Monday, June 7, 2010

Review: We3

Animal Weapon 3 is a top secret U.S. Air Force project in cybernetics. They've taken three household pets, a dog, a cat, and a rabbit, and turned them into killing machines. These cyborg/animals have enhanced nervous systems, and sport mechanical exoskeletons complete with more firepower than some small nations. Each of the three animals are tweaked to be specialists within a team; The rabbit is a demolitions expert, the cat a stealth killing machine and the dog acts as the heavy artillery or tank.

The book opens with the team eliminating a terrorist leader, yet despite the success of the mission, this cybernetics project is nothing more than a prototype, and they are promptly decommissioned. Part of their enhanced nervous system is enhanced instincts, and their natural instinct for survival is greater than anyone could have expected. Soon the three animals are on the run from the might of the U.S. government, using all their cybernetic skills to stay alive, and to find someplace they can call "home".

We3 is unlike anything I've read before. Through life I've been a fan of anthropomorphic stories like the Redwall books, and Watership Down, and even Dr. Rat was a good read, however this is unlike any of those in many ways. I think the big difference is that the animals of We3 have only a few human qualities, and despite their cyborg shells, maintain a large degree of the cute, fluffy traits that make them animals we humans keep as pets. This was an endearing quality of the book, and while it felt kinda creepy to care about a cyborg animal, I did care, and like the soppy guy I am, and despite the odds stacked against them, I really just wanted them to find a safe, loving home.

We3 benefits from both fantastic writing and art. As a fan of Joe the Barbarian I was interested to read some of Grant Morrison's other works, and I was not disappointed. His writing and scripting is top notch, and this story packs a lot of punch on multiple levels. We3 has action, and explosions, but it also has some very touching and emotional moments.

Working in perfect harmony with Morrison's writing, is the eye-popping artwork of Frank Quitely. This book is full of great art. Each panel demands scrutiny because Quitely's art is so nice to look at. His illustrations have a simply clarity about them, yet are still extremely detailed. I really loved the occasional double-page splashes. There's also some less conventional pages where Quitely would draw a large illustration, showing the action at a basic level, then overlay it with smaller panels that show micro-shots of smaller aspects of the given scene. This was a really cool element, and it worked well within the story. Quitely is one of the best comics artists out there and he is on top of his game here.

We3 is a pretty short graphic novel. It collects only three issues, but there is a lot packed into book. Tight writing, great art and an interesting story make this a great read.

Grade: B+

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