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Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we continue revisiting Jim Lee’s flagship title under the Image Comics label – WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams!
In my previous retro review about WildC.A.T.S #7, that story marked the 3rd chapter of the 4-part Killer Instinct crossover storyline which brought Jim Lee’s team together with Marc Silvestri’s Cyber Force. That storyline ended in a Cyber Force comic book which leads to the questions – what is next for WildC.A.T.S? Will there be a new and fresh storyline set up for them?
With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #8, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Lee did the art along with Richard Bennett and Scott Williams.
The story begins inside a large bar within New York City where Cole Cash/Grifter and Zealot (both of them in civilian clothes) spend time together playing pool. There are men nearby staring at them. While Grifter tries to unwind and have fun with the game, Zealot still sticks to her warrior mindset even though they are no longer in a battle field. Suddenly, one man arrogantly pours beer on Grifter’s head while another man touches Zealot’s hair.
The two WildC.A.T.S members struck the two violators and subsequently made short physical work of the other men who tried to hurt them. After that, Zealot and Grifter talk outside. The latter receives an urgent message which compels him to leave Zealot behind and do something important…
I’ll be straight to the point here. If you enjoyed Jim Lee’s previous work on Marvel’s X-Men that include bombastic action, misadventures, team members appearing in swimwear and character moments, you will find that in this story which is really a transitional tale of the team taking a break from action only to find themselves facing new danger. That being said, the concept and structure of the plot in this comic book is pretty simple and it does succeed in setting up WildC.A.T.S for another misadventure while cleverly emphasizing the Kherubim-Daemonite concept of the WildStorm universe back then.
As expected, Jim Lee’s artwork here is really great to look at and he sure always finds ways to make the dialogue scenes look interesting. What stands out to me the most in this comic book are the character moments which more than made up for the lightness of the plot. While the romantic interactions between Spartan and Voodoo is interesting, the interactions between Zealot and Grifter (referred to as Brother Grifter) really gave me additional insight on their respective personalities and, more notably, their feelings for each other.
More on character moments, you will see Maul and Warblade in their respective civilian identities as Reno and Jeremy. If you only see those two as violent action performers based on the previous issues of WildC.A.T.S, you will be surprised with the way Brandon Choi and Jim Lee presented them in this story.
While its story was pretty light, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #8 (1994) still manages to entertain me mainly due to the character moments that the creators came up with. In many ways, this comic book showed how human the team members are which is a nice change from all the action-focused stuff they were so busy with in the previous issues. Along the way, you will see a few creative gimmicks Jim Lee inserted visually, including the unofficial cameo appearance of two pretty notable members of X-Men (note: they just got married). Meanwhile, those who love Pris/Voodoo will find some extra entertainment here as this comic book has an additional short story about her past (set after WildC.A.T.S Trilogy #1) which was written by Peter Seagle and drawn by Travis Charest (who would later replace Jim Lee as illustrator of this comic book series).
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #8 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $40 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $120.
Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #8 (1994) is recommended.
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