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Welcome back superhero fans, 1990s arts and 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!
The next WildC.A.T.S comic book up for review here was a collaborative work between Chris Claremont and Jim Lee. For the newcomers reading this, Claremont and Lee worked together for a time at Marvel Comics on the X-Men comic books. The 1991 comic book X-Men #1 was their best-selling work together selling over eight million copies! Behind the scenes Marvel, however, there were conflicts and ultimately Claremont’s very long run with the publisher ended in X-Men #3 which was also drawn by Lee.
It should be noted that back in the early 1990s, Claremont and Lee worked under the watch of then X-Men books editor Bob Harras. Moving forward to the early years of Image Comics, Lee had a lot more freedom of creativity and control plus the power to publish. He not only launched WildC.A.T.S but also had his own line of connected properties (later referred to as WildStorm) like Stormwatch, Gen13, Team 7, Backlash and more.
As WildC.A.T.S started to establish itself among the many, many superhero comic books released, it was only a matter of time before Jim Lee and Chris Claremont started to reunite and create something without the obstacles they faced during their time with Marvel Comics.
With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #10, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Chris Claremont and Drawn by Jim Lee. Scott Williams in-charge with the ink work.
The story begins with Zealot teaching Voodoo lessons about combat at a beach outside of New York City during the night. As the lecture goes on, Vodoo asked her warrior teammate if the lessons are really necessary as her beloved Spartan had been teaching her how to fight. Zealot then reminds her that Spartan is a cyborg and is ultimately limited. More notably, she calls Voodoo one of the chosen (note: she is a Daemonite-Kherubim-human hybrid with a power referred to as the Sight) and that she has a heritage and powers that impose an obligation to use them to their fullest potential.
After a slight verbal conflict that resulted in Zealot to strike Voodoo down, corner her and lecture her some more, a huge ship suddenly appears in the air and crashes near them. Even though the crash created a powerful impact, Zealot is able to hear gun fire from aboard the ship and her teammate spots a man on the deck. Suddenly the man got shot from behind and falls down near the two WildC.A.T.S members. The man faintly calls for help…
Before focusing on the plot, I want to start first with one of the things Chris Claremont is well known for…characterization. Given the way the story was structured, Zealot and Voodoo had the most amount of spotlight among the WildC.A.T.S members who appeared here. It is through Zealot’s portrayal where you will see Claremont really work on her development as a character. Right here, Zealot remains fearless and deadly as before and at the same time, she is more principled and even a bit more philosophical than ever before. It is also in this comic book where you will really see her speak a lot and express herself a bit more emotionally.
Meanwhile Voodoo, in relation to what happened in the story, is presented radically differently as a result of her getting possessed by one of the Raksha. Before possession, she was portrayed to be the young learner who carries a false sense of maturity deep inside which is natural for many teenagers and young adults.
Next, there is the introduction of Claremont’s very own creation called the Huntsman! To be clear, his debut is action-packed and early on he was shown to be skillful, deadly and even comparable with Zealot in terms of combat and efficiency. He is shown to be honorable and dedicated, especially when it comes to defending a teenage girl in the middle of a dangerous environment that has the Raksha which is a race of very frightening and deadly monsters. Given the way the story was written, only bits of the Huntsman’s personality and background were shown.
On the plot itself, there is this new conflict brewing and instead of showing Helspont or the Daemonites as the antagonists, the Raksha comes in as the new force of evil that the WildC.A.T.S are destined to face. There is also a bit of mystery here, particularly with the arrival of the ruined ship and the desperate attempt of the new character Alabastar Wu to meet with Jacob Marlowe whom he has an established connection with. The said ship is just part of a puzzle about people struggling with the Raksha. As this is clearly the first of a multi-part story Claremont came up with, the answers are meant to be revealed later.
The writing, unsurprisingly, has a good amount of depth and nice details (both literally and visually) scattered throughout this comic book. This makes re-reading a must and I can say that I found it worth doing.
While you will see the titular team only late in the story as the spotlight was focused more on Zealot, Voodoo and the Hunstman which was crucial on building up the new story concept, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #10 (1994) is a very unique comic book that features the great stuff you can expect from Chris Claremont and Jim Lee. As expected, the writing by Claremont was consistently solid and when it came to spectacle, Lee successfully delivered the stuff that ensured entertainment. I personally enjoyed re-reading this comic and each time I reached the end, I ended up anticipating the next issue strongly.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #10 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $20 while the near-mint copies of the twice-signed (two signatures) and newsstand editions cost $60 each.
Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #10 (1994) is highly recommended!
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