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After WildC.A.T.s managed to wrap up its intended three-issue mini-series in four issues and 10 months it was unclear what the more permanent version of the title would be.
In the gap, WildStorm quickly thrust WildCATs Trilogy, a three-issue mini-series from newly-poached Marvel young gun Jae Lee. It took just six months to complete (that’s sarcasm, by the way), and was accompanied by a single-issue Special #1 from Lee’s remarkable feel-alike protegé Travis Charest (which explicitly states that it fits prior to Trilogy).
Both arrived in time to promote the continuation of the WildCATs mini-series to a full-time ongoing with #5 in fall of 1993. Both also wisely put a heavy focus on Grifter, Voodoo, and Zealot, quickly realizing that the rest of the team is a snoozefest.
The Special issue is an outstanding adventure that proves that the book, its concept, and its cast will have many stories to tell thanks to Voodoo’s status as the only proven Daemonite detector on Earth. Marvel vet Steve Gerber – the co-creator of Howard the Duck! – shows a deftness with set-up scenes that makes the long, slow build-up of this issue as interesting as the brief burst of action that ends it.
On art, Charest does Jim Lee as well (maybe sometimes better?) than Lee, especially with an assist from Lee’s habitual inker Scott Williams.
Trilogy has its gawky moments of art from Jae Lee, who was still a teenager without much experience. Its strength is as an early shot of origin for the magnetic Zealot. Serving that here was a wise choice, as her popularity and narrative power would go on to threaten the team balance of the main book. Spending so much time explaining the Coda in the ongoing title would tip the scales a bit too far away from the rest of the team, but it feels just right in a mini-series.
Want the play-by-play? Keep reading for a summary of this introductory story. Here’s the schedule for the rest of this month’s WildStorm re-read – tomorrow I tackle Stormwatch #4-5 & Special #1.
Need the issues? WildCATs Trilogy #1-3 was collected in a 1999 TPB as The Way of the Coda, but Special #1 has never been collected. For single issues try eBay or Amazon (Trilogy, Trilogy Alternative Search, & Special)
WildCATs Special #1 opens with a famous actor attended by his doctor, who is convinced he’s having a stroke. (Of course, after years of our favorite famous people dying under the care of their personal physicians, we know the doctor may be as much to blame as anything). Suddenly, a Daemonite comes roaring out of the man’s body and into the doctor’s! It’s not a comfortable pairing, but after some struggle between them the doctor acquiesces and let’s the demon drive his actions – which begin with calling The Gnome.
We flash from that season to one focused on Providence, the enemy psychic floating on the edge of the frame in the mini-series. Unlike Void, already living a life of adventure and courting danger as a cosmonaut, Providence was merely a teenager in the New England town of the same name who has been called back to her childhood home
At the same time, Void reclines in her room, a sensory deprivation chamber with no creature comforts. She has a vision of a parched, wartorn landscape where atop a high cliff a child lies abandoned in a golden bassinet. As she approaches to examine it, a Daemonite ambushes her and swipes her off of the face of the cliff. She awakens in a pile on the floor, sure the dream had literal meaning – a new gifted one is at risk of being captured.
The team assembles and mulls over the meaning of her vision, assuming it might refer to a Eastern European conflict where one country’s warlord is a sister of the Coda – the same warrior clan that produced Zealot. That means the WildCATs can’t go charging in full force. Luckily Grifter is expert at such infiltration (oh, really?). Voodoo invites herself along, as the only one who can reliably identify a Daemonite.
Suddenly, the plots crash together – Destine the Coda Baroness is dealing for information with The Gnome, who suspects the WildCATs are mobilizing but has already lined up a Daemonite to inhabit the new gifted one, who can be tracked by Providence – whose childhood home he breaks into.
He convinces Providence to port him to Yurgovia to seek the child, and their teleport crosses wires with Void’s as she prepares to insert Grifter and an inconspicuously bundled Voodoo (who snarks to Grifter that she isn’t always an exotic dancer, 24/7 – a nice snipe at Lee’s ridiculous costume design for her).
Grifter and Voodoo wind up far outside their intended insertion point, and to late to save some innocent villagers from being disintegrated by Destine’s forces. They make their way to Grifter’s informant in search of the gifted newborn, only to learn that Destine is kidnapping young girls wholesale to train (and breed) her corrupt version of the Coda learnings. The likely mother of the gifted one is just a child herself, raped by Destine’s brutal army.
They make it to the girl’s apartment too late – Destine and Providence are there, along with the Daemonite, ready to possess the infant.
Sidebar – really, would a Daemonite want to be an infant or toddler? Like, would they suddenly be able to use that tiny body optimally and have the power of speech and locomotion? It seems much more advantageous to possess the body of a parent so they can raise and groom the child perfectly.
We quickly get our answer. Inside a part-Kherubim gifted one – even a baby – the Daemonites turn into an even larger and more terrifying beast. Luckily, Void and the team port into the midst of a knock-down drag out fight between Grifter and Destine, quickly dispatching both her and the Daemonite (with Voodoo’s assistance) and saving the child and her young mother.
Whew – that was a lot of action for a single issue. Luckily, WildCATs Trilogy is a simpler affair.
In WildCATs Trilogy #1, One of Grifter’s drifter tipsters warns him that The Cabal and Coda are up to no good down at the docks, but it turns out to be a set-up for him to be ambushed by super-creepy Hybridroids and captured. It turns out to be the handiwork of a Daemonite named Hightower and rogue, banished Coda named Artemis who is using Grifter to get to Zealot, her former Amazonian big sister.
Yes, this mini-series establishes that the Coda are effectively one and the same with Wonder Woman’s style of Amazons, except they aren’t ruled perpetually by Hippolyta and are all assassins.
In fact, in WildCATs Trilogy #2 we learn that Zealot used to be chief amongst the Coda until she was in charge of the operation that planted the Trojan Horse at the gates of Troy. Everything went off without a hitch until it came time to slaughter the royal family. Zealot couldn’t conscience the bloodshed, and duels Artemis to a standstill to prevent it. Yet, rather than take Artemis’s life (as is her right), she simply flees – making her an eternal heretic and Artemis an outcast who wasn’t even worthy of death.
Oh, and Voodoo gets to be the weak link when she’s possessed by a Hightower who defeats the entire team and scraps Spartan again. Honestly, it’s all boring filler between the Coda stuff.
In WildCATs Trilogy #3, A fresh showdown between the two is interrupted by current Majestrix, Andromache, and a phalanx of Coda assassins. They duel Zealot (yes, there is a lot of dueling), but Artemis takes a killing blow meant for her old mentor. The rest of the team bounces back from the brink of defeat per usual and come crashing to Zealots aid, threatening to raze Andromache’s kingdom to the ground unless she departs.
The mini ends with both Zealot’s student Artemis and Grifter’s informant Lonely getting their deserved funerals – Lonely, as it turns out, was a former Deputy Director of The Stasi (German state security), in their Wetworks division…