Thursday, May 22, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: Wildcats #16

[My issue-by-issue analysis of Joe Casey's Wildcats run returns after over a month off. New posts Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.]

Little known fact: Serial Boxes takes place at the same time as Jackie Brown or so says the first page of issue 16 where Pris and Sam Smith are talking in a mall food court--and we get a shot of Sam Jackson as Ordell (minus the little braided goatee and long hair) with the back of Pam Grier's head and her holding a cigarette. Not that that really has anything to do with the comic, but I've always enjoyed that panel.

This issue is very focused on Smith and Pris, including some interaction with Jeremy--and a couple of scenes with Agents Wax and Mohr. Mostly, we get Smith's attempted seduction of Pris that goes from mall to club-hopping back to Jeremy's place where he has just figured out how to eliminate the Daemonite genes from Pris--but she doesn't know that.

Something about Smith winds up turning her off... and he reacts by burning a hole through her with his eyes and then going to town in attempting to mutilate her. As always, he explains who he is and why he's doing this, but this time, two things that haven't happened before occur: the woman he's about to kill knows Jack Marlowe and Smith is stopped.

Namely, by a giant Jeremy who beats the shit out of Smith until Smith blasts Jeremy in the eyes and gets thrown out of the house. The issue ends with Jeremy grasping blindly for Pris, only to grab one of her legs... neither of which are attached to her anymore.

The two scenes with the NPS agents establish their methodology and goals: they deal with superpowered criminals and serial killers. As well, it establishes that they have figured out where Smith may go next: to Jack Marlowe.

The storytelling in the scene where Smith attacks Pris is fantastic as we get shots of Jeremy in his soundproof lab, about to do more work--and leave Pris completely on her own. But, he finally (and, for some reason) just busts through the wall. Phillips's art is great here. Very creepy and suspenseful.

The actual attack on Pris is a little problematic, I would imagine, for some. Pris is typically a strong woman who is very independent and can take care of herself, but, here, she is a victim. Normally, I would agree that it falls into the "woman in refrigerator" mould that many comics do, but Pris's role as victim here underscores one of Casey's themes in this book: what happens to soldiers after the war? Pris has chosen to lead a "normal" life and ignores her heritage, abilities and past as a superhero-of-sorts. Smith, on the other hand, has embraced his heritage and abilities, becoming a supervillain-of-sorts. Jeremy is slightly heroic, but as he's also turned his back on his past, he is only partially successful--he gets rid of Smith, but is also seriously injured and unable to prevent injury from coming to Pris. Additionally, this injury puts Pris into a position where she reconnects with her natural abilities and heritage.

Also, most of the former WildC.A.T.S. are victims in one way or another, with the exception of Jack Marlowe, I'd say. That said, the elimination of the female WildC.A.T.S. is a pattern in this book, as we'll see--and a disturbing one, at that.

To be continued on Saturday.