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.

+++++

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A Look Back at Web of Spider-Man #100

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.

As many of you already know, the 1990s was a decade of excess when it comes to American comic book publishing. It was a time when publishers released comic books with special covers (AKA gimmick covers) and high cover prices.

During that time, the presence of comic books with flashy gimmick covers really stood out among the many other comic book on display at retailers’. In 1993, there was this one time I spotted Web of Spider-Man #100 which not only had a flashy looking foil cover but also the introduction of Spider-Man’s armor. Unsurprisingly, I started speculating how significant Spider-Man in armor would be, what features the armor has and how will it be relevant for the foreseeable future of Spider-Man stories. Shortly after, I bought the comic book.

Here is a look back at Web of Spider-Man #100, published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story written by Terry Kavanagh and art by Alex Saviuk.

Cover
The cover and its excessive cover price for 1993.

Early story

The story begins with Spider-Man facing off with Dragon Man, Dreadnought, Super Adaptoid and a few others on top of a building. After surviving the attacks thrown at him, he discreetly places a spider-tracer on Dragon Man before finally getting away.

The next night, Peter Parker works on a high-tech project at Empire State University where he is taking a graduate program. His experiment fails which ironically gives him an opportunity to use the equipment until the next morning. He did not just use the equipment to make more web fluid but also something new to wear.

Meanwhile, chaos continues to happen around the city with the involvement of Nightwatch, Dragon Man, Dreadnought, Super Adaptoid, and Blood Rose to name some.

Quality

15
This is Spidey’s armor.

I’ll say it straight. Web of Spider-Man #100 is a big disappointment when it comes to highlighting Spider-Man’s new armor, the 100th anniversary issue of the monthly series and even telling a compelling Spider-Man story.

What is clear with the main story of this comic book is that it is heavily loaded with action scenes which eventually resulted a hollow reading experience. The plot is quite shallow and there was not even a single moment that I found Peter Parker in anything interesting. You wanna see Peter Parker interact with Mary Jane? Nothing. You hope to see him pay a visit to his Aunt May? Nothing. Technically this story showed Spider-Man getting involved with a bunch of uninteresting troublemakers, take time out to make his armor, and get back to the troublemakers wearing it. As a story, there is certainly no depth at all.

Regarding Spider-Man’s highlighted armor, its use in the story is also a major disappointment. You will get to see the Spidey Armor for ten pages (including the silhouette appearance) but there really is no payoff for anticipating it.

17
An armored Spider-Man in the middle of the action.

More on the presentation, it is clear that this comic book served another purpose that is quite shameless and even irresponsible – to build up Nightwatch, a caped and masked character in dark costume that was arguably Marvel Comics’ blatant imitation of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. This comic book even contained an origin story of Nightwatch which was not interesting to read.

Conclusion

To make it clear, Web of Spider-Man #100 was a big disappointment for me personally back in 1993. By today’s standards, this comic book is even worse in terms of quality, artistic value, entertainment value and literary value. As a Spider-Man comic book, it is a big letdown and there really is not much for Spider-Man fans to enjoy here. His armor was just a useless showpiece and it’s even insulting that a useless character like Nightwatch got a lot of spotlight. I suppose Marvel Comics’ executives at the time thought they could lure fans of Todd McFarlane and Spawn to their side with Nightwatch serving as a magnet. Quite obviously, Marvel failed.

37
Sorry Marvel, but your blatant imitation of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn is pathetic and I’m not even a Spawn fan. 

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Web of Spider-Man #100, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $11. As for the near-mint copies of the newsstand edition and the Alex Saviuk-signed edition, they cost $39 and $26 respectively.

Overall, Web of Spider-Man #100 is not recommended. Do not ever waste your money on this comic book.


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