Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: Wildcats Recap

It's been over a month since my last post regarding Joe Casey's run on Wildcats and that's a long, long time online. In that past month, many things have happened that have no doubt made you forget all about my analysis of that book, so I figure before jumping back into it on Thursday, I'll do a quick recap of what's happened, and maybe try to draw out some of the recurring ideas/themes.

Wildcats was relaunched in 1999 following DC's purchase of Wildstorm with Scott Lobdell writing and Travis Charest on art. It was a bimonthly book to accomodate Charest's slow pace. It was not good. It was a bad comic on almost every level--and, yeah, I'm including art, because, while Charest's work is pretty, it doesn't function well at telling a story. Pretty pictures are nice, but I want more out of my art.

The basic concept was that of a "non-team" that lacked direction, except Lobdell did his best to give it direction in the form of Kenyan--a human made immortal by Emp/Jacob Marlowe. So, the team is after him--the team consisting of: Emp, now a Kherubim high lord ready to ascend; Spartan, a near indestructible android with advanced strengths and other abilities; Grifter, Cole Cash, a guy with guns; and Noir, a gay French arms dealer with computer skills.

Other former WildC.A.T.S. show up like: Voodoo/Pris, a Daemonite half-breed who is sleeping on Maul/Jeremy's couch in Miami--he has the power to increase and decrease his mass and is working on a way to eliminate the alien genes from Pris's body as a surprise in an effort to get her to love him. There's also the dead Zealot, who Cole is all kinds of in love with. And Jeremy Reno/Warblade who had his girlfriend killed by Pike and then killed Pike. He is currently retired and living in New York.

Towards the end of Lobdell's run, Casey came on board to script a couple of issues over Lobdell's plots, but that didn't make them any better. In a few spots, Casey took the opportunity to make fun of the book (or, so I read certain pieces of dialogue). Lobdell stayed on the book until issue seven and Charest left after issue six, having only completed two full issues--three more involved another artist doing part of the issue and issue five had Bryan Hitch on fill-in. These issues act merely as a prelude to Casey's run.

Joe Casey took over the writing with issue eight and Sean Phillips came aboard on art. Their first arc was three issues and acted as a means of eliminating both Kenyan and Emp from the book, while also advancing Casey's pet themes for the book: post-superhumanity and what do soldiers do after the war is over? In these issues, Emp and Kenyan have a final face-off with Kenyan killing himself, while Spartan kills Emp to assist in his ascension. Additionally, Casey plays around with the conception of family, specifically juxtaposing Kenyan and Spartan as the two "sons" of Emp, one good and the other evil.

Following those issues, Casey continued to have Grifter and Spartan act as foils to one another as Grifter continues along his same path as a mercenary, while Spartan adapts the identity of Jacob Marlowe's nephew, Jack and takes over as head of Halo. He moves the company to Los Angeles and uses his superpowers rarely. A suit is now his costume. Casey also brought back former WildC.A.T.S. Ladytron (Maxine Manchester--a psychotic, foul-mouthed cyborg killer) and Void, who no longer has her human host.

In the story I was last discussing, Serial Boxes, there is a man killing women with the last name Marlowe. He is the grandson of a superpowered gangster who Emp put in a coma, and he inherited his grandfather's power to shoot fire from his eyes. He is Samuel "Slaughterhouse" Smith. He views his actions as a means to get at Jack Marlowe and continue the war between the families. Marlowe used his powers to stop a high speed chase and has attracted some attention. He has Noir and Void working on a project in Otherspace. Noir does not like Void. We've been introduced to Agents Wax and Mohr of the National Parks Service, a government branch that apparently handles superhuman-related crimes. Issue 15 ended with Smith hitting on Pris after she's been using Marlowe's credit card.

As I've said, some of the themes/ideas to look out for:

* Post-superhumanity--what comes after being a superhero?

* What happens to soldiers after the war is over?

* The conception of family: whether biological or created--and make no mistake, the people here are a family

If you want to read my posts on these issues, here are the links:

Issues 1-13 plus the 2000 annual and Ladytron special
Issues 14 and 15

On Thursday, I will resume this series of posts with Wildcats #16 and it will pick up its usual schedule of Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.