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Welcome back superhero fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we continue revisiting Jim Lee’s flagship title under the Image Comics label – WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams!
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 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…
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.
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.
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