A Look Back at Backlash #1 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we continue revisiting the Wildstorm universe as it was under the Image Comics banner back in the 1990s. Recently, I reviewed back-to-back issues of Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams that involved Chris Claremont and his creation Huntsman (click here, here, here and here) which ultimately expanded the lore of the team within the Wildstorm universe of the time while developing Zealot tremendously.

Still within the Wildstorm universe of the 1990s, it’s time to shift to another key figure – Backlash (civilian identity: Marc Slayton) co-created by Jim Lee and Brett Booth (follow him at Twitter and visit his blog). To put things in perspective, Backlash and WildC.A.T.S’ popular Grifter (Cole Cash) have something in common other than being highly capable fighters – they were teammates within Team 7 long before StormWatch (note: Backlash first appeared in StormWatch #3 in 1993) and WildC.A.T.S were formed. In fact, Team 7 also had Michael Cray (Deathblow), Jackson Dane (Wetworks) and John Lynch (who appeared in early WildC.A.T.S issues and went on to be the mentor in Gen13) who went on to become important Wildstorm figures in the present day.

In 1994, a 4-issue mini-series titled The Kindred was published featuring Backlash and Grifter with a story written by Jim Lee, Brandon Choi, Brett Booth (who illustrated) and Sean Ruffner. Months after that mini-series ended, a regular series focused on Backlash was launched.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Backlash #1, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Ruffner, Jeff Mariotte and Booth. Booth was the artist.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with Backlash quietly infiltrating the Edward H. Levi Federal Penitentiary, a facility designed to control the growing population of criminal super-powered beings (SPBs). Eventually two armored guards pass by and as soon as one of them notices signs of the break-in, Backlash takes them down using his psionic whip and hard action.

After subduing two more pairs of guards, Backlash enters a large place that has prisoners contained in what he refers to as “aquariums”. Two of the prisoners recognize him. He finally reaches the cell of a red-headed lady named Amanda Reed – also known as Taboo – who has been imprisoned for murder. Backlash makes an offer – if she helps him, he will get her out of the prison…

Quality

Backlash struggling on the way of getting out with Taboo.

Let me start with the story. This comic book has an unusual approach on its plot in which the flashbacks are more prominent than the present-day tale of Backlash freeing Taboo and getting out of the prison. The good news here is that the flashbacks are pretty engaging to read and they solidly fulfilled the writers’ goals of immersing the readers with useful story details and building up the tension while also emphasizing Backlash’s personality and what motivates him deep from within. To put it short, the flashbacks are the most important features of the storytelling and they also have the most interesting scenes (including an encounter with Pike who previously appeared in the early issues of WildC.A.T.S). The present-day view of the plot lack engagement compared to the flashbacks but the creative team succeeded in emphasizing Taboo, what she is capable off and why she is feared.

The characterization of Marc Slayton is pretty good in my view. By the time I reached the end of this comic book, I found him to be a really intriguing protagonist. Backlash is definitely not inspiring but the irony is that his personality and purpose within the Wildstorm universe of the time were compelling enough to follow.

When it comes to the art, Brett Booth’s work here is still good to look at as I follow the story. Be mindful that this was his work when he was very young and as seen in this comic book, he definitely proved his talent, his art style was clearly distinct and he was capable of coming up with really good action scenes that really made Backlash a notable Wildstorm action hero. It should be noted that Booth illustrated this comic book with dynamism in mind.

Conclusion

A key scene from the past of Marc Slayton/Backlash nicely drawn by Brett Booth.

Backlash #1 (1994) is fun and compelling to read. The flashbacks are strangely the most engaging parts of the plot and they succeeded in getting me oriented with the protagonist, what has been going on and what the stakes are right at the start of this particular series. Combined with the still-good-to-view art by a very young Brett Booth, this comic book has a lot of fun stuff to enjoy especially for those who are obsessed or simply wanting to discover more about the Wildstorm universe of the 1990s.

Backlash #1 (1994) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

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!

Last time around, members of the WildC.A.T.S were split apart in terms of locations as they had their rest-and-relaxation period. While Grifter went away to do something urgent (read: the Kindred comic books), Zealot, Void and Jacob Marlowe’s executive assistant Jules picked up Warblade and Maul using their high-tech aircraft to head on to the Bahamas where an entire cruise ship disappeared with Marlowe, Voodoo and Spartan on it.

Unbeknownst to the WildC.A.T.S flying in their jet, Voodoo, Spartan and Marlowe found themselves as captives of an armored man (wearing a half-helmet) called Entropy inside his domain in an undetermined location. Entropy refers to Marlowe as lord Emp and states that he will suffer from his wrath. Marlowe does not recognize him.

With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Lee did the art with Scott Williams in-charge with the ink work.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the partial WildC.A.T.S team arriving in the area of the Bermuda triangle with their aircraft. From their view, there was nothing to spot but Zealot insists that they keep on searching as they must be overlooking something.

Meanwhile, Spartan and Voodoo find themselves in deep trouble as a horde of Daemonites persistently attack them. Already heavily damaged, Spartan keeps on using his energy blasts to hold the monsters off. Voodoo on the other hand is too weak and could not concentrate to help her teammate.

Suddenly one of the Daemonites slashes Spartan’s left arm which neutralizes his energy blast. His body got pierced by one of the monsters which pinned him down, leaving Voodoo completely helpless…

Quality

The WildC.A.T.S on search-and-rescue.

On face value, this comic book looks like another generic or even disposable good-versus-evil story drawn by Jim Lee. In reality, its story has more significance to it and the creators themselves came up with something fresh for WildC.A.T.S fans. Firstly, this is a story about one group of WildC.A.T.S trying to rescue their boss and their two other teammates from Entropy in a location that could not be easily found. Secondly, this comic book puts strong focus back on the Kherubim-Daemonite war which creatively looks back at one of the many events that took place in Jacob Marlowe’s past (which he could not remember at first) complete with implementing a strong fantasy (read: swords and armors) element which gives the story a mixed-genre aesthetic.

The good news here is that the storytelling and visual presentation by the creators are really well done! While the dual approach of storytelling involving both the present and the far past was used in Jim Lee’s past X-Men works with Marvel, the said approach was well executed with WildC.A.T.S which not only expanded its lore further but also developed Jacob Marlowe’s personality even further.

To have Entropy (note: he eerily resembles’ Mantra arch-villain Boneyard in the Ultraverse) as an enraged opposition figure living with a lust for revenge against Marlowe is a smart move and at the same time this adds variety to the kind of opposition WildC.A.T.S have. More on what happened in the past involving both Marlowe and Entropy, the flashback raises new questions about the value and true nature of the WildC.A.T.S’ leader who at this point was a brash manager who wields lots of resources to operate with. The flashback also challenges readers on how to evaluate Jacob Marlowe when it comes to being accountable about his past actions, including the many things he did but could not remember. All of these lead to a really impactful ending that you readers must see.

Conclusion

Meet Entropy, a man with a shared past with Jacob Marlowe.

WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9 (1994) is a Jim Lee-drawn tale that has solid depth and a very creative approach to its presentation, specifically its daring and well-executed method of mixing the superhero and fantasy elements. When it comes to the narrative, the creative team succeeded in telling both the present and the past tales followed by connecting them with each other while ultimately telling an overall cohesive tale. This is a Wild.C.A.T.S story that must be read from start to finish, and it is a powerful follow-up to issue #8.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9 (1994) is highly recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #8 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

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 cover.

Early story

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…

Quality

Spartan and Voodoo on holiday in their civilian forms.

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.  

Conclusion

Can you recognize Maul and Warblade?

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.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

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!

While the 3rd and 4th issues of the WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams mini-series had Lee’s superhero team crossing over with Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood, a bigger crossover was agreed upon with Image Comics co-founder Marc Silvestri – Killer Instict! This marked a creative collaboration between Lee and Silvestri resulting a multiple issue crossover between WildC.A.T.S and Cyber Force. For clarification, I already mentioned in my retro review of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6 (1993) that its story was the first chapter of the 4-part Killer Instinct crossover. For your reference, Killer Instinct’s 2nd and 4 chapters were published as Cyber Force issues #2 and #3 of its regular series under Marc Silverstri. This WildC.A.T.S retro review is about the 3rd chapter of Killer Instinct.

With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Lee did the art.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins somewhere in the skies above Gamorra, off the coast of the Philippines! Stryker, the Cyber Force member with three cybernetic right arms, communicates with his teammates and tells them that if half of what Misery said is true about the new Cyberdata S.H.O.C.S., they’re in for a nasty fight and they have to hit the ground.

Stryker, Impact, Heatwave, Velocity and Ripclaw jump off their high-tech jet (which has Cyblade and Misery inside) and land safely. Using his enhanced ability of smell, Ripclaw begins detecting tracks of what they are look for.

Meanwhile at the back of the Isle of the Dead, a high-tech craft arrives with three passengers who are prepared to do a drug deal. Slowly, someone bleeding and with blades on his hands climbs into the craft surprising the passengers. He takes control of the craft, throws the passengers off and leaves.

As Cyber Force starts its ground search with Misery advising them while carefully using her telepathy on them. As Stryker enters a ravaged high-tech place, his sensors detect nothing and yet his instincts tell him something is present nearby. Standing near him is Spartan of WildC.A.T.S…

Quality

In this encounter between Grifter and Heatwave, do you notice something lacking visually?

I’ll start with the very obvious purpose of this comic book. After the build-up done in the first two chapters of the Killer Instinct storyline, this story serves as the start of what turned out to be the big pay-off as WildC.A.T.S and Cyber Force members finally got together with an action-packed battle to kick things off. From a storytelling view point, this one is mainly a WildC.A.T.S versus Cyber Force tale with really nice match-ups between their members such as Spartan-Stryker, Cyblade-Zealot and Maul-Impact to name a few. These match-ups and fights are excellently drawn by Jim Lee and I really enjoyed his own artistic visuals of Marc Silvestri’s Cyber Force.

More on the plot, it is pretty simple in concept and structure. The members of the two teams get to fight each other which gets the attention of Skywatch which itself has vested interest with the operations of Stormwatch (note: this is within the WildStorm lore) and the secret facility on that blew up (as seen in WildC.A.T.S #5). Misery remains the key factor in the story and in this tale, she gets to guide and manipulate Cyber Force to find something valuable while Warblade remains mostly absent. Apart from the battles, the absent Voodoo, Void and Jacob Marlowe have their respective spotlights mainly for the character developments as well as reminding readers about the continuing Kherubim-Daemonite conflict.

The quality of the writing is serviceable and the way I look at this comic book, it is mainly driven by spectacle and match-ups. The amount of crossover action is of top-notch quality (note: Jim Lee apparently missed out on key details while drawing Heatwave in a scene with Grifter) and clearly Jim Lee planned the visuals carefully. While there is little character development here, the ironic thing is that Misery (note: visually she is a wicked version of Jean Grey of the X-Men) is the one who gets a good chunk of the said development. Not only does she become a force in the minds of Cyber Force members, she also has her intimate moments with Ripclaw which is a reminder to readers that they have a shared past together (note: this will resonate more with those who read Cyber Force #2 of the regular series).

Conclusion

This is how Cyber Force looks like as drawn by Jim Lee.

To make things clear, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7 (1994) will strongly appeal to the respective fans of WildC.A.T.S and Cyber Force, to the readers who love high-quality superhero action, and to those who simply enjoy superhero crossover stories. While it is not a surprise that this comic book has great visuals, the writing this time clearly lacks depth and I really felt that the dialogue and text descriptions were done mainly to fit the obvious spectacle-led concept. If you are the kind of reader who wants storytelling and characterization prioritized in an action-packed crossover comic book, this one might not satisfy you. Ultimately, this one is a fun read even though the quality of the writing does not even come close to the quality of the visuals.  

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90. The near-mint copy of the silver cover edition costs $300.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #7 (1994) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #4 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

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 third issue of the WildC.A.T.S mini-series and its quality was good enough for me. Other than the visual candies delivered by Jim Lee, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #3 featured a crossover with Rob Liefeld’s very own Youngblood which was really surprising and intriguing back in those times.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at the final issue of the mini-series…WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #4, published by Image Comics through Malibu Comics in 1993 with a story written by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Lee did the art.

Jim Lee drew this cover very similarly to his cover art work on X-Men #4 (1992).

Early story

The story begins with Helspont already declaring victory as well as the beginning of his operation called Reunification which involves the use of the orb to activate a stargate which would allow his brethren of Daemonites to come to Earth to not only overwhelm the Kherubim but also to conquer the whole world. In his presence are two of his deadly companies standing with him and certain members of WildC.A.T.S – including their leader Jacob Marlowe – who are down on the rough surface having been hit hard moments earlier.

Suddenly a group composed of the six Youngblood members, Vice President Dan Quayle and WildC.A.T.S’ members Voodoo and Maul approach Helspont and his companions in an attempt to make them surrender.

As Voodoo realizes her power does not affect Helspont, the vicious Daemonite strikes the group with an energy blast aided by the orb and the high technology of the place. As this happens, Grift, Void and Jacob slowly make their moves. Jacob uses his communicator to send a signal to the heavily damaged Spartan…

Quality

WildC.A.T.S face strong opposition from the Gnome and his dangerous companions.

As the final tale of the mini-series, I can say that the script made for this comic book is a pretty satisfying read from start to finish. Like in issue #3, the pace here moves fast and there is a lot of spectacle that got executed while never overwhelming its narrative. More on the narrative, the conflict between the Kherubim and Daemonites is strongly symbolized by the WildC.A.T.S and Helspont’s forces going head to head. There are some pretty notable character moments that added to the fun factor such as Jacob sarcastically telling Helspont he could not access the back-up systems for his dreaded operation to bring the Daemonites to Earth.

Of course, this is not simply a WildC.A.T.S versus Helspont story in the good-versus-evil type of way. Apart from the inclusion of Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood, there is also the other dangerous party led by the Gnome who also have a strong interest in the orb. While their participation in the story happens pretty late, they do provide serious opposition against Jacob Marlowe and his team.

As mentioned earlier, there is a lot of action that expresses the intensity of the conflicts. While there is almost no room left for any real character development, the creators managed to craft a story that never felt brainless or unintelligent. As such, there is a lot of entertaining stuff to enjoy here and I personally find the establishment of WildC.A.T.S’ core concept to be solid and worth following.

Conclusion

As Helspont emphasizes his evil plan, Jacob Marlowe makes his move.

WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #4 (1993) is a not just a fun comic book to read. It is also a worthy conclusion to its mini-series and also it succeeded in establishing the WildC.A.T.S as both Jim Lee’s passion project and as one of the most worthy early titles of Image Comics. By the time I reached the end of this comic book, it became clear to me back in 1993 that Jim Lee was moving forward to a new territory on superhero comic book creations leaving behind his legacy with Marvel and their X-Men franchise. While this comic book ended the 4-issue mini-series, the funny thing was that Jim Lee and his team went on to start a regular comic book series of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams by actually publishing issue #5 (in late 1993) instead of starting with a brand new issue #1.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #4 (1993), 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 newsstand edition (without card) and the numbered-and-signed edition cost $48 and $160 respectively.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #4 (1993) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #3 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

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 cover.

Early story

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…

Quality

You love Jim Lee-style action, you will find a lot to enjoy in this comic book.

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.

Conclusion

The battle between three WildC.A.T.S members and Youngblood begins!

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.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #2 (1992)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

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 cover.

Early story

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…

Quality

An efficient exposition about the science fiction concept of WildC.A.T.S.

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.

Conclusion

In the heat of the action, something visceral happened with Voodoo who is not even a fighter.

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.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1 (1992)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Before he became the co-publisher of DC Comics, the great Jim Lee made his debut in the comic book industry as an illustrator for Marvel Comics. Just a few short years after that, he became a fan-favorite of X-Men fans and was a major factor in the massive sales success of 1991’s X-Men #1 (Volume 2). Not only did that particular comic book established a long-lasting sales record for all comic books, Lee’s designs and visual concepts for the X-Men were adapted by the producers and creators of the fan-favorite X-Men: The Animated Series (1992-1997).

For the newcomers reading this, Jim Lee’s tenure with Marvel Comics ended in December 1991 when he, Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane met with the publisher and expressed that Marvel’s policies toward them were unfair and they were not rewarded well for their work. To put things in perspective, Jim Lee’s X-Men #1, Rob Liefeld’s X-Force #1 and Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man #1 were respectively million-sellers. As such, Lee, Liefeld, McFarlane plus some more creators left Marvel and went on to establish Image Comics (which involved a production and distribution deal with Malibu Comics).

In 1992, Jim Lee’s dream project – with concepts first created in 1986 – came through free from the constraints he endured from Marvel’s editorial team and strict policies. That’s dream project was WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1, which is the feature of this retro comic book review.

But before we start the review, here’s a quick look back at the conceptual history of WildC.A.T.s as written by Jim Lee himself.

“I created my first ‘professional’ comic book submission in the summer of 1986 entitled The Wild Boys involving an espionage agency called International Operations. The co-writer of that sublime piece of work was coincidentally enough – Brandon Choi – who at the time was still in college getting a double major in history and politics,” Lee wrote in the comic book’s intro.

Now that we’re done with the history, here is a look back at WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1, published in 1992 through Image Comics with a story co-written by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi. Lee illustrated the comic book with ink work done by Scott Williams.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins in Antarctica in 1986. There, two men braved the cold weather searching for something with information they learned from IO (International Operations). Suddenly an orb rises from the snow and then an image of a lady wearing silver tights and wielding energy appears in front of them. After demanding them to let her have the orb, she and the energy field fade away.

In 1992, at the crisis control facility of IO in Virginia, IO’s executives carefully view video footage of Georgetown which was hit by an explosion. They suspect rogue C.A.T.s (covert action teams) could have been involved. Suddenly, the same energy field from six years earlier forms in their presence with the same lady appearing for a few moments. The energy field fades away.

In the present day, a dwarf named Jacob Marlowe wakes up in the middle of garbage in an alley. After getting hurt by two troublemakers, the same silver lady from the past appears and uses her energetic power to save Jacob. She introduces her to him as Void, claiming he came for him and she knows he was once a lord named Emp. She tells him the Cabal is a threat to humans on Earth…

Quality

Clearly Jim Lee took inspiration from John Woo’s action movies.

When it comes to the presentation of the story, the comic book starts in a deliberately cryptic way. It’s like having very short prologues back to back and, fortunately, it works well to capture attention while building up slowly its concept. The story really begins when Jacob Marlowe arrives at his headquarters with Void as his enduring advisor and executor. The introductions of each of the team’s members – Spartan, Warblade, Maul, Grifter, Zealot and Voodoo – were decently done and never felt rushed as Jim Lee and Brandon Choi carefully paced the storytelling and really tried to balance exposition and spectacle. That being said, similar results happened with regards to the comic book’s spotlight on the Cabal and its evil leader.

With regards to the presentation of the classic conflict between good and evil, Lee and Choi came up with the concept of planet Earth being slowly infiltrated by Daemonites (who originated in outer space) with the Cabal serving like an anchor with an organized set-up for domination. Over at the WildC.A.T.s, Marlowe formed a team to fight and stop the Cabal since the lives of the people of Earth are at stake. This is a really nice concept serving as the foundation, and the irony is that, in this comic book specifically, IO was on the sideline.

When it comes to the visuals, Jim Lee must have enjoyed the liberty he had in illustrating this comic book…free from the editorial interference from Marvel and free too from the restrictions of the Comics Code Authority (CCA). The result here is a visual presentation showing more Lee’s creativity and a style different somewhat from his final works on X-Men. He clearly took more inspiration from action movies and the violence is somewhat more mature to look at. It should be noted that Scott Williams helped Lee’s art shine.

Conclusion

These two pages remind me somewhat of the X-Men, their jet and the Danger Room.

By today’s standards, WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1 is surprisingly still a good superhero team comic book to read. It’s not a literary classic but it proved to be compelling and fun enough to read from start to finish. It has a decent amount of action here and there which is understandable since Choi and Lee had to build up the concepts and the plot. If there were any weak spots, this comic book is almost devoid of character development and the clear lack of a lead character (which is still needed even for a superhero team comic book).

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1 (1992), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $5 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition is priced at $16. The near-mint copy of the 3D edition costs $9 while the near-mint copy of the gold cover edition is priced at $42.

Overall, WildC.A.T.s: Covert Action Teams #1 (1992) is recommended.

+++++

Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #5 (1993)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Hey fellow comic book geeks! Remember before that I reviewed X-Men #1 of 1991 drawn by the great Jim Lee? That was over a year ago and so far, that is my only retro review of a dominant Jim Lee-drawn comic book.

Instead of reviewing another X-Men comic book drawn by Lee or any of the illustrator’s other works, I’ve decided to focus on the 1990s particularly on Image Comics. Back in those days, Lee was one of the main figures of Image and through that company he turned his dream projects into published comic books. When Image Comics launched in 1992, Jim Lee launched his superhero team project titled WildC.A.T.S: Cover Action Teams and issue #1 of that sold a lot. Eventually WildC.A.T.S. finished as a 4-issue mini-series.

Along with WildC.A.T.S were other projects launched under Lee and his company WildStorm (previously referred to as Aegis Entertainment) such as Stormwatch and Gen13.

Then in 1993, Jim Lee, Scott Williams and Brandon Choi worked again to produce even more WildC.A.T.S comic books for fans to enjoy and keep business at WildStorm moving. The result was the release of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #5 which symbolically marked the start of a new regular series without starting with a new issue #1. Here’s an excerpt of Jim Lee’s explanation printed inside the said comic book:

I’m baaack!!! But rather than starting over with a new first issue, I decided to just “extend” the WildCATs miniseries into a regular series. Why? Well, I did it mostly for psychological reasons as first issues are always the most difficult ones to tell and draw. You have to get the readers to accept and understand a whole legion of new concepts and characters—characters which you’re illustrating often for the very first time. And as ant professional in the business can tell you, it takes a while for an artist to get the hang of certain characters-the way they movie, the way they talk, the way they reaction to different situations. And U’ve found that I haven’t really “connected” with any new characters until I’ve had four or five issues worth under my belt. ~ Jim Lee

That being said, here is a look back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #5 published in 1993 by Image Comics with a story written by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi, and with art drawn by Lee and inked by Scott Williams.

Cover
The cover.

Early story

The story begins with WildC.A.T.S members Grifter and Zealot gliding quietly approaching a secret base. Following Grifter’s lead to go into action, Zealot joins him to crash through the glass window and take out the perceived enemy troops called the hunter killers shooting and assaulting them. It turns the two are in search for something and they have their other teammates ready to come in to provide back-up.

Even though they tried to sneak around the place quietly, mechanical enemy reinforcements spotted them and chased them. As a metallic door shuts and separates the two, Grifter successfully got through the armed defense system and finds himself at the vault. After informing his other teammates of his new location, Grifter opens the vault revealing something very captivating with regards to the Daemonites’ secret operations…

Quality

Action3
The team and the villain.

Visually, this is one great looking comic book filled with lots of dynamism and flare provided by Jim Lee and Scott Williams. Each and every character looks great and come with a good amount of visual details on them. Also I love the futuristic technology look that dominated most of the scenes. When it comes to spectacle, this one is loaded and Jim Lee’s presentation of adulterated action and stunts is undeniably fantastic. I should also state that the colors are very vibrant thanks to Joe Chiodo.

Action2
Great action drawn by Jim Lee.

When it comes to storytelling, however, this one lacks depth. In terms of plotting, it’s pretty basic and goes like this: two heroes infiltrate the base of an enemy, they get discovered and more enemy troops come in, the top villains come in followed by the rest of the heroes’ teammates. As the focus here was more on spectacle and suspense, there was definitely no room left for character development. There is a subplot here worth mentioning and it serves as a link leading to the eventual Killer Instinct crossover with Marc Silvestri’s Cyberforce.

Conclusion

Action1
Great visuals and action here but not much in terms of storytelling.

I should say that WildC.A.T.S: Cover Action Teams #5 is pretty tricky to recommend to all comic book geeks and superhero enthusiasts. I can easily recommend it to die-hard fans of Jim Lee, the die-hard fans of WildC.A.T.S, as well as those who love Image Comic books from the 1990s. If you are looking for a short bout of fun with action in mind, this comic book will serve you. If you are the kind of reader who wants deep storytelling and solid character development, this one will fall short.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Cover Action Teams #5 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $4.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Cover Action Teams #5 (1993) is satisfactory. It’s a great looking comic book (with gate-fold pages) that does not have much to fulfill readers looking for the solid combination of art, storytelling, characterization and entertainment.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com