Thursday, June 12, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: Wildcats #25

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

The extra-sized 25th issue of Wildcats is an odd one as it doesn't advance the overall plot much. It's more of a breather as Jack Marlowe and Grifter assist Captain Pacheco in taking down the Smack Fairy.

Subplots are advanced, though: Pris and Jeremy in Miami with a shot of the beachcomber we know to be a Daemonite. Noir and the French mercenaries, preparing for their hostile takeover of Halo.

But, the focus here is on Pachecho who is addicted to Hype, the drug that gives the user superhuman reflexes. The issue opens with him confronted with a drug test at the police station and him having a panic attack.

The actual takedown of the Smach Fairy is relatively simple as Marlowe once again avoids the typical showdown by using his newly acquired abilities to simply teleport the Smack Fairy and his goons elsewhere, most likely somewhere they will not survive or even arrive alive.

This issue is an odd one as I'm not certain how it fits into the overall framework of the series. It again puts Marlowe in a "superhero situation" where he acts against the convention, but is that all? What does Pacheco involvement and addiction mean? As far as I can remember, this is the last we see of Pacheco (I haven't read Version 3.0 since it first came out, though, so I could be wrong), so why use him as such? He reminds Marlowe of his responsibilities, of his obligation to help his community. Pacheco means Los Angeles, but Marlowe isn't even human or from Earth--his community is bigger and so is his obligation. His abilities suggest a larger responsibility than removing drug dealers. Perhaps, Pacheco is here to provide one part of Marlowe's inspiration for the future of Halo.

And if Pacheco provides one part, Noir provides the other. The issue ends with Noir making his move as the French brothers ambush Grifter and Noir has a newly rebuilt Ladytron attack Marlowe.

When Noir confronts Marlowe, he delivers a monologue that is almost explicit in where Casey wants to take Halo and Marlowe: "THE THING IS... I'V BEEN WATCHING YOU VERY CAREFULLY THESE PAST MONTHS... / ...WATCHING AS YOU'VE COMPLETELY SQUANDERED THIS OPPORTUNITY... FUMBLING ALONG IN SOME SIC LOYALTY TO A DEAD ALIEN MENTOR. / WHO, I MIGHT ADD, NEVER KNEW HOW TO EXPLOIT THIS SITUATION EITHER. / SOMEONE HAS TO TAKE THE REINS OF THIS CORPORATION... SOMEONE WITH VISION. / IT'S CERTAINLY NOT YOU." Noir throws Marlowe's past in his face--something Marlowe has insisted he's put behind him, buried. But, has he? For all his talk about the future, has he really done anything that progressive? He keeps getting caught up in these "superhero situations" like the one in this very issue--even at the expense of business like in the first part of "Serial Boxes." Noir is an agent of change for Marlowe--he is a typical supervillain, but the active nature of the villain is what Marlowe needs, what he will learn from.

But, that's next issue.