Time for another theme month. This month the theme shall be... teambooks. I've always enjoyed the dynamics involved in bringing together a gang of disparate characters and having them spark off each other in different ways especially when the characters in question aren't popular enough to have a comic of their own but when combined, stand more of a chance in a crowded marketplace. However this then proved something of a quandry when picking what Alan Moore series to kick the month off with. The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen would be his ultimate teambook, but I've ruled that out on the basis that I won't be able to find much new to say about it, same with Watchmen. And I've already covered Top Ten. After that, you're pretty much left with his run on the Image studio Wildstorm's property WildC.A.Ts which is one I will be covering, but which will need splitting into two parts to do justice to and I'm not in the mood to tackle it in depth just yet. However, Moore also penned a fourpart crossover miniseries where McFarlane Studio's Spawn and the Wildstorm universes WildC.A.T's teamed up, and so that's the one I have picked. Unfortunately it's really not very good, but thems the breaks. Even Moore's "not very good" can be interesting when looked at critically. This mini can be found in the collection - The Worst Of Alan Moore, I mean Alan Moore: Wild Worlds. The mini, first published in the year 1996 it is set mostly in the hellish, dystopian future of... 2015. Happy New Year by the way.
So, I have covered Spawn before, in my look at the issue of him guest starring Cerebus. Quick reminder, he was a black CIA operative who was killed and reincarnated as the demonlike Spawn by a Lord of Hell called Malebolgia. He lurks around streets and alleys in the dark, dealing out terminal justice to the dregs of society. The WildC.A.T.s (C.A.T.s - Covert Action Teams) are a team of heroes made up of Zealot, Grifter, Voodoo (yes THAT Voodoo), Spartan, Warblade, Maul, Void, Dasher, Prancer, Flopsy, Mopsy, Avarice, Lust, Pestilance, Sleepy, Dopey, Beaky, Mick and Titch. And Lord Emp, but he's hardly in it. This adventure, though published during Moore's run on the WildC.A.T.s' series, seems to be set before it as his time on the main series saw the team seperated for most of it's duration then rejigged towards the end. Readers of DC comics might recognise some of those names, because for the launch of the New52, the Wildstorm universe was folded into the DCU and Grifter and Voodoo briefly had titles of their own, while other characters like Zealot, popped up here and there.
|Warblade, Void, Maul, Voodoo, Grifter, Zealot, Spartan and Lord Emp. Just standing around all natural like.|
Lacking that art-flow the pace is dictated entirely by Moore's words and for some reason Moore has chosen to do something he tried to get rid of in comicbook story telling (and the reason why I find so much older comic book writing so hard to deal with), which is having everyone narrate what they are doing and thinking non-stop. Comics are a visual medium so this shouldn't really need to happen (if I want to see people standing around endlessly telling each other what they plan to do, I'll put on some shonen anime), but here I'll reluctantly accept it because the artists Scott Clark and Sal Regla are simply not up to the task of telling a coherent story with their art.
The story begins with some mystical folderol. Some bored Godlike beings drop a talisman through a dimensional hole and sit back to see what happens. We then join the WildC.A.T.s, Voodoo has a vision of the talisman though she brushes it off on her being unstable.
Voodoo: "You don't understand. It was the feeling that came with the image. I-it felt as if everything was coming apart. As if we were all in some kind of terrible danger."
|Look at Spawn, look at him! He's like the beefiest beef to ever have a beef. And the page feels strangely undynamic despite it's content due to the cluttered nature of the layout|
Spawn says he was attacked by two people calling themselves Grifter and Zealot, and that black Zealot fought exactly like white Zealot. Zealot says that it's impossible, no one could have mastered her "Coda" techniques without her knowing. Nevertheless says Spawn, black Zealot did fight like her, and Grifter was the same but older and slower. His attackers appeared in a silvery light and black Zealot actually got the upper hand against him, but before she could kill him, she stopped herself and the two of them ran off. Lord Emp wonders why the two of them did such a lousy job of impersonating Grifter and Zealot. Suddenly old Grifter and black Zealot appear:
Old Grifter: "We're no lousy imitation, Marlowe. We just come from a lousy place is all."
|Escher Girl Bingo: Snake woman, collar boobs, wtf clothing, battle bikini, rubber spine, runaway breasts, errant buttocks, atomic wedgie, damn we're just one traditional boob and butt pose away from a full house. (also that "youth speak"... LOL)|
Future!Zealot says she couldn't bring herself to kill Spawn as at this moment he is not guilty of the crimes of his future self. So they had another idea, bring the present WildC.A.T.s into the future to help take down the Ipsissimus together. Spawn also decides to tag along, which is a sensible idea that I am sure will in no way backfire on them, and Void beams all of them bar Lord Emp into the future. After a very turbulant ride through the time stream they arrive in the future of 2015 which I guess is supposed to look post-apocalyptic but the art doesn't really sell it very well at all.
Narrator: "New York 2015: The flag lunges and snaps like a starved mean dog. On the wind there is bad meat: Petrol, something like wet copper. The great crow banquet at fifth avenue, and the cremation fields of central park. Huge drifts of blow-fly husks on broadway. This is the torture marathon. These are the boulavards of smoke and mourning".
Before the gang can get to safety they run into two hugh demonic wise-cracking demons called Vindicator and Vandaliser who are related to Spawn's demon handler the Violator. They try to arrest the WildC.A.T's but a fight ensues. Maul grows to a large size (he gets less intellient the bigger he gets) and disables one, the rest disable the other. Unable to kill them, they nail their heads to the floor in the one grimly amusing bit of the story.
Vindicator: "It just ain't done! What about Columbo? What about Starsky and Hutch? No one ever nailed their brains to the floor!"
|Alan Moore also wrote a much better than this Violator miniseries which also starred this wise-cracking pair. Expect a look at that in the next couple of months.|
|I see Zealot/Tapestry's boobs are about twenty years younger than her face.|
The WildC.A.T.s arrive in a safehouse underground, wandering around Warblade and Voodoo stumble across the "memorial gallery" where two huge stone statues of them have been erected to commemorate them after their deaths. I have to wonder how they mananged to get a hold of someone who could create these massive statues when the world is a hell blasted landscape of dead humans, but whatever. Spawn is saddened.
Spawn: "God, this lonely mausoleum. I understand places like this. How could my future self cause such misery?"
|At least in a hell future, sculptors won't be out of a job.|
They decide to split their forces up, because splitting up always works and attack the Palace from three different points. Their allies tool up ready to attack as well. Warblade and Spartan take out two superhumans who sided with the Ipsissimus. While this happens Maul, Voodoo, Void and Future Spartan find themselves in the Seraglio. There the future Void stripped of her power recognises them. When the Troika attacks a mad Present day Void uses her powers to transport him outside the building, and as they are several hundred metres up he plummets to his death.
Tapestry, Zealot, Future Zealot and Spawn find themselves in the place where Lord Emp is imprisoned. As he is immortal he couldn't be executed by the Ipsissimus to he's chained up and mechanical birds feast on his innards. Tapestry helpful and bluntly tells up that it's just like Prometheus, and tells us the myth related to him because perish the thought the Image audience might get the reference without being told in detail. Sigh. Then they get him down, in another sequential art fail he was unharmed in the two-page spread but is suddenly caked in blood a couple of panels later. Anyway he is catatonic and no use to them.
|Do you get it readers, do you? Do you understand the reference now? DO YOU?! YOU IDIOTS!|
The Ipsissimus takes out present day Maul with a flick of his finger, he then mocks them and their plans. He shrinks down to their size after provoction from present day Spawn saying his size doesn't matter. The huge Maul then attacks the WildC.A.T.s and Grifter decides to end his suffering with a bullet to the brainpan. This makes the Ipsissimus mad and he blasts Grifter but in a very confusing panel, I think the future Spartan absorbed the blast. Sacrificing himself for Grifter. That's what the dialogue says, you'd never figure that out from the panels alone.
Back with the Ipsissimus things aren't going to well. He says he won't kill them now because he wants to torment them later on, so he plans to send them back with their memories wiped. Back in the present, Future Zealot asks Spawn to hand the talisman over, and Spawn is all, "well, NO." And he punches her. The Impsissimus tells the WildC.A.T.s exactly what is happening in the present, that this was when he began his reign of terror. Tapestry, boosted by Voodoo and Voids powers look for a thread of fate in the past/present that could change things. They find one and cut it.
|Spawn exercises his pimp slapping hand.|
Spawn: "Here take this.. maybe it'll you know all those birthdays I missed. Maybe somehow it'll make it up".
In the future the Ipsissimus roars that this should not be as he begins to disappear. So to do the rest of the future WildC.A.T.s as well as Cyan in the present taking the talisman with her. The present WildC.A.T's warp back in time leaving Future Grifter and Tapestry sharing a kiss as they finally wink out of existence.
|Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld. So I can sigh eternally.|
And that brings the miniseries to the end. A simple pre-destination paradox set in motion by bored Godlike beings. I think what really disappoints me about this story is how boring it is, how clumsy the dialogue is and how uninspired and by-the-numbers the plotting is. If you gave this to me to read without telling me who wrote it I never, ever would have guessed it was by Alan Moore. I realise he was doing work like this to fund stuff that was much closer to his heart like From Hell and Lost Girls, but he managed to create comics in the past that were aimed at a mass audience like his Superman and Green Lantern stories for DC without grossly underestimating the intelligence of his target audience. If I was an Image aligned reader at the time this came out I'd feel pretty annoyed and insulted by how little Moore seemed to think of me.
|And so the talisman is reclaimed. And nothing of value was learned. The end.|