Jab’s Deep Dive: Image Comics (WildCATS pt 2)

For more on WildCATS as an overall review, click HERE.


Spartan was pretty clearly the “Cyclops” of the WildC.A.T.s team when they first debuted- as most of the members could be traced either visually or character-wise to the X-Men, it made sense we’d have a “Cyclops”- a stoic, stable guy. Spartan even had the “hair-showing mask” with a very similar (though more flowing) haircut and a large bandolier around his torso, meaning his silhouette had barely changed! He was also the team’s resident Blaster, though at least he could fly.

So eventually we got more backstory for the guy- Yon Kohl was a Kherubim warrior who had crash-landed on earth, and became a “Captain America” sort renamed “John Cole”, living agelessly, fighting Daemonites all the while. He was an iconic American soldier and hero, and sacrificed his life on a mission. Thankfully, Lord Emp had copied John’s personality so that it could be attached to a “Spartan Android” later- in the 1990s, this android was activated, leading the team Emp had formed. However, despite having Kohl’s personality, he was an “emotiontless, reserved robot”… okay, the online bio says this, but in WildC.A.T.s #1 he’s clearly shown smiling, arguing impatiently with his teammates, and more. He was, more or less, a Personailty Clone of Cyclops- stoic but not a robo… well, he WAS a robot, but he acted like a Serious Leader Guy. In any case, Spartan eventually opened up, forming a relationship with his teammate, Voodoo.

Eventually, however, the character was killed after joining Stormwatch following the seeming deaths of his original teammates- they turned up alive, but he was gone. Emp rebuilt him using a back-up disc and Kherubim science to make him even stronger. Later, he was taken over by the mind of the real John Cole. Finally, he followed Lord Emp’s wishes and killed him, allowing him to ascend to a higher plane. In a rebooted continuity, he took the name Jack Marlowe and formed the “Halo Corporation” to fix the world, using Kherubim technology to solve problems like cars that required gasoline, and more. He combined his power with Void in this reboot world, but eventually continuity ended and he’s back in his original form.

Well you had to know there’d be a Claw Guy. Warblade also has what is by far, the most “90s” name on the entire roster, as it has both “War” and “Blade” in it. And naturally he seems like the most normal person on his squad- he appears somewhat argumentative and doesn’t like being criticized by Spartan when it’s not his fault, and he snarks on Maul. A Kherubim-Descended hero, he is trained by Spartan and becomes a good fighter with his “Body Weaponry” powers. His backstory is that he’s an artist, but trained in the martial arts to avenge his murdered parents, slain by the Daemonites. However, he was kidnapped by Cyberdata and made to fight Ripclaw as a mind-controlled warrior, and was nearly killed- he was then found by Lord Emp and recruited onto the WildC.A.T.s.

Eventually, the WildC.A.T.s came to Khera, home of the Kherubim, and he met shapeshifters like himself- he also became an apprentice to one of them, learning new ways to use his powers. However, he was disappointed when he learned of the dark side of Kherubim society. He engaged in an ongoing feud with Pike of the Cabal, and the villain Refrigeratored Warblade’s girlfriend and blew him up, too- Warblade was able to pull himself together (literally), and killed Pike in their final duel. Depression temporarily robbed him of his super-powers, but he got them back due to SCIENCE!

Warblade has since been turned into a DC character, showing up in the new Teen Titans New 52 book, but being killed by Deathstroke.

Always called “The Grifter” in the WildC.A.T.s comics I have, Cole Cash is the token “Gun Guy” on the team. Gun Guys were actually pretty rare on hero teams at the time, with only Cable & Domino of X-Force being particularly notable that I can think of, but in Image Comics, with every team being a “Paramilitary Strike Force” concept, suddenly EVERYONE had to have a guy that reminded fans of Punisher and/or Cable. Grifter is himself very similar to Jim Lee’s Gambit, featuring a near-identical silhouette, owing to the “Badass Longcoat” look (amazingly, the WildC.A.T.s only featured ONE member in a long trenchcoat!) and the same “short on the sides, high and wavy on top” hairstyle. But he has a distinctive, cool-looking, completely stupid mask that just hangs all the way down past the bottom of his face, and has those “Deadpool Eyes” you see on many ’90s Anti-Heroes.

Grifter is also the narrator of parts of the first issue, giving the “Punisher War Journal” effect of first-person narration as he finds Voodoo in a strip club and fights off some Coda Assassin and her goons. In the first issues, he’s not actually on the team- he and Zealot are a separate thing, with Zealot having trained him. They ally with them due to mutual goals and just stick around. Grifter sort of acts like the “regular guy/cynic”, and often makes snide remarks about whatever’s going on. And oddly, HE takes most of Jim Lee’s weirdest, wildest poses, not one of the female characters- he’s always jumping around with his gun pointed upside-down because he’s bent his arm over his head, or sticking his legs in random direction in mid-jump.

He had your token “Mysterious Backstory” (then as ’90s as grenades and bandoliers), which was slowly developed- his mother married the mob boss that killed his con-man father, and he ran away from home after years of being beaten, becoming a crook. He was recruited to International Operations (called “I/O” in the story) after saving the life of an F.B.I. officer, and finally joined “Team 7”- part of the backstory of the Image Universe. They were exposed to stuff deliberately to turn them into the super-powered “Gen 12”- Cole quit after that and more dark things (such as his teammate Slayton killing an innocent scientist).

Cole finally met Zealot, and the two fell in love, with her teaching him the ways of the Coda- her “warrior order”. Her teachings stabilized his insanity (much of his group began losing their minds over exposure to I/O’s shenanigans). He took the name “Grifter”, and the pair broke up, though still remained partners in Zealot’s war against the Daemonites. They met and allied with the WildC.A.T.s, as they had the same mission. However, he quit the squad when they flew to Khera, being upset that they allied with a Daemonite who’d killed a friend of his. He acted as a solo operative on Earth, thinking the team dead- he discovered that his father had in fact faked his death… but the man was a psychopath who was attempting to use him. He threatened to kill his father if their paths ever crossed again, and he rejoined the WildC.A.T.s when they returned to Earth. Grifter led the team for a while, but his younger brother Max was killed while on a mission. They disbanded twice over, once over Zealot’s death, but she soon returned, and he had to deal with lasting feelings for her. He was crippled during one mission, but recovered, as well. Later appearances as a mainstream DC Universe character have occurred, but typically involve re-writing the previous version- a solo book was short-lived, and ended up with ROB LIEFELD writing it.

2 thoughts on “Jab’s Deep Dive: Image Comics (WildCATS pt 2)

Add yours

  1. I always thought Grifter was another character, that you know, grifted people, and they were just talking about some guy that was never appeared on panel – I think I thought that guy was named Wildcat

    Liked by 1 person

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