Wildcats Version 3.0 #1 (October, 2002)
Writer – Joe Casey
Pencils – Dustin Nguyen
Inks – Richard Friend
Colors – Larry Molinar & Randy Mayor of WildStormFX
Letters – Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Editor – John Layman
Cover Price: $2.95
Still in a bit of a WildStormy mood… today we’ll be looking at a series which, as it was hitting the shelves, was almost constantly being touted as being “ahead of its time”.
Let’s see if it fits in better… some 16 years later!
We open in Vietnam, where Cole Cash is crashing a hoi-poloi party on behalf of Jack Marlowe’s Halo Corporation. He offers his card to a Truong Chi Linh to discuss “something like” manufacturing needs… more on this in a bit. After a brief shot of Marlowe flying through space, we settle on a scene wherein an Agent Wax gets his job back with the National Park Service… but it placed on desk duty. More on him in a bit too!
Wax looks… well, pretty indifferent, actually. He leaves Agent Downs’ office and heads… to the cubical farm. It’s only here that he shows a little bit of emotion. It sure doesn’t look like he’s happy to be back!
We shift scenes to the Halo Corporation in Los Angeles, and Jack Marlowe has just arrived. He holds a meeting with his staff, during which he expresses the importance of “building the brand” to better the world… something his predecessor, Jacob Marlowe didn’t find too important. Worth mentioning, “Jack Marlowe” is an identity taken on by former WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams leader, Spartan.
Jack describes Halo’s goal as “conquest of the free world… figuratively speaking, of course”… which, not gonna lie, sounds a bit ominous. Speaking of ominous, we hop back over to Vietnam, where Cash has just thrown a female assassin out a window.
Grifter calls in to Halo and demands a body-slide back to his hotel… which he gets immediately, much to his embarrassment. Ya see, Cole isn’t exactly dressed… or dressed at all, really!
After an awkward elevator ride, Cole heads back to his room… and suits up for work.
Elsewhere, Agent Wax infiltrates a top secret area in order to find out some information regarding a missing FBI Agent… ya see, he’s kinda working for Marlowe and Halo on the down-low.
Back in Los Angeles, Marlowe informs an accounting firm that he just bought them outright. They attempt to counsel him on running the corporation, and suggest going public. Jack says no dice, Halo will always be privately-owned. Then the concern about some “questionable” practices being employed in some factories in Vietnam… to which, he says he’s already looking into it.
In fact, our next stop is back to Vietnam, where Grifter is “meeting” with that Truong Chi Linh from earlier. Ya see, this guy uses child labor to keep prices down, a big no-no. Chi Linh pushes the blame back on the Americans for actually hiring him to run the factory the way he does. Can’t say he isn’t completely without a point. Grifter lets the child-labor-force beat the crap out of their old boss before body-sliding out. I’m guessing we’re not supposed to worry about what happens next?
We shift scenes to a Washington, D.C. Superhero Sex Club (this is Joe Casey, after all) where some bad stuff just went down. Just then, Agent Wax of the National Park Service shows up to investigate the scene.
Well, he’s “officially” here to hand off some information on the perpetrator… which, as his contact tells him, could’ve been done via email. Wax receives a call from Agent Downs… who ain’t happy to find out his new-hire is back in “the field”, especially when he’d been tossed on desk-duty for the moment. Wax apologizes… and hails a cab driven by a dude with sinister eyes.
Wax is dropped off at Capital City Brewery, where he meets up with… Cole Cash. Wax explains the situation regarding the missing FBI Agent to Cash… and informs him that Marlowe has made that their top priority. They discuss what “specific agenda” ol’ Jack might have… and after performing some research on the Halo Corporation, Wax doesn’t seem to be all that comfortable.
Next, we’re off to the Florida Keys… where a Mr. Carver is escorted by a pair of heavily-armed guards to meet with a C.C. Rendozzo. He hands over a disc with information regarding the missing FBI Agent… and claims his bounty for the gig. Rendozzo then reveals that not only did she put the bounty out for the info… she’s actually claiming the bounty on Carver’s own head! So, yeah… she blows his brains out… and keeps her cash! Seems like she has personal reasons for seeking out this information.
We wrap up with a commercial for Halo-branded batteries… batteries that last forever!
I like this… like it a lot, though I can definitely see why it might’ve been under-appreciated back in 2002. Not so much that it was “ahead of its time”, but it just defied expectations. I mean, this is the same title that was part of the bombastic and “extreme” Image launch back in 1992. Version 3.0 is a completely different animal… while (rather creatively) remaining true to its roots.
Thinking back to the turn of the century… this isn’t nearly as “novel” as I recall. Seemed like a lot of books (from WildStorm especially) were built upon corporate intrigue… and shadowy pseudo-government agencies. This is really just more of that, but I will say, it’s done exceptionally well.
The missing FBI Agent plot seems like it will be the focus of this first arc… and it’s as good a plot as any. I definitely appreciate how far-reaching it was depicted to be… seems there’s a lotta folks with a vested interest in finding them.
There isn’t much more to say… because, at the moment most of what we’ve got is breadcrumbs. They’re interesting, to be sure… and certainly more engaging than those we’d gotten in the first issue of the first series. I’d say the only thing I was kinda “ehh” with was, Grifter leaving those poor children beating up old whatshisface. I mean, what happens next? Do they just… disperse? Go back to work? Get abducted? Who knows?!
Everything else though? I’m on board! I dig Jack trying to use the Corporation to make the world a better place… even if he’s not entirely altruistic with the gesture. Of the few things I remember about this volume is that there are everlasting batteries. I don’t remember what happens with them, but that’s stuck with me… and I’m looking forward to seeing what goes down.
Overall, I’d say this is definitely worth checking out. Worth noting, the art is pretty fantastic… and even though Agent Wax and Grifter are both broad-shouldered dudes with blonde hair… I was able to tell them apart each time (I was initially afraid I’d get them mixed up). This issue (and series) is available digitally… at only a buck-a-piece.
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