Animal Magnetism 

It’s hard to resist the creative pull of We3.

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Once in a while, in any form of entertainment, there comes a truly unforgettable moment that has a lasting impact on the medium—something that lets the audience know that they’re in for something brand new, and they better hold on to their seats. It could be the introduction of ultra-violence in A Clockwork Orange, or Tony Soprano tip-toeing around an encounter in his first visit to his psychiatrist. It’s new ideas that take things to a level not yet explored, and it’s these new ideas that are always welcome. With We3, writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitley—neither of whom are strangers to new ideas—attempt something new and knock it right out of the park.


In high-concept terms, the story is Homeward Bound meets The Six Million Dollar Man. The Air Force has devised a way to fight a war without risking the lives of American men—adapting a dog, a cat and a rabbit in state-of-the-art exo-suits equipped with massive firepower. When the military leaders are introduced to the animals for the first time, they decide to decommission the operation and put the prototype animals out of their misery—except they escape before that’s possible.


The way these animals are portrayed is almost heartbreaking. They’ve been equipped with the ability to speak, and are still learning what they are capable of when the military comes looking for them. The animals are unstoppable killing machines, and the powers that be learn very quickly what they’ve let loose. The animals display such perfect responses to the pain they receive—and inflict—it’s hard not to feel for them.


Morrison and Quitely have worked together before, but they seem to be hitting their stride here. It’s hard to tell where the genius behind the book lies, but Morrison has always been one to try anything, and Quitely brings out the best in him. In one panel, a general warns his men that these animals see time and motion differently from humans. Quitely revels in this detail, and uses some of the best line work and technique of his career. He breaks the mold of the flat panel grid and toys with a third dimension of depth; he uses scattered inserts spread over a large panel to show more detail and get to the essence of seeing things differently.


We3 has just cemented its reputation as the best book of the past year, and one of many high points in the careers of Morrison and Quitely. Creative talents like these abolish the notion of comics being only for kids, and anything they unleash upon the world will be met with great expectations.


So let those expectations rise: They take on Superman this summer.


WE3 By Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely (Vertigo Comics)


IN BRIEF


Runaways


Five children from an evil secret society known as The Pride have escaped a showdown with their parents, and are now on the run in Los Angeles. Vaughan and Alphona’s second volume of this series starts these kids off on a journey to save the world from the villain Victorious. Vaughan has set up what looks to be one of the most original stories set in the Marvel Universe in some time, and brings back the notion that comics can be fun. If that’s truly the case, we’re all in for a good time. (By Brian K. Vaughan & Adrian Alphona, Marvel)


Hellblazer: All His Engines


While Keanu Reeves is fighting demons with Holy Brass Knuckles on the big screen, the other John Constantine is looking for a demon that has left a trail of comatose children in his wake. Back to the basics of the character, Constantine uses all the tricks that made him the best anti-hero in comics. It seems this book was designed with the intention of drawing fans of the movie to the books by being the definitive Hellblazer story. Carey and Manco succeed in just that, because once it’s over, all you want is more. (By Mike Carey & Leonardo Manco; Vertigo)

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