Graphic Novel/Comics Review


(2005) Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, Titan Books, 7.99, trd pbk, 112pp, ISBN 1-84576-159-6

In a Top Secret Air Force research facility the scientists of Project Awe have created a revolution in cybernetics. Ordinary domestic animals have been used to create powerful cyborgs to replace human soldiers. WE3 are a trio of successful prototypes, custom-built and trained to work as a team, comprised of Bandit, a dog, Tinker, a cat, and Pirate, a rabbit. Together they are programmable but autonomous, loyal yet utterly ruthless. But still they are only prototypes and, once testing is completed and WE4 created, WE3 are to be dismantled. But the scientists didn't anticipate that when faced with destruction the animals' survival instinct would make them rebel and flee. Now they must be found before they wreak havoc with their mechanical shells and cutting-edge military hardware.

The real hero here is artist Frank Quitely who makes this comic a delight to look at but, assuming Morrison was working full script, he should also be praised for one of his least self-indulgent of offerings (always a possiblilty with Grant). The story is a little sentimental - the animals, former pets, just want to go home - but it's not played with overt sentimentality. For instance, some writers might have succumbed to the temptation to make the animals speak articulately, kind of like they'd been 'uplifted' as with David Brin's chimps and dolphins, but here Morrison gives them only a simple and severly limited vocabulary, and the thoughts they express are therefore not sophisticated. To my mind that means that this is not a 'funny animal story', but serious SF. Dialogue is spare and whole pages go by without a speech balloon, panel framing is excellent, and the pacing is first rate throughout. Jamie Grant's colouring is lovely too! This is a great collection of the original three issues and well worth a place on any comics fan's shelf. Highly recommended.

Tony Chester

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