[Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug][/Patreon-Nov16-Post-Bug]In 1994 there were just a handful of comics writers you would pursue if you wanted to read a terrific war comic. Chuck Dixon was likely at the top of that list (along with Larry Hama).
Thus, after two years of WildStorm when it was finally time to expose the Team 7 connective tissue shared by almost all of WildStorm’s books, it was Chuck Dixon who Jim Lee and Brandon Choi tapped to pen it.
The original Team 7 operated in the 70s consisted of this list of eleven largely familiar names:
- Team Leader John “Topkick” Lynch
- Stephen “Wraparound” Callahan (whose death we saw on the first pages of Gen13)
- Cole “Dead Eye” Cash (AKA Grifter)
- Phillip “Bulleteer” Chang (father of Gen13’s Grunge)
- Michael “Deathblow” Cray
- Jackson “Arclight” Dane (of Wetworks)
- Alexander “Slaphammer” Fairchild (father of Gen13’s Caitlin Fairchild)
- Andrew Johnson
- Richard “Boloround” MacNamara
- Marc “Backlash” Slayton
Team 7 was a vastly different comic book from WildStorm’s norm up to this point. No heroes, no brightly-colored spandex, no supernatural threats.The mini-series is part war story, part psychological thriller as the elite team is subject to experiments against their will, pushed to the very limits of survival, and pitted against each other in a series of psychological tortures. In fact, though it includes super-powers, they ease their way into the story and are treated as an extension of interpersonal conflicts rather than weapons to be casually wielded.
Penciler Aaron Wiesenfeld starts off with the gritty realism that marked Dixon’s run on Marvel’s ‘Nam, but by the final issue he is channeling Barry Windsor-Smith in a series of dynamic full-pages and broad faces. Seriously, issue #4 is so darn pretty that my review could just be posting its pages in their entirety. Check out this marvelous opening sequence of Deathblow’s mutiny told in four full-page splashes:
Aside from Deathblow’s familiar wide face, it’s nearly impossible to tell apart the team of white men (even the one Chinese man is drawn Caucasian) until you’ve committed their various facial hair and face paint symbols to memory. That’s not a weakness, but a subtlety – just as is Craven being drawn to resemble our modern day John Lynch while Lynch’s own face gradually morphs into that shape.
As a standalone story, Team 7 would be marginal – a bunch of stooge soldiers get set up again and again as their team shrinks from attrition. In the scope of what we already know about so much of the cast, it’s fascinating – explaining relationships and filling in detail that had only been implied. For me, this is the reason to read this (and other) Team 7 miniseries in order of its release rather than in order of continuity.
Without knowing the future story of these characters, all you’d get is that Cash is the golden boy and Lynch is under Craven’s thumb, while missing Dane’s early killthrill that must eventually transform into the cool-headed company man, Slayton’s deadly quiet under pressure (his best characterization yet), and Chang’s easy-going nature (presaging his way chill son).
Dixon and Wiesenfeld perfectly shoulder that burden, aside from the team stumbling headfirst into four traps will stretch your disbelief to the max, burden. They keep the book readable while only deepening the mysteries of Craven’s intent and how the team eventually splinters into the heroes we know and the dead men we don’t.
Want the play-by-play? Keep reading for a summary of how these soldiers became super. Here’s the schedule for the rest of this month’s WildStorm re-read. Tomorrow I’ll get my first taste of WildCATs without Jim Lee, and it’ll be a big bite – issues #15-19. After that, the second arc of Wetworks, Warblade’s miniseries and a Grifter one-shot!), and then finally back to Stormwatch!
Need the issues? This series was collected in a 1994 TPB (eBay), or you can grab the singles – try eBay or Amazon. Since further series hit these same issue numbers, be sure to match your purchase to the images in this post.
And now, onto the story! [Read more…] about From The Beginning: WildStorm Universe – Team 7 (1994) #1-4