Friday, February 4, 2011

WILDC.A.T.S/X-MEN: THE GOLDEN AGE #1 - February 1997

Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Travis Charest w/Homage Studios (art), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Dave Lanphear (letters), Wildstorm FX (colors)

Summary: During WWII, Wolverine runs into Zealot while pursuing the Nazi, Eikert. He discovers Eikert is actually a Daemonite, who is in possession of the mysterious Lazarus Scroll. After Eikert is killed, Zealot sneaks away with the scroll. Wolverine follows her on a train, where they’re soon attacked by more Daemonites. Daemonite agent Kenyan steals the scroll and takes it to their hidden lair. Wolverine and Zealot follow, as the scroll is used to resurrect the Daemonite queen Ebron. Zealot uses the Daemonite’s magic crystal to kill Ebron, then disappears.

Continuity Notes: This is another one of the Marvel/Image crossovers to come out of the “Heroes Reborn” deal. These crossovers never count in Marvel continuity, but it’s worth noting that Zealot gives Wolverine a glove with metal claws grafted to it before they face the Daemonites. At this point, everyone was working under the assumption that Wolverine didn’t have bone claws in the past, and their emergence after the loss of his adamantium was a mystery.

Production Notes: This is a forty-eight page one-shot, with no ads and a $4.50 cover price.

Review: The premise behind the WildC.A.T.S/X-Men one-shots is that each one would take place in a different era of comics history. Appropriately enough, the first installment is set in the Golden Age, and it stars the seemingly immortal members of both teams. The actual style of the comic, however, has nothing to do with the Golden Age, even if the story is set in the 1940s. I’m not sure if anyone wants that look out of Wildstorm anyway, and it’s a thrill to see Travis Charest in one of his early, “Jim-Lee-clone-no-more,” jobs.

Charest’s work combines stylized art, hyper-detailed rendering, and photorealism without falling into the same morass that ensnares many of the artists who try just one of these looks. Imagine Lenil Francis Yu’s work at its best, without any of the rushed detours that often drag it down. The colors compliment Charest’s art perfectly, using a limited palette and a watercolor style that adds even more depth to the images. This comic is over thirteen years old, yet it still looks better than the vast majority of titles the major companies are putting out right now.

There’s also a story in-between the pretty pictures, one that doesn’t aspire to be more than an action thriller with some clever dialogue. Outside of giving Wolverine and Zealot an argument over civilian casualties, Lobdell doesn’t do a lot of character work, but he at least establishes the protagonists’ personalities quickly and gets on with the story. If you’re not already a fan of the Wildstorm Universe, this probably won’t make you a convert, but I’m sure a Wolverine/Zealot team-up is what WildC.A.T.S readers had been demanding for years. If this had been published in the earliest days of Image, before the market’s collapse, I could see Wizard going absolutely insane over this book.


2badguys said...

I remember this book very fondly. Beautiful art.


tomorrowboy 2.7 said...

While these don't count for Marvel continuity I think they might have counted for Wildstorm. Not sure though.
I wish all super hero comics had art this good.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic book, and the art is unprecedented and least, until the last few pages, where the quality dips drastically. You can tell Charest was rushing at that point...if you compare the first page of the book to the last page, it doesn't even look like the same artist. Shame, but it still doesn't lessen the impact of the rest of the book.

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