Overview

Wildcats #1

Review

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Wildcats #1

Credits

  • Words: Grant Morrison
  • Art: Jim Lee
  • Inks: Scott Williams
  • Colors: Alex Sinclair
  • Story Title: A Halo ?Round the World
  • Publisher: DC Comics/WildStorm
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Oct 18, 2006

And here it is: the most anticipated new WildStorm book in nearly a decade. Grant Morrison and Jim Lee on Wildcats. The verdict? Drum roll, please….

For a book whose lower left-hand corner boasts "Worldstorm Starts Now!", the truth of the matter is that the entire first issue adamantly takes place one month before whatever "Worldstorm" will wind up being (in fact, this entire first storyarc looks to only be the many threads that lead up to the Worldstorm event). There’s a junkload of plot going on in numerous corners of the Wildcats’ universe here. The lowdown: Grifter is down and out and drunk in the slums of some third-world ghetto; Halo has revolutionized the world via technology in the securities and communications sectors and its CEO, Spartan, is looking to bring the Wildcats team back together; Kaizen Gammora is back (cloned) and leads a suicide terrorist organization that hides away within a nearby asteroid belt; and last but certainly not least – the Daemonites are massing…. It’s all very much exciting stuff, if nothing more that sheer, unapologetic build-up with little else given.

To be upfront about it, I don’t think Grant Morrison could write a first issue that reads like a first issue and not a prolonged prologue if his life depended on it. Both here as in the sister Morrison-release of the week, The Authority, the book reads more like a sneak preview than a chapter, a trailer than an episode, a pure get-the-juices-flowing tantalization than anything that holds any honest merit of plot. That is not to say that this issue is poorly done or even a letdown – it gets the juices flowing, that is for damn sure. But anyone looking for an obvious and established direction on which to base their subscription decisions upon will be sorely disappointed.

Is the book beautiful? My God, yes; I mean, it’s Jim mother-lovin’ Lee, of course it’s beautiful, though I’ll go even further and congratulate Morrison on giving Jim a wide variety of wild concepts to design and illustrate rather than allowing the book to wallow in page after page of fashion-industry-gone-wrong horrors (there is some of that, but thankfully only a bit!). Grifter has never looked so low, Majestic and Zealot have never looked so blood-thirsty and regal, and Halo has never looked so 2001: A Space Odyssey futuristic. So a lot of thrills, a lot of beauty, and a lot to love on the surface – now let’s move on to the bad parts.

This isn’t Joe Casey’s Wildcats 3.0 and it would be unfair to judge the issue based solely as a direct comparison between the two; that said, however, Casey did set the bar inordinately high when it came to the concept of Halo as a corporation changing the world via commerce and the misuse of the capitalist machine for acts of unabashed good. It was a moral that was literally and specifically for our times, and Morrison has chosen to pick up these same thematic pieces and utilize them for his own needs. Unfortunately, his use is fenced off by pop-cultural blinders to the point where Halo is just any other company, only they’re cooler and much more untouchable. Yeah: whoopee. There’s a conversation between Spartan and Voodoo in which Voodoo comments "This how you change the world, Hadrian? With better toys?" This leads into a longer monologue by Spartan that basically reveals Morrison’s plans on the more thematic level – that somehow, it will be more important for Spartan to propagate a media and consumer-entrenched culture in order to use the money he garners from such to reestablish a super-hero team. Hmmm…. Admittedly, Spartan plans to have the team be "adult," be "mature," and perhaps this distinction (whatever it will may reveal itself to be) will make a difference. Doubtful (or at least this isn’t much of a hint if that was what it was supposed to hint at, as "adult" and "mature" rarely qualifies as anything beyond sex and drugs and an even greater level of stereotypical consumerism), but the possibility is there.

There are a handful of other story gaffes – such as Morrison spending a good number of pages to portray Grifter as an intensely suicidal character, indifferent to others’ pain and his own, yet the moment he’s attacked by Daemonites he instantly springs into perfect fighting form and is ready to return to being his usual bad-ass self. Apparently months of hard drinking, smoking, and lying in the gutter doesn’t affect one’s physical prowess in the least, and severe depression can be shrugged off with a quick jolt of adrenaline. (This is the kind of stuff that makes comic writers seem lazy!) Additionally the sexual banter and episode between Voodoo and Spartan is wretchedly forced and handled with all the nuance of a guy writing slash-fiction in his mother’s basement, though if you’re a it’s-the-thought-that-counts kind of person, then it was nice to see the two of them back together again.

So a light and fluffy and beautiful and dramatic book but one that juggles heady concepts with a less-than-considered mentality. I sometimes get the feeling that this latest decade will be looked back upon in much the same way that the 1980’s are. It’s an intensely self-satisfied and self-absorbed era, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the moment’s popular fiction. Much as the science-fiction tales of the 80’s wherein every future simply looked like…well…the 80’s, only with a lot more crazy metal stuff strewn about…so too does the speculative fiction of the now seem to do little more than reflect what we currently are, rather than strive to show what we might become. Wildcats as handled by Morrison and Lee wields the potential to be one of the few that accomplishes more than this, that truly antes up and gives us a story as big and riveting as it may be poignant and life-altering. As the comics world is already saturated with big, over-the-top action extravaganzas, it’ll be whether or not the creators can make something more of this book that’ll in the end prove its ultimate worth.

It’ll be a ride that’ll require Herculean patience, too, as the book is bimonthly and this first multi-part storyline is itself nothing more than the prologue. That’ll be nearly a year of waiting to get to the official beginning, and honestly, pretty and thrilling as the book is, it doesn’t have the satisfaction-per-issue benefit that Planetary manages (and which allows that title to get away with the murder of a publishing schedule that it does). The verdict is – a great start, but not nearly enough to support the concept of a bimonthly, sprawling epic, and it still has plenty of time and space to trip and become little more than another Civil War. Time will tell….

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