What do you do when you’ve set the sales records at the company you work for’s industry? You go into business for yourself.
After producing the highest selling single comic of all time, Jim Lee was on top of the comic world. His joining McFarlane and Liefeld on their exodus would have been one of the things that made it a serious threat to the big two. Now there are rumours and stories as to why he left, being very much a hard working company man, but whatever the reason, he did and when he was ready, took his shot with his own series.
Wild.C.A.T.S. Covert Action Teams issue 1 was released on August 1992. The series itself was a mix of Sci-Fi, spy drama and old school superheroes that matched Lee’s style perfectly as it was when he left X-Men. Overly muscled men, overly sexualised women and the kind of tech as well as accessories that were only ever seen in 90s comics. The basic plot is two alien raves waging a secret war using half-human hybrids as fodder. Whilst not the most egregious copy of a Marvel title, you can easily see many of the characters having parallels to many characters that Lee was famous for drawing.
This series also followed a mini followed by an ongoing, but this was different in that the numbering carried on with the first issue of the ongoing was issue 5 and so on. Much like Rob Liefeld’s Extreme studios, Jim Lee’s Wildstorm produced many related and unrelated titles including Stormwatch, Gen-13, Union and Backlash and others done by other creators as well as Lee. Again like Liefeld’s offerings, a lot of the Wildstorm stuff was expanded upon by people other than the original creators and this became a rich and interesting fictional universe that wasn’t bound to one of the big 2. Then DC bought it. For a while, Wildstorm acting like a seperate imprint and Jim Lee moved to DC’s management, but after 2011’s New 52 reboot, many Wildstorm concepts were imported, much of them were either underwhelming or misused and as a result are no longer what they once could have been.
However some of the more out-there ideas did see print once more in The Wild Storm a series written by Warren Ellis a few years back, proving that the concepts had legs then and can still work now. It’s sad that these interesting ideas never really had the chance to shine in the last 10-20 years.
Next Time: If you thought WildC.A.T.S. was blatant….