Community Nooch's Comic Reviews

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Wildcats #9
by Christos Gage and Neil Googe
Published by WildStorm

I can't believe I've gone this long without reviewing a book from the main Wildstorm universe. I did review Mysterius: The Unfathomable a few weeks back, but that's not in regular WildStorm continuity. I've been way into their books for quite some time, despite some "reboot" inconsistencies.

Brief history lesson for the noobs - WildStorm started off as Jim Lee's studio on the beginning days of Image Comics. It was so named for its two flagship titles, WildC.A.T.S and Stormwatch. Around '98-'99, WildStorm was bought out by DC Comics, so it was able to vastly expand its reach and, more importantly, its funding.

From there, they made some pretty bold moves that, I think, really improved the state of comics at the time. Within the universe, Stormwatch was dismantled, and it was replaced by The Authority, written by Warren Ellis. The Authority dealt with tales on a huge, planet-wide or even multiversal scale. Ellis coined the term "widescreen comics" to describe it.

They also developed the America' Best Comics imprint, wherein they let Alan Moore develop his own line of comics based on original ideas. Out of that came some of the best sequential art ever produced, including Promethea, Top Ten, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Interesting side note - Alan Moore has had grievances with DC for a while. Since the ABC was published by WildStorm, and WildStorm was owned by DC, Moore would not accept a check from them. He insisted on receiving personal checks directly from Jim Lee for the money he was owed. I don't know how accurate that story is, but I personally heard it independently varified from some very reliable sources.

A few year's back, they were trying to do a reboot called Worldstorm. I was pretty damn excited by it, because Grant Morrison was supposed to be writing both Wildcats and The Authority. Jim Lee was going to be handling art on Wildcats, with Gene Ha on Authority. There were some scheduling missteps there, so the entire thing was pretty much trashed.

They instead got an entirely new start with their World's End event, developed by Christos Gage. Through three minis, Revelations, Armageddon, and Number of the Beast, Gage pretty much destroyed the entire planet. Which brings us to the present. The four core books, Wildcats, Gen13, Stormwatch: Post Human Earth Division, and The Authority, have all been dealing with the newly-devastated world.

So far, it hasn't been good times for anyone in the books, but totally fun for anyone reading. In hindsight, I'm thinking maybe Grant Morrison falling out of the picture might have not been a bad move. The world that Gage has built (or in this case, destroyed) is fully coherent, all of the stories fit well together and have been progressing nicely. If Morrison had written it, I don't know how much sense it might have made.

With Wildcats in particular, I have a very high standard. I was digging the stuff that Jim Lee started out with back in the early days of Image, but I totally fell in love with the property while Joe Casey was writing it. His Wildcats V.3 was so brilliant and such a breath of fresh air (to use a well-worn cliche). Instead of portraying the team as an adventuring group of heroes, he turned them into a philanthropic corporation. Through that, Casey was able to tell some relevant stories that had strong emotional impact. It really broke my heart when they announced the title would be canceled due to low sales figures. I think the industry didn't give that series the attention it deserved. Pretty much all reviews of it out on the Interwebs will confirm my stance. If you can find them, you should put the collected TPBs on your reading list immediately. While I'm at it, you should try to find the collected edition of the Mr. Majestic mini that Casey also wrote. Groundbreaking stories in there, too.

So I was wary of seeing where Gage was going to bring this team. I am very pleased.

He's created some internal conflict, which we know always spices up a team book. There's great action in every issue, with cool-looking villains. The team has an overall goal, but seemingly insurmountable odds. What's not to love? Also, Googe's art is nothing to scoff at. There are certain panels where his character's faces look weird to me, but he's really come a long way since his days of indy hit, Bazooka Jules. There may be some backstory that you'll have to delve into to get caught up here, but any of that is totally worth it.

I also want to put out a quick mention of Stormwatch: Team Achilles. That was a series that came under fire when it was revealed that its writer, Micah Ian Wright, didn't actually serve in the military, as he had so widely claimed. Nonetheless it was a good series with an interesting premise. There's a backup story in this issue of Wildcats that brings back Team Achilles. Again, very excited to see where they go with that.

Who should read this book:
People who liked the X-Men stuff from the early '90s.
People who liked Stormwatch: Team Achilles.
People who prefer their game controllers to have wires.

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Nooch's Comic Reviews

More people should be reading comic books, dammit. As the resident comic book elitist, Nooch has made it his personal quest to get more noobs heading into their own dimly-lit comics dungeon every Wednesday to peruse the vastly under-rated world of sequential art.