[Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug][/Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug] WildCATs #8-9 represent a two-issue breather after two substantial arcs (or, at least, substantial for the pre-writing for-trade 90s). The pair of issues are both extra-long, with a full-length Brandon Choi / Jim Lee A-story plus a substantial backup with art from Travis Charest (#8 is written by Steve Seagle and #9 by Jeff Mariotte).
Issue #8 slams the breaks on all the action so we can finally see these characters’ personalities develop. It’s not too effective considering they break into the obvious chunks – the already awesome Grifter/Zealot, the boring as dirt Warblade/Maul, and the slightly interesting Spartan/Voodoo AKA what if Cyclops was more of an unfeeling automaton and really did get with Psylocke.
The sad truth this arc brings to light is that WildCATs simply isn’t stocked with the right characters for good chemistry. I’d suggest that maybe I’m just not in the right mindset to appreciate early Image, except Choi is killing it on Stormwatch issue after issue!
The difference is all down to archetypes and how they are balanced.
Stormwatch certainly has them (the strong female 2nd-in-command, the huge and cheerful foreign tank, the taciturn Russian), but it also has the decidedly non-stereotypical Battalion as a point-of-view-character and relies on real-world intrigue blended with its fantasy. There are not one, but five bland, energy-projecting dudes that I cannot always tell apart, but they exist in the service of the story.
WildCats is a team that’s as deliberately-balanced as a football squad when it comes to powers (energy projection, psychic, strength, sharp bleedy things, guns). In terms of personality archetypes, there’s hardly anything to work with as we hit issue #8 (#12, if we count Trilogy and Special).
We have a lot of information about the complex relationship between Zealot and Grifter, and a hint of tension between Voodoo and Spartan, but little else to go on. The book continues to flatline whenever Grifter and Zealot aren’t on panel (and these issues give up Grifter in the opening pages so he can star in Kindred). The Spartan romance subplot is especially clunky because the book does such a bad job of defining just how sentient Spartan truly is.
What does work here is the streamlined plot – a single villain with a singular beef with Jacob Marlowe. Choi writes Lord Entropy like rogue fencepost that a tree grew around, where that tree is the modern world. He’s not the most interesting antagonist, but his actions raise the question – where are all the other pureblood Kherubim that didn’t wind up Coda like Zealot? Lord Entropy is one, and he’s got a twisted history with our Jacob Marlowe AKA Lord Emp. We’ve yet to meet any others, but even if they definitively lost the war there are bound to be a few.
The back-up tales in each book are a welcome chance to add depth and breadth to Voodoo and Warblade, respectively. Voodoo’s tale comes off more as a continuity-fix on her changing costume and attitude towards entering the fray. Warblade’s story does less plot heavy-lifting, but accomplishes more as a character piece.
Unless you are going all-in on a WildCATs re-read, I don’t think you need to pick up these issues. Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong later if Lord Entropy becomes a bigger plot point, but it seems like you could simply skip to the next arc or substitute The Kindred here.
Want the full details? Keep reading for a deeper breakdown of the plot. Here’s the schedule for the rest of this month’s WildStorm re-read. Though Grifter departs here for Kindred, before we get there we’ll read Union #1-4 and 0 tomorrow.
Need the issues? These issues have never before been collected! For single issues – try eBay (#6-8) or Amazon (#8 & 9 or 8 & 9 (try both)). Since further WildCATs series hit these same issue numbers, be sure to match your purchase to the cover images in this post.