Tag Archives: Zealot

“WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 8 & 9

this entry covers the main story from “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 8 and 9 as well as the back-up story “Warblade : the Bonds of Blood and Steel” from “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 9.

wildcatsvol1-009The idea of these issues are to show how the team spends their time off from being a member of a covert action team. Grifter and Zealot hit up a dive bar, Warblade and Maul go out to look at art and mac on ladies, Jacob checks up on an investment, Spartan follows Jacob, Voodoo follows Spartan and Void stays at home all alone… so very alone. Of course something goes wrong eventually and they have to suit up and take down some jackass, but seeing the team with some downtime is fun.

Grifter and Zealot are at one of Grifter’s old haunts, the diveiest of dives. A place so divey that southern redneck types hang out there, despite the bar being in New York City. There’s a bar brawl, Zealot wins and Grifter gets a message on his pager from Cyberjack with the code “T7.” Grifter lets Zealot know that he’s gotta bolt, personal guy stuff. She gives him a rather forward kiss for luck, and he’s off to the pages of “the Kindred” a little dismayed that his ex, that he’s having trouble getting over, just frenched in an NYC alleyway. So if you want to follow the thread of Grifter’s story bale out now and wait a month and I’ll get to it (kidding, I hope it isn’t another month between blogs!)

Warblade and Maul. I’ve already told you. Maccin’ on babes, visiting art shows.

Jacob, Voodoo and Spartan are sailing the high seas on one of Jacob’s cruise liners. Jeeze, Jacob sure got a lot done in the two years after Void found him in the streets! That’s besides the point, Jacob and crew are out on this cruise because he just had another one of his cruise ships go missing in this location. What kind of heroes are these? So one ship goes missing, why not get aboard another ship, strike out towards the same location with a whole bunch more innocent people and see what happens. Nope, let’s not go this alone, let’s endanger folks. Good call. Also, known mutie scum may be aboard this vessel as well.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, just before Voodoo got Spartan all talked into a smooch does Jacob stop by. Even worse is that after Jacob delivers a few lines that the whole ship is sucked up into the air. Voodoo, you’re never going to get to bang that robot at this rate. This brings up an interesting point. Voodoo has never been presented as an innocent, hell she used to be an exotic dancer, but in these scenes with Spartan she’s coming on much more forward than we’ve ever seen and pretty much more than we’ll see going forward. It always stands out to me when I re-read this issue. It’s not totally off base, but just enough to notice.

Back to the main dilemma, a boat being sucked into the sky. Turns out this is the work of Lord Entropy, another one of the Kherubim high lords that came to Earth. And he’s seeking vengeance on our lil buddy Jacob a.k.a. Lord Emp. Why the vengeance? Turns out that back in the middle ages when Jacob and Entropy were fighting as English knights Jacob killed Entropy’s wife. Why? Because she had just become a host to a Daemonite. That’s what Kherubim do, they hunt Daemonites (and if they’re English knights at the time, they also probably give the Scots a hard time as well.) Either Entropy forgets that a Daemonite took over his wife, or he missed that happening, because it doesn’t matter to him a bit. Dude’s out for Emp blood.

Back in New York, Void gets a vision of what’s going on. It helps that Entropy is using an orb/part of an orb to torture Jacob and co. because that helps her clue right in on the problem and where to go. She gets Jules to find Zealot and Zealot tracks down Warblade and Maul and they all rocket out to sea to find their fellow teammates. In a floating castle. With innocent cruiseliner folks lining the walls, while crystals grow around them, embedding them. For some reason.

Entropy is kicking everyone’s ass. The WildC.A.T.s he captured and the WildC.A.T.s that just showed up. As I said earlier, he has the power of the orb/an orb and it is amping his natural Kherubim powers. This give Void the bright idea to bond with Jacob and shut this joker down. Team up and blast ‘em. It works! The ‘C.A.T.s book it back to their plain/spaceship M.I.R.V. and are on they’re way back to NYC. Jules managed to save about 20 civilians while the rest of the team was taking care of business.

While captured Entropy does something to Jacob’s brain that gets him to remember the long life he has had. Dude has virtually no memory of what came before that day in August of 1990 when Void found him drunk in an alley. After Entropy does his thing Jacob’s brain is fixed and he starts to come to terms with who he is as well as what he’s done over his long life on Earth. Technically for this reason the “Team One” stories should probably be placed here, as they “WildC.A.T.s” issues are flashbacks of Jacob thinking over his life, thoughts he couldn’t’ve had prior the the events of “WildC.A.T.s” issue 9, but everyone is always on my case of not putting “Team One” in the “Pre-History” section. But look, the books are from Jacob’s memories, which he just got back from that mess with Lord Entropy! Also, all this thinking makes Jacob want to quit the team. Hell, if he saw what was coming in the next few issues, I wouldn’t blame him.

Back-up story time! Warblade takes down a Daemonite in an apartment. The Daemonite had taken over the life of single father. The son of said father sees Warblade take down his pops, but the kid is none the wiser of the alien possession. Warblade does the right thing and gets kid to the Halo Legal Department and tells them to help the kid find a new and decent home. Kid does an adorable little kid punch at Warblade’s face. Eh, not the worst short story, but not much there except for Travis Charest’s artwork.

Where to find these stories:

Next: “Team 1: WildC.A.T.s” issues 1 & 2 by James Robinson & Rich Johnson and “Team 1: StormWatch” issues 1 & 2 by Steven T. Seagle and Tom Raney

Killer Instinct

this entry covers “Cyberforce” Vol. 2 issues 1 – 3 and “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 5 – 7 in this order:
“WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 5, “Cyberforce” Vol. 2 issue 1, “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 6, “Cyberforce” Vol. 2 issue 2, “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 7 and “Cyberforce” Vol. 2 issue 3.

WildCATsVol1_05-09I’m not a huge fan of this crossover. Not at all. It’s too long by half. I’ll admit the art is fantastic; Silvestri and Lee are at the top of their game with these issues! But, the story is only “meh”. We find that WildC.A.T. member, Warblade has a shared history with Cyberforce member, Ripclaw. They have a “Three’s Company” like misunderstanding over a girl, and that girl is alternating good and evil. It comes off as more than a little sexist. Also we get a bonus Warblade origin that is almost immediately retconned out of existence.

There is some good here! First, goddamn, I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve realized it, but Richtoffen is the eye-patched be-monocled man from the Cabal! The bald dude that I thought we’d never see again! I had always had them filed separately in my head, but I was wrong, they are one in the same, awesome! Also awesome is the fact that this is the second story in a row that takes place on Gamorra! It, in fact, is taking place at the same time as “StormWatch” issue 6, that’s just rad comics synergy. Who thought a single exploding research center atop a mountain would be so exhilarating?

Speaking of “StormWatch” we see WeatherMan-One taking notice of the fight that erupts between the WildC.A.T.s and Cyberforce and recommends that StormWatch make scans of these combatants so that facsimiles can be made for StormWatch’s Danger Room, you know, in case they ever need to fight each other. This is the first instance of StormWatch becoming aware of the WildC.A.T.s team. StormWatch has only recently become aware of Daemonites, so it is only fitting that StormWatch at least sees the WildC.A.T.s in action so quickly, y’know, to get all the super humans in the WSU on more or less the same page. StormWatch learning about the WildC.A.T.s has much bigger ramifications in the WSU than WildC.A.T.s and Cyberforce getting in a little spat against each other.

All that seems kinda great, so where do all the problems set in? Firstly with Warblade himself. So, Cyberforce are escapees from a company called Cyberdata. Cyberdata collected mutants and gave them cybernetic enhancements to boost their mutant powers, keep them as slaves, and command them to run jobs to help them take over the world. Warblade was a Cyberdata slave before Cyberforce escaped. Is Warblade a mutant or has he been cybernetically enhanced? I thought he was half (or full blooded) Kherubim alien whose family line is part of the Shapers Guild. How does any of this fit together? Can it even fit together at all? I mean, he have thought he was a mutant, due to his shape shifting arm powers, right? But then what are his cybernetic enhancements? I’m not saying that this isn’t a cool or interesting backstory for Warblade. Being found by Jacob on the shores of Gamorra all beat up from a throwdown with Ripclaw is not too bad. Him being a cyborg-mutant with the power to make his arms and fingers into sharp blades is rad as hell. But Warblade not being Kherubim is odd once they go to Khera (16 issues later) and we are introduced to the Shaper’s Guild. I guess his mutant powers might be that he is rarely consistent. I mean his race is half Kherubim, or full Kherubim, depends on who’s writing, same as his hair color. It is either brown and he dyes it green, or it grows in green. Warblade is a mess, and I guess that’s why he’s my least favorite WildC.A.T.s character, especially at this time. I always liked that in his real life he was an artist, and I liked his friendship with Jeremy too, but Reno Bryce sometimes seems like a totally different character than Warblade. He’s badass for being a badass’ sake, and ‘90s comic’s teams always needed a badass!

There’s another inconsistency, but it is pretty minor. At one point, during the break in of afore mentioned mountaintop scientific research center, Grifter mentions how Zealot got him to quit Team 7. We know for a fact that Team 7 was over before Grifter laid eyes on Zealot. Not to say she didn’t convince him to quit working for the American government, but that it is impossible for her to get him to stop working for Team 7. That’s all, minor, but me being picky on continuity is kinda the point of this blog.

The main story, as it is, is back when Warblade was with Cyberdata he used to date this one woman, who was another Cyberdata “employee.” Her code name is Misery. They’d broken up, and she’s constantly coming onto new recruit Ripclaw. The story builds us up to think that Warblade’s warnings to Ripclaw about Misery are just jealousy, but that’s not it, this chick is bad news. This mission takes place at the mountaintop scientific research center in Gamorra that we’ve all come to know and love. She uses her telepathic powers to get Ripclaw and Warblade to fight while she is doing some shady shenanigans. There is where Ripclaw thrashes him and tosses him off a cliff. There is where Jacob Marlowe finds him.

Back in the present, the WildC.A.T.s are investigating strange goings on at this same research center, and who pops up alongside Dr. Richtoffen? None other than Misery herself! Richtoffen is taken down by Warblade, and then Misery starts messing with him as the rest of the WildC.A.T.s skedaddle due to a self-destruct sequence starting. Warblade stays behind, vowing to take out Misery once and for all, and then suddenly: Ripclaw. Wait… how did Ripclaw get there? Misery lured him there with her mutant dream suggestions. So now Ripclaw and Warblade are at it again, and once again Ripclaw won’t listen when Warblade tries to tell him how even Misery is being, again. The research center explodes and again Warblade gets stabbed by Ripclaw and tossed off a cliff.

Eventually Warblade gets to the WildC.A.T.s and Cyberforce tracks down Ripclaw and they all start fighting each other on the mountain top in the wreckage of the research center. They’re all in under the mind control of Misery, so that’s keeping the fight going longer than needed. Misery keeps going between normal girl and evil girl and this is represented by her eyes going all white and a blood tear drop coming down from one of her eyes. I thought this was cool as hell as a teenager, but as an adult, it’s kinda dumb to me. Bloody tear drop, wooooo LAME! Anyhoo, Warblade puts it together that this is a full on robot programed to be like Misery, so to spare us all further pages, he takes her out. With the two teams no longer at each other’s throats, they start to bond.

So what was at this scientific research center that Richtoffen wanted so badly? Spartan’s arm from his old body that got blown up in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 4. I guess Marlowe has a lockdown on the tech that Spartan is made from, good for him! We don’t want that kind of knowledge in the hands of the Gamorrans or any other evil people. While I never read “Cyberforce” so I don’t know if are any more call backs to Misery in that book, but she is never mentioned again in “WildC.A.T.s” On the other hand now that seal has been broken, we’ll see Ripclaw in an upcoming issue of “StormWatch” and he’ll team back up with Warblade in “Warblade: Endangered Species” before disappearing forever after the events of “Shattered Image.”

There’s not much here to like, or really to hate story wise. It is just kind of a lame “superpowered beings meet up and fight” kind of story. It’d been done to death at that point, but we were still a ways away from making meta comments about these tropes in text itself. Seeing Silvesti and Lee draw each other’s characters is the real highlight here, more so than the characters even meeting each other. And Jim, really? Four page fold out splash? That was genius! Who came up with that? I wish the story could’ve been a bit better, but this was the Image Age and the art was king, all else was secondary.

Where to find these stories:

  • the “WildC.A.T.s / Cyberforce : Killer Instinct” trade paperback
  • the “Absolute WildC.A.T.s by Jim Lee” hard cover
  • Comixology: “WildC.A.T.s vol. 1” issues 5, 6 & 7

Next : “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 8 and “the Kindred : Prologue” by Brandon Choi, Jim Lee, H. K. Proger, Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Scott Clark and Trevor Scott

“WildCats Trilogy” issues 1 – 3 & “Voodoo : Passed Lives”

this entry covers the first issue of “WildCats Trilogy” then the back-up story from “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 8 entitled “Voodoo : Passed Lives” before wrapping up with “WildCats Trilogy” issues 2 and 3.

wildcatstrilogyRight away looking at this book, we’re seeing the fantastic artwork of Jae Lee. Jae is one of my absolute favorite artists working in comics, and seeing him work on any WildStorm title is just magic for the eyes. Also, if you’ve ever seen the cover in person, man, it is a foil-y ‘90s comic masterpiece. Sorry kids, scans don’t do this thing justice! Shiny badass Jae Lee art to catch your eye and make you buy. I know that the ‘90s has a bad reputation for all the cover gimmicks that went on during the decade, but when a little bit of artistry is added, it really makes a decent case for them having been produced.

We kick off the story in this first issue of “WildCats Trilogy” by seeing Grifter hunting down his old friend Lonely. Lonely is an information broker, and Lonely has heard some info on “the Cabal.” Yes, this is early WildStorm, and they’re still trying to make “the Cabal” a thing. Listen up WildStorm, “the Cabal” is never going to happen! At the time the references to the Cabal rebuilding and making some kind of comeback, with or without Helspont seemed like a real and fearful possibility, but knowing that literally nothing comes of it, it just reads as clunky. Lonely, unfortunately, wasn’t really out to help his old friend Cash, but to help himself to his better friend, cash, and is selling out Grifter to a Coda and the Daemonite Hightower. And yes, Hightower is supposed to be representing the Cabal, even though we never saw him working with Helspont’s group in the original “WildC.A.T.s” book, and he is a new character here.

Hightower is an odd character. He never comes across as evil or as Machiavellian as Helspont, any other run-of-the-mill Daemonite, or even random WildC.A.T.s villain that we’ll see later on. Hightower is also the kind of Daemonite that spends his time shapeshifted into a human form on a regular basis, rather than his more alien form. The dude seems downright bored to have to get mixed up with the WildC.A.T.s at all. Not to say he doesn’t take delight in trying to finish off the team, he gives it his all, but Hightower just never seems into it. He just wants to kill them because he knows they’ll stop him if they find out whatever he’s trying to accomplish. Luckily for him, he finds a Coda named Artemis who’s got a beef with Zealot

Artemis has a long standing grudge against Zealot for betraying her at the fall of Troy during the Trojan War. You think there was a major war in the world where the Coda weren’t somehow involved? While we don’t see any hint of activity from other Kheribum or Daemonite, we’ve been told over and over again that they were near the center of almost every major war on Earth. I guess most of them just skipped this one, leaving Zealot and 2 of her Coda, Artemis and Andromache to lead the charge for this one. The whole reason Artemis captured Grifter, and chained him up, was to draw Zealot out to fight her, again, to the death. Hell, she has even less of an interest of the other WildC.A.T.s meeting their end than Hightower does. The plan of course works like a charm, Zealot comes running, and Artemis is ready to throw down. All the while Hightower and Grifter trade lame comic book tough-guy barbs with each other. Hightower even calls Grifter a half-breed, he must’ve not gotten the memo on Grifter being just a human with a Gen-Factor. That, or due to the blood-bond that he shares with Zealot, Hightop smells Kheribum on him.

We then are directed to, well by way of a months later retcon, to a short story of Voodoo changing her outfit. Voodoo gets a call from her old buddy Tina, who she used to work with at the Hot Spot. That strip joint that blew up in DC where the WildC.A.T.s first met Voodoo. While dancing there she gets in an altercation with the scarred Coda warrior she thought died in the explosion. The Coda is there to get revenge on Voodoo for ruining her life and standing in the Coda. During the fight the Coda uses the long streamers on the back of Voodoo’s outfit to catch and almost choke her. After Voodoo manages to beat the Coda she meets back up with the WildC.A.T.s in a new outfit, that looks more like a streamlined wetsuit. That’s a pretty nice little fill in the gaps kind of story. I always liked this as a kid when I read it, but I wasn’t being all that critical, now when I go back and read “WildCats Trilogy” I have a lot of questions. All during “WildCats Trilogy” Voodoo still has the streamers coming off the back of her outfit! Even after what was flesh colored in the first issue is now colored yellow in issues 2 and 3, and yet the streamers still remain. Was the suit change a way to explain a coloring mistake? Was it a mistake that WildStorm liked better, so when “WildC.A.T.s” issue 5 came out they made Voodoo a new suit that conformed with this color scheme? Was Jae Lee not fully updated that the new outfit wouldn’t have the streamers on it? Bah, on with the rest of “WildCats Trilogy.”

Void intuits through the aether that something is wrong with Grifter, or I should say the Grifter, as he’s called the Grifter all through “WildCats Trilogy.” So eventually they’ll show up, as inferred from the title of the book. We also see that Coda have been searching for a member of their ranks they call “the Heretic” and Delphae has finally found her. Now, the Majestrix of the Coda, Andromache, is ready to gather the troops and is gearing up to find and punish the heretic. Who is the heretic? Is this going to intercede with our current story? Is the set up for “WildCats Trilogy” way more exciting that the actual follow thought and action? The answers are, Artemis (but we were lead to believe it was Zealot) no duh and you bet.

The least interesting part of this book is actually seeing the WildC.A.T.s battle Hightower and his army of hybridroids. It is kind of interesting that Hightower took over Voodoo’s body for a short time to get in close to the rest of the team to attack them, but past that, the Coda vs. Artemis vs. Zealot (with her sidekick Grifter) are the main event. Getting a little bit of Coda history (the afore mentioned Trojan War) as well as learning where they live and a bit of their hierarchy adds a lot to the WildStorm universe in terms of world building. Looking at the WSU on the whole, it seems like Zealot is the only full blooded Kheribum that is Coda. We know she was Coda on Khera, so when she lands on Earth, she starts her own splinter faction of the Coda. She is the Majestrix at that time and she finds women to join her, she trains them, and they engage in the blood ritual, and that exchange helps humans gain the long life spans, and youthful looks that the Kheribum enjoy. I mean, that’s what I’ve taken from the years of reading WSU titles. It explains by Grifter looks so young as well. It seems like only a few women joined up with Zealot right away to form the Coda on Earth, two of the major ones being Artemis and Andromache. As payment for kicking ass in Troy, the Greeks have agreed to give the Coda pretty much all the baby girls they have as well as a ton of gold. In Troy things got a little heavy when Zealot wouldn’t let Artemis kills the royal family, feeling that the fall of Troy was enough to fulfill the contract with the Greeks. Artemis called Zealot out for going against the Coda rules by letting them go, as Majestrix and the only OG Coda Zealot’s all STFU and then Artemis is all “well then kill me for betraying you! Do it! I learned it by watching you!” Zealot is still all STFU and leaves Artemis to live

Back to the present for the currently occurring Coda throw down. Artemis hates Zealot, because Zealot left her alive in Troy. Andromanche hates Zealot and Artemis for leaving the Coda, but hates Zealot less for some reason. Zealot hates Andromanche for ruining the good name of the Coda, turning them in to high priced mercenaries with no principles. Artemis isn’t cool with Andromanche because Andormanche is after her. Zealot isn’t cool with Artemis because she got the WildC.A.T.s mixed up in what should be personal business, as well and involved a Daemonite. All three are pissed off at Grifter for trying to get in the middle of this fight, it’s women’s work dammit, stay the hell away! During the fight Artemis and Zealot find a little bit of resolve as they battle Andromanche and the rest of the Coda together. In fact, Artemis takes a clef blade in the chest meant for Zealot. Zealot sad for Artemis, cradles her, and while doing so almost loses her own life, but Grifter steps in with his gun and the day is saved. Kinda. Grifter has Andromanche at gunpoint and is ready to take her out. She reminds him that if anything happens to her, the whole Coda will be after him and nothing will be able to keep them all back. Just as he is saying he doesn’t care the rest of the WildC.A.T.s show up and Void teleports them all out of there. It’s all a little anti-climactic.

We have a short epilogue with Grifter attending Lonely’s funeral. There’s only one other person there besides the priest, and the grave is simply marked “John Doe.” The other dude reminds Grifter that Lonely once gave up his entire life to save Grifter’s because of their friendship. While Grifter knows that Lonely betrayed him to the Cabal, he ultimately understands that Lonely was a good guy, and he mourns the passing of his friend.

Next : “Deathblow “ Vol. 1 issues 0 – 4 by Jim Lee, Brandon Choi and Tim Sale (with Trevor Scott)

“Team One”

this entry covers “Team One : StormWatch” issues 1 & 2 and “Team One : WildC.A.T.s” issues 1 & 2.

TeamOneAlright, let’s kick this off with an explanation to a question that’s been posed, “Why does this come in your reading order after “WildC.A.T.s” and “StormWatch” have started? All the events take place before.” It’s a fair question, so I always refer to first page of “Team One : WildC.A.T.s” which is captioned “the Present” and features a contemporary Jacob Marlowe and Void speaking, as he says he’s thinking of his past. Then we get a caption that reads “the Past” and we flashback to a young Marlowe going by the name Saul Baxter. The use of the “the Past” captions continue through all four books showing that this is a story being told about the past from the present. Why not put it closer to when it was published? Well that is right around the lead up to “WildStorm Rising” and interrupting that storytelling inertia just seems sadistic. So basically I put it after a few issues of “WildC.A.T.s” and “StormWatch” each, so you’d know some of the main players and where their paths will take them.

If I ever got another question about the “Team One” books it might be “What order should I read these in?” The answer is, that’s up to you. I’m fond of reading “Team One : WildC.A.T.s” issue 1 first, followed by both “Team One : StormWatch” books and then concluding with “Team One : WildC.A.T.s” issue 2. There might be a better way to do this, but that’s going to include tearing the pages out of the books, mixing together and arranging them from there. It is more work than necessary (but I’d be willing to give it a go on a rainy Sunday.)

So yeah, this is the past. How far past? I’m never exactly sure, but I always think it’s 1962. Why? In “WildC.A.T.s” it’s been mentioned that there was an event that occurred that gave the Daemonites an upper hand 30 years prior to that series. I figure that since it’s set in 1992, you subtract 30 from that, and you get 1962. Also the letter pages say it’s the ’60s, I guess it could be any year in that decade, but 1962 feels good narratively.

So who is on Team One? We have a few folks we know, Henry Bendix as Think Tank, Mark Slayton as Slay, Miles Craven from I/O and Jacob Marlowe as Saul Baxter, a different side of the man that even he possibly doesn’t remember. We also meet Mr. Majestic one of the few “out” as well as traditional superheroes in the WildStorm Universe, having been a powerhouse of the Allies in WWII. Somewhat familiar to us is Lucy Blaize, because as it turns out, she’s Zealot, there is telepath Isaiah King, father to Jackson and Malcolm King, and John Colt who is [Redacted due to “Fire from Heaven” spoilers]. We do get two all new “good guys” with Regiment (musclebound guy-with-a-gun and an attitude to kick all the asses) and Mason (beat generation rebel who has a few tricks up his sleeve). There’s also Khasm, who we see for a single panel before Craven arbitrarily says she’s no good for the team. The enemies we meet are also a mix of known, new and kind of familiar. Helspont is back, looking suave in a trench coat over his armor. Slaughterhouse Smith is a mobster that can fly and shoot lasers from his eyes. Then there’s Pike, who may or may not be related to the half-breed traitor of the same name that we all love to hate!

Team 1 is put together because there’s been 2 different alien sightings right close together, but the aliens are being called U.L.F.s, unidentified life forms. One involved Baxter/Marlowe and a Daemonite attacking a submarine a military base. The second involved Slayton and a Daemonite trying to sabotage the Icarus 5 launch at Cape Canaveral. (Another tip that this story is at least likely early ‘60s, as Cape Canaveral is named Cape Kennedy in 1963, and remains so for the next 10 years.) So Baxter/Marlowe and Lucy/Zealot, both working for the American government decide that since the government is getting all hung up on U.L.F.s that they should get a task force together, not so much to stop the Daemonites but to also help cover up the fact that their are any aliens on Earth and especially the Kheribum involvement in its history.They know that I/O and Craven are going to be involved and that’s just a problem they’re going to have to deal with. Even down to his unimaginative name of “Team One.”

Throughout the short series we learn a few things about the participants. Zealot has some sort of romantic past with John Colt, and another kind of past with Slayton of the non-romantic type. We meet both a young eager Henry Bendix, but also his ex-wife for some reason, and she’s supposedly a weak telepath. Regiment is supposed to be a bit secret to everyone but Craven so he is shocked to see Regiment tapped for Team 1. Regiment needs regular shots of an experimental drug to stay as strong as he is. In fact, of the other “test subjects” that have taken the drug, all but Regiment have succumbed to psychosis. Regiment just might have be the first successful stab that Craven had at created a super soldier. Not sure what is exactly up with Mason, he seems to have a very dark side to him, and is delighted to find out he’s fighting aliens and that he gets to kill them. And I’m pretty sure that he erects a force field for himself at one point. I used to suspect that he’s the half Kheribum/half Daemonite that is Voodoo’s father, but I don’t think that history bears that out.Isaiah King goes from being distrustful participant to pants-wetting newbie once the mission starts. Hell, he just wants to get back to his wife and unborn first son, I get that, but they went overboard on how far he went from badass to baby on that mission.

To get to the mission we first need to see the bad dudes hook up. We have Slaughterhouse Smith zipping around, blasting folks and we find that he rose to the top of the mob using these powers. Helspont approaches him after this attack and offers Smith whatever he wants if they can work together to meet Helspont’s goals. Those goals, take over the Earth. After a few short words with Pike, Smith agrees and a plan is hatched. The plan, take over a missile silo, point the missiles at Washington DC and hold all of America at ransom. After breaking into the missile silo, taking it over and getting Team 1 called on them, the plan changes. The new plan is the take out NYC with the missiles and show America they’re not fucking around, so meet our demands faster to save other cities this same fate. Smith hates this new plan, but too late, all of his mob underlings have turned on him and now only serve Helspont. Do’h!

Team One shows up and starts kicking ass, but things don’t go their way. They barely manage to stop the missile aimed at NYC, and that’s the only real victory they get. John Colt sacrifices himself to give Isaiah the time he needs to redirect the missiles. In fact he has Mr. Majestic blast him and all the Daemonites and mobsters that surround him. So the missile’s navigation system is destroyed, with Regiment riding on top of the missile to redirect it, I guess. And… and… and… that’s all we really know, because the lights go out in the missile silo and the story ends there.

Knowing the WSU future, we know a few things about the fate of Team 1’s members, but what we know also gives us more questions:

  • In the last few pages we find that Lucy/Zealot is pregnant. Is she pregnant with John Colt’s baby, or some different baby? Did that baby end up becoming a member of StormWatch?
  • Is this when Isaiah King started to go crazy? How long before he is full blown nuts? We know he had to stay at least normal enough to have Malcolm and then raise both King boys enough that they know and have some respect for the man he was.
  • How did Baxter/Marlowe fall so far down from where he was, to living on the streets in 1990?
  • John Colt got a super eye blast from Mr. Majestic that was enough to kill the Daemonites, so he’s a assumed dead, but why does he look so damn much like Spartan?
  • Is this the incident that made Mr. Majestic go into hiding, or at least start working very secretly, out of the public eye?
  • Regiment survives his missile ride, but how did he get the experimental drugs that he needs to stay normal and kick-ass before we see him in the ‘90s in the pages of “Grifter?”
  • Who really was Mason, and what is his backstory?

As far as the characters we have full knowledge of, Bendix goes on to create his own superpowered team between Team 1 and his appointment to StormWatch, while Slayton stays on with I/O and joins Team 7. Craven continues to run I/O and gets much more into trying to create superhumans to fight under his command as he grows him super spy empire. Things we find out about the WSU in general is that the Russians are several years ahead of America in telepathic research in 1962, which is a possible explanation for the three powerful telepaths that battled Team 7 during the ‘70s in “Team 7 : Objective : Hell.” So here we are, a bit more of the tapestry that is the WildStorm Universe. I’m glad that this was produced later down the line when it was, I’m afraid that there’d be some Extreme Studios or more likely some Top Cow characters in here if it had been produced any earlier. In my opinion the WSU has enough compelling characters and ideas that it can fill any need and stand on its own without any help.

Where to find these stories:

NEXT : “the Kindred” Vol. 1 issues 1 – 4 by Jim Lee, Brandon Choi, Brett Booth and Sean Ruffner

“WildC.A.T.s : Covert Action Teams” Special issue 1

this entry covers “WildC.A.T.s Special” issue 1

WildCATsVol1_Special_01This is the first WildStorm book I ever picked up. I’m not sure why. I’ve never been an action movie guy, so Grifter on the cover holding guns wouldn’t have piqued my interest. I was a haughty young man who often rejected anything that I found that was pandering to the general interests of a teenage boy, so I wouldn’t’ve picked up on the grounds of “hot scantily clad lady” on the cover either. I dunno, I guess the cover just looked cool to me. How it was all put together looked a lot more like a work of art. It’s commercial art sure, but a damn site better than what I had been used to seeing as cover art on comics up to that point. This cover had no speech bubbles, no crowding of text, just a well-done image, colored beautifully with the title at the top and the artists names at the bottom (why the writer didn’t get a credit on the cover bothered me though). Either way, it doesn’t really matter why I picked it up, just the point that I did pick it up, and as I read it I found a comic universe that I found entertaining engaging and interesting enough to keep exploring.

The story opens up with a Daemonite losing its host body, a Hollywood actor who is dying of a drug overdose. The Daemonite quickly moves to the body of a doctor who was trying to save the actor and from there he calls Gnome asking where he can get a better human host to take on. Ok, so I was wrong last week when I listed future appearances of Gnome, because he’s represented here pretty well. He still has information on “gifted ones” to sell to anyone who wants it. At the same time Providence, formally of Helspont’s Cabal, is visiting her former home and trying to find comfort in her new life as a mostly seeing, mostly knowing being of great power. Meanwhile Void is having a dream about a very special baby in a war torn land. Obviously, this is all going to come together somehow.

The war torn country is Yurgovia. Yurgovia is currently at war with Kasmia and is being run by a former Coda warrior known as Destine. Destine is in contact with Gnone, because that little goof wants to get back at Jacob for what went on in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. #4. So he sends the Daemonite to Providence and then has Providence teleport them both to Yurgovia to meet up with Destine. At this same time the WildC.A.T.s have interpreted Void’s dream and are on their way to Yurgovia to find the “gifted one” as well as take down the Daemonite. The best way to do this is to send in Grifter, because he’s been in Yurgovia before, and Voodoo, because she’ll be able to spot the Daemonite easily, and if they need help, they can always call in the rest of the team.

Things can never go as planned, and because both Void and Providence teleported at the same time, Void’s coordinates are slightly off, so Grifter and Voodoo landing outside of town. After a short fight with a couple crazy tanks in a cemetery, they’re both off to investigate the town for a new born baby of a very pregnant woman. They end up at a place called the “Laughing Wolf” where the bartender is an old buddy of Grifters. The bartender has the information they want and gives them the address of a girl that’s being called “Eliska the Witch” who just recently gave birth. So the duo set out in the direction of where Eliska’s family calls home and find a sight that leaves Grifter awe struck.

No one ever expects to find a Coda warrior standing over the body of a dead woman, holding back a girl from her baby, which a Daemonite is standing over, while a creepy girl in a robe is floating over them all. It is a shocking scene to be sure, but it is time to go and as Grifter and Destine begin to fight as the Daemonite takes over the “gifted one” baby. So things are looking down, obviously, that’s when the rest of the C.A.T.s ‘port in and help save the day. I know I don’t get down into details about the fights, I’m not a huge fan of that kind of stuff in comics, and it is never the parts of the story that stick with me. When there are pages of fight scenes I kind of check out. I love so many characters in the WSU, but without a doubt, nothing could ever be done to make Warblade more interesting to me, because his main shtick was fighting in a cool and badass way, and that does nothing for me. Also, for my money, Maul isn’t all the interesting as the big brute, when he’s smaller and smarter he’s awesome, as soon as he gets big, eh, what’s the rest of the team up to?

With Destine and the Daemonite dead, the WildC.A.T.s take in Eliska and her baby and resolve to teach them a thing or two about their heritage. This leaves a couple of plot holes I’d love to have seen followed up on. We learn from the bartender that Eliska has some sort of psychic powers, so that must mean that is another Kheribum out there that is loving and leaving ladies with super powered kids. Who is this Kheribum? Also, with Destine out of power, does that mean Yurgovia is going to fall to Kasmia any day now? We know that the war was near its end, but what happens now when Kasmia takes over completely? Whatever becomes of Eliska and her kid? Seems like the type of characters that could make a pretty rad come back in a future story to me.

Despite the story’s many loose ends, there’s so much that I loved about this story, as much now as when I read it in my high school pal’s living room after I first picked it up. First off, Travis Charest’s art, damn, that is good art! To know how much better he’s going to get and see what he’s going to do for future “Wildcats” books is awesome. I’m not going to lie, I had the Charest pin-up from this issue taped up on my bedroom wall, right next to a “Back to the Future” poster. The characters over time had slight personality shifts and after reading the opening “WildC.A.T.s” series I was stuck with how much I liked Grifter right away. His hitting on Voodoo to no avail, as well as goofing on Jacob by calling him “Little Buddy” made me laugh. Yeah, Grifter was an early favorite of mine, what kind of odd ball, comic reading 13-year-old wouldn’t find that character at least a little bit cool and fun? If you don’t get it, you’re not the first, I tried telling my pal Mike as I read it how great Grifter was, but he was way more interested in watching a “Gummi Bears” rerun at the time. Ok, neither of us was cooler than the other, but I still think I was getting the better entertainment.

Next Week“Wetworks” Vol. 1 issues 1 through 3 by Brandon Choi, While Portacio and Scott Williams

“WildC.A.T.s : Covert Action Teams” Vol. 1 issues 0 – 4

this entry covers issues 0 through 4 of “WildC.A.T.s”

WildCATsVol1_00-04Here we are at the true beginning of the WildStorm Universe, ground zero if you will! Set in 1992 and released in 1992, we are finally in “real time” with the books as they are released. Not that this will always continue, but more or less the rest of the WSU titles will occur in the years they are released, of course there’s odd compression, sure a year or two will pass and only be reflected as a month or two and will be referred to as either in text, depending on the situation, but that is just standard comics nonsense. It is nonsense that we all accept due to suspension of disbelief, because if we’re already onboard with super strong meta-humans and aliens running around, why can’t we accept chronological oddities as well?

Let’s get issue zero out of the way first. It adds up to very little. It mostly takes place in the time between pages 6 and 7 of the first issue of “WildC.A.T.s.” In fact, all that ends up being something more than filler is the few pages depicting Void’s origin and the one page that establishes second string villains Gnome (as well as Alberto Cassini’s relationship with him) and the Triad. It also tries to top how each of the individual WildC.A.T.s members are introduced, but it cannot top the first issue of “WildC.A.T.s” as Jim Lee was on top of his game when he drew that and while being awesome in his own right, Brett Booth just can’t match up with that kind of awesome.

So, the first four issues of “WildC.A.T.s” are… uh, kind of a mess. I really hate saying that too. I hate that I will say it again as well in regards to WildStorm stories, especially WildC.A.T.s stories. There is so much going on here, yet, at the same time it seems like such a small story. Oddly compacted in a way. All the main players in this story are after either the Orb, “the gifted one” or both.

The main players you ask? Well, there’s Jacob Marlowe a wealthy man who’s past is a mystery to himself, but is told he’ll do great things (turns out, he’s an alien lord), leading a team consisting of Void (silver coated teleporter), Spartan (super tough android), Warblade (shapes limbs into sharp objects) and Maul (obligatory big strong guy). This team is looking for “the gifted one” as well as being interested in finding out more about the Orb. Our next team is a small one consisting of Zealot (alien Coda warrior) and Grifter (our old buddy Cash from Team 7) who are looking for “the gifted one” as well, but don’t give a fuck about the Orb. Next up is our main bad guy, an alien named Hellspont and his crew of evil doers which consists of Pike (mercenary), a nameless Coda assassin, Alberto Cassini (done in by Pike in half a page), M’Koi (alien scientist), B’Lial (alien posing as Dan Quayle), Providence (think a younger Void in a flowing robe), two suits, and a dude that sports both a monocle and an eye patch! We don’t see much of those last three unfortunately (which sucks, I want to know a lot more about monocle/eye patch dude!) but we also know that Hellspont has multiple Coda and various other aliens working for him too, these guys are after both the Orb and “the gifted one.” Finally we have Gnome, who we don’t know too much about and his band of a Coda warrior and the Triad, consisting of Slag (lava monster), Attica (cyborg) and H.A.R.M. (robot). Gnome knows all about “the gifted one” but he doesn’t care, in fact he’s selling that information so that he can get closer to his true desire, the Orb. Not only do we have these 4 groups running around, but we also have the I/O Psi-Ops department getting involved, so we get to see Lynch (yay!) in his current role in international espionage but also we meet Youngblood for a bout of inter-company crossover synergy for Image! Yeah, that’s a lot to keep track of, it’s easier reading the issues of the comic than hearing the explanation, then again knowing that it all makes some kind of sense in the end does make it a little easier to read.

Ok, above I used the generic term “alien” more than a few times, and for the WSU “alien” really is a generic term as there are so many different kinds of races of alien here, I’m going to help sort this out a bit. The main aliens in the WSU are the Kherubim and the Daemonites. Lucky for the artists Kherubim look mostly like humans! Jacob and Zealot are full-fledged Kherubium. On the other hand Daemonites look monstrous, with huge heads and an extra set of tiny little T-Rex arms. Daemonites usually possess other creatures such as humans, or in the case of Hellspont who has possessed an alien from the Acuran race. Mostly Daemonites can’t survive outside of their hosts while on Earth, but this rule goes back and forth so it isn’t always true. Daemonites sometimes kill their host when they are separated, sometimes not, depends on what is more dramatic in the situation it seems. Daemonites can also shape shift when needed, this remains pretty consistent through-out the run of the WSU. Our Daemonites with hosts are Hellspont, M’Koi and B’Lial. We also have Maul who is half-alien and half human with his alien half being Titanthrope, which is a Kherubim race in name but not genetics. Warblade is usually referred to a half-breed as well, with half being Kherubim and being part of the Shapers Guild, but at least once his parents are both referred to being of Kherubim heritage. Pike is called a “half-breed traitor” by one of the Coda, so one can suspect that he is half Kherubim as well, but this is never expanded on beyond that off the cuff remark in “WildC.A.T.s #3.” All these half human half aliens are also referred to as “gifted ones” so who is the main “gifted one” that so many folks are after? That would be an exotic dancer known as Voodoo.

Voodoo is more than just half Kherubim and half human. In fact, halves would be a misnomer, thirds would be more accurate. She’s part Kherubim, human and Daemonite. It’s true! This is elaborated more in a future “WildC.A.T.s” annual that I can’t seem to find a good place for in continuity! Seriously, the 1998 annual just can’t have happened in any time line I construct! None the less, it deals with Voodoo’s heritage, and that heritage bears out in the rest of the comics, so it’s cannon whether or not the book itself is at odds with the reality of the WSU timeline. So what is so special about Voodoo being a tri-breed? What powers does that imbue her with? Why the power of “sight” for starters. That is to say, she can tell Daemonites are Daemonites while they are in possession of other hosts or are shape shifting. Also this power can affect people looking at her in some way that makes her seem super amazing. She can also develop Daemonite clawed hands while in hand to hand combat too.

As you can tell, a lot of cool comicy sci-fi fun is getting all set up with these first few issues, but so much so that it feels overstuffed, as this is a story of Jacob Marlowe’s team meeting up with Zealot and Grifter and adding Voodoo to their crew. All while keeping Hellspont and his minions from activating a space bridge that would link Earth to the Daemonite home world so they could invade. Oh yeah, the Kherubim and Daemonites have been in a war since forever and a handful of each race have spent the last several thousand years duking out on Earth. Sometime in the ‘60s the Daemonite’s gained the upper hand in the war and getting their hands on the Orb would give them the power to finally end the conflict by overwhelming the limited Kherubim forces on Earth with limitless Daemonites. Sounds like a good plan, except for, duh, the good guys are going to win and also (future spoiler), no one on Earth knows that the war has been over for a long long time and nobody bothered to tell the forces on Earth, as Earth is in the backwoods of the universe. All the other aliens laugh at it and call it Earthtucky. But yeah, this is a “how the team got together and defeated their first bad guy” story which is good, but with everything else going on, it is a bit overly complicated.

Everything with I/O seems a bit tacked on. Don’t get me wrong, I love that Lee and Choi started world building this early on! I mean, we’re seeing Lynch and Turner (and even Santini, kinda) as well as establishing I/O a central interest in the WildStorm Universe titles. And while it feels a bit tacked on, it doesn’t feel as out of place as the involvement of Youngblood. I get that Youngblood works for the U.S. government and I’m pretty sure that both Stormwatch and I/O were created to deal with the rest of the world, and not the U.S. specifically because the WSU didn’t want to create conflict with in the greater Image Universe, but man, the look of those characters sticks out like a sore thumb. Yes, the WildC.A.T.s team looks oh so ‘90s, but in that “classic cool ‘90s” way, while Youngblood comes across as ‘90s in the “good lord, that is so ‘90s!” You get what I’m saying? Also, Youngblood just doesn’t seem to jive as well with what the WSU is setting up for me; oddly the “Cyberforce” and “Savage Dragon” crossovers that are to come have always worked fairly well in my eyes and feel much more organic than any of the others. Maybe I’m on my high horse and being an elitist about it, but Lee and Silvestri’s early Image work equals good, while Liefeld’s equals laughable. The Image Universe will fracture more and more as time goes on, and it is kind of cool to see what they were wanting to do before tossing in the towel on that front. After this we don’t get more than a few name checks toward the Extreme Studios side of Image comics in WSU books.

Another thing I might as well mention here is the use of super hero aliases in the WildStorm Universe. Sure, everyone has them, but in most cases they are hardly used. Many of the meta-humans go by their given name in most cases. There are always a few exceptions, but first names are pretty much the status quo here. Some of their code names stick longer than others, but it feels odd for me to type Maul when most characters start to just call him Jeremy on a regular basis as time goes on. I think Void and Warblade are the only two that are regularly called by their code names after a while. Even Zealot starts to be called Zannah more and more in the later issues, granted it never becomes as common as calling Grifter by either Cole or Cash, or Voodoo going by Priss, but it is none the less done fairly often. Then there’s Spartan, the robot with too many damn names! Spartan, Hadrian, Jon Colt, Yohn Cohl, Jack Marlowe, Metavac, and I’m sure there’s more I’m not remembering right now! These ended up being comics produced in the “post-ironic” age, so super hero names seemed both necessary, but also silly and needless. Not to mention that a team like the WildC.A.T.s are, by name, covert. Code names would only really be needed on missions and not so much the rest of the time that team is together, you know, hanging out or whatever.

The newly formed WildC.A.T.s saved the day with Youngblood by… well, let’s see… the day was saved… hrmmm, how do I put this… they all did heroic things, they saved Voodoo from being killed &/or drafted to Hellspont’s side, and… they exposed B’Lail as a mole in the U.S. government… and they kept the Orb away from Hellspont and Gnome. Now, they didn’t exactly stop Hellspont, Gnome blasted him with the Orb. Also, Gnome only “lost” the Orb after Jacob shot off his arm off his body causing him to drop it, then Gnome dives down a deep shaft after it. Not knowing anything about Gnome we don’t know if that would hurt him or not. For all we know and Jacob know, Gnome could survive that fall, and still have the Orb and a new hook hand. What is sad is that neither Hellspont nor Gnome come back in a real meaningful way after this. They were both seemingly set up as major villians here and then next to nothing. We do see Gnome later as part of a DV8/Gen13 cross over where he and the Orb play a small roll. With Hellspont we get a few glimpses of his rise to power in the pages of “Team One” as well as later “WildC.A.T.s” stories before we finally see his return in “Gen13.” Ugh, the less said about that return the better (really Lobdell, Hellspont channeling Deadpool?) The best use of Hellspont was in “Majestic” Vol. 2, but unfortunately that story came with a big reset button. Finally, Hellspont on an asteroid w/ Kaizen Gamorra in “Wildcats” Vol. 4 could’ve been rad as hell, but nothing really became of that as far as we ever saw. That might’ve been the problem, Hellspont should’ve been the big bad of the entire WSU but they always wanted to bring him back in a truly badass way and never quite got to where they wanted to be to prove that badass-ness! In a lot of ways I think that Tao overtook the roll of ultimate villain, because evil scheming smarts is more fun to write and read than badass alien overlord. But such is serialized media with a host of different creators working to build it bit by bit over the years, a few characters get left on the sidelines.

At the end of the day this was a very over-reaching story that was trying not only establish a team of very different characters, but also it’s own sub-universe and tone. It succeeds in the end due to it’s fresh feeling and refusal to stop. Sure, the books always shipped late from early Image, but we kept picking them up anyway. Well for me, I picked these up out of back issue bins, all story, no waiting, as next week I’ll cover the first WildStorm book I ever got my hands on, that started my love for the whole crazy mess!

Where to find this story:

  • The “WildC.A.T.s: Cover Action Teams Compendium” collection (the trade paperback was originally packaged with the 0 issue, the hardback version includes issue 0 as part of the book)
  • The “Absolute WildC.A.T.s by Jim Lee” hard back
  • “WildStorm: A Celebration of 25 Years” contains a black and white version of first issue
  • Comixology: “WildC.A.T.s” vol. 1 issues 0, 1, 2, 3 & 4

Next Week : “WildC.A.T.s” Special issue 1 (by Steve Gerber, Travis Charest and Scott Williams)