Image Comics 30th Anniversary Review: Wild C.A.T.s Volume One Spoilers!

Image Comics 30th Anniversary Review follows.

Wild C.A.T.s Volume One Spoilers!

Wild C.A.T.s #1 debuted in 1992 and appears to be part of a three-way tie with Jim Valentino’s ShadowHawk #1 and Rob Liefeld’s second series debut in Brigade #1 as the fourth / fifth / sixth comic books released under the Image Comics icon, with it’s first mini-series’ issues collected in 2001.

This was the reread I was most looking forward to. While I was a Rob Liefeld fan first, from his 1988 work on the Hawk and Dove mini-series for DC Comics, I first encountered Jim Lee with his Uncanny X-Men #275 in 1991. I found that mutants in space arc compelling and Lee’s art quite clean, fresh and vibrant.

I devoured much of the X-Men line at the time with Whilce Portacio on Uncanny X-Men, Jim Lee moving to the adjectiveless X-Men, Rob Liefeld on X-Force, Larry Stroman and Joe Quesada on X-Factor and Marc Silvestri on Wolverine. At the same time other soon-to-be Image Comics founders would be at Marvel with Erik Larsen on Amazing Spider-Man, Todd McFarlane on the adjectiveless Spider-Man and Jim Valentino on a resurgent Guardians of the Galaxy. You’ll notice I only mentioned the artists, but in some cases they took on the writing roles too. In the early 1990s I think the focus began to be about art over story not art AND story. These artists were paired with writing titans at the time like Chris Claremont, Peter David, David Micheline to name a few.

I followed Lee to Image Comics and was intrigued by Wild C.A.T.s dubbed “Covert Action Teams”.

Wild C.A.T.s #1 synopsis.

A diminutive homeless man wakes up one day and realizes he’s actually an immortal alien warlord who has been at war for over a millennia. Jacob Marlowe forms the covert super-human squad known as WildC.A.T.s to battle the Daemonite hordes. As the story unfolds more and more players are drawn into the game and the stage is set for the final battle for the future of mankind.

The art in this collection is breathtaking and some of if not the best drawn opening salvo by an Image Comics founder in 1992.  However, I found the book to over scripted and the written explanations of all the various alien races to be a bit inaccessible.

I did like the legacy aspect and that hero and villain aliens had been on Earth for generations and their offspring with humans would continue the war that had been waged before.

I was reminded how heavily these opening issues, particularly the last 1/2 of this collection relied on Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood. It made sense as these were the government sponsored super-heroes of Image Comics and the evil aliens in the opening arc could also shapeshift and take over humans such as the sitting Vice President of the United States; therefore enter Youngblood.

There was your super-hero team vs. super-hero team misunderstanding battle, but surprisingly it was not protracted and Shaft of Youngblood decides to let the Wild C.A.T.s explain themselves and show proof that they aren’t villains’; the VP’s erratic behavior helped get Shaft there.

That said, an entertaining read that established the back story of the concept and the world these C.A.T.s operated in, delivered vibrant new character designs, and was most importantly a fund read. 7 out of 10.

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