Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review: Team 7

Team 7 (issues 0 through 8)

When Team 7 (and it's sister title Team 6) came out as a set of miniseries during Wildstorm's "Still Part of Image" heyday (such as it was), it served as a sort of bridge between several characters and series, tying in a number of the more venerable characters in the old Wildstorm universe together, via a rather complicated backstory set during the Cold War and later. The Grifter, Lynch, Backlash and others were all part of this Vietnam Era team on which various experiments (a throwback to MK-ULTRA and such) led to a curious mix of war heroes with psychic abilities. The team survives a variety of harrowing encounters before splitting to the "present" of the nineties at the time, and to their own titles and future lives as costumed vigilantes.

Team 7 drags a metric ton of Wildstorm and DC characters into a potpourri in similar fashion, with Cole Cash (Grifter) rubbing shoulders with Lynch again (albeit for the first time in the New 52), along with a younger Deathstroke, a younger and thinner Amanda Waller (formerly of Suicide Squad last I checked), a younger Dinah Drake (alias the Black Canary) and more.....even Steve Trevor of Wonder Woman fame appears at one point (pretty sure its the same guy...he's a pilot and all that). This bizarre mixture of characters comprises an ongoing eight issue medley of madness in which the Wildstorm universe is mashed into the DC continuum.

Arguably some of this shift is necessary; there are plenty of DC characters that have backgrounds that fit the Team 7 dynamic well, and the book demonstrates this handily. Likewise, some of the old Team 6 and Team 7 characters are simply no longer with Wildstorm...some were properties of Top Cow and other Image Comics publishers; such is the hazard of the great and sort of failed Image experiment.

Anyway, Team 7 takes the potentially great premise (the secret history of various heroes in a sort of spec ops quasi-military outfit, filling out the backstory that helps explain the present) and manages to weave some great stories even as it makes mince meat out of certain characters....including characters many of us might have liked to see reimagined in the actual New 52 universe.

A few spoilers ahead: Caitlin Fairchild appears and is apparently assimilated borg-style by a rogue Spartan who actually appears to be a creation (?) of Gammorah's evil mastermind Kaizen. This same event leads to the creation and destruction (?) of Ladytron, who gets enough screen time to look vaguely like who she's supposed to be before either disappearing or dying. It's not that these characters are absolutely dead and gone....they could be....but this book left a lot of cliffhangers and "no explanations" to questions I can only assume may be answered elsewhere. Maybe I just have more reading to do. Still....this is not how I would have written Caitlin Fairchild (from Gen-13) or Ladytron into the DC universe.

In the end the plot and pacing gets really wacky as the tale progresses. At times I felt like the writer for this book was at best mildly familiar with many of the characters, and it was rather unsatisfying to see Lynch brought in (as an example) to found the team, yet his presence is all but eliminated before the book concludes...despite some hints that he's still around and alive. Foreshadowing? Maybe, but it felt more like "rushed, and couldn't wrap up the intended script," to me. I head this book may already be winding down....this could either be the reason for the feeling of rushed plots or a cause of such.

Anyway, if you're a fan of the old Wildstorm/Image era of Team 6 and Team 7 then this is going to be a pale shadow of what once was. If you're a DC fan who is not too familiar with the Team 7 notion, then you may find this book a lot more enjoyable as your stake in the Wildstorm characters abused here is not going to be as problematic.Indeed, the DC characters tend to shine, being placed in the more visceral environment of a Wildstorm-flavored plot, and when characters like Eclipso appear it's got a real nasty, interesting vibe to the whole tale.

I still can't believe that they brought in Spartan as some sort of Gammoran robot and Majestic as some sort of byproduct of being assimilated by said robot (it's becoming painfully clear that the Kherubim did not survive the transition to the New 52 universe). That entire plot poorly's just beyond words how disappointed I am in this series' run through issue 8 so far.

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