Thursday, August 14, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: Wildcats Version 3.23

[Continuing my look at Joe Casey's Wildcats Version 3.0. After this, there's only one issue left and I'll discuss that on Saturday.]

Have I been too hard on these final issues and how this book ends? Have I been missing something that connects "Coda War One" to the larger themes and ideas? Have I not dug deep enough? Have I been a lazy, lazy man and a pretty awful critic/insightful commentator/academic?

Let's assume so, because that's much more fun than me just ranting about how awful an end to the series these issues are. That just leaves the question:


A couple of issues ago, I speculated that the book takes a regressive approach because of corporate pressures (which then become editorial pressures), that it looks to the action-filled issue of yore and figures that sales may pick up with more 'splode and less 'counting (short for accounting). That seems perfectly valid, but wouldn't Casey then try and sneak in some commentary on the action? He's not exactly the type to go cliche and mundane without some snide sarcasm on the cliched nature of the conventions he's playing into. That means I've most likely been missing the snide commentary.

Now, Cole Cash isn't self-aware enough to comment upon the conventions he acts within--most of the time. He has made the odd comment here and there, but never about his actions. He's crtiqued the hell out of Jack Marlowe's actions, though. The only one on Grifter's new Wildcats squad with the necessary objectivity to comment is Dolby, but he's so wrapped up in his own neuroses that he isn't objective. He himself is a comment on Cash, but it's an old comment that was made quite clear back around issue ten. He continues to make it here by not using weapons, but I have a hard time believing that Casey would rely only on Dolby's old point in this story. That leaves someone outside of the team, but I'm assuming FBI agents and Coda warriors don't really have that necessary objectivity either, so I'm going to focus on Marlowe and Agent Wax.

Conveniently because they're on the sidelines monitoring and commenting on the situation. Okay, so I didn't miss that, but I feel I should give you your money's worth and show off a little from time to time. Sadly, there's not much here. At first, it appears that Marlowe is content not to interfere, because he told Cash ahead of time that he wouldn't. He says that Cash knew the risks and went ahead anyway. Wax then gives a little speech on loyalty and reminds us that this isn't business, it's family. Marlowe reveals that he always intended to help and sets something off in Agent Orange's head, so he breaks free of his bonds and rescues Zealot. Then, Marlowe teleports elsewhere. Not much commentary.

Unless his actions are commentary. Agent Orange is in a position to help because of his forethought--and against Cash's objections. Cash knew the risks and said he didn't need Marlowe's help, but then claims different later. It's clear that Marlowe's involvement in "Coda War One" is a critique of Cash and his methods. Marlowe is meticulous and plans ahead; he's logical and thinks things through. Cash just jumps in with guns blazing and fucks things up. The parallel is made implicit through Cash's proxy use of the cyborg Ladytron body. In fact, Cole Cash isn't in any real danger. As far as I can tell, he's still in Los Angeles controlling Grifter Version 3.0. We haven't actually seen Cash since issue 20 and we don't see him again. He's just as protected as Marlowe--just as safe and distant. The only difference is the illusion of personal danger and involvement. I'm actually surprised we didn't get a scene where Cash exits the battle and goes to Marlowe's office to yell at him in person, to remind him of his obligation.

I've found Cash's use of Ladytron intriguing and I'm beginning to think that its replacement of him reflects Marlowe's replacement of Emp. And I wonder what Casey would have done with that had the series continued. Hmm. Guess we'll never know.

Next issue: the conclusion. About damn time, I know. I mean, I began discussing Wildcats back in March. That's a loooooooooong time, folks.