Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pre-Joe Casey Comics: Wildcats #4

[Continuing the lead-up to when Joe Casey took over Wildcats from Scott Lobdell. With this issue, we're officially over halfway there (since Lobdell's run was seven issues) and, hell, Casey scripts issues five and six. That should make them better, right? New posts Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.]

This issue was almost amazingly great. Instead, it's horrible cliche after horrible cliche. But, let's examine the near-greatness of Wildcats #4...

The first page has Grifter in rubble, trapped under some, reaching for his gun. The narration reads:






and then, later, when Warblade rescues Grifter:




Now, the quotation marks used should have tipped me off that someone was actually speaking these words, but my first thought was that, no, this was Scott Lobdell talking to the reader. That "note to self" line especially struck me as metafictional, like he was asking himself what had happened to Warblade since he'd yet to show up in the book.

But, no, it's just Kenyan and some lady looking at holographic footage of these events, with those two providing commentary. Of course, that raises the point about why "Kherubim half-breed" needed an explanation. At least with the metafictional angle, it made sense. As it is, are either of these two characters idiots? In fact, why are they telling each other the names of the characters? Kenyan knows who the WildC.A.T.S are/were, and, let's assume since she put the video together, the assistant lady knows as well. So, what's the story with this clunky narration?

The issue has Zealot get killed by robozombiepeople and die in a horribly cliche manner. Or did she?

That's all that happens. Really. That was what "killed" the WildC.A.T.S. I can see why Grifter left the team, but everyone else? Wow, how anticlimatic.

The true highlight of this issue is a letter printed, which I now reprint without permission of anyone:

Dear WC Guide,

Please help me settle a bet. I've got a dinner at Eastside Mario's riding on it.

i say that WILDCATS is a crappy, unfulfilling comic book because of Scott Lobdell's uninspired, inconsistent writing. That he seems not to know what to do with any one of Charest's pages (which I think are beautiful) and simply fills them with insipid dialogue and bad jokes.

My friend says the fault lies in the weak art. He feels that Charest focuses too much on heads and fashion, neglecting details like hands (well drawn ones, not lumpy things) and backgrounds. He thinks that Lobdell is probably an okay writer, but confusing pages leave him little to work with, and that Lobdell is filling in a story as best he can.

So please, WC Guide, tell me which of us is right? (I really want to win that dinner, hint, hint.)

Thank you for your prompt reply,
[I'm taking out the name because I don't want to add a google hit for this guy about this]
Toronto, Ontario

Wow. Just... wow. That guy did my job for me, really. And he's a fellow Canadian to boot. The other letters are pretty positive--a Scottish reader doesn't like the writing and an American is upset at the fill-in pages in issue three (of which this issue had more), but loves Lobdell and Charest. I think the message is clear, people: Americans don't know good comics. American letter-writers loved Wildcats, non-Americans saw it for the low-quality book it was at the time.

On Thursday, we get the first of two Lobdell-plotted, Casey-scripted issues beginning with one drawn by Bryan Hitch. Hey, it has a shot at being decent.