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Wildcats #30

“Bad Medicine 4 of 4: In Practice” (No Spoilers)

Writer: Adam Beechen
Pencils: Mike S. Miller
Colors: Carlos Badilla
Letters: Wes Abbott
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editor: Jim Chadwick
Cover: Jheremy Raapack & Richard Friend

“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”

– R.E.M.

I am completely serious when I say this song came on the radio when I was driving home from the comic shop after picking up this issue. You may not believe it but it is absolutely true. I couldn’t help but smile when it did. But that phrase perfectly describes how I felt about this issue. I think it was a great wrap-up issue not only to Wildcats as a series, but the Wildstorm Universe in general.

It’s hard to imagine it’s been 18 years since the first issue of Wildcats. There have been many restarts and false starts for this book over the years but despite it all, I’ve always enjoyed the book. So I’m happy to say I think they pulled off a great final issue. Adam Beechen has helped tell a truly epic story to end the Wildstorm Universe. Even though the world has already been through Armageddon, that didn’t stop Beechen and company from coming up with more ways to torture the poor Earth. Beechen did an incredible job of bringing characters old and new together for the WSU’s swan song. Knowing that the books were ending made the story that much more dire because you knew anything could happen since future stories didn’t have to be taken into account.

There’s also the fact that it seems Beechen worked closely with The Authority writer Tom Taylor to come up with the ending. The Authority’s final issue flows perfectly into this one as we learn who the Earth’s new Doctor is and we witness their role in the story. There were also several reunions for most of the characters and that was a lot of fun to see. Ultimately, I think the resolution to the story was very unique. The resolution also brought together several stories that have been building up since World’s End so I applaud Beechen for doing his homework and digging up some of those plotlines.

Speaking of plotlines, Beechen did warn that some plotlines would not be resolved because he did not find out about Wildstorm’s closure in time. However, I think he did a great job of addressing these plotlines and the fact they were left unresolved to me is more realistic. It drives home the point that these stories never truly end but there is still a feeling of closure despite the unresolved plotlines. There is also a great series of panels that show us what our favorite characters are doing and Beechen made sure to insert lots of little nods to long-time Wildstorm fans; something he’s done during his entire run.

I cannot end my final Wildcats review without talking about Mike Miller’s art. We got to see his work over in The Authority first and now he gets the honor of illustrating the final issue of Wildcats. He was able to draw some incredible scenes, including several full pages of some very memorable moments. He also did a great job of illustrating what I call the “wrap-up” panels which show our heroes around the world. It’s a shame we won’t get to see more of his art in the WSU but I’m glad we got what we did.

Well, turn out the lights, the party’s over. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. The Wildstorm Universe as we know it is no more. As bittersweet as it is I’m just thankful the creators found out in time to give us some closure here with the story. I grew up following this universe so it’ll always carry a special place in my heart. So, raise your glasses and drink one for the good old Wildstorm U! I know this fan with surely miss it.

The Authority #29

“Change, Not Die” (No Spoilers)

Writer: Tom Taylor
Plot Assist: Adam Warren
Pencils: Al Barrionuevo & Kevin West
Colors: Eltaeb with Royer & Mayor
Letters: Wes Abbott
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editor: Jim Chadwick
Cover: Jheremy Raapack, Richard Friend, & Wes Hartman

The end of the Wildstorm Universe is here and the first title to bow out in the imprint’s final month is one of its most popular and controversial titles: The Authority. My personal history with The Authority is bittersweet. I thought they were great when Warren Ellis first brought them on the scene but then I quickly lost my taste for them as they seemed to fall into a cycle of shock-value stories instead of stories that simply had some value. Then Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (affectionately known to fans as DnA) came along with the World’s End storyline and made me like The Authority again. In the end it was a short reunion but I’m glad I could enjoy this team once again before the end.

Writer Tom Taylor took the reins of this title earlier this year when the previous creative team left prematurely. Taylor quickly showed that he was going to have a lot of fun with this title. And have fun he did! Where DnA’s run was very somber and humbling for these heroes, Taylor took the lessons from DnA’s run and made sure The Authority did not forget them. I was worried that Taylor might not have gotten the news about Wildstorm’s closing until it was too late to change the end of his Authority run. But based on the way this issue was presented, it seems that he did. Taylor has the characters offer some great reflections on what it means to be a hero. This could have easily been something that could’ve turned out corny and preachy. But I think Taylor picked the perfect character to convey the message. It was a thoughtful commentary on the superhero genre in general and made excellent allusions to the end of Wildstorm itself. Even the title of the issue was highly appropriate and a brilliant callback to Ellis’ run where it all started.

The run has also had two amazing artists in Al Barrionuevo, who took the majority of the issues, and Mike Miller who took two of the issues. On top of that, we get a third artist helping finish off this final issue with Kevin West. I don’t know where he came from but I really enjoyed the few pages he got. He definitely got to illustrate one of the best moments in the issue (see Flint and Grifter). We even got an impressive spilt cover by artist Jheremy Raapack. But Barrionuevo ended this issue in style as he got to illustrate some epic pieces as well. Plus he got to provide a great cliffhanger! That’s right, it’s the final issue and it had a cliffhanger! How will this get resolved since the title was cancelled you ask? Well, it seems that Taylor coordinated with writer Adam Beechen over in Wildcats to have this Authority issue lead directly into the final issue of Wildcats (#30). This was also highly appropriate because both runs at the beginning of the year began together before they split into their different stories. So it’s nice to see them come back together for the finale.

Well, that’s one Wildstorm title buried. But I have to say as a final issue I enjoyed it very much. I felt like it wound down and resolved Taylor’s story nicely and did well to let itself be lead into the final issue of Wildcats. Although December will be a month of goodbyes to the heroes of the Wildstorm Universe, I’m glad that we’ve got a great group of creators that gave it their all in these last issues. Thanks for a great run guys!

Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave #4

“Homecoming-Part 4: Home to Roost” (No Spoilers)

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Horacio Domingues
Colors: Jonny Rench
Letters: Travis Lanham
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Cover: Neil Googe

Simone’s normally quaint little town of Tranquility gets a little ‘Silence of the Lambs’ injected into it this issue. As the superhero citizens of the town learn the identity of the villain that’s been on the attack things get a little tense.

Simone has introduced a great new villain during this series. He has proven himself to be a true threat even to the more powerful residents of Tranquility. His motivations also take a darker tone this issue as Sheriff Lindo reveals a past connection she has with the villain.

We do get some great action pieces in this issue, especially from some of the characters that you normally wouldn’t expect it from. It’s this sense of the situation truly becoming dire that has kicked this story up a notch. One character’s future is already in question and it seems that anyone who encounters this villain isn’t fairing any better.

Domingues’ art does have its moments. He gets to draw some great action this issue. There’s also the arrival of a hero who I think will mean more to people who read the first Tranquility series. It was great to see him in action again.

Simone also does a great juxtaposition of the events towards the end which (without spoiling anything) involved the villain taking on the returning hero while a little girl reads a comic book with Pink Bunny. It’s a very cool moment and I thought Simone did a great job with it.

I have to hold my rating steady for this one. This has been a great little mini-series so far and I know with two issues left we’ve still got room for a lot more Gail Simone goodness!

8 out of 10 (On its way to greatness!)

The Authority #27

“Slaughter Moon” (No Spoilers)

Writer: Tom Taylor
Plot Assist: Adam Warren
Pencils: Al Barrionuevo
Colors: Gabe Eltaeb
Letters: Wes Abbott
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editor: Jim Chadwick
Cover: Dave Gibbons & Kevin Nowlan
Variant Cover: Andy Park

The Authority really got back on track with this issue story-wise. Where I felt the last issue went by way too fast, I liked the pattern this one laid out. It did a good job of juggling the two groups of the heroes and kept the story moving along nicely.

I won’t spoil it but I will say we finally get the origin of The Carrier this issue. It’s an interesting concept but ultimately I wasn’t blow away by the revelation like I was hoping I was. I think it was mainly because the explanation surrounding the alien race was something I’ve heard in other stories. If it weren’t for that, I think I would’ve appreciated the origin story more. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not a bad origin at all. It’s just something I’ve seen before countless times in science fiction.

But like I stated earlier, I did enjoy the pacing of the issue a lot more this time. If I had any quips about the issue it’s a gag they do with River where he gets a full page that I just thought was ok. I know it was supposed to be funny but it felt a little forced. Other than that, I loved the interaction with the characters and I’ve still enjoying Al Barrionuevo’s art.

I will give Tom Taylor credit for a very intriguing cliffhanger. As with the other WSU titles, as we begin the countdown to December I hope a lot of these plotlines get resolved. I’m anxious to see how this all concludes.

7 out of 10 (Above Average)