Hello, my friends. The push towards All Hallow’s Eve has just begun, so let’s keep our festive and ghoulish spirits alive as we invite ourselves back to another entry of the…
Now that Cleveland, Ohio’s six-issue tale has filled us up, it’s time that we mingle with a cast of characters that I haven’t talked about yet. A particular storm has risen and it’s bringing three horror-themed tales into one package. As such, I reveal that our next review subject is none other than the…
Published in 1997, this one-shot special serves as a horror anthology with three tales concerning particular characters from WildStorm’s classic catalog. Leading things off, we have International Operations’ finest gathering of the world’s top-notch military men looking to stop an otherworldly threat south of the border in a mission that’s laced with “Blood & Faith”.
We open in early 1970s Mexico over at the Yucatan Peninsula where a man named Terence Crandall is documenting the exploits of a revolutionary group called Nueva Mayapan. This band of warriors consists of members who claim to be descendants of the Ancient Mayans as they look to overthrow the Mexican government. Despite the country’s head officials declining U.S. assistance in stopping this resurgent faction, some unofficial strings were pulled as Team 7 arrives via helicopter to engage Nueva Mayapan in a shootout. Terence manages to slip away and reach an underground ruin ahead of his pursuers. In the main crypt, he tells his “King of Bats” that a feasting has been gathered for it. As the Nueva Mayapan’s leader plans for him and his group to defend the crypt while one of their own heads out to get help, Team 7 arrives and guns them down as John Lynch leads his team further down the tomb.
Within the ancient cavern, Terence sacrifices a fellow compatriot to his “lord” as the slained man’s blood is collected. By the time Team 7 reaches him, the ritual is complete as Hunan’s body is used to resurrect a demonic being named Camazotz as they’re forced to turn their assault weapons on it. While Jackson Dane fends of an attack from Terence, Lynch leads the assault against their otherworldly adversary. They’re barely able to fend the monster off before Dane places a grenade onto the beast and heads out with the rest of his team. Before it blows up, Camazotz swears that his curse will be on them as well as “all that follow after” them. With their mission complete, the tale ends with Team 7 boarding their helicopter and flying off while Terence emerges from the rubble and vows to get vengeance on them, starting with Dane.
Our next tale involves a teenage superhero team that I’ve actually been intrigued with growing up called Gen¹³. What starts as an invitation to a Halloween party turns out to be a realization that this is actually “When All The Freaks Come Out!”. We open in La Jolla, California (part of the greater San Diego area) where a pair of young hooligans sneak up to a particular house in order to frighten the occupants. However, they get the scare of their life as John Lynch and Alexander Fairchild spook them away for a good laugh. Afterwards, Robert “Bobby” Lane a.k.a. Burnout is set to head out alongside fellow teammate Roxanne “Roxy” Spaulding a.k.a. Freefall to a party as he scolds their guardians for their ironically immature behavior. Lynch explains that he and Alex were only taking a break from their serious work as he expects them to be back by 1 am. Later, Bobby and Roxy arrive outside of the House O’ Bats dance club where they meet up with their fellow crime-fighting partners: Caitlin Fairchild, Percival Edmund Chang a.k.a. Grunge and Sarah Rainmaker. They head inside before immediately coming across a fellow classmate named Jacqueline. She escorts Caitlin and Bobby up to the VIP Lounge before promising the rest of the group that they’ll have their turn later on. A few minutes later, Fairchild and Lane are introduced to the club’s owners named Sir Luce Goldberg and Lucretia. They explain that a Spring Break trip to the Yucatan Penisula has influenced them towards a “true power of darkness”, inspiring them to “bring this power to other members of our generation”. Lucretia then asks Bobby if he’s enjoying the punch, which he replies with “a little too much”, but he then notices that she called him “Mr. Lynch”. Caitlin (who’s also been drinking the punch) is finding it odd that the party beverage is actually clotting. Suddenly, they pass out as the owners explains that it’s actually “the essence of life” before ordering fellow cult member Jacqueline to prep their new subjects for sacrifice in order to resurrect Camazotz.
Meanwhile, Sarah, Edmund and Roxy have been out on the dance floor for a while before they decide to go check up on their friends. When they reach the VIP entrance however, it’s guarded by a group of bouncers as the head goon explains that the “invocation” involving “the Crimson Lord” must not be disturbed. Afterwards, Sarah comes up with a plan for them to reach their teammates. Fortunately, Freefall brought a fake corpse hand that the opening-scene pranksters accidentally left behind and uses it to keep people away from the punch bowl while Grunge proceeds to molecularly bond with the liquid and set the scheme in motion. Just as Jacqueline is about to sacrifice Caitlin and Bobby for Camazotz’ resurrection, Edmund arrives (with assistance from Sarah and Roxy) and pretends to be the demonic god before ordering the cultists to stop their worship. Sir Luce tells them that this isn’t their god since only their faith can bring him back. As such, Camazotz begins to enter reality and exposes our heroes’ scheme. Seeing the Bat God existing among the living, Jacqueline decides to jump out the shattered window and sacrifice herself towards the demonic being.
Fortunately, Freefall uses her gravity manipulation ability to prevent her foolish death. Afterwards, Burnout and Fairchild regain consciousness as Bobby uses his pyrokenesis to chase the patrons away, thus weakening Camazotz’ worshiping belief and making him disappear before Caitlin punches a hole in the wall to help her teammates escape. Afterwards, the scene ends with the team arriving back two hours after curfew as John tries to scold them for their tardiness, but Burnover utters “Not…One…Word!” before heading up. Just then, Alex tells Lynch to look at the party invitation’s description as he realizes what nearly went down.
Our final tale sees a former Team 7 member alongside his own group of superpowered covert ops team called Wetworks as they tie up loose ends with the fury of a “Berzerker”. We open on an arctic base as a group of vampiric demons have slaughtered the science staff in order to erase all data on Waering’s Vampire-Killing Virus. Intercut with this is a moment from the distant past where a norseman has slayed several enemies in combat before an opposing tribe manages to brutally massacre him. As the vampiric leader named Vance mentions that he purposefully allowed an accompanying distress signal to go out, a fellow comrade take off his hood to reveal that it’s Terence Crandall. The narration captions mentions that following his defeat at the hands of Team 7, he disappeared during the ’80s and formed an alliance with this nation of vampires. Now, he awaits Jackson Dane’s arrival so that get can get his revenge. Meanwhile, Wetworks is in the air and are on their way to the site. Dexter LeMoyne a.k.a. Jester wonders why this particular R&D station has caught the interest of opposing vampires, to which Jackson explains that it contains a created virus that can actually kill the undead. As Rachel Rhodes a.k.a. Mother-One lets her teammates know of their impending arrival, Terence unleashes his new magical powers as he blasts Wetworks’ aircraft. With the team forced to make an emergency landing, they all activate their golden symbiotic armor which encompasses their entire bodies before emerging from their fallen jet unharmed. Suddenly, they’re confronted by Crandall who blasts Dane into a nearby cave filled with skeletons.
While the rest of Wetworks is forced into fighting the approaching vampiric armada, Jackson is contacted by a familiar spirit before attempting to pick up a battle axe. Despite this causing a strange reaction with the golden symbiote armor, Terence is stunned by what he has confronted. During all of this, Wetworks has been fending off their otherworldly adversaries before they hear a blood-curling scream from afar. Crandal emerges from the cave with his entire right arm having been completely cut off with Jackson arriving soon afterwards as it turns out that the spirit of the deceased Norseman has possessed him. After helping to finish off the vampire hoard, he proceeds to bring a swift death upon Terence with a stroke of his axe. As his teammates look on in stunned belief, Mother-One explains that their leader has become possessed and thus tries to contact Dane’s suppressed consciousness. As he looks towards them, he suddenly sees the spirits of his fellow Norsemen saluting him as he relinquishes control of Jackson and joins his fellow compatriots in eternal rest over in Valhalla. From there, the issue ends with the narration captions explaining that Dane has an odd feeling of closure over “a victory not his own” and yet he “feels a moment of true peace”.
Overall, this is a interesting experience that doesn’t come together as tight as it potentially could have been. Like “Batman: Gotham Knight”, this has the feel of an anthology film that uses its individual stories to tell one overarching tale. Unlike that movie however, it’s not the complete package that we got 11 years after this comic’s publication. Team 7 ‘s tale sets up the initial conflict that their future generations will have to face. After all, various super teams (Gen¹³, DV8 and Wetworks) were created from these members years after they were eventually doused in a chemical called Gen-Factor during a suicide mission by their boss, I.O. Director Miles Craven. With the rise of Camazotz and its most loyal worshipper Terence Crandall, it sets the stage for the terror that they’ve unwittingly passed on to their descendants. While Gen¹³ does face some challenge from worshippers in their time and even Camazotz’ spirit, they’re able to save the day once Caitlin & Bobby are saved and are able to rejoin their teammates. For Wetworks, the only hardship they face in when their aircraft gets shot down by opposing magic. Other than that, they’re more than capable of gunning down the vampiric creatures while Jackson Dane gets some unexpected help from a deceased Norseman in taking down Terence. Even Team 7 back in their period-piece battle are able to withstand Camazotz’ resurrected wrath without suffering any notable losses. Sure, the WildStorm Universe was five years old by the time this comic came out. However, there doesn’t seem to be much stakes throughout these tales. Also, you would need to have been a fan of these characters to recognize them. Gen¹³ was the easiest for me since A. I’ve been fond of them for a long time up to this, B. I’ve read just enough of their books to identify their individual personalities & powers and C. They’re colorful and able to stand out in the crowd. Team 7’s members forced me to keep track throughout the tale and even with some online resourceful help just to identify the members that stood out in this tale. Wetworks was nearly the same since they had colorful outfits like Gen¹³, but the research was needed since I wasn’t too familiar with the team. Despite all that, there’s still stuff to like here. The atmosphere changes with each tale to give off a distinct vibe to match the particular stories. From the Mexican jungle hiding an ancient evil within a veil of foreign uncertainty, it then shifts over to terror that can be unknowingly present within your own neck of the woods and in high society. From there, the arctic setting gives a feeling of isolation where the hero is all alone with an unspeakable evil and has to think fast or else die out in the cold. I’m fine with what little explanation Camazotz has initially since it carries an unknown terror that can hang over our different hero groups. However, a little bit of expansion the further we head in wouldn’t be a bad idea. Also, Terence could also use some motivation and character building. Why is he fascinated with this otherworldly being? What does he hope to gain from bringing this monster back to life? Does acquiring magical powers on a later date come with the task? With a bit more tweaking, this one-shot would feel even more of a special comic to bust out on Halloween. Even with its faults, its still a fairly entertaining read with good artwork, a nice pace and enough spooky elements to entertain the soul.
Team 7 (created by Chuck Dixon & Aron Wiesenfeld), Gen¹³ (created by Jim Lee, Brandon Choi & J. Scott Campbell) and Wetworks (created by Whilce Portacio & Brandon Choi) are owned by WildStorm Productions and DC Comics.