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…

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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 #13 (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!

For the newcomers reading this, I’ve been doing retro reviews of WildC.A.T.S that had Chris Claremont and Jim Lee collaborating together during the early Image Comics years following their previous works together on X-Men comic books while they were at Marvel. Issue #10 of WildC.A.T.S saw the debut of Claremont’s very own Huntsman while Zealot became the major character among her teammates (note: Voodoo had the 2nd most amount of page presence while the rest made very short appearances). In issue #11, the stakes were raised as most of the WildC.A.T.S got captured by the new super villainess Tapestry and Voodoo remained possessed, leaving Zealot as the only free team member who – out of fear – had to reach out for reinforcements (note: brand new characters who happened to have history with Zealot). In issue #12, Zealot and Huntsman really struggled clashing with the Troika while the reinforcements were on their way. What happened saw new revelations about Zealot and the plot expectedly built up the anticipation of the next big conflict.

The issue I am about to review is the conclusion of the current storyline Claremont wrote and  Lee illustrated which, so far, expanded the lore of the WildC.A.T.S within the WildStorm universe of the time. So far, I’ve been enjoying re-reading WildC.A.T.S issues #10 to #12, seeing what kind of creative stuff Claremont and Lee could make while being free from the restrictions and limitations of Marvel Comics.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #13, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Jim Lee.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the possessed Voodoo – now looking frail and ugly as a result of Raksha’s hunger for flesh – attacking Jacob Marlowe’s two trusted assistants who arrived to help her. Deep inside her body struggling with Raksha’s possession, Pris manages to stop her attack – Voodoo’s face restored to normal – and warns Jules and Stansfield that Jacob and her teammates have been turned into evil by Tapestry and that Zealot may still be free.

Meanwhile, Grifter, Hunstman, Zealot, Savant, Soldier and Mr. Majestic fight the mind-controlled WildC.A.T.S – Spartan, Maul, Jacob Marlowe and Warblade – and Alabaster Wu who are acting under Tapestry’s evil. As Grifter shoots Maul and kicks Jacob Marlowe’s head, Huntsman reveals to him that Tapestry and Zealot have a history together while Alabaster Wu was trying to save his people…

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Chris Claremont’s Huntsman contributes solidly into the story even though he is not protagonist.

As expected, this storyline-concluding issue delivers the natural progression of what started in issue #10 laced with lots of solidly fun action, key character interactions and more notably the further development of Zealot supported by Huntsman. To put it short, if you enjoyed the previous works of the Claremont-Lee creative team and you enjoy the early, bombastic ways of WildC.A.T.S, then this comic book should delight you.

Without spoiling the entire plot, this comic book concludes the storyline that started in issue #10 and it also marked the end of Claremont-Lee’s collaboration on this particular volume of the WildC.A.T.S comic book series. What is very notable in my view is the way Claremont emphasized the evolution of Zealot not only as a WildC.A.T.S member but also her very own personality as well as her very own spot within the WildStorm universe.

It is in this storyline where you will see Zealot being much more than just a fearless, hard-fighting warrior who lives by the strict standards of the Coda. In this particular comic book, her greater purpose is realized (and you will realize that in a particular scene with Savant late in the story) and the interactions she has with the Huntsman, her sister Savant and others really brought out more of her personality. This is clearly Zealot redefined just as Claremont expanded the lore of the WildC.A.T.S.

Fans of Grifter should be happy to learn that their favorite character (who returned at the end of issue #11) joined the big battle and Claremont’s prepared dialogue of him made him more livelier than his usual portrayal in this comic book series. Huntsman, meanwhile, is his usual honorable self but gets to define his place among the WildC.A.T.S through action. His companion Miranda (now wearing armor thanks to Zealot) plays a short yet notable key role in the story.

The reinforcements composed of Mr. Majestic, Savant and Soldier each have a stronger presence in this story which is expected and they don’t just talk and do some action…they also contributed to the plot and what Savant knew emphasized the essence of the conflict between Zealot and Tapestry.

As for the super villainess herself, Tapestry is very convincingly evil and this comic book shows exactly why the fearless Zealot deeply fears her and why she is a danger to everyone. While she has a very sinister agenda, Tapestry’s confirmation of her origin (in the form of dialogue) and what her place is between the Daemonites and Kherubim will intrigue readers, most especially WildC.A.T.S fans. As for her conflict with Zealot, this comic book will show you how they are connected with each other and what elements connect them together. Their spectacle-filled duel here is a must-see and you will enjoy it a lot when you pay attention to the details (read Savant’s expository dialogue) as the action happens.

When it comes to artwork, fans of Jim Lee should know that this comic book has some of very best pieces of art the famed creator ever made during his time with Image Comics. Very clearly, Lee took his time designing the shots and when to really go out with great visual detail as the story went on.

Conclusion

In the heat of a battle against the other WildC.A.T.S, Grifter and Huntsman still managed to talk.

I can say that WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #13 (1994) is still a great comic book as it solidly and satisfyingly concluded the 4-part storyline that Chris Claremont came up with in this collaboration with Jim Lee. More on the storyline itself, Claremont took a really daring approach on presenting the titular team by having Zealot in the lead (with his creation Huntsman as the 2nd major player) and then putting most of the other team members on the background which effectively emphasizes the presence of the very wicked Tapestry (truly the definitive parallel to Zealot) along with the Troika (note: this is their best and most action-packed portrayal).

While this WildStorm universe-building story concept could put off some Claremont-Lee team fans who expected to see a WildC.A.T.S story fashioned like what was seen in the creators’ past X-Men works, this particular storyline for me is still a great read and its concept is commendable.

I should also state that the themes of omnipotence, legacy and destiny are all well defined in this comic book which made the 4-part storyline make more sense to read and analyze. More on Zealot, the way Claremont developed her will make you think deeply about how you should perceive her, how you think her place within the WildC.A.T.S will affect her teammates, etc. This comic book and its three immediate predecessors all have very solid writing by Claremont!

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #13 (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 athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #12 (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!

Previously, I reviewed WildC.A.T.S #11 which served as a build-up issue with the titular team and their place within the WildStorm universe in mind. Considering how much the narrative in issue #10 was driven through Zealot’s struggles and her meeting the Huntsman (his debut), issue #11 was alienating as the two mentioned characters had significantly lesser exposure. Of course, it is noted that issue #11 saw the rather heavy entry of Tapestry, an eroticized and highly manipulative villainess who not only encountered the fearless Zealot ages prior but also scared her deep inside. Out of fear and desperation, Zealot summoned her long-time ally Savant who in turn reached out to Soldier (who also knew Zealot) and Mr. Majestic (only mentioned by name). Issue #11 also saw the rise of the Troika (Attica, Slag and H.A.R.M.) in terms of exposure and even character development.

At this stage, it was clear that franchise creator Jim Lee literally gave author Chris Claremont the driver’s seat to develop the WildC.A.T.S franchise significantly and lead it to a new, bold direction. It was clearly the most unconventional WildC.A.T.S story published at the time!

With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #12, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Jim Lee.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the Huntsman driving the high-tech motorcycle with Miranda and an ailing Zealot seated in the side-car. They are being chased and attacked by the Troika from above (Attica and Slag riding on H.A.R.M. in its aircraft form) firing several rockets at them. While the rockets caused huge explosions on the city street, Attica states he will consider the attack on their targets successful only he sees their dead bodies.

Meanwhile inside a facility, Tapestry continues to deeply manipulate the mind of Warblade among the captured WildC.A.T.S members. Already Jacob Marlowe and even the cybernetic Spartan have been manipulated to do her bidding. As Tapestry continues working on Warblade in the presence of Soma and the others, the Raksha-possessed Voodoo hungers for new meat.

Moments later, as Voodoo goes out agonizing over the craving, a vehicle – with Jacob Marlowe’s loyal assistants Jules and Stansfield – arrive. Deep inside Voodoo, a conflict between her and the Raksha occupying her body begins… 

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Mr. Majestic is the WildStorm universe’s parallel to DC Comics’ Superman!

Like issue #11, this comic book continues to build-up the WildC.A.T.S lore but with notable differences. For one thing, the story moved forward more while also having the intensity build up constantly leading to the set-up of the upcoming conflict between Tapestry’s troops (along with the manipulated WildC.A.T.S) and Zealot with Hunstman (and the incoming reinforcements). To put it short, the exposition in this story was less and the plot noticeably progressed more.

When it comes to the significance of the characters, this time the narrative’s spotlight shifted back more on Zealot and Huntsman which was the right move pulled off by the creators as Tapestry was already established as the new force of evil for the good guys to deal with. As for the new characters introduced in the previous issue, Tapestry has a smaller share of the spotlight while Savant and Soldier are present again but only after much of the action had passed. It is also in this issue that Mr. Majestic appears at last marking the start of his involvement in the conflict.

As for Zealot and the Huntsman, their alliance in this story has progressed more as well. Under Chris Claremont, the fearless Zealot was portrayed to be struggling very hard as she became more vulnerable than ever! This is Zealot that has to be seen! As for Huntsman, he truly is an effective fighter. So much so, he sure can fit into the WildC.A.T.S and keep up with their action. Still, Huntsman is indeed an honorable man as he still dedicates himself in protecting Miranda (who is a lot more than she appears) while making his moves to help Zealot at her most vulnerable time.

When it comes to the visuals, this is one Jim Lee-drawn comic book that I found unusually alienating to look at. His penciled art are still here but in certain pages, they looked odd as they were inked by other people. The ink work done on page 17 really stood out with a very high contrast look.

Conclusion

By this point of the storyline, Zealot and Huntsman are clearly the major characters.

While it is essentially a build-up issue, the entertainment value in WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #12 (1994) went up as the story progressed more, the spotlight shifted more on Zealot and Huntsman (clearly the two major characters for this storyline) and the exposition and explanations were lessened. The ironic thing is that readers will see less of the titular team (as most of them were captured and being manipulated by Tapestry) here. The presence of Savant, Soldier and Mr. Majestic here is pretty light which is understandable as the focus on Zealot and Huntsman was deeper this time. Ultimately, this comic book sets the readers up to for the inevitable big battle in the next issue.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #12 (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 copy of the newsstand edition costs $60.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #12 (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 #11 (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, I reviewed the 10th issue of the WildC.A.T.S series which saw the reunited work of Chris Claremont and Jim Lee who previously worked together on making many memorable X-Men comic books during their time with Marvel Comics (note: check out three retro reviews of Claremont-Lee X-Men comics by clicking here, here and here).

Being free from the constraints and hurdles of Marvel, WildC.A.T.S #10 showed what Claremont added to Lee’s superhero team while also unveiling the Huntsman (Claremont’s own creation). Even as the story – which had Zealot as the lead character followed by Voodoo and Huntsman – had lots of build-up and the rest of the WildC.A.T.S only had a minor share of the spotlight, Lee still managed to make the story filled with a good amount of spectacle for readers to enjoy. I really liked WildC.A.T.S #10 a lot and in my view, it has aged well.

With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #11, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Chris Claremont and Drawn by Jim Lee. Scott Williams is in-charge with the ink work. This comic book has a variant cover edition with the cover art done by While Portacio.

The cover.
The variant cover edition with art by While Portacio.

Early story

The story begins moments after Jacob Marlowe secretly met with Alabaster Wu. The WildC.A.T.S – composed of Spartan, Warblade, Void, Maul and the possessed Voodoo – find themselves facing with the Troika – composed of Attica, Slag, H.A.R.M. and Providence – who came in by surprise with the intention to overwhelm them. Providence states that Jacob Marlowe’s destiny is sealed with doom.  

Just after Marlowe expressed defiance, the Raksha-controlled Voodoo knocks him out with a hard kick from behind. This surprises Spartan who immediately jumps into action and orders his teammates to form on void for an immediate dust-off. The battle between the Troika and the WildC.A.T.S starts, Attica hits Warblade. Void then discovers that some force is preventing her from teleporting. It turns out, Providence manipulated the quantum field. Using tremendous power, Providence overwhelms Void which puts the WildC.A.T.S into serious trouble.

Meanwhile on the streets of Brooklyn, Zealot, Huntsman and the teenager Miranda are riding fast together. Zealot says that the communication with her team has gone off-line and she only has their current position…

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Even the fearless and disciplined Zealot is scared of the new super villain Tapestry.

I’ll start first with the presentation of characters and related developments. While the WildC.A.T.S themselves appeared a lot more here than in the previous issue, they did not end up as the dominating characters in the narrative. Even Zealot and Huntsman had reduced shares of the spotlight. This is because Claremont’s script introduced a few yet clearly significant characters while remaining focused on building up tension in relation to the growing presence of a new force of evil (note: the ugly and scary looking monsters called Raksha are connected with them) on Earth with two distinct figures as evil leaders – Soma and Tapestry. As the WildC.A.T.S fell short of achieving any heroics, their new statuses as targets and tools of Tapestry ultimately made sense in the plot. This is a rather daring way Claremont used to tell a WildC.A.T.S tale that has the titular team in their most vulnerable state yet.

While Soma does have an intimidating presence, it is obvious that Tapestry (who has an eroticized design and is the self-declared weaver of souls and shaper of fate) is the most visceral supervillain here and I had the impression that she was planned to be a major enemy towards the WildC.A.T.S comparable with Helspont. Even the fearless warrior Zealot fears Tapestry.

In a clear move to expand the lore of the WildC.A.T.S series within the WildStorm universe, this comic book saw the entry of Savant (an important associate of Zealot’s) and Soldier (the WildStorm’s own parallel to DC Comics’ Sgt. Rock) plus the mention of Mr. Majestic. Savant and Soldier are not just mere additional characters thrown into the mix but they each have established places within the WildStorm universe that just have not been seen by readers at the time of publishing. Claremont wrote Savant and Soldier as individuals who both knew Zealot from some time before and, more importantly, he made them believable to read even though this comic book only showed little of them.

When it comes to character portrayals, Claremont’s creativity showed Attica clearly having much more personality just as the Troika returned (late in issue #10). The head of the Troika in this comic book was presented as a business-dealing killer who does not hesitate to tell his client to beware of Zealot and Grifter (note: he was last seen in issue #8) as those two are the most dangerous WildC.A.T.S members. Attica’s companion Slag is more expressive here and while H.A.R.M.’s mechanical perspective is emphasized more which reminds me somewhat of the cinematic Terminator reading commands internally. Indeed, there was inspiration behind Claremont’s writing.

With regards to the plot, this comic book has a simple story structure that just so happens to have lots of exposition, explanations and the introduction of new characters destined to become more important later. Combined with the art of Jim Lee, the story still works on engaging and entertaining me. Re-reading this story is still a lot fun after all these decades.

Conclusion

WildC.A.T.S in bombastic action with the Troika.

Given the way it was crafted and structured by Claremont, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #11 (1994) is easily the most unconventional tale of the series at the time of its publication. Unsurprisingly, Jim Lee’s art here is of top-notch quality and he continued to excel in providing readers the adulterated superhero spectacle while also making the more character-focused scenes look interesting (note: there are flashbacks to WildC.A.T.S #1 during Tapestry’s examination of Jacob Marlowe’s memories). As the WildC.A.T.S – without Grifter and Zealot specifically – were at their most vulnerable, this could alienate the die-hard fans who are expecting the usual stuff they love (note: bombastic action against bad guys with character moments in between) to pour in. What I want readers and the die-hard fans to understand is that they should pay close attention to the growing force of evil under Tapestry (who even scares the very brave Zealot) and think about it as a suitable addition into the WildC.A.T.S lore within the WildStorm universe of the time. This comic book also shows that there is more to be explored beyond the conflict of the Kherubim and the Daemonites. That being said, Chris Claremont and Jim Lee’s combined works here are still very solid, a lot of fun and even intriguing to read.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #11 (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 copies of newsstand edition and the signed edition cost $90 and $60 respectively. The near mint-copies of variant cover edition (Whilce Portacio art) and the signed variant covered edition cost $30 and $90 respectively.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #11 (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 #10 (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!

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 cover.

Early story

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…

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The first-ever appearance of Chris Claremont’s Huntsman!

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.  

Conclusion

Zealot lecturing Voodoo reminds me of scenes from old X-Men comics (written by Chris Claremont) that showed Storm guiding Kitty Pryde.

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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