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WE3
By GRANT MORRISON, FRANK QUITELY (Vertigo; 2005)

This short but undeniably resonant graphic novel, scripted by ARKHAM ASYLUM and KID ETERNITYíS demented Grant Morrison, is essentially a warped variant on THE PLAGUE DOGS. It features a dog, cat and rabbit whoíve been turned into a single-minded cyborg killing machine--the WE3--by a U.S. Air Force research facility. Inevitably the animals comprising the WE3, whose brains have been reprogrammed and their nervous systems rewired, affect a violent escape from the facility and flee into the rural countryside. Their shared destination: a barely remembered place called ďHome.Ē

     The WE3 are pursued by heavily armed cops and military men, who are no match for the animals. The ensuing confrontations are plenty gory and intense, lending the proceedings a particularly harsh, adult-oriented edge. An illustrated animal-centered story this may be, but THE FOX AND THE HOUND it isnít!

     As visualized by the wizardly Frank Quitely, the three animals of WE3 are encased in bulky armor that allows them to jump, fly and spray machine gun fire. Thereís another similarly encased dog, a large and foreboding creature who proves itself the WE3ís only worthy adversary.

     In the animalsí corner is a homeless man who befriends the WE3 at a particularly desperate point in their flight. Furthermore, not all of the WE3ís pursuers want to kill them; a woman doctor who helped design the WE3 is sympathetic to their plight.

     The same is true for Morrison and Quitely, who are careful to illuminate the WE3ís essentially gentle natures, even as they kill and maim seemingly everything in sight. The storyís underlying moral, a stern warning about exercising care in oneís treatment of animal life, is a pertinent one fleshed out in provocative and disturbing fashion. One particularly touching element are the three homemade wanted posters by the owners of lost pets that commence each chapter--those pets, of course, are the very animals that make up the WE3.

     

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