Welcome to the first installment of Point of Origin powered by TheQuarterbin.com. For those new to the site, Point of Origin is a regular column that runs on Gamervision.com showcasing comic stories you may have missed that I believe are must reads. And heck, even if you have read the story before, think of this as a reminder to read it again, and remember how great it was the first time.
This week, we’ll be taking a look at the ultra-violent sci-fi “can’t help but compare it to HOMEWARD BOUND” story Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely call WE3.
Minor Spoilers Ahead.
Click on a picture to view it in Expand-O-Scope.
WE3 begins with 13 pages of silence. Grant Morrison’s direction of Frank Quitely’s art gives the opening of this story a very ALIEN vibe. The silence and the great panel layout combine to create a very tense group of pages. We see glimpses of three somethings (robots? aliens?) spying on what appear to be guerillas. Then, suddenly, everyone is dead. The strange creatures leave the grounds making their way into the back of a mysterious truck as a mansion explodes behind them. The next day, newspaper headlines inform us a man named Guererra was assassinated. After the mysterious truck arrives at its destination, a military base, we’re given the first look at what the beings from the opening are.
Shadow, Chace and Sassy wouldn’t stand a chance. I don’t care if one of them is voiced by Michael J. Fox or not.
Grant Morrison would have you believe the next war will not be fought by man. Don’t just take my word for it, read these pages for yourself. Using enhanced mice to put a jet engine together is apparently just the tip of the iceberg.
After being shown the enhanced mice, the government official is shown Project WE3. Only he doesn’t know they’ve been trained to speak. Of course, only Morrison could have three animals speaking in “internet speak” and get away with it. The G-Man is none too happy about killing machines being taught to speak, so he orders the program decommissioned, and the animals to be put to pasture. The scientist responsible for WE3 is devastated, and sets the animals free before anyone has a chance to harm them. This leads to a wonderfully done sequence imitating security cameras capturing the escape. Frank Quitely nails every last frame of the 108 panels he uses to show WE3’s breakout.
WE3 is free. Or so it would seem. As they make their way into the wilderness, military helicopters can be seen approaching in the distance. That’s a hell of a first act.
Now don’t think for one second the animals here aren’t compelling simply because they speak like 12-year-olds who just got a text message plan. Morrison’s characterizations are among the best he’s ever written, perhaps because they are so simple. The dog, codenamed “1”, probably has the most heartbreaking personality. Constantly concerned with whether or not he is a “GUD DOG” (read: good leader), many of the events occurring weigh heavily on his canine head. The cat, “2”, constantly disagrees with the dog, and is akin to the cocksure soldier getting the job done, but at their discretion, trying to bend the rules as far as they’ll go. Codename “3”, the rabbit, is for lack of a better term, the comic relief. More worried about its next meal than anything else, “3” is the loyal soldier who doesn’t always know what they’re doing. Maybe my analogy to HOMEWARD BOUND was misleading. There’s much more to it than that. I believe there’s even a little STAND BY ME in there, mixed in with some army buddy action similar to LETHAL WEAPON as well.
None of the characterization would matter though if the art didn’t grab you by the eyes and demand your attention. Frank Quitely (if you haven’t figured it out by now, his name is a play on Quite Frankly) is more than suited for that job. He’s a frequent collaborator with Morrison (they’re working together on ALL-STAR SUPERMAN right now), and his panel layout and detail is beyond what most artists will ever accomplish. You’ve seen some already, but take a look at these pages from the beginning of act two, and honestly try to remember the last time you saw some breakdowns like this, if ever.
I told you before it was ultra-violent. Honestly though, the real shining moments are the single panel close-ups he does of the animals. Never cartoony, but always more expressive than you would believe, these images truly cement the characters in your mind.
I hate giving away a lot in these columns, so if you want to know how everything goes after the first act, you’re going to have to find out on your own. You can find WE3 at your local comic shop for $12.99. It’s a great deal for such a great read. Have I ever led you astray before?
To find a comic shop near you: 1-888-COMICBOOK.