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We3: Homeward Bound with action missiles

Sum1 get 1 a bskit

I’m going to try something a bit different today.  I am going to review a COMIC.  No, not a web comic, an actual, honest to god comic that I have in my physical possession.  I’ve actually had it for several years, but I keep coming back to it and re-read it every so often, possibly because I am a sucker for adorable animals who can also kill terrorists by dispensing poison gas or a hail of bullets.

We3, created by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, was released by Vertigo in 2004 that follows the story of three experimental animal biorgs who want nothing more than to escape pursuit and find their way home.  Also to find something to eat.

…  Okay, fine.  In the interest of complete honesty, you should know the reason I decided to review We3 today is that the idea for a We3 movie has been kicked around since 2006.  Maybe together we can help push that gem right along?  Let’s see.

The deal with We3:  There’s a shady and undefined branch of the government that has been tasked with creating animal biorgs, who are supposed to become the soldiers of tomorrow.  At the beginning of We3, the top three specimens are a dog, a cat, and a rabbit, named one, two and three respectively.  We don’t know much about the lives of these three animals before they were inducted into the world of bionics, though at the start of each of the three issues of this comic we’re treated to “MISSING” posters, hand crafted by obviously concerned owners.  Basically, odds are the government didn’t acquire them legally.

This is as close to One’s past that we get in the comic.

Each animal has been designed to do something different.  One is built like a tank, two as a gliding stealth murderer, and 3 can dispense bombs and poison gases.  All three of them are able to communicate…  after a fashion, with the help of some implants that have been driven into their skulls.  This makes them all sound more or less like text messages, though Three does spend most of the time asking about the location of grass, and when it will be time to eat it.

The speech part ends up being an issue, and a prominent senator grows a little uneasy that We3’s predominate scientist, Roseanne Berry, would make killing machines that can talk.  So, the original three are decommissioned to make way for further projects.  Decommissioned in their case means “put out of their misery.

From there it’s an escape story.  We3 may not know what the word “decommissioned” means (to quote One, “Dee-comm-ish.  ?Word?”) but they do know the meaning of survival.  The rest of the comic is mainly about their flight, their interactions with civilians, and their struggle to find the abstract concept of “home.”

What I love about this comic is the interactions between each of the members of We3.  One is a loyal dog through and through.  He’ll enact acts of bravery to save those around him and then tell himself “gud dog!” as a reward.  Two, as the cat, is a complete and utter jerk who often questions where they’re going.  And Three, well, three is pretty simple, but even then still manages to show genuine care about his two companions.

And somehow, Morrison and Quitely make you care about those animals.  Some sections are downright heartbreaking, where the animals just don’t understand what’s happening or why.  Or when they place complete, unshakable trust in someone, despite all signs pointing otherwise.

The military kills bunnies! You heard it here first.

The human characters…  aren’t quite as developed.  Honestly, most of them are really just there as fodder.  If I had to pick something I wasn’t too crazy about in this comic, its that the artists seem to go out of their way to freak you out, be it through a close up shot of a rat being bitten in half or a close up image of a spike going through a helicopter pilot’s eye.  There are only two characters who are remotely interesting, but we never learn a whole lot about them.

But its the journey that keeps me coming back.  We3 is a comic that makes me desperately want to adopt a puppy.  I’m too poor to afford one, mind you, and I’m not allowed to have pets in my apartment…  and I’m always at work so it’d just be here by itself all the time, but now I WANT one.

If you haven’t heard about We3 before, I strongly recommend you pick it up.  And hey, maybe if everyone who reads Faceplant buys a copy, we can help to fund the first three seconds of the opening credits if they ever make the movie!  That’s something, right?

Gud Tophat, ?dun write?


2 Responses

  1. He also said that “Superman escapes from the confines of the DC Universe into something else.” Morrison is interested in the idea of dimensions, with comics occupying 2D space.

  2. we3 has been described by Publisher’s Weekly as “Morrison’s most accessible tale ever.” I think this is mostly true. Sure, the Scottish writer can’t resist a trick or two – “we chose to treat the page not as a flat 2-D surface upon which panels were ‘pasted’ down flat but as a virtual 3-D space in which panels could be ‘hung’ and ‘rotated’ or stacked one on top of the other,” he explains in the notes at the back – but I think that we3 is the Grant Morrison book that you should be able to hand to any reader and make a fan of them. If people can’t find something emotionally or intellectually engaging in Morrison’s tale of three robot animals trying to get home, then perhaps the writer is just not for them.

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