This week's Tradio focuses on one of Alan Moore's many original works based entirely on characters that totally came from his fertile, creative mind. This week, we take a look at (deep breathe) Alan Moore's Complete WildC.A.T.s written by Alan Moore with art by a cast of thousands and published by Wildstorm.
WildC.A.T.s. One of the original Image books created by Jim Lee when he was at the peek of his popularity. Jim Lee broke out of his rute at Marvel where he was drawing a monthly team book, to help found Image, where he drew a monthly team book. Huh...come to think of it, pretty much all of the initial image creaters traded books at Marvel with books at Image that followed the same pattern. McFarlane went from Spiderman to Spawn, Liefeld went from X-Force to Youngblood, Lee went from X-Men to WildC.A.T.s, Larson went from Spiderman to Savage Dragon, Portacio went from Uncanny X-Men to Wetworks...I guess only Valentino and Silvestri broke the mold with one upsizing and one downsizing their art duties. But I digress. WildC.A.T.s was one of those early titles with the most promise where Lee had enough foresight to actually get some help early on with the writing duties with the addition of Brandon Choi. This was a both a blessing and curse. Great ideas, poorly executed on paper. Pretty to look at, but lacking a lot of depth that the stories really needed to take root. After a time, other writers (and artists for that matter), were brought in, to try and breathe new life into a group of characters and universe that people seemed to really identify with. One of these writers ended up being the legendary Alan Moore and what we as readers were treated to was a fifteen chapter tale that introduced new characters, breathed life into old ones, and attempted to give some depth to the history that had already established the Wildstorm universe. As far as how successful it was, it did a lot to update the title and explain the history of the WildC.A.T.s. What it didn't do was create the timeless masterpiece that Alan Moore's works tend to be. It wasn't that he was using characters that weren't created by him, he has done that over and over in his career and had good results from this, it seemed to be more a result of things that were quite frankly, beyond his control. The most in your face problem is the art. When Travis Charest is drawing the book, it is on a whole other level. Deceptively simple, though incredibly detailed, he can convey so many things in the layouts that he does. For what Moore was doing, he was a much better fit than even Jim Lee himself, whose issues just seemed to be lacking. That said, only about a quarter of the work is done by Charest, the other art duties are inconsistent and jump from artist to artist with little rhyme or reason. Even within issues, characters change costumes on opposing pages and some of the layouts just do not work and end up making the story confusing. The next problem was the Fire From Heaven crossover that in jammed in the middle of Moore run. It only makes the story about a very long and uninteresting war between the WildC.A.T.s and Stormwatch against various bad guys in New York City that much longer and pretty much pointless. Those extra issues really could have been better served to explain more of what all happened on Khera with the original group or flesh out what was going on with the new group. I mean, whatever really did happen with Max Cash and after learning all the things he was capable of, why didn't Warblade actually use any of it on Earth. Just made a lot of time spent with the characters kind of pointless. The last problem I think was Moore had more ideas with the characters than he had room to work with and so a lot of the ideas presented just got touched on briefly and never fleshed out, which is fleshing out characters is kind of a trademark of Moore's. All in all, it made for an interesting story that long out stayed it's welcome. Worth a read for Charest's art, if you really want to read everything written by Moore, or if you are a WildC.A.T.s completist, though I guess nothing really matters with the DC reboot since they are now part of the New 52 universe. Happy Reading!