Wilcats 3.0 Trade Post: Year One & Two

WILDCATS 3.0 YEAR ONE (Wildstorm/DC)
Written by Joe Casey, drawn by Dustin Nguyen
Collects Wildcats 3.0 #1-12
WILDCATS 3.0 YEAR TWO (Wildstorm/DC)
Written by Joe Casey, drawn by Dustin Nguyen, Sean Phillips, Pascal Ferry & Duncan Rouleau
Collects Wildcats 3.0 #13-24
Wildcats 3.0 is kind of a tough nut to crack. If you’re a scattershot WildCats fan like myself (in order to read the James Robinson and Alan Moore stuff, I read everything up to that point and then almost everything after 3.0) it might be a little confusing (you’ve got Grifter, a changed Spartan and a little bit of Zealot in addition to lots of other new characters). Essentially, I missed all of the second volume, so I have no idea where all the other characters are and aside from the ones I already mentioned, Ladytron and Emp, no one else is mentioned (nor are any other WildStorm characters for that matter).

The idea behind the book is that Spartan took over the Halo Corp from Emp and has decided to make it this huge, privately owned conglomerate whose main goal is to make the world a better place. It starts with batteries that never die and go on to cars that don’t need gas. Essentially, a good chunk of this book is corporate melodrama in the vein of an Aaron Sorkin behind-the-scenes TV show that happens to be set in a world with superheroes. It’s a really interesting take on the characters and the world that only seems to have been referenced a little since then (I remember Halo batteries being a hot commodity in the post-apocalyptic world of WildStorm leading up to the imprints cancellation, but also doesn’t take full advantage of the world it’s set in (like Sleeper did). This volume also just kind of ends without tying up too many loose ends. Since I wasn’t paying attention when these issues were coming out, I have no idea if the book’s end was performance based or an effort to move into other territories. I have read Wildcats: Nemesis which followed this series and I remember liking but don’t know how it all fits together. I’m going to flip through that, Captain Atom: Armageddon and Coup d’Etat again to get a better idea.

It’s too bad, really, because Casey really had some interesting ideas going on here. I think one of the problems with WildStorm was that they had all of these ground breaking stories written by excellent creators in books like Wildcats, Authority and Planetary, but they were still trying to keep everything together in a cohesive universe, which is difficult to do when one book is trying to change the world through a company and another through superhero actions. Sometimes combining the groundbreaking and the cohesive don’t always work.

You might be able to tell by this meandering review that I’m not quite sure what to make of this book. I liked it while I was reading it, but the ending was a bit strange and left me kind of flat. Making matters worse is that, it felt like there was a lot of wheelspinning in the first volume that does not play out at all by the end of the book. There’s this dude who’s an accountant that also has some hidden killing abilities. We never find out where these abilities came from. We also never really find out why we’re supposed to care about his former partner who had a lot of personal problems working for Spartan and having his company sold out from under him. So what if the dude wound up being in charge of a front for assassins if it’s never mentioned in the second volume? I had to read this annoying loudmouth for ISSUES and for what?

I’m also not completely sold on a lot of the new characters in this story. You’ve got this secret agent named Wax who bangs his bosses wife while under hypnosis and then makes her forget it, a spook named C.C. Rendozzo who’s supposed to be a pretty huge badass, but doesn’t do a whole lot, an incredibly annoying gangster hacker and a pair of BDSM killers who aren’t explained nor are they all that interesting. I’m sure I’m missing a lot by not having read the second volume, but it also seems like a more complete story would have that information slipped in here and there.

On the other hand, there were definitely elements I loved. Casey went into brand new territory as far as I know with the corporate angle, I just wish I could have seen where it was all leading. Casey also took one of the WildStorm’s biggest badasses, Grifter, and put him in a wheelchair which didn’t make him any less dangerous. I like seeing characters out of their element, but still figuring out a way to do what they do, and without giving too much away, he certainly does. There’s even a solid amount of action and pacing at the end of the second volume that’s a joy to read as GrifterTron and some of his new friends lay siege on the Coda warrior women to save Zealot.

Reading these two volumes reminded me a lot of Ex Machina. Both books take superhero elements but are more about other kinds of drama (corporate and political respectively), both involve lead characters (Spartan and Mitchell) seemingly with humanity’s best interest in mind and both have weak endings. Unlike with Ex Machina, though, I’m definitely keeping these books in my collection. I still have that collecting mentality when it comes to WildStorm U trades. I don’t need to keep them all out on a shelf, but I like to keep them. It’s kind of appealing the idea that most of this universe, from beginning to the-end-for-now is collected and can be read. I’d like to do a reading that’s in chronological order somewhere down the line. Like, maybe when the kid goes to college.