Saturday, April 12, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: Wildcats #14

[Continuing my look at Joe Casey's run on Wildcats. New posts Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.]

We begin "Serial Boxes" here, a story where nearly every loose thread comes together in one way or another. Like most first issues of an arc, this one is set-up.

The first scene has an old man coming to the bed of another old man but the second is in a coma of some sort. The first old man talks about how he was the second's aide back when the second was a mob boss who could shoot fire from his eyes until a midget fried his brain. The aide has kept track of the midget, who we know as Emp, Saul Baxter and Jacob Marlowe. Although Emp is dead, he has family (Jack Marlowe), so the aide contacted the mob boss's grandson who also has the ability to shoot fire from his eyes. The aide told him everything and the grandson seems quite insane. The aide unplugs the mob boss and then takes a pill, committing suicide.

Jack Marlowe is meeting with Chinese businessmen and discusses Halo as a force beyond politics, using business to make the world better--the meeting is interrupted by news footage of a high speed chase, so Marlowe flies over then and lands right in front of the criminals's car... which barely damages his suit. He's taken in for questioning, but leaves when not charged with anything.

In Miami, Jeremy Stone is running some tests on Pris. He promised to take her shopping in return, but backs out--he does tell her to take whatever she needs from his wallet, where she finds a Halo credit card for J Marlowe.

The grandson, Samuel Smith is in bed with a woman he just met. She asks about him and he tells the story of his grandfather and Emp, and when he mentions the name Jacob Marlowe, she remarks that her name is Marlowe, too, isn't that a coincidence? His eyes light up.

This will be a story about family and the legacy of family. Smith hunts down Marlowes in an attempt to avenge his grandfather despite the fact that Emp is dead. Pris is not a Marlowe, but may as well be as she's part of the extended family. Void has returned, also a member of the family. So is Maxine and Jeremy and Grifter. Jeremy is concerned with the genetic fallout of his and Pris's family, namely the Kheran and Daemonites, and the effect it has.

As well, this is, again, a post-superhero book, in a sense, but it has many superhero elements. In this issue, Marlowe acts like Superman, but you will note that his costume is now his business suit. He is not above getting his hands dirty, but that is not the way in which he chooses to make the world better. Here, he tries to do business with Chinese business in an attempt to free that country from its communist dictatorship.

He also now has an archenemy, of sorts, in Sam Smith, a man who shoots fire from his eyes. They will have a confrontation. Smith attacks Marlowe in the way that villains often do, through loved ones--here, not really, as having the same last name does not mean a blood relation, especially in this case as this Marlowe is not human and neither was Emp. The name means nothing. It is much like the superhero name in that sense--it is chosen, it is a disguise. Jack Marlowe's secret identity is Spartan, a Kheran android meant to act as a bodyguard. However, that secret identity no longer exists... the superhero has taken over completely. Ironically, his secret identity is his former superhero name and his superhero name is what we'd normally consider a secret identity. In a traditional comic, he would be mild-mannered Jack Marlowe during the day and the superhero Spartan at night.

That's all I have for now. See you Tuesday for more.