Friday, May 14, 2010

2. WE 3

Morrison, Grant. WE 3. ISBN: 978-1401204952. Vertigo. First Edition, 2005.

Plot Summary

WE 3 is a science fiction comic book series written for Vertigo comics by acclaimed writer Grant Morrison and illustrator Frank Quitely. WE 3 is the story of Roseanne Berry, a government employee working on a group of three prototype war killing machines. These prototypes are built around the bodies of three stolen pets. These pets include: a labrador named "Bandit" or "1"; a cat named "Tinker" or "2"; and a rabbit named "Pirate" or "3". Together they are WE 3. The government is planning to end manned warfare completely with the implementation of semi-intelligent animal soldiers who can be controlled with a remote control. The government began first with smaller animals like rats, and attached crude weapons like drills to their faces. Bandit, the dog, is equipped with heavy artillery like a small army tank. Tinker is a trained assassin-style killing machine and Pirate is a landmine specialist.

When the government decides that they no longer have a use for WE 3, they decides that the animals must be destroyed. This news is too hard for Roseanne Berry, and so breaking the law, she lets them free. This doesn't sound so bad, but these animals are trained to kill anything that threatens them, and soon they go on a killing rampage against the cruel government that created them.

Critical Evaluation
After reading WE 3 it's hard to look at your pets the same way again. Morrison comments on themes of government power and animal cruelty in this vicious revenge story of animals who fight back against the men who've abused them. What makes this story so compelling, and ultimately so haunting, is that it feels very real. This science fiction take on modern warfare doesn't seem too far away. With all of the government testing done on chimps and other animals to study diseases, making an animal killing machine doesn't seem like that illogical of a step. By creating animal soldiers the lives of men would be saved, but at the cost of torturing innocent creatures. Morrison comments on this by humanizing the animal characters, allowing them to speak through surgically implanted technology in their brains. The animals can't say much, but readers learn that they just want to be together, to be safe, and to eat. Deep down under all of the metal and circuits, these animals are the same kinds of creatures that people take into their homes to become part of the family. Artist Frank Quietly cleverly comments on this fact at the beginning of each of the novel's three sections by including a poster for a missing animal. Each missing animal poster corresponds with the three animals in the story. This added element gives the story another touch of reality that will make it hit home for pet owners.

With minimal text, much of the storytelling relies on the detailed art and digital coloring by artist Frank Quitely. Quitely's signature use of rough lines creates a gritty look for the landscape a cruel men. His bright use of colors gives the story a very urgent feeling as readers race through the countryside with the government military in pursuit. Quitely also presents readers with a variety of double spreads that are visually stand alone stunning pieces of art. The amalgamation of a talented writer and artist on this original story are what making it the innovative work of art that it is.

Reader's Annotation
Sometimes when your dog is missing he's around the corner or at the pound, and sometimes he's been transformed into a genetically altered killing machine.

Author Information
Grant Morrison is a world renown writer in the comic book industry. Stylistically his work has been considered groundbreaking, anti-establishment in nature, counter-cultural, and always innovative. He is best known for his work on the graphic novel Batman Arkham Asylum in collaboration with artist Dave McKean. Morrison is known for taking existing comic book character and teams and then reviving them in new and fascinating ways. For vertigo comics he took the superhero Animal Man and the team Doom Patrol and made them relevant for a new generation of readers.

Morrison is also known for the visionary work on his original series, such as The Invisibles, which details the activities of a time traveling group of revolutionaries as they battle the oppressive occult group the outer church. The Invisibles series is believed to have inspired the ground breaking film The Matrix. Morrison has also worked on successful runs of popular series like The X-men, Justic League, and The Fantastic Four. Morrison is also the proud owner of two Eisner awards for his work on the 30 part series The Seven Soldiers of Victory, and on his run of All Star Superman.

graphic novel, science fiction

Curriculum Ties

Book Talking Idea
Do you think it is right to sacrifice animals for military testing?

Reading Level
Grades 10+

Challenge Issues
animal cruelty, violence, gore

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the book in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection
I wanted to include a variety of graphic novels in my blog to showcase the range of different genres that are available for teen readers in the format. WE 3 is a haunting piece of science fiction that shows readers the cruel realities of animal testing. It's easy to let a company test on a rat or mouse, but when the test subjects are our pet dogs, cats, and rabbits new feelings are evoked.

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