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Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the early days of Image Comics through Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams comic book franchise which was one of the launch titles of the said company.
For the newcomers reading this, Jim Lee is one of the co-founders of Image Comics and during his previous stint with Marvel Comics, he was instrumental in modernizing the X-Men both visually and creatively (note: look at all the paramilitary elements implemented during his X-Men days). WildC.A.T.S was his independent superhero team project which went on to not only grow as a comic book franchise in the 1990s, but also became an animated TV series. WildC.A.T.S dealt with conspiracy as well as aliens from outer space.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #2, published by Image Comics in 1992 with a story written by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Lee did the art.
The story begins in the headquarters of International Operations (I/O) whose officials have been monitoring a situation far away. Suddenly a portal appeared inside I/O which surprised director Lynch and his fellow officials. Seen through the portal – which appeared for only seconds in front I/O’s people – were Jacob Marlowe, Spartan, Grifter, Maul, Zealot, Voodoo, Void and Warblade who just escaped from certain death which is connected to the explosion monitored by I/O.
The WildC.A.T.S instantly arrived inside their highly advanced aircraft safe and sound. After some talk, they begin to move to a safehouse of Grifter’s near Quantico…
As far as storytelling goes, this comic book has more depth to its plot. While the first issue was filled with introductions of characters and story concepts as well starting its narrative in cryptic fashion, there was more freedom in this issue for the writers to properly structure their story, gradually build-up tension, execute payoffs satisfactorily while still managing to insert spectacle to complete the work. The story moved with a moderate pace and things moved fast when it was needed. I find re-reading this WildC.A.T.S tale a more satisfying experience than before and it is also an improvement over the first issue.
More on the core concept about Daemonites infiltrating human societies on Earth with the involvement of the Cabal to enhance their efforts, there literally more meat to chew here as Jim Lee and Brandon Choi came up with clever and efficient ways on executing exposition. The I/O meanwhile literally jumped from being background decoration into the main story as a connection was made between one of the top officials of the organization and WildC.A.T.S leader Marlowe.
More on the WildC.A.T.S themselves, you will get to know more about each member and how their respective personalities differ from each other as they all struggle to keep up with the changes around them. Voodoo here is still the witness of a conflict she never anticipated would involve her and many times she is clueless and really struggling to figure out what has been happening. While Marlowe has the strong tycoon mentality all throughout, Spartan is the dedicated and focused operator while Grifter is the cocky gunslinger and Zealot is the battle-hardened warrior whose perception about life and survival could make readers wonder if she is truly brave or truly reckless. With the introductions of each character already done, in issue #1 it was no surprise that there was a bit more space for the creators to define each team member with limited space (pages) they had during comic book production.
The best way to describe WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #2 (1992) is that its core concept as well as its mini-series plot really started to take shape as Brandon Choi and Jim Lee got over all the creative hurdles in issue #1. The result was not only more focus on plotting but executing payoff for story build-up, characterization and putting enough action in a rather disciplined way. There was no sign of creative rush by Choi and Lee here. I should also state that it is in this same comic book where you will see more interesting traits of the WildC.A.T.S members which, in my experience, made me anticipate the next issue.
As one of the very early comic books of Image Comics, this one had one of the first, if not the first, gimmick covers of the said publisher and I can say that its content was good enough to justify the flashy cover and its rather high cover price of $2.50 (note: back in 1992 many of Marvel’s and DC’s comic books had cover prices of $1.25 while WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #1 had a $1.95 cover price). I could not forget the day in 1992 when I visited a local comic book specialty store in Makati that had WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #2 (1992) displayed with its cover really shining under a strong light source. I also remember there were others in the store staring at it.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #2 (1992), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the gimmick cover edition costs $20 while the near-mint copies of the signed gimmick cover edition and the newsstand edition cost $60 each.
Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #2 (1992) is recommended.
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