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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 319: Wildstorm Rising #1

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!

Strike a pose!

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!

8 Comments

Well, it’s basically an issue of AvX, only populated with characters that nobody gives a crap about.

And yeah, I’m sure there are some fans out there who owe their love of comics to WildC.A.T.s, but I can’t pretend to understand that.

” And yeah, I’m sure there are some fans out there who owe their love of comics to WildC.A.T.s, but I can’t pretend to understand that. ”

It was in the style at the time, and it spoke to the needs and anxieties of early 1990s youth. Today admitting you liked WildCATs (pre Joe Casey, anyway) may be embarrassing, but no more so than admitting that you wore pre-ripped jeans or backwards caps or any other cultural emphemera from the era.

“1990s Wildstorm: The pre-ripped jeans of comics!” Think of the marketing campaign!

I don’t pay any attention to the numbers game of comics, but I do wonder how the Wildstorm-centric New 52 titles are selling compared to other series. Folding those characters into the DCU proper really seems like a “because nobody demanded it!” decision done just because Jim Lee is co-publisher.

So, either those groups of characters are standing on some stairs, or they are of wildly differing heights, some of them being giants and other being dwarfs… It’s sad to see a legendary artist like Windsor-Smith doing such a Leifeldian mistake.

Wow, when you mentioned Voodoo, I scrolled back up, and then noticed how fugly most of the women’s faces are. Jeez a loo.

BWS gotta eat too!

I think most of the Wildstorm nu52 books aren’t doing well — Voodoo ended with the zero issue, Grifter is ending soon. Dunno about Stormwatch. In theory Jim Lee wants to bring back Wildcats his own self, but he should pay attention to the fact that the only times the book was well regarded was when someone ELSE was writing it (Moore, Robinson, Casey, Morrison’s one issue). Maybe Johns would make it sell, but otherwise…

The New 52 Grifter series was a really excellent book, right up until Liefeld got involved. I’ve rarely seen a book go so downhill so quickly.

I read the first five issues of all the first-wave New 52 series, and thought all the Wildstorm-related stuff was pretty terrible (even Stormwatch, which was at least written by a writer I usually like). But then, as noted previously, I don’t give a crap about those characters to begin with, so I’m not the right audience for those titles–if indeed that audience exists.

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