It Came From the NYPL
Alan Moore’s Complete WildC.A.T.S
Written by Alan Moore
Penciled by Travis Charest, Kevin Maguire, Ryan Benjamin, Jason Johnson, Dave Johnson, Kevin Nowlan, Scott Clark, Aron Wiesenfeld, Jim Lee, Josh Wiesenfeld, Mat Broome, Pat Lee & Rob Stotz
Inked by Troy Hubbs, Randy Elliott, Sal Regla, Trevor Scott, Scott Williams, Art Thibert, Terry Austin, Hakjoon Kang, Andy Owens, Harry Thuran, Tom McWeeney, John Nyberg, JD, Bob Wiacek, Dexter Vines, Richard Friend, Mark Irwin, Luke Rizzo, Sandra Hope, John Tighe, Richard Bennett, Jason Gorder & Scott Taylor
Colored by Wildstorm FX, Bad@$$ & Alex Sinclair
Lettered by Bill O’Neil & Comicraft
Cover art by Charest
Published by DC/Wildstorm
A while back, I borrowed Wild Worlds, a collection of Alan Moore-written odds-n’-ends set in the Wildstorm universe, from the library, and it was a mostly terrible reading experience. Eventually, despite Wild Worlds, I decided to borrow the other major collection of Alan’s Wildstorm tenure – his slightly-over-a-year long turn on Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.S series.
Reading the stories, I’m couldn’t help but think … — so y’all know I’m a big Neil Young fan, right? These books – Wild Worlds and Complete WildC.A.T.S – remind me of Neil’s early and mid-1980s output: amazing artist, really terrible work.
Alan’s WildC.A.T.S is like Neil’s Trans – if you’re really patient and very attentive, you can see how it almost worked. Trans has strong melodies and great lyrics, but it’s all buried in a mediocre band and terrible 80s techno-production (something intentionally experimented with, to ill effect) that robbed the music of any power and immediacy.
WildC.A.T.S has some nice moments, particularly during the team’s stay on their birth world Khera, but it never quite comes together. The dialogue isn’t up to Moore’s usual standards, a crossover robs the book of any momentum, and the book is saddled with some absolutely abysmal artwork.
Kevin Nowlan draws a few pages beautifully, and Jim Lee, Dave Johnson, Travis Charest and Ryan Benjamin provide (mostly) competent pages (when the inker is complementary). But the rest of the book is the worst mid-90s, Jim Lee-wannabe hackery – pinched faces, missing backgrounds (particularly galling when the dialogue is clearly preparing the reader to see a stunning vista of an alien world or something awe-inspiring, and the artist provides a shot of the team and maybe a single, distant, indistinct tower), and appalling visual storytelling. And, yeah, when you look at the sheer number of artists listed above (really, just look at the sheer volume of that list for a moment!), it should come as no surprise that there is nearly no visual consistency from page to page.
Yet there are a few germs of interest mixed in there. The class warfare aspects of Khera are interesting, but not developed as fully as possible. I did like how Moore developed the new character Tao. As I found Prometheus in Morrison’s JLA absurdly overrated, it was fascinating to see how Moore tackles the same notion and makes it work more effectively (although, again, I wondered why nobody simply reconnected Maxine’s coolant!). At times, Moore seems to be verging on satire of the series and its concepts, and there’s a sense of whimsy and fun in that aspect.
Yet Moore didn’t seem to put much effort into developing the cast. Grifter’s brother didn’t really do anything, and the rest of the cast got your basic, run-of-the-mill superteam treatment. The gangwar plot of the new team feels inconsequential against the deeper societal issues facing the original squad, and just when the gangwar storyline should build to a head, a crossover slashes the momentum’s tires and the final act stumbles to a conclusion that Moore no longer seems interested in.
In another time and place, without the Wildstorm Universe and with much, much better artists, maybe Alan Moore’s WildC.A.T.S would’ve kicked ass. But it doesn’t.
However, I still kind of like Trans.