With the book out of the picture, Prayer goes hunting down Serge and find out what is in the book that Thomley is trying to suppress. Maybe there’s information about her niece in it. Turns out Eddie pulled a fast one and exchanged the much-wanted book with a bible. This amuses no one and serves to piss off Thomley and Serge as they meet up and discover this. It also angers Prayer who is watching this exchange from afar.

TheRevelation

Grifter_v1_009Meanwhile, Cole stops seeing things but forgets who he is. He is dragged from where all the action went down and he wakes up in the lair of the Carnivores. He eventually makes it through their initiation and becomes a full-fledged member of the gang. The gang then starts to get ready for the next day, where they will crash the Mayoral debate in Santa Monica and the opening of the new SeaWatch base and present the public with Manda, Thomley’s daughter. While prepping for the day Cole creates a mask… his Grifter mask, and as soon as he puts it on he is in his right head again. Now he just has to find a way out of this mess.

Everything comes to a head at SeaWatch. Thomley has hired his own street gang, the Predators, and tasks them with keeping the Carnivores for trying anything during the debate. We have most of the Carnivores, with Cole and Manda, breaking into the SeaWatch base via the sewer lines. There’s also Serge, now joined by his large pal, Mahkinot who’re are pissed off at Thomley for stiffing them because, well, they didn’t bring him the book they were hired to. Honestly, I’m with Thomley on this one. Oh, and Prayer is there too, to assassinate Thomley. But before everything went down, Eddie approached SeaWatch and met one of the directors of the research project, and handed her the book everyone has been after.

SeaWatch

Grifter_v1_010It becomes just a huge mess of violence that ends in both the Mayor and his opponent dead, with only a week until elections. And almost all the gang members in the Carnivores and the Predators dead as well. Manda is saved by Cole when the two of them almost drowned because they were on a submarine as it was launching accidentally from SeaWatch. We are left to assume that Serge and Mahkinot moved on, Prayer took Manda to care for, and the SeaWatch director that was handing around Eddie the Bum presented the book of Thomley’s misdeeds to the media.

Alright, that last part is pretty much a fact. The media suddenly seems to know everything about Manda being Thomley’s illegitimate kid. The Los Angeles police have publicly stated that they’d like to talk to Cole, AKA the masked man that saved Manda, just to see how he was involved in the event. Cole decides to time to start moving towards home and gets a bus headed to Las Vegas. Hey, East is East buddy, and New York is a lot East of Los Angeles, Cole needs to get moving.

GoodbyeCalifornia

Continuity Corner:

  • We last saw Prayer when Grifter was fresh off the WildC.A.T.s team in “Grifter: Sneak Peak” from Overwatch’s Fan issue 1.
  • The lines that Prayer says as Zealot mostly work for both characters, neat.
  • And even though we know better, Cole still thinks that Zealot is dead and gone since “WildStorm Rising” issue 2.
  • Serge and Mahkinot will next pop up in “Backlash” 12 – 14, even though I think those books may’ve been published earlier. For either appearance it doesn’t really matter which you read first, I just wanted to get caught up with Cole because we haven’t seen him in so long.
  • At the SeaWatch opening, the local press talks about the trouble that StormWatch is going through. That being the whole SkyWatch crashing and the U.N. being partially destroyed.
  • Seeing SeaWatch made me realize that there is no real Aquaman/Namor analogue in the WildStorm Universe. Sure, we have characters with water-based powers, and there’s even Atlantis where Slayton’s pop was king. But no real “Lord of the Seas” kinda guy.

NEXT: “StormWatch” volume one issues 28 and 29 by Jeff Mariotte, Barbara Kesel, Ron Lim, Mike S. Miller, Robert Jones and Randy Elliot

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“Grifter” Vol. 1 issues 2 – 6

this entry cover issues 2 through 6 of the first volume of “Grifter”

Grifter_v1_002The story picks up in Nicaragua, right in the aftermath of the “WildStorm Rising” cross-over. StormWatch is headed back to SkyWatch, supposedly with Slayton, and Wetworks is headed back to the States, supposedly with Cray. Dane not only offers Cole a ride home with him but also offers him a position on his team. Not being one for charity Cole turns him down. Dane forces some cash on Cole so that he can at least get home, and Cole considers it a loan.

It doesn’t take too long for Cole to find trouble in a small Nicaraguan town. This trouble is named Luiz Pacheco, and he calls a bunch of armor-suited hooligans on Cole. Pacheco is a member of the Nicaraguan secret police, and he’s calling in these hooligans for Neo who studies and tries to replicate fancy pants weaponry. The armor suits are evidence of Neo’s work, they’re close, but not quite. Turns out that Neo has had his eyes on Cole’s VADs and needs them stolen so he can study them. Neo totally gets away with the VADs after Cole is knocked out by previously mentioned hooligans.

Even though Cole was knocked down and couldn’t move while his VADs were being stolen, he could still hear, so he knows enough to follow Neo to Taipei, Taiwan. He is still recovering from the beating he took during “WildStorm Rising” as well as from Neo’s hooligan force. After passing out on the plane ride, he is woken up and proceeds to head to an old girlfriend’s place. Her name is Yim, an ex of Cole’s and boy is she a sass machine! She gives him a hard time, but ultimately she takes care of him… in more ways that one. Oh my!

After a rest, Cole steps out while Yim naps and is on the look out for Neo. Neo, being a very subtle kind of chap has a building with his name plastered all over it. While Cole is checking out the place from a nearby tea house he is stopped by Zaijian. Zaijian turns out to be Yim’s current boyfriend, and he saw Cole leave her place! Uh oh! Cole talks his way out of getting a beatdown (or worse) from Zaijian and then proceeds to break into Neo’s warehouse. Cole manages to find his VADs and encounter Koko, the fattest cat in the WildStorm Universe. As he is taking his VADs back an alarm goes off, while he’s searching for a place to hide, he spies a warhead trigger. Cole’s got a bad feeling about what Neo’s been up to.

So Neo is making a warhead trigger for an evil jack-wagon named Diabolik. Diabolik wants to blow up all of Japan because he had a bad time with a Japanese doctor. Alright, to be fair to Diabolik, this Japanese doctor did make him the abomination of a man he is today. Sure, he can now live on land as well as water, but the cost was too damn high in the end. So Diabolik, in a pretty much racist fashion, decides all of the Japanese are evil and must be blowed up. So Diabolik shows up at Neo’s warehouse, but before Diabolik can get away that warhead trigger from Neo, Cole makes his presence known. Diabolik not sure what to do starts using his crazy ass weaponry and hits some barrels full of explosive material, bringing the whole building down on himself. Also, Cole was on the balcony at this time, so you know, he gets hurt from a fall due to the explosion but doesn’t get a ton of rubble landing on him.

Zaijian, ever the nice guy, doubles back to save Cole. Not because he’s talked with Yim, but because he heard the explosion and just knew Cole was involved. Zaijian seems like a pretty stand up guy in the end. Also, it turns out he’s totally a secret agent too! He’s a member of the Temple of Confucius and they’ve been after Diabolik for awhile. The Temple decides to hire Cole as a contractor to help Zaijian take down Diabolik once and for all because of course Diabolik survived the explosion. Cole has a plan and a good idea what Diabolik is up to. He needs to get that trigger back to where ever the warhead and missile are located.

Cole has the idea that the rest of Diabolik’s plan does not take place in Taipei, and surmises that Diabolik will be heading off to wherever the show is supposed to go down via a helicopter. There only so many buildings that have a helipad in Taipei, so that’s where Cole sets up his sting operation. It’s at the Sun and Moon Bank and while chasing down Diabolik a woman gets caught in the crossfire and is injured. As Diabolik is getting away, the Temple of Confucius are on him. Turns out that the helicopter was all part of the plan and they can use it to track Diabolik. Cole tells Zaijian to use his paycheck to make sure that the woman who got injured is cared for, then he and Zaijian take off in jet pack/glider thingies and land on the island Diabolik has set up for his missile launch.

So, Diabolik is ready to pound Japan with a gigantor missile. On this island is an old friend of Diabolik’s named Dr. Denning. It looks like Dr. Denning is being held captive by Diabolik. Not so, the good doctor is already dead. Diabolik just kept Denning around because he technically owned the island, and Big D thought that Denning actually understood his hatred of the Japanese. Cole and Diabolik spar and Cole eventually gets the upper hand. He also figures out where the missile is so that Zaijian’s T. of C. buddies can take care of it. With the battle all but over, and the island starting to blow up for… reasons… Zaijian and Cole find only one of the jet pack/glider things in working order. Cole is ready to let Zaijian have it when Zaijian grabs Cole’s arms and flies off the island with him. Eventually, the weight is too much and with the explosions over Cole tells Zaijian to drop him and come back later with help. Zaijian complies, and drops Cole into the ocean with the warning “Watch out for the sharks.”

Grifter_v1_005Cole ends up being caught in a Japan tuna fishing boat net. The Japanese sailors get him back to Japan and the first place Cole heads is the Tokyo I/O office. He confronts the head of the office, a man by the name of Crenshaw, and asks for help getting a passport. This being I/O, there’s a string attached to everything. Crenshaw wants Cole to help in getting back Regiment, a Team 1 member that was sold to the Japanese for research and assumed dead. Turns out, he just woke up and is on a Hulk-like rampage. Cole says no dice, and storms out. He’s never working for I/O again. He then heads to a bathhouse and massage parlor. While taking his much-needed shower (he smelled like ocean water and fish) Regiment tears down the wall screaming for Craven. Like it or not, Cole is now doing a job for I/O.

Cole goes about kicking Regiment’s ass as well as he can. He gets the promise from Crenshaw that he’ll get everything he needs to get back to the U.S. as well as some background information on Regiment. Cole soon realizes how outmatched he is, and requests some bigger, badder weapons to out the big boy to sleep. While I/O is coming up with that tech, Zaijian shows up to help Cole. Apparently, the Temple of Confucius was called in to aid Cole until that requested VAD cannon could be delivered. VAD cannon in hand, Cole knocks Regiment out and takes his passport and cash with him as he heads back to Taipei with Zaijian. What’s Cole up to? Well, he wants to see the young woman that got injured during his fight with Diabolik at the Sun and Moon Bank.

Continuity Corner :

  • I don’t think Cole ever paid Dane back for that wad of cash.
  • We finally see the fate of Regiment after the disastrous Team 1 mission. He rode that missile towards New York City but was able to steer it off course to upstate New York. Not only that, he absorbed all the radiation. His passed out irradiated body was then sold to Dr. Tei in Japan, which is where he resided until I/O decided they wanted him back and he subsequently woke up and was brought back into the WSU narrative.

NEXT: “Union” Vol. 2 issues 5 & 6 by Mike Heisler, Pop Mhan, and Chuck Gibson

“WildStorm Rising” Chapters 5 – 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continuity Corner :

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

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

“StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 20 & 21 as well as Special issue 2

this entry covers “StormWatch” volume 1 issues 20 and 21 as well as the backup stories within each book and the “StormWatch” volume 1 Special issue 2. The best reading order would the backup of from issue 20 “Cross Currents” followed by the backup from issue 21 “Tagged” followed by issue 20, then the Special issue 2 and then issue 21. It still works fine if you don’t pull is the backups out though, as long as you keep the Special in between issues 20 and 21. Note: due to a misprint issue 21 read as if it was issue 1 on the cover.

So, let’s start with those two backup stories! Both of which feature parents who abandoned their super powered children. We’re not sure exactly why Undertow’s mom left, but we are left with the mystery of who his mom is, who apparently works on SkyWatch. Both of these stories just cover who Undertow and Pagan are when they show up as new recruits in issue 20.

We then move on to see Nautika and Sunburst talking about taking some time off. This is interrupted by Trelene with a special mission. In fact, this same exact scene will play out in the Special issue as well, proving this poor couple can’t catch a break. In this issue, it leads to the three members of StormWatch Prime picking up Undertow and Pagan, not much else.

The second mission for StormWatch Prime is a bit different. Sunburst and Nautika are interrupted by Trelene to go after Flashpoint because this time he’s killing folks. By folks I mean the Mercs, the ones that imprisoned him and the rest of that team for years. Flashpoint is wise to the fuckery that was done to their minds and wants answers and revenge! He actually does manage to take down Kilgore before being cornered trying to kill Hellslayer.

Flashpoint’s murder spree is stopped by the rest of the Mercs, who are in turn stopped by Sunburst and Nautika. Deathtrap is starting to have misgivings about this whole thing. Yeah, he’s a mercenary, and Defile has paid him well, but seeing what Flashpoint has become, due to some of his actions, isn’t sitting well with him. Before Deathtrap gets out a full confession to Flashpoint, Nautika stops Flashpoint and lets Deathtrap walk. Flashpoint is tossed in StormWatch prison and lectured by Trelene while Defile revels in the fact that two of his pawns, Sunburst and Nautika are still in play.

Might as well mention it here, Malcolm starts talking to his frozen Pop.

Meanwhile, we have Winter, Cannon and Bendix fighting Winter’s personal battle against MAD-1 and his cronies. Three cronies, in fact, that are armed in MAD suits all of their own. Bendix brought his latest iteration of the Think Tank armor and due to some harsh battle, it is starting to fail, meaning this side mission is going sideways.

Eventually, after Bendix’s armor has been roasted he manages to hotwire one of the MAD suits that Cannon and Winter managed to fell. They use this to take down the other MAD units and stage a ruse to get into see the men in charge. Bendix posing as MAD-1 presents his bosses with the “defeated” Winter and Cannon to gain an audience with them. Once inside the Russian compound, filled with hundreds of more MAD suits, the unofficial StormWatch crew take out the evil Russians and then blow up the hell out of the compound.

How the heck could an explosion like that go unnoticed by StormWatch? It doesn’t! Winter is called in by Trelene for a right ass chewing! She’s probably still keyed up from the one she gave Flashpoint. Before she suspends or punishes Winter, Diva bursts in the room saying they’ve found Battalion’s killers, they’ve found the WildC.A.T.s, no time for administrivia, get to D.C. and kick their asses already!

Continuity Corner :

  • We have Flashpoint running around trying to kill the Mercs in Special issue 2, but we find out later in issue 35 that he was in on everything with them. I know it resulted from a change in writer and direction for the character, but that’s a pretty big retcon. If he was working for Deathtrap the whole time, then what was up with their final moments alone together before Nautika shows up? It just doesn’t track!
  • Special issue 2 starts the long road to Deathtrap tiring of his life of crime. We see a bit of it in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 32 and it will culminate in “WildStorm Spotlight” issue 4.
  • We’ll see the results of Defile’s brainwashing of Sunburst and Nautika in “WildStorm Rising.”
  • Speaking of, we’re right on the cusp of the first big crossover for the WildStorm books. We just need to get the WildC.A.T.s into place! We just need to find out how they ended up in that rubble in Washington D.C.

NEXT : “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 19 by James Robinson, Jim Lee, Richard Bennett, Terry Dodson and Gary Martin.

“Grifter : One Shot”

this entry covers “Grifter : One Shot” issue 1

Woo hoo! A Grifter solo book! Officially! Not just “the Savage Dragon” Vol. 2 issue 13 this time! So yeah, that’s good! The not so good news is that it isn’t by Choi and Lee. Awwwwwww… But, it still is a pretty damn fun book regardless!

So Cole is tooling around DC and he sees a couple at a bar. He knows the loudmouth the next booth over is a spy named Polchow and he is with a date. He also knows that spies like he and Polchow have been winding up dead as of late. Cole’s even betting that Polchow ends up on the chopping block before he does, so Cole hatches a plan to find out how, why and hopefully prevent it! Well, turns out that Polchow’s date was the killer, and Cole fails in trying to save Polchow and even manages to get stabbed with a poisoned blade, which causes him to pass out, at the scene of a crime. This is why you can’t let dames get in the way!

Cole wakes up tied to a chair. Who is holding him captive? An old frenemy named Gallows. He was on the Russian side during the Cold War, that’s the major difference between the two. Other than the fact that Gallows is mostly robotics now. What they have in common, is that they were both trained to be spies by the same man, Hans Arp. Cole is putting it together that the chickie he fought was trained by Arp as well, and Gallows lets him know that Arp has a crew of spy/assassin gals, and he’s using them to take out the competition AKA former Arp trained spy/assassins. It’s kinda like Molotov Cocktease’s plan during the season three finale of “the Venture Brothers” complete with a gaggle of female ass-kickers.

After figuring they can trust each other Gallows and Cole are getting reacquainted, during which we get a flashback to the last time they were together, and what they had thought were the final days of their former trainer. Arp was a real James Bond type back in the ’60s, but after the loss of his wife and kids he couldn’t go on. The US government decided to keep him on as a trainer for future spies, but eventually, Arp went into business for himself and started training spies for any and every country with the cash to pay. All the secret agencies in the world got together and sent their best to take out Arp, which, of course, were all trained by him. This all happened in the mountains of Switzerland, with snow, heights, the works. Gallows got shot down early but managed to survive enough to have a cyborg body built for him later, and Cole was the official last man standing against Arp. Cole had his gun to Arp’s head, and before he could pull it Arp shot his own climbing rope and fell. Everyone just shrugged their shoulders and assumed “Homey’s dead.”

As you can guess, Arp didn’t die at all. Now he’s back and he only has Gallows and Cole to stop him. There’s a bit of business with Cole and Gallows going undercover to find out more information, and dealings with a mad scientist type, but in the end, all leads us to Arp’s home of operation. So, Cole and Gallows burst in and start taking on all these assassin ladies. They manage to take out all the women, save one named Andromeda, and in the process Gallows sacrifices himself to save Cole. The lone woman standing almost gets Cole because he’s distracted by Arp running away, like a little baby. Cole makes short work of her and takes off to the roof after Arp.

On the roof, Cole and Arp are shouting at each other as they fire back and forth. Each of them are going a bit wild with the bullets, but it’s easy to understand because as spies they’re both good shots, but better dodgers. Arp’s main downfall is that he misjudges a gap in the roof as he jumps for Cole and falls to his death. This time, for real. Homey’s dead. Cole is a bit upset about all he’s gained and lost over the last few days. And as he leaves the premises of Arp’s would be spy headquarters he notices that Andromeda’s body is nowhere to be found. He wonders if he’ll see her again, and if they’ll be friends or enemies then, because if there’s anything this caper has shown him, it’s that you never know who’s with or against you.

Continuity Corner :

  • On the scale of WildStorm cybernetics from Ivana Baiul to Ladytron, Gallows rates at somewhere between Henry Bendix and CyberJack.
  • One of the reasons this book is placed here in continuity is due to the fact that Cole is already in Washington DC at the end “WildC.A.T.s” volume 1 issue 18. I figure he needs something to do while the team is busy helping Backlash out with all his lady troubles.
  • For a bit, I thought that this might come before Cole joins the WildC.A.T.s, but he mentions Zealot isn’t the only trainer he’s ever had. This leads me to believe that he may have already with the team. Also, he has his bullet bike and VADs, which I’m pretty sure are Halo issue.

NEXT : “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 20 & 21 and “StormWatch” Vol. 1 Special issue 2 by by Ron Marz, Steven T. Seagle, Mat Broome, Melvin Rubi, Michael Lopez, Cully Hammer, Allen Im, Terry Shoemaker, Pop Mhan, Chuck Gibson, Robert Jones, Gary Martin, Jon Holdredge, Randy Elliot, Jason Martin, Jeff Albrecht, Mike Christian, Saleem Crawford, Richard Friend, John Lowe, Mike Miller and Jason Rodriguez

“Warblade : Endangered Species”

this entry covers the “Warblade : Endangered Species” mini-series, which was composed of issues 1 through 4.

Ugh. This mini-series. Where do I begin? I… don’t like it much. Unlike “Spartan : Warrior Spirit” which I eventually came around to, I just can’t see that happening here. Which, in the end, is rather odd, as I’m a fan of the other work that Steven T. Seagle and Scott Clark were doing for WildStorm. This book, though… this effing book…

Here we have Reno going to Japan to hang out with his old friend Master Kenkichi. OK, they’re not friends, and Reno is just there to give some hot shot student of Kenkichi’s some humility by beating him in a kendo match. Something like that. Really, it isn’t important, what’s important is that Reno sees an old friend named Pillar. Turns out he used to know Pillar, way back in the day. Like back in the time he was a slave to CyberData with Ripclaw and Misery. Turns out he and Ripclaw had a third bestie before Misery came between them, and that was Pillar. Turns out, that on a mission the three of them faced a Daemonite, and that Daemonite took over Pillar’s body and mind. Reno never forgave himself for letting that Daemonite get away in Pillar’s body, and is once again ready to take him down once he sees Pillar in Japan.

Pillar has been a busy boy since he was overtaken. Lately, it seems as if he’s working against a, say it with me, Daemonite splinter group, that want to take over the world in their own fashion. Also, this group has a name, they are The Faction. Actually, he seems to want to take down this group from the inside. It really seems like the old Pillar is in charge when he’s talking to Reno about it. This is also after Pillar killed a whole mess of folks to steal some technology from them. The Faction’s ultimate tech’s name is the Trident, and it is made up of three components, that they call the three Spears. Pillar convinces Reno to team up with him to make sure the Faction can never succeed.

Meanwhile, Ripclaw is messing around with a jaguar in the North American desert and ends up getting kidnapped by the Faction. Dummy.

Pillar and Reno meet up with other Faction members, and Reno convinces Faction member Rodriguez that he’s one of the Daemonites that Pillar killed in Japan, just in a new body. Rodriguez doubts this lie and tells Reno that in order to prove himself, he needs to kill this rando they just caught. Said rando is Ripclaw, duh. While fighting each other Reno and Ripclaw hatch a plan to only make it look like Ripclaw is dead. It doesn’t matter, and Ripclaw’s fake death is overturned in a matter of seconds. While Reno and Ripclaw take out the Faction lackeys, Pillar takes down Rodriguez.

So… what’s the big plan? Pillar has part one of the Trident, there are two other parts, and then a meeting location for the Faction to assemble them. While en route to one of the three locations, Pillar’s plan was to drop Reno and Ripclaw each off at two of the three locations, go to the third and then come get them. Reno calls bullshit, and wants to work as a team, and Ripclaw states that he and Reno will keep the jet and then come back to meet Pillar. Seems like Pillar was doing some straight up TAO shit, because this is exactly what he wants as he parachutes out into the rain forest below.

As Pillar lands he meets up with three other members of the Faction. Here Pillar just messes with the Faction more. He tells the Faction that he shook Reno and Ripclaw and sent them to other enemies of the Faction, thinking that if he’ll have cut the potential Faction enemies list in half. He also tells the Faction that he lied to Reno and Ripclaw because there is no Trident to be gathered since he picked up the tech in Japan, they’re good to go. Pillar takes down the creator of the blaster tech and the Faction is ready to take down the world!

Now, on to where Reno and Ripclaw went on their wild goose chase for vaporware. Ripclaw is dropped off near a big game hunter named Skinner. He, uh, kills and skins Daemonites. Gross hobby, but it doesn’t take long for he and Ripclaw to catch on that they are not each other’s enemy. Reno finds himself in the house of the Daemonites that burned down the orphanage he was living in, in Japan. Reno makes short work of them, picks up Ripclaw and hightails it back to the rain forest to have some stern words with Pillar. Kidding, they plan on slaying him.

Once they arrive they see Pillar taking down the members of the Faction. Due to Reno being a real jerkface, he reminds Pillar that after the Faction are dealt with he’s coming after Pillar. True to his word, after the Faction are dealt with, he comes after Pillar, but he just can’t kill him. Pillar the Daemonite is still so close to Pillar the human and Reno just can’t perform the killing stroke and lets him walk. As Pillar leaves and Ripclaw wonders why he turned on the Faction, Pillar reminds him that the human Pillar believed in honor, and that carried through after the merge. Pillar believes the Daemonites will win over mankind, but the tech that the Faction had gotten their hands on would make the battle too unfair.

Yup, that it. I mean, there’s a whole lot more stuff with the jaguar and craziness on Ripclaw’s reservation, but it feels more tacked on than all the gratuitous fight scenes in the book. Maybe it’s the length of the book that I find fault with. Maybe a 3, or even 2 issues would’ve worked better for me, there just seems to be a lot of padding on this story. Also, it’s hard to know who to root for, I mean we’re with Reno and Ripclaw all the way, but Pillar keeps us guessing… but not in a good way. His double, triple and quadruple crosses just get tiresome for after awhile.

Continuity Corner:

  • Why the hell do all the Daemonites in this story go by their human names? That’s never been a thing before! Pillar, Rodriguez, Pamola… come on!
  • Two of the three Daemonite women that Reno takes down are carrying clef blades. That’s a Coda weapon. Are those more trinkets for their trophy room, are did someone forget that Daemonites and Kherubim don’t mix?
  • Why place this story here? Well, in “WildC.A.T.s” vol. 1 issue 13 we have Marlowe mentioning that Reno wants some time to himself soon, and with Maul back in “WildC.A.T.s” vol. 1 issue 17, the immediate threat to the team is over and some personal time can be allotted. For me, it just seems like too early of a story to be placed after he gets back from outer space and Ripclaw still seems to be dealing with the emotional baggage from “Killer Instinct” so I don’t want it to be years since that incident.

NEXT : “Gen13” Vol. 2 issue 1 by Brandon Choi, J. Scott Campbell, Jim Lee and Alex Garner

“Voodoo / Zealot : Skin Trade”

this entry covers the one shot “Voodoo / Zealot : Skin Trade” as well as the short story “Voodoo : Skin Game” from “Overstreet’s Fan” magazine issue 3.

VoodooZealotSkinTradeVol1_01This book… this effing book. Ok, let’s be serious for a minute, this book is basically a bunch of pin-ups arranged as a story. But trashier than that sounds. For all the cheesecake glory that is “Gen13” when compared to this book “Gen13” ends up looking rather tame. And, if I was a better reviewer, and thought this was the place to get into it, I’d comment on how WildStorm went from putting out a book like this, where the women are all posed as sexual objects first and to serve the story second, to eventually putting out books that dealt with a more mature take on sex and sexuality in such a small span of time. Not to mention how much ahead of the curve on that kind of thing they were in regards to DC and Marvel. But this isn’t the blog for that and I’d never do that argument justice anyway!

We catch up with Zealot training Priss in the ways of the Coda. Along for the “It’s Not the Danger Room!” session is Cole and Jeremy who both admonish Zealot for being too harsh with Priss. Little Big Jake tells Zealot that she needs to lay off of Priss a bit and she needs a break. Zealot storms off and is then confronted by Providence. Providence tells Zealot she has information about her Zealot’s previously unknown child and proceeds to give some long convoluted story of how it’s been cryogenically frozen and will still be a young kid. Also, it’s in Yurgovia and she should go save it. Most of this is a lie, but Providence needs to get Zealot to Yurgovia and Zealot will meet her kid, so she embellished a lot.

So why does Providence need to get Zealot to Yurgovia? Well, ok, remember Yurgovia from the “WildC.A.T.s Special”? Remember how there was this Coda gal named Destine that was running it? Remember how she died getting shot in the back by Cole? Welp, I guess it didn’t take because she’s back and she’s pissed. She’s out to take Yurgovia back from the people that’d been running it since she’d been assumed dead, and also to grow her own little branch of the Coda as well. She has a few recruits already and she’s looking for more to train, which means kidnapping the children of Yurgovia. In the end, it seems that Providence didn’t like all this, because who would, and vowed to put and end to Destine’s schemes. Oh, and Destine has a bit of “the Orb” that created her and Void and she means to have it back. Not that Providence went about it attaining her goals in any logical manner, she handed out half truths to Zealot and double crossed Destine.

Long convoluted plot short, a woman named Cathy is trying to save a bunch of Yurgovian kids from the horror on the civil war by secretly getting the kids to Greece. Providence says she’ll help her. Destine’s forces are after Cathy and the kids because one of the kids was supposed to be in Destine’s Coda Scouts troop. This girl has white hair. Destine encounters Providence, says she wants revenge on Zealot in exchange for her orblet. Providence provokes Zealot to show up, Zealot brings Priss under Jake’s orders. Everyone assumes the little white haired girl is Zealot’s kid. Priss and Zealot kick Destine’s ass, and eventually Zealot tosses the orb in the sky and Destine grabs it and blows up. This pisses off Providence, who basically tells Zealot to suck it. Zealot is all “No, you suck it, bitch, my kid ain’t even here! Also, why do you get hair and Void has to be bald?” To which Providence is all “Your kid is in the room, look around” and Zealot sees StormWatch, who’ve come to rescue the kids by order of the UN and sees Winter with his white hair.

I mean, ok it’s not just the white hair, it’s that Zealot left her baby with a Russian couple. Get this, unless you haven’t been paying attention, but Winter is Russian. I know, mind blown. Not sure why the white hair was such a big thing considering that [seriously, the WildStorm revelation that I’m not going to spoil yet] doesn’t have white hair. Now, I thought all the members of StormWatch were supposed’ve been superpowered by a magical comet, how come Winter gets to be half Kherubim?

That about wraps that one up. Except for the ladies go on vacation to Greece before they get back to New York. I mean it was the cover story that Zealot gave to Priss in the first place, and they did live it up for a few days before going to Yurgovia. So you know, why not, more excuses to draw the girls in bathing suits.

Let’s finish this off with another short story featuring Priss and Zealot written by Steven T. Seagle as well. Priss is out for a night on the town, she gets a letter and rose delivered to her from an anonymous admirer. The note says to meet her out back in the rose garden because most bars have those. Once she’s back there she’s attacked. Don’t worry, it’s only Zealot surprise testing her, seeing if she’d fall back on her Coda training or on her instincts. Priss fails and Zealot lets her know there’s going to be more homework because of this.

Continuity Corner:

  • Winter is Zealot’s kid, we all got that right? I mean he’s supposed to be, later we’ll get some background on Kheran mating practices and the rarity of births in “WildStorm Winter Special” no less more than one (that’s another spoiler kids, sorry). Maybe it works differently with Human and Kherans though…
  • This book makes mention of a book called “WildC.A.T.s : Ground Zero” that never came to be. It seems like it would’ve outlined the adventures Zealot was having, who Winter’s father was and how she dealt with her pregnancy.
  • When we last saw Destine in the “WildC.A.T.s Special” she looked much different. Long hair, red outfit. She still has black hair (which was sometimes drawn long in this issue) and some tech over her right eye, but other than that she looks like a new character. When first reading this a few years ago (yeah, this wasn’t a story I grew up with, I found it while doing research for this blog) I knew that I knew her, but I couldn’t recall from where due to the complete redesign.
  • We do get a few callbacks to the storyline in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 10 – 13 with mentions of Tapestry and how Providence snuck into the HALO building.
  • The art on this book is something else. Starts off pretty solid and then gets worse and worse as it goes one. Also, there was like 15 different inkers on this book. There’s a handful of miscolorings as well as a handful of speech bubbles going to the wrong characters. Not to mention that the “white haired girl” is always seen with black hair. This book was kind of a mess in the final act of the story.
  • Speaking of the art seriously, am I the only person who thinks all the visual references for Priss and Zealot were from the pages of nudie magazines? Was that the point considering the name of the book?
  • Was this book popular? I mean, it came out pre-internet so it should’ve been a hit based on the “artwork” alone, but I had never heard of it before doing research into WildStorm books, and I was a teenage boy and a WS fan when this came out.
  • Regarding the placement of the “Skin Game” short. I feel it is odd to see Priss using her “were-form” here, as we don’t see that until a bit later. But we really aren’t going to see it until they get into space, and once they’re back from space Priss quits the team. So when’s this training taking place? Ultimately, Priss’s were-form isn’t really too crazy of a deal, so it is fine that it makes it’s appearance here, but I’m torn if the story should come before or after the “Skin Trade” book or not. They seem to be on better terms with each other in “Skin Game” as a result of “Skin Trade” but, Zealot getting on Priss’s case for being out of practice in “Skin Trade” could be a reference to the events in “Skin Game.” Like I said, it could go either way.

NEXT: “WildStorm : Chamber of Horrors” by Ron Marz, Steven Grant, Merv, Jeff Mariotte, Bernie Wrightson, Alex Baily, Trevor Scott, Jason Johnson, Tom Raney, Aron Wiesenfeld, Chris Carlson, Al Vey, John Beatty and Alex Garner. As well as the short story “Portrait” by Ron Marz, Ryan Odagawa and Jon Holdredge.