Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Wildstorm Rising #1, which was published by Image (under the Wildstorm imprint) and is cover dated May 1995. This scan is from the trade paperback James Robison’s Complete WildC.A.T.s, which was published by DC (which by then owned Wildstorm) in 2009. Enjoy!
James Robinson wrote some decent WildC.A.T.s comics, as decent as WildC.A.T.s comics from the mid-1990s can be, I suppose (even Alan Moore couldn’t quite make them great), and for Wildstorm Rising, Jim Lee (presumably) hired Barry Windsor-Smith to draw (and co-plot), so this is a really nice-looking comic that’s basically an issue of AvX. I like the synopsis on Grand Comics Database: “Believing them to be responsible for Battalion’s death, Brigade attacks the WildC.A.T.S and the two teams beat the stuffing out of each other; Hightower uses this spectacular distraction to steal an ancient key from a museum exhibit.” Okay, so it’s not Brigade, it’s StormWatch, but that’s a fine description. On the next page, the fight begins, and yes, stuffing is beaten out of everyone. Good times!
On this page, Robinson really only has to set up a feeling of tension, as if a trap is about to spring shut. Robinson, even at his absolute best, enjoys some purple prose, so we get narrative boxes about storms about to start, because that’s what the fight is like, you see? Yeah – subtle. The letterer – it’s Comicraft, so it could have been any number of actual people – or Windsor-Smith puts the caption boxes in good places, because the final one leads us to the next page, but the whole storm thing … yeah. On the left side of the panel are the WildC.A.T.s, and the only person we can identify from the text is Hadrian, who answers when Voodoo (yes, that’s Voodoo) asks him a question. Hadrian – or Spartan, if you want to give him his code name – seems to be the leader, because crazy-haired dude there (Warblade, right?) doesn’t know what to do, and it seems like everyone is deferring to Spartan. His dialogue continues to Panel 2, where we see StormWatch, and I guess that’s Diva talking, and she seems to be the leader as well. Obviously, these two teams are close enough to hear each other, and it seems like they’re facing each other. So – all is pretty clear.
Windsor-Smith is what we like to call a great artist, and this issue looks spectacular. He doesn’t have much to do on this particular page except draw a bunch of characters glowering, so that’s all he does. Warblade looks a little perplexed, which makes sense as he’s asking the question, Hadrian looks determined, Zealot … I’m not sure what Zealot is doing, but she’s probably angry – she’s Zealot! Meanwhile, everyone in StormWatch looks pretty angry. Oh, it’s on, motherfuckers! With the exception of contrasting Maul and Fuji at the back, there’s not much in the way of parallelism in this page, but that’s okay. Fahrenheit’s boobs look enormous, though. What’s up with that?
Unfortunately, this first page doesn’t give much of an indication of how beautiful this issue is, except for the fact that Windsor-Smith knows how to draw. It does the job, I suppose – it shows all the fighters in a standard group shot so that we can follow them through the fight. It’s awfully pretty, though, even if it’s not too dynamic!
Next: Oh, the Justice League. So many incarnations to choose from. Which will it be???? You can find at least two other versions of the team in the archives!
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