Wildcats Version 3.0 Year One
Writer: Joe Casey
Penciler: Dustin Nguyen
Inker: Richard Friend
Colors: Wildstorm FX: Randy Mayor, Larry Molinar and Wendy Broome
Letterers: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Release Date: Sept. 22th 2010
Wildcats Version 3.0 Year One is about super heroes changing the way they save the world. Wildcats 3.0 actively seeks to set itself apart from that world by asking how superheroes could better serve the world. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t action scenes and classic super hero comic stuff. They just aren’t the focus of the book. Are super heroes really doing that much good by punching out bad guys and getting into gun fights? Could these genius heroes be using their powers and resources in other ways that could make a difference on a global scale? Most super heroes fight to keep the status quo. Superman stops the alien invasion so Metropolis can keep running like normal. Spider-Man stops Doctor Octopus from wrecking New York so that people can go on living their lives. Jack Marlowe of Wildcats decides that in order to save the world he must change the status quo. To do it he will use the most powerful weapons in the world, money and corporations.
The story of Wildcats Version 3.0 Year One is huge. It collects issues 1-12 of the series and has many plot lines that twist and turn with each other.
The main focus of the book is Jack Marlowe. A small bio at the beginning of the book lets new readers know that Marlowe is an alien/biosynthetic humanoid warrior formerly known as Spartan. The story revolves around Marlowe’s newest venture, the Halo Corporation. Marlowe wants to save the world. He has seen something in humanity that is worth saving. So he looks for the most efficient way to change the world for the better. The Halo Corporation is the weapon he chooses.
Corporations are huge entities that affect everyone’s life. Nearly every product that we buy is sold to us by a corporation. Every time we watch TV, drive on a highway, turn on the radio, go on the internet or even read a comic book we are bombarded by ads from these corporations. Marlowe sees this affect on nearly every person on the planet. He also sees that every corporation uses their huge power and influence only to make more money. With Halo, Marlowe is going to use that power and influence to change the world and he is determined to have Halo become the biggest corporation of them all. Throughout the book we see how Marlowe uses his vast resources, ads, other companies and anything else he can to expand the Halo brand. You see Marlowe slowly achieving his master plan, although what that plan exactly is stays in the dark.
Grifter represents the old way of doing super hero business. He is a former mercenary that has known Marlowe for a long time. Now he works for him by handling the dirty side of Halo’s business. Marlowe wishes he didn’t need Grifter but realizes that he needs to do some things in the shadows in order to change the world. Grifter is the most classic super hero of the book. He is cool and gruff. He blows stuff up and has a cool costume (although I do love Marlowe’s shiny suit). He gets most of the big action scenes in the book. As the book progresses though, he starts to become obsolete. Grifter is in the trenches but Marlowe is the one who is going to affect the world. Eventually he goes on a mission that completely takes him out of the game. Fans of Hit Girl from Kick-Ass should definitely check out that scene. People like Grifter may not be necessary in this new world that Marlowe is building, but right now Marlowe needs people like him.
Two of the most interesting characters in the book are two accountants that work for Marlowe. One of the accountants, Mr. Dolby, dives head first into Halo’s brand new world. He starts as just an accountant but through his hard work, brilliant mind and willingness to help he becomes one of Halo’s top workers and Marlowe’s most trusted business advisor. Dolby gets dragged into Grifter’s work but they both find out the hard way that he isn’t cut out for it. The new heroes aren’t going to live in Grifter’s world. They are going to live in Marlowe’s.
The other accountant, Mr. Garfield, is stuck in the past. He is angry at Marlowe and wants things to stay how they are. He doesn’t want to evolve. He becomes angrier and more miserable by the day. Eventually he snaps from the pressure and does something that will ruin his life forever. It would have, except that Marlowe needs Garfield and uses his immense power and influence to help him. Finally, Garfield accepts the changes that are happening and it gives him purpose.
The scope of the book is huge. There are lots of moving parts but nothing ever feels out of place. Joe Casey has done a great job of making things like gunfights between super heroes and FBI trained killer families fit together with corporate meetings and television interviews. They do more than fit together. Each story line grows with each other and helps the others. The quieter parts of the story work just as well as the bigger action scenes too. They suck you in so you are interested in how Halo is growing.
The mix between quiet scenes and big action scenes is good. After reading a bit about Marlowe expanding the brand you will see Grifter blowing up a building and saving people. After seeing Grifter fighting an FBI super agent you will see Dolby and Garfield talking about their new jobs and how they are dealing with them.
The art throughout the book is great. It is hard to make two people talking at a table visually interesting but they make it work. Character faces are expressive so you can tell what they are thinking even without words. Each character is visually distinct from the others even without colorful super hero outfits on. The action is great as well. It is clear what is happening at all times. In one particular scene I could almost feel Grifter getting slammed into the wall.
If you are getting this book, be warned that the storylines are not all wrapped up by the end of these 12 issues. I know that there is more to the story after this book so not everything would be wrapped up, but I felt that some of the storylines could have had more closure. Some of the storylines felt like they were going to come to an end but they will instead simply not show up for long periods of time. I also would have liked to see some more of how Halo will change the world for the better, but leaving that open adds to the mystery.
One other complaint I have has to do with a specific plot in the story. One character in the story has the power to control people through hypnotization. He uses this power to essentially rape another character in the story. They try to soften his actions by making this character a horribly stuck up person and making her husband an asshole, but it is still rape. I am not complaining about that part of the story but I didn’t like how lightly it is treated by the writers and the character himself. It left a bad taste in my mouth every time it came up. I’m not sure if or how it is handled in later issues of this story but within this book I didn’t like how lightly it is handled.
Overall (congrats on reading this far!) Wildcats Version 3.0 Year One is a great book. It asks a question that is seldom asked of super heroes. What else could they be doing besides punching people in the face? The story is big but it never feels lost and neither do you as the reader. The cast is full of interesting characters that you want to know about. The art is fantastic from cover to cover. The best thing I can say about it is that it makes me want to read about year two of the Halo Corporation’s plan to change the world.
Pictures via DC Comics