Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Listed in "500 Essential Graphic Novels" as: Science Fiction (Best of the Rest)
Contains: WE3 #1-3
Year: 2004-05
Publisher: DC/Vertigo
Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Frank Quitely (Artist)
        Jamie Grant (Colorist & Digital Inker)

Here we go, guys...  The first entry.

First, let me clarify some things and a bit more of the mechanics of how I'm going to move through this "500 Essential Graphic Novels" book.  It's quite simple: Basically, in no particular order. 

The only small bit of order that I am going to follow requires only a bit of explanation.  The book is broken up into ten chapters, each featuring a genre of story.  Each of those chapters has a "Top Ten" section, higlighting the best 10 book in that genre, and a "Best of the Rest" section, listing the remaining featured graphic novels of that section in alphabetical order.

What I'm going to do (at least for starters) is read four (4) "Best of the Rest" books, just hopping around the book in random order, and then a "Top Ten" pick, also in random order.

Make sense?  Now, then...  WE3.

With the first official review of the blog, I wanted to start off with as much as I could with a "something for everyone" kind of book.  Also, Grant Morrison is my favorite author and Frank Quitely is a stellar artist, as well.

We open on what is apparently some sort of upscale mansion/compound. Some big, bad lug is running on a treadmill. There are shady looking characters sitting around everywhere. Drugs, booze and guns are abound.  But if we look closely in the holes in the wall or the heating grates, we see tiny glowing red eyes.

This book focuses on what is referred to early on in the work as "The War of Tomorrow". Treadmill lug and his bad guy friends are apparently those who deserve warring upon because something... some robot-like, crazy, high-tech, mech things are encased in the shadows.  In the next sequence, they bring the hurt to all these guys. Hard.

After carrying out their mission, these extremely efficient, startlingly lethal things (whatever they are, we still can't see them yet) with their crazy robot parts and metal armadillo-like tails are called back to a covert tractor trailer.  The trailer belongs to the U.S. military and these killing machines turn out to be the cutest little dog, cat, and bunny rabbit you've ever seen.

These little guys have been engineered and drastically technologically enhanced for the aforementioned "War of Tomorrow".  A war with no human soldiers, but with what some view to be more expendable animals as the fighting force.

WE3, our three little animal buddies, have done a bang-up job of razing the bad guy compound, but they were just prototypes and will be decommissioned.  The remainder of the book is the story of these three tiny animals' instinct to survive, their valiant effort to fight for that instinct, and the tale of what happens when they do.

At this point you might be thinking, "I thought you said you wanted a book for everyone? This is crazy, sci-fi, futuristic, war crap! Household pets as U.S. soldiers? Come the fudge on!"

This book is anything but that.

I challenge you to make it through even the first chapter without feeling an intense bond with these three little critters.  Morrison has woven genius here, keeping with something that his long-time fans will enjoy (with all the science-y, smart, repeat read-worthy stuff) and also giving us three of the most easy-to-love characters I may have ever seen.

Artist Frank Quitely even bonds the reader to the story right away with the original covers to this fantastic series by making us feel right at home.  You've all seen a flyer for a lost dog haven't you?

That above image is genius.  Giving us something we've all seen to make us feel more at home in this fantastic work.

And while we're on the subject of Quitely's art: this book has art and images like I've never seen.  Look below.  Have you ever seen someone getting shot to shreds look so beautiful?

Or you longtime readers of comics (or readers of sequential art at all): Have you ever seen a panel sequence like the one across the top of this two-page spread?

This was a work where writer and artist worked perfectly together.  It's obvious that Morrison and his script were in the director's chair, but Quitely and Grant execute to perfection in making this thing an experience, not just a "comic book" or a work of sequential art. Morrison tells a story using somewhat less-than-usual dialogue. The first thirteen pages of the story contained no words at all, but evoked enough emotion, aesthetics, and awe to where the reader didn't need anything else.

I chose this one for my first entry because I'd read it before, Morrison is my favorite author, and I love the work. I wanted to give you something that shows that (while I love some superhero stories) comics are more than just musclebound guys in tights.  Comics can be absolute magic.

If this stellar work doesn't show that to you, I don't know what will.

Mr. Kannenberg's rating: 4 out of 5
My rating: 5 out of 5
1 down, 499 to go


  1. This was really, really great! This is the perfect format. I'm sure you've told me about this one before, because I remember it by title only, but remembered NOTHING of what it was all about. After reading this, I got the premise, I got to see some art, I got a readers first-hand experience in reading WE3 and their thoughts. To be honest, WE3 doesn't sound like something I'd like, but as I was saying that to myself, you basically wrote it out that very thought.

    The art does look pretty stellar and this would be something that I'd be hesitant about giving a try, but willing.

    Great first post bro. I learned from it and I cannot wait for the next one!!

  2. Cool, bro.

    Thanks a lot.

    By the description and the sci-fi theme, it might be work that a lot of folks might not think they'd like. I respect that forethought. Heck, I may have never picked this one up way back when I did if Morrison's name hadn't been attached.

    It's a great story, though. It truly is.

    And even if you can't get into the story: that Frank Quitely art is mind-blowing. I stared at both of the above interior art images the first time I saw them for, like, ever.

    Great stuff.

    Thanks again for reading and for the comments, bro. :)