Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Discount Bin Finds: Wetworks v.2

Comic book fans of a certain age most likely remember Wetworks, Whilce Portacio's supernatural-themed Image title.  More accurately, most remember the title's enormously delayed launch.  Initially supposed to be part of the inital Image launch, Wetworks was continually pushed back and put off -- the delay beginning due to Portacio mourning the death of his sister and growing from there -- until it became a common joke in the pages of Wizard.  "Will Marvel ever get their act together?  Sure, right after Wetworks #1 ships."  

The series eventually did launch in 1994, two years after it's first solicitation, and had a respectable if unremarkable run of 43 issues before it was cancelled in 1998.  The title lay dormant for nearly a decade until being revived under the WildStorm imprint once more, this time at DC.  This is the series will be looking at here.  

The basic gist of Wetworks betrays its 90's origins.  The Wetworks team, lead by the towering Colonel Dane, is a para-military strike force who became bonded to golden symbiotes which protect them from damage.  Dane and his crew use their considerable arsenal of heavy weapons to battle against non-human foes, including the various Vampire Nations.  In practice, this usually translated to Dane (and other tough-sounding soliders such as Grail and Dozer) getting into firefights with monsters.  Fun stuff, if not exactly "top shelf" comics.

The new series picks up some time after the old series ended.  Dane is still fighting monsters, but with a new crew: the reformed vampire Persephone, AKA Red, who uses her sword with deadly efficiency, the mysterious Ab-Death, a strange, golem like being, and the returning Mother-One, the team's cybernetic co-ordinator.  They initially have to deal with the invasion of Vascar, an uber-vampire who has escaped from Thea Mater, an alternate world populated by fantastical beasts.  Vascar is not only more powerful than any vampire the team has ever faced, but his presence threatens to upset the uneasy truce between humanity and the Vampire Nations and plunge the Earth into unholy war.

Much like the original series, Wetworks is a fun action title but otherwise nothing all that special.  Portacio's art has a high energy, highly cross-hatched 90's style, but he really seems to be in his element drawing his own creations.  Unfortunately, he is not on the series all that long, leaving at issue #6 (though he does handle the covers for a while longer).  Similiarly, Carey's handling of the characters is more grounded and less mega-macho than the older book, but he too leaves, after issue #9.  The team who comes on after that point, DeMatteis and Gomez, have an interesting take, with an entire city taken over by a vampire army, but the writing apparently was on the wall at that point.  The main problem the title has is a lack of reader engagement; it's well written and fun as far as the action goes but it doesn't make much of an impression.  The second volume of Wetworks is a great example of a modern take on a 90's action property, and has plenty of gunplay and setpieces to keep you entertained, just don't expect to remember all the details when it's finished.


Diabolu Frank said...

Whilce Portacio was my favorite artists in his days on Punisher, but by Wetworks, he'd become a parody of himself. Also, I hate groups where the individual members are indistinct. Oddly enough, I just referenced Whilce on another blog...

Luke said...

Oddly, when the first Wetworks series was coming out (and being delayed), I never cared for Portacio's work that much, but on this series I liked it. The indistinct look thing does rear it's head a little bit towards the end when then old crew pops up, but the issues done by Portacio at least don't have this problem.