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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.
Last time around, I reviewed the 2nd issue of WildC.A.T.S. which literally had more meat in its storytelling as the required introductions of the core characters were over. Issue #2 had some really nice revelations as it helped expand the WildStorm universe a bit more and it was intriguing to see International Operations (I/O) emphasized more as the mini-series established the Kherubim-Daemonite conflict.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #3, published by Image Comics through Malibu Comics in 1993 with a story written by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Lee did the art.
The story begins inside the top-secret research facility of SDI with Maul holding a Daemonite disguised as US Vice President Dan Quayle off the ground with Spartan and Voodoo near him. The problem they have, however, is that the Youngblood team is facing them ready to fight. Shaft of Youngblood demands the release of the Vice President.
With his massive build, Maul lets go of the Vice President and hits Diehard sparking a battle between his team and Youngblood. Shaft tells his teammates that as they fight the three WildC.A.T.S, he wants them alive. The impostor Vice President Quayle tells Youngblood to kill them all.
After Diehard and Badrock knock off Maul, Chapel fires several blasts at Spartan to separate him from the impostor. Shaft then fires an arrow that generates disruptive sound which prevents Voodoo from executing her power.
Elsewhere within the facility, Grifter, Jacob Marlowe, Warblade, Void and Zealot quietly make their way to the control center where the Daemonite leader Helspont is overseeing secret operations…
Starting with the storytelling, this one is expectedly a natural progression from issue #2 but the key difference is that the pace moved much faster as there was more emphasis on action and visual splendor. Along the way another sub-plot was dramatized complete with the showing of additional characters Attica, Slag, HARM and their superior who are after a key object that happens to be a crucial part of Helspont’s operation. The way the script was written, the narrative was told in a disciplined manner even though the pace was faster and the creators had to integrate Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood which resulted one of the earliest Image Comics crossovers that unfortunately did not justify the fancy cover art. Given the addition of Youngblood, the mentioned sub-plot and the way the script was made, there was clearly no room left for character development. In my experience, re-reading this comic book’s story was fun and engaging enough.
As this story was action-packed, fans of Jim Lee will surely enjoy what he presented here. Even by today’s standards, the art and presentation of the spectacle is great to see! Personally, I like Jim Lee’s visual take on Youngblood (except that I still find Rob Liefeld’s drawing of Chapel more detailed) and the short-but-sweet battle between the two superhero teams is quite a spectacle. In terms of visual details, Lee drew the characters and environment with a lot of detail all throughout. There were no signs of rushed art here.
As mentioned earlier, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #3 (1993) is pretty entertaining and engaging. Compared to issue #2, this one has a lot more action and the narrative moved at a faster pace without becoming brainless. At the same time, there is a clear feeling that the stakes were raised as the WildC.A.T.S made their moves in what is clearly their final objective as a team. Also a factor here is the continued emphasis on the Kherubim-Daemonite war which was executed well. More on Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood being involved in the story, this results the illusion that Image Comics back then had a shared universe (note: read the legal stuff on the bottom of the credits). The crossover done here was more of an experiment done to emphasize the cooperation between Jim Lee and Liefeld as they were co-founders of Image.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #3 (1993), 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 newsstand edition and the signed editions cost $60 each.
Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #3 (1993) is recommended.
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