Thursday, March 20, 2008

Semi-Pre-Joe Casey Comics: Wildcats #5

[Continuing my look at the build-up to Joe Casey's run on Wildcats--except, waitaminute, his name appears in this issue's credits. That's right, loyal readers, Casey scripts this issue (along with issue six). Will that make up for Scott Lobdell's piss-poor plots? Keep on reading! New posts Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.]

Not only has Casey joined the book, for one issue only Bryan Hitch is on art. This back when Hitch was blowing people's minds on The Authority and, obviously, his fill-in here is a favour to Wildstorm--but, really, he was doing The Authority monthly AND a fill-in on Wildcats, where I can assume he caught Travis Charest's deadline-itis. But, enough of my lame "wit," there's a comic to be discussed...

Remember how last issue had Zealot gunned down and dead? Yeah, this issue reveals that she's alive. A much more effective story would have to either distanced the two issues or combined them into one, because all this does is make last issue look worthless. But, that's Lobdell's doing--ah, so is the idea that Zealot is being hunted by various splinter sects of the Coda, a concept that Casey will alter into Zealot hunting down every member of the Coda and killing them. Although, it is ambiguous if that's what she's already doing. It's hard to say, but it is hinted at--only in the dialogue, which is Casey's. Perhaps Casey was already laying the seeds for his run, which was almost certainly determined by this point.

Most of the dialogue, however, doesn't rise that far about Lobdell's usual pap. However, I have to wonder if that was purposeful--is it possible that Casey, in an effort to keep the book consistent, attempted to imitate Lobdell? Or was there no way to do better with the plot written? Or did Casey just deliver some mediocre work? It's hard to say for sure. I'm inclined to say that Casey fails here, rather than place the blame elsewhere. We've seen that Casey is certainly capable of churning out crap and a scripting job seems like one of those places where it's almost hard not to.

There's also a scene between Grifter and Spartan, but it's of no major consequence beyond continuing the weird dynamic they have, which will make up a big part of Casey's run. Although, Casey does his best to put the problems behind them and give them, at the very least, a sense of mutual respect (I would argue something more).

Bryan Hitch's art is pretty good. Not his best work, but does have a higher panel-per-page count than his other work from the time (and since). Since this issue was obviously done in "Marvel style," whereas the other work was full script, it's interesting that the panel count is higher here. It sort of goes against the idea that artists hate drawing lots of panels, eh?

Some questions for next issue: will Casey's scripting improve? How many pages will Travis Charest draw? Will Lobdell's plot be better? Will I stop ragging on these guys? Saturday, people.