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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!

Sparta U.S.A. #6

“Beyond the Mountain” (No Spoilers)

Writer: David Lapham
Pencils: Johnny Timmons
Colors: Darlene Royer
Letters: Wes Abbott
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Cover: Johnny Timmons

Why? Why? Why! Why did we have to waste so much time on those first four issues when there was such a great story to be told here at the end? The final issue of Sparta is what this entire series should have been, compelling, action-packed, and spinning off of what turns out to be a very cool premise!

This story could’ve easily been told in three issues, maybe four, but certainly not the six we got. Issue 1 was good as an introduction to this world, Issue 2 did a little better at setting up the mystery and solidifying the characters, but I could’ve completely ignored Issue 3 and 4 and just skipped to 5 and 6. I’m all for setting up characters, especially when you’re introducing a unique world like this, but there is such a thing as too much set up. I feel like I’ve sat through an hour and a half worth of a lackluster movie only for the last 30 minutes to be totally awesome!

In these last two issues this series has gone from being a David Lynch film to being Red Dawn. There has been great action and the showcase of magic has increased substantially in this issue. The magic in this world was something that was never fully explained but up until this issue was also not used much either. It is something that I wish would’ve been explored more.

I will say that the secret behind the town is pretty cool and makes the revelation of who the Maestro is from last issue make a lot more sense. There is a lot more allusion to the famous Battle of Thermopylae. I kind of felt like Lapham was forcing it into the story because at this point it’s obvious he was alluding to it already. He could’ve left out any mention of it and I think people still would’ve gotten it.

So, what are my overall thoughts on this series? I’d say it was just okay. All the awesome stuff at the end is not enough to justify getting through those early issues. Even if you read this in trade you’d realize that the story drags in the middle. But the plus side to having the entire story in your hands is that you can flip to the end and see all the great stuff that happens. Lapham does leave it open for a sequel though. I’d hope now that the town’s portion of this story seems to be done that Lapham will take the strengths of these last few issues and do something really good with it in a future series.

7 out of 10 (Above Average)

Wildcats #24 - Cover

Wildcats #24

“The Protectorate 2 of 3: Inside Men” (No Spoilers)

Writer: Adam Beechen
Pencils: Tim Seeley
Inks: Ryan Winn
Colors: Carlos Badilla
Letters: Wes Abbott
Assistant Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editor: Scott Peterson
Cover: Philip Tan

I cannot believe how much story Beechen and Seeley pack into each issue. There is so much going on in these 22 pages I don’t know how they’re not making me feel cheated. But somehow, they’re doing it every month!

If there is one story that gets more screen time than the others, it’s Midnighter’s investigation of Zealot and her activities. During the parts of the issue that constitute Midnighter and Zealot’s story, we get a quick fight between Midnighter and someone (if you saw the preview you know who it is), we get to see Midnighter show some great emotion when he learns Zealot’s true plans, and finally we get a great cliffhanger which is going to set up an amazing fight next issue.

Plus we FINALLY get to see the new character Aeon (not a spoiler, he’s listed in the enormous group shot in Wildcats #22). We don’t get much other than him swooping in and rescuing two of characters but I’m just glad he’s finally in the story so we can all start speculating who he really is (I’m placing my bets on Max Faraday).

We also get some insight into Majestic’s predicament which I thought raised some interesting questions. It also eased my concerns about how Nemesis acted last issue.

Finally, long-time Wildcats fans will cheer as we get the return of some classic Wildcats villains (3 to be exact, hint, hint). It was so cool to see them again.

Tim Seeley continues to do an incredible job with the art. Every character here looks exactly like they should. Seeley just gets these characters visually.

We’ve got two set-ups for some good fights next issue here. Like I said, I’m eager to find out more about the character Aeon and see where this creative team will take the story after these two big fights.

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