Why I Read It: Look at the cover. See those cute animals in robot suits? Yeah, that’s why I read it. Also, the hubby said it was good. Also, Grant Morrison wrote it, and I’ve had good luck with him so far.
The premise: ganked form BN.com: Available for the first time in a deluxe hardcover format, a powerful tale from the ALL-STAR SUPERMAN team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, packed with nearly 40 pages of bonus material!
Writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely deliver the emotional journey of WE3 — three house pets weaponized for lethal combat by the government — as they search for “home” and ward off the shadowy agency that created them.
With nervous systems amplified to match their terrifying mechanical exoskeletons, the members of Animal Weapon 3 (WE3) have the firepower of a battalion between them. But they are just the program’s prototypes, and now that their testing is complete, they’re slated to be permanently “decommissioned,” causing them to seize their one chance to make a desperate run for freedom. Relentlessly pursued by their makers, the WE3 team must navigate a frightening and confusing world where their instincts and heightened abilities make them as much a threat as those hunting them — but a world, nonetheless, in which somewhere there is something called “home.”
Spoilers, yay or nay?: Nay. It’s a really short graphic novel (made up of three individual issues), so it seems a crime to spoil something this short. If you’re in a hurry, just skip to “My Rating” and you’ll be fine. Everyone else, onward!
The Story: As I mentioned before, this is made up of three issues. That’s it. Three individual issues that tell one big story, and that story is about some secret branch of the military kidnapped some house-pets, put them into killer robot suits, and learned the lessons of their hubris. We’ve got a dog, a cat, and a rabbit. All of them were former house-pets, which is one head-scratcher because why not take animals from the shelters. All of them, thanks to the robotic suits, can talk. Not like you and I, though. Morrison does an admirable job of making each animal’s dialogue reflect the nature of their species. So the dog is all about loyalty and helping men. The cat is full of snark and hate. The rabbit is, well, the rabbit. I think had this been developed beyond three issues, we may have seen the rabbit be something of a peace-maker, a neutral voice. Maybe. I’m just guessing here.
What I don’t need to guess about is that it’s a very short, very violent story. The climax made me catch my breath too, because despite the weirdness of the set-up, despite some confusion of action due to the art style (I’ll talk about that later), you want the animals to win. Unless you’re a heartless bastard, in which case, forget you.
But the set-up and science is pretty stereotypical (bad humans do bad science), and I had some confusion on whether or not the dog wanted to go home to the Lab or was remembering his original home he’d been taken from. At first, I thought it was the former. Now, I’m thinking it’s the latter. Also, the medication problem? I’m still confused in regards to how that was supposed to work, at least by the end.
The Art: So weird. Quitely is definitely pushing the envelope. Some things worked for me, and some things different. The first 3D effect we get (seen here) was pretty cool. But the style as a whole confused me, despite understand (thanks to the afterward) what the artist was trying to do, which was not show a linear story through linear time as we see it, but based on how animals might process time and events themselves. So spreads like this (seen here) really threw me, because my eye never knew where to settle and start processing. It was cool, but I wished those little boxes had been bigger. I kept squinting to make out the detail.
But then there’s the genius of the closed-circuit cam storytelling, where every panel is a block from a surveillance monitor, and while yes, I was squinting to make out detail here too, this was a really cool way to show what was happening. You can see it here.
Is there any traditional style of art in this book? Sure. Here’s the cat, decked out in his gear, flying in for the attack: here.
The cat made me smile. Sue me, I’m a cat person.
My Rating: 6 – Worth Reading, with Reservations
I feel like I need to read this again to really absorb the story and how the art impacts the story. When I originally finished, I was left wondering, “That’s it?” I did quite like the ending, but I feel there were some holes in the story as well, holes that kept the story form being as strong as it could have been. Of course, stereotypical bad men doing bad science don’t help that either. Still, it was interesting, but it was SHORT and hyper-violent, and if you’re the kind of person who really gets torn up over cruelty done to (or by) animals, you may want to pass on this.
But it is an interesting story, one I’ll probably read again, now that I now how it ends. Still though, I feel like I should’ve gotten more.
Cover Commentary: The cover was what caught my eye. Dog, cat, rabbit, all in robot suits. Except due to the black cover, I thought they were in space, and I was really, really hoping they’d go to space. Alas, no luck. Maybe that’s a story I should write instead?
Next Up: Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box by Mira Grant