Shiny Shelf

WildCats #1

By Jim Smith on 21 October 2006

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

‘WildCats’ is now, it seems, not just set in the Wildstorm universe, but also in its future. That’s certainly the impression given by this vivid, fast paced opening issue in which audiences old and new are swiftly reintroduced to most members of the erstwhile ‘Covert Action Team’ created by Jim Lee back in the dim and distant early Nineties.

Had you asked anyone, I suspect including the book’s creators themselves, if characters like Spartan, Majestros, Zealot and Grifter would still be around in a decade and a half, I suspect the answer would have been a resounding ‘No’. Yet here they are and no one, and again I might venture to include their creators in this group, can really supply an answer why.

I certainly can’t. This is perverse, as I read the two previous volumes of the title and greatly enjoyed them, but I always had the feeling that Joe Casey’s corporate mercenary soap was an odd fit on top of the generic superhero (plus incomprehensible – and I genuinely find it so – alien war background) book that Lee had originally envisioned. It was, or seemed to be, a ‘rogue book’, one where a strong creator was doing his own thing with something to such an extent that he almost seemed to have left the concerns of the original creation, whatever they actually were, far behind.

I fully expected any future incarnation of ‘WildCats’ to have nothing to offer me. I certainly didn’t expect it to incorporate the central ideas behind Casey’s ‘WildCats 3.0′ or to be written by the best writer currently working in comics and drawn by a pencilling superstar who also happens to be ‘WildCats’ creator.

Grant Morrison’s first script for the series spills across a bewilderingly variety of locations and blends lots of dark humour and some sex appeal with striking ideas like a cultural revolution inspired by ‘a spartan [robot] in every home’ and wonderful throwaways like ‘radioactive suicide men from space’. It manages to draw several members of the book’s early Nineties cast back together in a way that doesn’t seem contrived and poses interesting questions about how characters like Jack Marlowe would feel about the power they possess over untold billions should they really exist.

Lee’s art is bulgingly satisfying. His heroes are thewed and his women are gorgeous. The technology kicks ass and the action is exciting. His rain-lashed ghettos and space-battles between monsters and warrior nuns are particular highlights. It’s so nice to see Lee’s art on a book that isn’t Miller’s horribly written ‘Batman’ title.

The new volume of ‘WildCats’ is an enthralling hybrid and it’s unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended to all.

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