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 #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…

Quality

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 #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…

Quality

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 #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 #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 #6 (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 continue revisiting Jim Lee’s flagship title under Image Comics – WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams!

For the newcomers reading this, I recently completed reviewing the 4-issue mini-series (read my retro reviews here, here, here and here), the first issue of which was one of the launch titles published under Image Comics’ banner through Malibu Comics. Back in 2020, I reviewed issue #5 which itself was highly unusual as it marked the beginning of what was back then the regular series of WildC.A.T.S (note: starting a brand new comic book series is often done with a new issue #1). WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #5 was conveniently part of the build-up for the Killer Instinct storyline that had featured Jim Lee’s creations crossing over with Marc Silvestri’s Cyber Force.

With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6, published by Image Comics in 1993 with a story written by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Lee did the art.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the WildC.A.T.S flying in their high-tech aircraft and observing the large explosion which marked the destruction of a top-secret research facility. Their teammate Warblade was left behind which concerns Grifter and Voodoo. Spartan says it is too risky for them to move close to the site of destruction for Warblade as their electronic counter measure and identification systems have been lost due to the explosion. Spartan also told them team that they need to fly away before the Gamorran security forces arrive.

They are too late, however, as three high-tech aircrafts of Gamorra have arrived to take them down. One of them launched several missiles at the WildC.A.T.S aircraft causing Spartan to tell Grifter to redirect all power to their shields.

As hard as he tried, Spartan could only fly their shielded jet to dodge the first four missiles and absorbing the impact of two missiles before getting hit by the other missiles launched by the other two enemy aircrafts.

While their jet got destroyed into pieces, the WildC.A.T.S managed to survive the explosion only to see themselves falling helplessly in the air. As Spartan catches Voodoo, Grifter warns him abou the incoming Gamorran aircraft…

Quality

The team but without Jacob Marlowe, Warblade, Voodoo and Void at this point of the story.

To begin with, this comic book is very much like its predecessors – a very action-packed tale laced with the occasional character moments for fun while having little room left for character development. If there is any notable change in the way this comic book’s story was told, it is the detective work done collectively by key members of WildC.A.T.S followed by exposition dumps here and there. The detective work and exposition were done primarily to add to the build-up of the crossover with Cyber Force with the revelation of a love triangle from the past involving Misery (who gave Grifter a lot of trouble in issue #5), Warblade and Ripclaw (from the other team).

As with Jim Lee’s past works, the action here is highly charged and there is a lot of spectacle to enjoy most of the way. By the time this comic book got published, the respective capabilities of the WildC.A.T.S team members have already been established and the creators pushed the creative limits further on showing what else could the main characters do as envisioned by Jim Lee. There is even this 4-page sequence showing Grifter and Zealot infiltrating one of the Gamorran aircrafts and having lots of banter along the way which was fun to read. Considering the lack of space for character development, the creators made up for it somewhat with the dialogue.

As this is the first chapter of the Killer Instinct crossover storyline, the build-up for it is not really that engaging to me personally. While Ripclaw was already established as a major Cyber Force character and Warblade was a visible yet not so dominating as a member of WildC.A.T.S, the establishment of the personal connection between them through Misery (the woman right in the middle) is just not so strong. Not even a huge exposition dump about the past could have strengthened the background. It would have been more helpful had Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri agreed to publish a prequel comic book (or pages inserted into a few comic books of WildC.A.T.S and Cyber Force) about Warblade-Misery-Ripclaw in the past as a prelude to Killer Instinct. More on Misery herself, I could not help but think of her as a distorted and more wicked version of the X-Men’s Jean Grey complete with long red hair.

Conclusion

Grifter and Zealot infiltrate a Gamorran aircraft.

WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6 (1993) is another fun comic book to read filled with a lot of stuff that Jim Lee fans love to see again and again. As the opening chapter of Killer Instinct, the creators did the best they could to establish Misery as an important antagonist who happens to have been personally involved with Warblade and Ripclaw some years back. Sadly, the Warblade-Misery-Ripclaw triangle establishment is not so engaging and looked more like an afterthought. Still, this comic book’s story is not brainless and expanded the lore of the WildStorm universe a bit more. There is more good stuff than bad ones which make this worth reading.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6 (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 gold cover edition and newsstand edition cost $300 and $60 respectively.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #6 (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 #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 Wonder Woman Gallery (1996)

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, comic book collectors and fans of Wonder Woman! I should say that this is the most unusual comic book I have reviewed so far due to its main presentation of varied artworks featuring the Queen of all Superheroes herself – Wonder Woman!

For the newcomers reading this, there were several comic books back in the 1990s that did not really tell stories but showcased artworks of varied superheroes done by several artists. Such publications were in the form of swimsuit specials, apparently inspired by Sports Illustrated’s own publications. There were WildStorm Swimsuit Special #1, Ballistic Studios Swimsuit Special #1, Homage Studios Swimsuit Special #1, Lady Death Swimsuit Special #1 and the Avengelyne/Glory: Swimsuit Special #1 to name some.

The 1990s saw a rise of eroticism in superhero comic books. Not even the Wonder Woman monthly series of that time was spared from the trend. There was a time when DC Comics hired Mike Deodato to illustrate a number of Wonder Woman comic books in the mid-1990s which resulted a more eroticized look of Diana/Wonder Woman and her fellow Amazons. John Byrne took over after Deodato and his stint was not an improvement.

While the 1990s was a weak decade of Wonder Woman comics for me personally, not all was doom and gloom. Around twenty years before Gal Gadot debuted on the big screen as the cinematic Wonder Woman, DC Comics published an art gallery of the Queen of Superheroes in the form of a comic book.

With the details established, here is a look back at Wonder Woman Gallery, published by DC Comics in 1996 featuring the works of multiple artists.

The cover.

What it is

Wonder Woman Gallery is a showcase of thirty-two artworks done by George Perez, Stuart Immonen, Mike Wieringo and Richard Case, Brent Anderson, Howard Porter and John Dell, Jim Balent (misspelled as Jim Balant), Amanda Conner, Chuck Wojtkiewicz and Will Blyberg, Howard Chaykin, Steve Lightle and 22 others.

As this is an art gallery, there is clearly no story to tell. It is all artwork showcasing the different talents of the artists (and the inkers who helped them) on presenting Wonder Woman (note: the only exception here is a solo image of the forgettable WW replacement Artemis).

This artistic contribution by Phil Jimenez looks great.
Jill Thompson’s inspired take on Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman by Howard Porter and John Dell.
Wonder Woman by Ivan Reis and Barbara Kaalberg.

Quality

As this is an art showcase, the overall quality of the collected art here varies. Such a collection of different art styles will appeal to Wonder Woman fans depending on how they like their favorite superhero presented visually.

In my honest opinion, I always love the art style done by George Perez on Wonder Woman, her fellow Amazons, the supporting characters and more. His presentation here is flawless and timeless. What surprised me here in this collection is the contribution of Phil Jimenez whose quality and art style seem inspired by George Perez’s Wonder Woman legacy. As many of us know already, Jimenez later went on to become one of the top illustrators of DC Comics in the 2000s and his work here is nice to look.

There were a few artworks that showed Wonder Woman with a very cartoony look. Among them is the Wonder Woman piece done in the very distinct style of Sergio Aragones. Some art pieces here showed WW with a bizarre look and then there were a few others whose take on the Queen of Superheroes turned out good.

Conclusion

This work by George Perez is my favorite in this collection.

I can say that Wonder Woman Gallery (1996) is a published work that Wonder Woman fans will enjoy for as long as they are willing to accept images of their favorite superhero with styles ranging from realistic to cartoony, obscure and simple. Art styles aside, there is a lot here that fans will marvel at again and again, while art enthusiasts (who are not necessarily fans of the Queen of Superheroes) could find something eye-catching here.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of Wonder Woman Gallery (1996), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the comic book costs $40.

Overall, Wonder Woman Gallery (1996) 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

DC Comics: The Art of Jim Lee coming soon

If you love DC Comics as well as Jim Lee’s art, then you should watch out for the upcoming release of DC Comics: The Art of Jim Lee Vol. 1 (hardcover).

Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman as drawn by the great Jim Lee with ink by the great Scott Williams.

The publisher described the product as an over-sized art book showcasing Lee’s artwork from his decades-long career. Apart from DC Comics-related works, the new book will come with his early work with WildStorm Productions (WildCATs, Gen13, Deathblow, etc.)

The book will also feature HUNDREDS of covers plus behind-the-scenes art from the artist’s career.

According to DC Comics, the collection will be released on November 27, 2019 for $39.99 containing over 400 pages of content.

Imagine the collection with Lee’s drawings of Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, WildCATS, Justice League, Gen13, etc. So much fun stuff to look forward to.

I remember way back in 1991 when I was still in high school reading a copy of X-Men #1 (Volume 2) published by Marvel Comics.

I marveled at how great Jim Lee’s art was back then and I even wished to see DC Comics superheroes like Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman get drawn by him.

Guess what? Jim Lee sold his production company to join DC Comics in the late 1990s and had been with them ever since.

I was fortunate enough to see Lee from a distance during the final day of the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con. Nothing like seeing the great legend in person.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article to be engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. 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.