SCRIPT: Whilce Portacio & Brandon Choi
PENCILS: Whilce Portacio
INKS: Scott Williams, John Tighe, John Dickenson & Rick Johnson
COLORS: Joe Chiodo, Monica Bennett & Martin Jimenez
COVER: Whilce Portacio & Scott Williams
We've got a 90's special gimmick triple fold out cover here, folks! And it's. . .pretty impressive!
Yeah, it's got straps a-plenty. It's got gun arms. It's got bandoliers everywhere. There's those strange 90's head thingy's that aren't really a mask, but sort of are? Is there even a word for them? But even though there's a checklist of everything people hate about 90's comics, it works here.
The cover is basically a hero pose montage of the main group of characters, and I have to admit, it's a pretty good one. I think it's the great colors that makes this work so well. The shiny gold of the symbiotes really catch the eye and make this cover stand out.
It ain't the greatest comic cover ever, but it's not bad for what it is. Let's get inside!
We begin our tale aboard a high-tech stealth transport over the Balkans. Inside is America's most elite covert ops squad, Team 7, on their way to a secret mission they know little to nothing about. . .
As they discuss their possible reasons for being over Transylvania, the leader of Team 7, Lt. Col. Jackson Dane, gives the team a more detailed briefing. Their mission is to infiltrate a terrorist faction's secret base and retrieve a highly-contagious biological weapon that they plan on unleashing on Europe at any cost.
MEANWHILE, IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
Miles Craven, leader of I.O. (International Operations) and the world's most obvious villain, is arguing with Admiral Halsey (Commanding officer of Team 7) over the lack of information being given to his Team. Craven informs him that there's much bigger stakes than Halsey can imagine, and when the Admiral sees the information Craven gives him, he agrees that Team 7 is expendable, if need be.
BACK IN TRANSYLVANIA. . .
Team 7's Cyber-Enhanced liaison officer (Code Named "Mother One") observes the squad as they deploy near their target and begin their recon of the area. We learn that she is also in charge of a "Cleaner" unit that is tasked with disposing of anyone, enemy OR friendly, that makes it out of the secret base alive.
As Team 7 makes their way into the hidden terrorist base, they're surprised to discover that someone has gotten there before them. The base's defenses are down and there's evidence of a massive battle having recently taken place.
As they investigate, the demolition charges they are carrying suddenly activate on their own! Seeing that they only have 10 minutes before the explosives go off, the team hurries toward the main laboratory, determined to accomplish their mission in the short time they have. . .
As the team bursts into the seemingly-deserted laboratory, they discover large tubes filled with some sort of golden liquid. Dane suspects the team has been led into a trap, but continues with the mission, ordering his squad to set the charges, which are still counting down to detonation. . .
As Team 7 goes about the task of setting the demolition charges, a mysterious woman pops out of a vent and shoots one of the tubes, rupturing it and causing the golden fluid to splash onto Claymore, one of Team 7's heavy weapons experts!
As the mysterious fluid covers Claymore with a golden skin, two gunmen attack Team 7! Their bullets bounce harmlessly off of Claymore, enabling the rest of the team to quickly take down the ambushers. But they soon discover that the attackers aren't Transylvanian terrorists. . .from the damage they were able to take before they died, Dane has doubts they are even human!
Before they can investigate further, they are attacked by a larger force. Dane decides that there's too much going on that they don't know about and decides to scrap the mission and fight their way out of the base before the demolition charges detonate. The team quickly realizes that they are surrounded and they're going to have to resort to desperate measures to make it out alive. . .
As Claymore uses his new bulletproof skin to try and clear a path for the rest of the team, the Demolition charges finally detonate! He is horrified to realize after the massive explosion that he is probably the only one who managed to escape the laboratory. . .
BUT. . .
The rest of Team 7 soon arrives to help Claymore finish fighting his way through the strangely-inhuman fighters that have him surrounded. Realizing their impending fate, Dane took a risk and commanded the other tanks be destroyed. Now each member of Team 7 is coated with the same shining gold skin as Claymore!
As the team fights their way through the surrounding inhumanly-strong attackers, they barely manage to make it out of the hidden base before the secondary charges they'd set earlier explode, completely obliterating the base along with the remaining defenders.
Dane and the rest of Team 7 have survived, but now they want some answers!
Learning that Team 7 has made it out of the base alive, Craven orders Mother One and the I.O. Cleaner team to finish them off! Realizing that they are under attack by I.O. gunships, Dane orders Team 7 to try and escape the area, but they are unable to elude their pursuers. . .
Knowing that even with the added protection of the mysterious symbiote fluid Team 7 won't be able to withstand the firepower of the I.O. gunships, Mother One turns on her allies and attacks the gunships, destroying them and enabling Team 7 to escape.
She reveals herself, clad in the same shining golden skin as Team 7, and reveals that they have been betrayed by their superiors and sacrificed. Mother One informs the team that the supernaturally-tough opponents they have been fighting are actually vampires!
Then she offers them a chance at a new life. Since Team 7 is believed to be dead, she tells them that her employer is engaged in an underground war with the vampires and could use skilled soldiers like them. Having nowhere else to go and needing more answers, Dane reluctantly agrees.
In the ruins of the laboratory, we find one of the leaders of the vampires, Prince Drakken, enraged at the destruction of the base and the theft of the symbiotes. We leave the story with him vowing to take the fight to the humans and once again teaching them to fear the night!
The End. . .To Be Continued.
Allrighty then! There it is. . .Wetworks #1. Let's break it on down!
I have to admit that I wasn't very confident that this comic was going to be good. I figure there's a reason (besides Image printing knows how many issues of all these early superhero titles) that this series is consistently found in the bargain bin. But truthfully, it ain't too bad.
Now, don't get me wrong. This isn't a great comic. It's sort of hovering right around the "pretty good" center line of the comic dial. But it's better than I thought it would be coming into this review.
It's surprisingly readable where many other early Image efforts are basically just a hot mess screaming past the reader on a straight-line drag strip of style over substance. An early Image hallmark of banking on a "Hot" artist being able to sell a comic and just sort of hoping nobody notices the story underneath the frantic artwork.
To be fair, it DOES look like Image was mostly banking on Whilce Portacio's art to do the heavy lifting for Wetworks, and he's actually up to the task. . .but the strange mashup of military action, science fiction, and the supernatural offered up by Portacio and Brandon Choi is actually a pretty compelling start to what seems to be shaping up as an interesting take on the typical high-tech superhero story.
It makes me want to see what happens next and maybe pull a few more of these comics from the bargain bin next time I go Longbox Junkin' instead of almost unconsciously passing them by like I normally do.
So the story is actually interesting and not an afterthought. Refreshing for an early Image superhero title. Let's take a look at the art side of things.
Like I said above, it's pretty clear that Image was (as Image does) banking on Whilce Portacio's art to carry Wetworks, so the art is definitely the star of the show here and Portacio doesn't disapppoint! Is it the greatest art I've ever seen in a comic book? Not even close. But it DOES have a dark, gritty style to it that is perfectly matched to this strange science fiction/military/supernatural mashup.
I give a credit due to the inking team (all FOUR of them!) for really bringing out the detail in Portacio's pencils and making the colors pop in contrast to rich, deep blacks through the whole issue.
Beyond that, Portacio gives us some really interesting character designs and a unique look for this series where a lot of early Image stuff sort of blended together in a forgettable mess. Simply put, the artwork throughout Wetworks #1 is 90's-Tastic in a GOOD way!
I didn't have high hopes for this comic coming in. I basically picked it because I've always just passed Wetworks by in the bargain bin, assuming it's just another Image superhero title that's got some flashy art but a weak story. I just decided it was time to actually READ an issue.
I was pleasantly surprised to find an interesting mashup of genres backed up by some very nice, gritty artwork, and a first issue that delivered on my expectations of introducing a story and new characters in a way that makes me want to read the next issue in the series.
Wetworks isn't the greatest comic I've ever read. But it's a long way away from the worst. In my humble opinion, it ain't half bad! If you are a fan of "hard" military stories with some science fiction flavor then Wetworks will definitely be worth your time to give it a look.
Up Next. . .
More of the kind of Longbox Junk I ALWAYS spot in the bargain bin.
I think I'll head on over to Malibu's Ultraverse and see what's happening.
Night Man? Yeah. . .why not? Night Man!
Be there or be square.