Tag Archives: Grifter

Voodoo vol.2 issue 0 and Grifter vol.3 issues 13 – 16

Voodoo written by Joshua Williamson, Grifter issues #13-14 written by Rob Liefeld with dialogue by Frank Tieri; issues #15-16 written by Frank Tieri

Wildstorm Concepts: WildCATS - Grifter WildCATS - Max Cash WildCATS - Helspont WildCATS - Daemonites WildCATS - Voodoo authority-apollo stormwatch authority-engineer authority-midnighter authority-doors

All-star WesternThese issues serve as more of an epilogue than anything, as the writers needed to close their plot threads. The bigger story all the Wildstorm books had been building to was cancelled by the editorial, putting a hold to it with Superman Annual #1. So there wasn’t much the writers could do in these pages.

Voodoo #0 was the last issue of the book to be published. So while issues #0 were meant to explain the past of each character, the writer is forced to put some scenes in the present to be able to finish his book. Most of the pages are dedicated to showing us Priscilla’s experience when she was kidnapped by the daemonites, when she was turned into a daemonite hybrid before she escaped and got caught by the Black Razors. It’s nothing that we hadn’t been told through dialogue in previous issues. The final pages are what adds new material: Picking up from Priscilla’s psychic vision in which she was told to help Grifter, Priscilla leaves the Black Razors and finds Cole.

Grifter’s book picks up after Cole escaped from Helspont and made it back to Earth. He and Deathblow go separate ways and Cole is contacted by Warick; the person who rescued him from the daemonites when he was kidnapped and given his powers at the beginning of this mess. He explains everything to Cole about his experiments and all the times the daemonites erased his memory. Now that Cole managed to walk away from meeting Helspont, Warick feels he’s ready to join his rebellion. Helspont might have killed all the daemonites that were planning to invade Earth, but there’s still a secret group: Tsavo’s faction, the ones who’ve been screwing with Cole from the start. Warick proposes bringing their actions to the light of day so that they daemonites are exposed, rendering them unable to start all over again. But to find the necessary proof they’re going to need to steal it from the organizations that have them.

Grifter remembers the information that Eos downloaded into his brain; Eos was Helspont’s ship that he found during his visit to the Himalayas, but it is only named now. Cole now knows StormWatch is the most likely to have useful data. But their base is hidden in hyperspace; he needs to figure out a way to get in. This is when Voodoo finds him, offering to join the team.

Guided by Warick, she and Cole infiltrate S.T.A.R. Labs, where they find a prototype teleportation platform that will help Cole reach Eye of the Storm. He says goodbye to Voodoo by stealing a kiss from her; wow! To think they had only known each other for two pages. By the way, this finishes Voodoo’s role in the story. Wow.

Sneaking into StormWatch’s base is no easy task; he’s detected by the ship’s avatar, Charlie. It alerts Apollo and Midnighter, but Cole is able to defeat both of them because his telekinetic abilities have improved just that much. It’s a pretty unbelievable situation. Cole reaches the ship’s main computer, where he learns how to find the info he’s after – through Amanda Waller, her partner during their Team 7 days! She has files on everyone on the planet. He hacks into her computer and downloads all of her data. Cole says goodbye to the computer by installing a virus on it, which angers Charlie enough to hijack Cole’s teleporting coordinates. Instead of going back to Warick, Cole ends up in the middle of the Belle Reve High Security Prison; headquarters of the Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller’s team. And they aren’t happy about having been hacked.

This is here main writer Rob Liefeld leaves the book. By this point the cancellation had already been announced, so writer Frank Tieri didn’t have a lot of time to fix things. In fact, he was only meant to have one issue, but some merciful editor extended it to two.

Cole attempts to escape from the Suicide Squad; it helps that his abilities have improved to the point where he can stop a bullet mid-air. They are too many for him, though, so he’s captured and taken to Waller. He tries to explain to her that he’s in a rebellion movement against the daemonites, but she’s not convinced. She’s met the rebellion’s leader, Warick, before. In one of her missions with the government she had to snuck into the rebellion and studied Warick’s past, learning that he’s been in and out of several mental asylums. This is why Waller dismisses the daemonites as a lie. Cole is astounded to hear about Warick’s past. Now he doesn’t know what to believe.

This is where the last issue begins. There is a scene in which Cole remembers everything he’s gone through; one of the memories shows his girlfriend Gretchen dying in his hands. However, this never happened, she was abducted by the Black Curate. Or maybe it happened in scenes we didn’t get to see. Oh well.

Waller lets Cole go, knowing he will lead her straight to Warick. Cole arranges a meeting with his boss in a zoo, where he demands answers. Warick explains he’s only been in asylums because no one believed his stories about the daemonites, but Cole isn’t convinced… There are too many lies, too many secrets around him. He tries to walk away from the resistance, but Warick can’t let his only weapon go. The two of them start brawling and hitting the crap of each other, but they are interrupted by Waller and several government soldiers. Cole has to decide if he’ll side with Warick of if he’ll hand him in; but before he can make a choice Warick decides to jump into a cage with polar bears and kill himself. Somehow, Cole is moved by this act. If Warick is willing to go that far to protect the rebellion, then it might just be real.

Cole visits his brother’s grave and thinks about his next step. He decides he needs some time as a regular person; time to find himself with no resistances or aliens. Grifter’s tale comes to an end… for now. Helspont is glad Warick and his resistance are out of the way; and now now Grifter is out of his affairs. For now… let it so remain.

Next: Red Hood and the Outlaws issues 12 – 14, written by Scott Lobdell.

Superman Vol.3 Annual 1

Plot by Scott Lobdell, dialogue by Fabian Nicieza

Wildstorm Concepts: Deathblow WildCATS - Helspont stormwatch WildCATS - Daemonites WildCATS - Grifter WildCATS - Lord Defile

 

All-star WesternThis is it, the big issue that brings all the storylines together. After recovering the Blue Flame from “Voodoo”, Helspont makes his ship visible over Metropolis, defying Superman to come face him. He shows him his true abilities now, including a new and sleeker suit created with the remains from several alien species. Helspont throws Superman against the moon with a single punch; no big deal for him, he has killed Kryptonians before. His old crew starts spreading out around the globe, searching for alien races to recruit. They are his most faithful men, those with whom Helspont shared his Blue Flame powers so many years ago: Salu, Biomass (a titanothrope; NOT the same Biomass from the “Majestic” series), Quom (not to be confused with Quon?), an unnamed old lady and Lord Defile, with his Worldstorm look. Helspont plans to build the “Union of the Thirteen Scions of Salvation”, a council of species which used to be a fairy tale in which the universe was led properly and fairly.

Salu finds the Martian Manhunter, Quom finds Starfire and Defile meets Hawkman; they tell them about the idea before Helspont summons his men to regroup.

When Superman wakes up from his beating, he finds himself inside Grifter’s escape pod, right after Cole and Deathblow escaped from Helspont. I suppose this means Helspont changed costumes in less than five minutes. The three heroes are intercepted by Biomass, so Superman fights him and throws him into Helspont’s ship. Helspont is amused to see the kryptonian, and he orders his troops to kill as many daemonites from Earth as they can. This is the great “alien extinction” heralded in the issue’s cover. Most daemonites on Earth die, and their invasion plans are destroyed. It’s also safe to assume Myev died too. Helspont sends their pain straight to Superman’s mind, subjugating him; Superman is merely an amusement to him. He explains that Superman is actually helping his plans through his constant protection of Earth, since Helspont wouldn’t want his future kingdom to be destroyed.

He leaves him after these words, leaving Superman confused and helpless; even when he’s just doing the right thing he’s still helping Helspont. And he doesn’t know when Helspont will decide to begin his harvest. With all the invading daemonites killed off by Helspont, things come to a pause; this feels like the ending to the first chapter of Wildstorm’s narrative in the new DC Universe.

Next: Voodoo Vol.2 issue 0 and Grifter Vol.2 issues 13 – 16, written by Joshua Williamson, Rob Liefeld and Frank Tieri.

Grifter Vol.3 issues 9 – 12

Plot by Rob Liefeld, dialogue by Frank Tieri

Wildstorm Concepts:       Deathblow WildCATS - Grifter WildCATS - Helspont WildCATS - Daemonites

All-star Western.png         Liefeld takes over the writing duties, and the book becomes much more insane. We start off in the middle of an intense chase as Cole escapes from huge red daemonites. He’s showing superhuman shooting abilities, as his Chosen One powers keep on developing. He gets in a rough spot against an alien when he’s saved by Niko (Chesire), who is included into the cast for no clear reason. She explains to him that the daemonites aren’t just against him; they are doing a full-fledged alien invasion, and there exists a resistance who works against them. This is actually a branch of Warick’s resistance, but this won’t be revealed until later.

After Cole agrees to join their efforts he’s told that the daemonites are unleashing their “warrior class daemonites,” the red guys, because they’re preparing a big final invasion… and because they want to eliminate the Chosen One. This is the first Grifter hears about the Chosen One, and he thinks it’s the stupidest thing he’s ever heard. He’s even more amused to hear that the Chosen One is supposed to be him, a guy who’s spent his whole life cheating, lying and stealing from people. How does Niko know that Cole is the Chosen One, or that he’s a grifter? Something is up. Still, Grifter and Niko go to a rendezvous point, where they meet some allies, including Deathblow! In this timeline he doesn’t have any of his old background, yet he keeps his old look for some reason, like his Team 7 red marks.

As Cole and his new team of ragtag soldiers attempts to move to a new safe house, they’re intercepted by daemonites and their transport is destroyed. They get surrounded, so Cole is forced to awaken his Chosen One abilities: He can now read anyone’s mind and control objects through telekinesis. He’s even able to lift a dozen warrior daemonites and his truck into the air at the same time, throwing them off a cliff and saving the day.

The group reaches their safehouse, even though only Grifter, Niko, Deathblow and a guy named Buck survived. Cole is starting to suspect there’s a traitor among them: how could the daemonites know how to find them? Before they can discuss it, though, the safehouse is destroyed by a huge daemonite with human shape who calls himself Synge.

Although Synge never explains his origins; we learn later that daemonites originally looked human, so we can guess he’s ancient and a tough sucker. The good guys can barely scratch him, and Buck gets killed. In the end Cole manages to lead him to a nearby forest, where he puts the limit of his telekinesis to test and throws the entire forest on top of Synge. There’s no time to celebrate, though, as Niko reveals she was the traitor and shoots Cole and Deathblow down. She’s not being controlled by a daemonite; she simply sold herself out because she wants to be in the winning side. She takes them to her master, Helspont, and even Synge turns out to have survived.

Helspont is cheerful that the one threat he was constantly warned about, the Chosen One, is now captured by him. We find out that he started a secret faction, secretly helping the other daemonites with their invasion so that he’ll take the planet from them once they invade it. He’s also gotten a new stylish armour, apparently. Wishing to test Cole, he sets up a fake ship through psychic illusions and deals with him in this fake environment. He asks Cole to join him in taking the other daemonites down, but Cole just laughs. He had figured out Niko early on, so he let himself be captured to get close enough to the big bad to kick his ass. He claims he had even held back against Synge (even though his thoughts clearly showed he hadn’t). Anyhow, Deathblow fights against Niko while Cole goes against Helspont. He’s able to get Synge out of the way with a mere movement of his hand, and he overpowers Helspont psychically without much of an effort.

In the end, Cole kicks Helspont’s butt. At one point Helspont is so hurt that he starts looking like a regular daemonite, without his flame; but we’ll learn later that Helspont’s true face looks human, so this must have been a show put on by Helspont, considering this is all an illusion, to give Grifter hopes. Deathblow sets the ship to self-destruct and the good guys get on an escape pod. Of course, the entire time they had been inside a fake ship constructed by Helspont, so I guess only the escape pod was real? Helspont is satisfied; now he knows what he’s dealing with. The way he tested Cole is very similar to the way he tested Superman in “Superman”. He lets Grifter go; he’s not scared of his “Chosen One” abilities anymore, so he’s better off on Earth exterminating the daemonites who don’t work for Helspont. His true plan begins now.

Next: “I, Vampire” issues 12 – 13, written by Joshua Hale Fialkov.

Grifter Vol.3 issues 0 – 8 and Superman Vol.3 issue 6

Grifter issue 0 written by Rob Liefeld with dialogue by Frank Tieri, issues 1 – 8 written by Nathan Edmonson and Superman written by George Perez.

Wildstorm Concepts:      WildCATS - Grifter WildCATS - Helspont WildCATS - Max Cash WildCATS - Daemonites stormwatch authority-engineer authority-midnighter         

All-star Western.png“Grifter” is a confusing book; the story is constantly told backwards. It focuses on the main group of daemonites which wants to exterminate the humans. They’re led by a council of their wisest , all of which serve their lord Black Curate, a religious figure which lies in another dimension. These daemonites are spread out into different regions; the story focuses on the Gotham branch and the Seattle branch.

The Gotham branch is the biggest one of the invasion and they’re tasked with summoning the Black Curate. The Seattle branch is supposed to infiltrate a corporation in hope of integrating daemonite technology in Earth. This branch has plans of their own, however, to overtake the rest of the daemonites. Many years ago, the daemonites rebelled against their most powerful, Helspont, and defeated him using humans. The leader of the Seattle branch, Tsavo, uses the threat of the return of Helspont to convince his men to keep experimenting on humans to create a human weapon like they did during the first rebellion against Helspont. Tsavo is attempting to find a Chosen One from a prophecy and use him to defeat the other daemonites.

There’s a third party at play: The human resistance built by Warick, who wants to defeat the daemonite invasion. He was one of the people kidnapped during the daemonites’ rebellion against Helspont. He manages to find out humans are still being experimented on like it happened to him. Instead of being angered, this gives him hope; if the Chosen One is found it might prove the salvation of Earth. All he has to do is take him from the daemonites’ grip.

The book is lettered by Wes Abbot, of Wildstorm fame; it’s good to have some of the old team back. Another Wildstorm veteran is Scott Clark, who joins the party in issue 4. The rest of the creative team isn’t so great. The first writer, Nathan Edmondson, was never a comics fan, his influences are classic literature. He didn’t even know what Marvel and DC were putting out. He accepted doing Grifter because it was the only WS character that he knew by name; he ditched the trench coat from Cole’s design because it wasn’t realistic enough for his tastes. In short, he was an awful choice for the book. At least he was cool enough to take a picture with Grifter’s mask on (thanks to Joe Soliz from Wildstorm Addiction). On a more positive side, the first artist, CAFU, was a big Grifter fan and this was his dream job.

cats.jpgOK, backstory over, let’s get to the main character. The story takes centres around Grifter; he’s one of the kidnapped humans by Tsavo, and he turns out to be the Chosen One. Cole Cash keeps his military background from the WSU, having worked with the army in Special Ops before joining this timeline’s Team 7. He gained the codename Grifter for his ability to smooth talk his way to anything he’s after. From all the humans kidnapped, Cole seems to respond best to the transmission of daemonite abilities. The daemonites hope to turn Cole into their cause by programming him through virtual scenarios. However, Warick manages to sneak in and help Cole escape; the programming wipes his mind out so Warick gives him a new identity, and Cole is none too wise of what he’s just gone through. The daemonites can’t let Cole escape; he’s too good of a weapon. When they manage to grab him they have to wipe out the interrupted programming first, a process that takes seventeen days. However, every time he’s caught Warick manages to free him again. The third time they go through this dance, after Cole is saved by Warick, he is given the identity of a grifter who scams people for money.

Cole gets used to this lifestyle quickly, taking the fake name of Christopher Argent to con people. After his last scam he’s planning to meet his girlfriend Gretchen Reese in San Juan, but the daemonites take him yet again. They start erasing his programming, taking 17 days. Warick shows up after this process is finished, waking Cole up before he can be programmed again and then disappearing before Cole can see him. Waking up in a strange laboratory freaks Cole out, who runs away by beating the daemonites who try to stop him. He seems to have improved skills! Running through the street, he obtains his trademark red mask by stealing it from a costume shop. He finds it in the section of “Voodoo / Magic.” This may be a little wink, maybe not. Cole’s new abilities include being able to hear the daemonite’s hivemind and telekinesis. Tsavo’s plan of creating a powerful human to destroy the other daemonites is well on its way. Continue reading Grifter Vol.3 issues 0 – 8 and Superman Vol.3 issue 6

“Team 7” Vol.2 issues 0 – 7, “Deathstroke” Vol.2 issue 0 and “Secret Origins” Vol.3 issue 11

“Team 7” written by Justin Jordan with dialogue by Tony Bedard; “Deathstroke” written by Rob Liefeld; “Secret Origins” written by Christy Marx

Wildstorm concepts: gen13-lynch wildcats-grifter team-7 gamorra-island gen13-alex-fairchild gen13-caitlin-fairchild kaizen-gamorra wildcats-ladytron wildcats-majestic wildcats-spartan

all-star-westernI was torn about the placing of these issues, given that they include a little scene taking place in the present, but I think it is fine to read them this early on. Team 7 in this continuity takes place five years before the “present”, unlike the much older original Team 7. They are the government’s reaction to the appearance of superheroes; they want a team capable of responding to them, of taking them down if need be. So they assemble a team of the best of the best, hoping they’ll be able to develop a metagene.

It all begins after Superman defeated Brainiac and made himself known to the world in the pages of “Action Comics”. The government’s first attempt at creating a super soldier, the Steel Soldier Project, failed during that crisis, so now they’re looking for an alternative. And John Lynch is a man with ideas. After Brainiac the government isolated something in the human genome that gives people superpowers; the metagene. Just like in the Wildstorm universe, there exists a gen-factor that makes people receptive to gaining powers.

Lynch comes up with Team 7 and the Majestic Project; the Team 7 members will be administered drugs and put under genetic experiments hoping that the extreme situations they’re constantly put into will awake any latent superpower in them. A bit like Project Genesis for the Gen13, or like the original Team 7, innit?

A team is put together: Dinah Lance, an infiltrator (who will become the superheroine Black Canary in the present), her husband Kurt Lance, a tracker, Slade Wilson, tactical genius (who will become Deathstroke), Alex Fairchild, weapons expert, James Bronson, a driven utility player, Summer Ramos, pilot, Cole Cash, Special Forces veteran (Grifter), Amanda Waller, NSA analyst and loan to the army, and Dean Higgins, strategy. If they seem like way too many, it’s because they are. There are way too many nobodies on the team and all of them wear generic military costumes. On the cover to the first issue they wear some funny looking armours and masks to help differentiate one another, but it’s worth nothing they never wear them inside. At least we got two recognizable Wildstorm characters in the mix.

There is a tenth team member mentioned in “Black Canary” Vol.4 issue 9: Some guy called Valentine Chan, who apparently was thrown out early on for being too violent. “Deathstroke” Vol.2 issue 0 also includes a consultant called Adeline Kane to the team. This is the woman who will become Deathstroke’s wife in the future. None of these two characters are actually seen during this series. Continue reading “Team 7” Vol.2 issues 0 – 7, “Deathstroke” Vol.2 issue 0 and “Secret Origins” Vol.3 issue 11

Wildstorm in Flashpoint (or How the New Wildstorm Universe was Born)

Flashpoint written by Geoff Johns; Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager written by Jimmy Palmiotti; Lois Lane and The Resistance written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; The World of Flashpoint written by Rex Ogle

Wildstorm concepts: wildcats-authority  wildcats-grifter  team-7  authority-century-babies

Flashpoint is the event which creates the new DC Universe and fuses it with the Wildstorm and Vertigo. It’s centred on the Flash, who after going back in time to prevent his mother’s death, changed the world’s timeline and altered history forever. The book reveals that originally the DCU, Vertigo and Wildstorm were all part of a single timeline, and Dr. Manhattan split them in three to weaken Earth for his invasion. Meaning that when Flash went back in time and changed history, what 1actually happened was that these timelines got back together “like they were meant to be.” It’s better not to think about it too hard. In this new timeline, Wonder Woman and her amazons declared war on Atlantis and took over the United Kingdom. Now flash and the other heroes have to work together to change this apocalyptic timeline and make things normal again.

One of the few Wildstorm characters to appear in the event is Grifter. Cole doesn’t appear all that much, but we get small glimpses into his character, his personality and the ways in which these differ from his previous incarnation.

Flashpoint Grifter appears for the first time in Flashpoint #3, during one splash page in which he welcomes Lois Lane to his Resistance. This continues in Lois Lane and the Resistance, a three-issue miniseries. It is written by Abnett and Lanning, Wildstorm veterans who handled the first year of Authority post World’s End. Grifter appears in the second issue, and he gets to be in the cover! We’re introduced to this timeline’s Team 7, the best black ops America could assemble during Afghanistan: Grifter, Sergeant Rock (from Our Army At War), Lieutenant Reid (Magog), Kate Kane (Batwoman), Zinda Blake (Lady Blackhawk), John Stewart (Green Lantern) and Gunner (from the Losers). Basically, all characters who had ties to the military in the old DCU. All of them but Grifter die on the following page, killed by crazy Muslims, and Grifter needs to be saved by a new character called Britannia (Penny Black). Grifter mentions being a telepath, which makes you wonder how on earth he got his powers. He touches Penny’s armour and apparently establishes a technopath connection which her – which causes him to get a puppy-crush. It feels a bit unbecoming.

Once this Team 7 flashback is over we return to the Resistance, and one realizes Grifter is still wearing the same clothes he wore back in his Team 7 days. Nowadays he’s become an infamous leader. He didn’t plan it, but he had no choice but to assemble a group of weirdos after the Amazons took over the United Kingdom. That does sound like our good old Grifter, who unlike most DC heroes he murders amazons without blinking. In the end the Resistance and Lois Lane reunite with their informant, none other than Penny Black, and they’re ready rush forward to the final battle in Flashpoint #5.

Before the climatic conclusion, however, Cole is seen in a couple of comics. He appears in a montage sequence in The World of Flashpoint #2, while Circe explains that the heroes in this world are no different from its villains; “they are all out trying to shape the world their way. Everything is a matter of perspective.” I suppose that’s as much insight to Grifter’s psychology as we’re going to get. In the following issue of this book, the main character jumps into the final showdown of Flashpoint #5, and Grifter can be seen in a panel killing atlanteans. He’s also seen in Flashpoint #4: he’s behind Enchantress as she speaks about her team, the Secret Seven. Kind of weird, because Cole belongs to The Resistance.

On to Flashpoint #5: Grifter joins the final battle and he gets a double page spread as his group comes to save all of the main character’s butts. Sadly, he is murdered in the following page by Enchantress, screaming “Arzzz.” Make of that what you will.

During the final pages, when Pandora is merging the timelines to form the new universe that becomes the New 52, we get a glimpse of the old Wildstorm Universe in which the artist draws Zealot’s uniform wrong. In a way, that’s classic Wildstorm shenanigans. When they show the New 52 universe Grifter gets to stand in the middle of the Justice League, front and centre; that’s pretty cool.

Another Wildstorm concept is shown in the pages of “Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravagers”, where there is a woman called Jenny Blitz with the capacity of causing things to explode with her mind. It was written by Jimmy Palmiotti, Wildstorm veteran from “21 Down”. I asked the author on Twitter if Jenny Blitz was a century baby and he said “sort of”, so I suppose it is left to our interpretation.

In the end all the timelines are united together, but Doctor Manhattan steals 10 years from history and reality gets twisted, that’s why everything is different instead of just the old WSU fused with the old DCU. The New 52 timeline is created… and many Wildstorm characters are born again.

Next: “Demon Knights” issues 0 – 23 by Paul Cornell and Robert Venditti