Monday, October 4, 2010

WE3 - Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely

I guess I told someone that I would read this AGES ago, but I forgot, and then I was unaware that my male counterpart was storing the graphic novel in the mess he calls a desk. Eventually, I became aware of its existence and immediately dove into it.

At first glance, I complained about the cover page. Although the art was fantastic, I am not really one for a story about animals. I struggled through reading Gowdy's The White Bone because of its perspective through the eyes of an elephant, and she is one of my favourite writers. It isn't that I doubt the story, but instead it becomes something about feeling juvenile while reading a story about talking animals. Either way, I was persuaded to look past the cover and attempt what was inside.

I am glad that I did. Immediately the story whips into the horrific storyline of three animals - a bunny, a cat and a dog - who were found (or stolen, you never really get a clear story on that) and engineered into military weapons. Depicted through the art as animal heads with layers of metal and wiring beneath, these animals have been captured for use of the government as weapons, complete with antennas to enable voice activation. Although high-tech, the speech patterns of all three animals is limited at best, keeping with what we would assume them to be thinking. The bunny is the most simple in its desire to 'run. eat.' The cat's speech is limited and only bad tempered. The dog is the most verbal, resorting to the constant need for approval as well as obedience to the 'boss'.

The story sets off with the shutting-down of the project, leaving the three animals with nothing left to give. As the project is in the process of being shut down, the three escape into the night. The following story that follows embodies their quest for 'home', which they all slowly figure out is nonexistent. Besides having nowhere to go, they slowly understand their skewed purpose and the plot becomes truly heart-wrenching as they become self-aware.

Quitely's art is a thing of beauty, as he creates images that can lull the audience into sympathetic tears for the protagonists, or grip fear in the hearts through the graphic images of carnage and death that they leave. I find it fascinating that he is able to create these figures that are almost completely machine, yet still give them so much life and animalistic quality.

I give this graphic novel a 5/5. I really dislike the whole Homeward Bound fascination that many people have, and in the seconds before opening the novel I wanted more than anything to turn back and not read it. But the story inside is truly beautiful, frightening, disturbing and heart-wrenching. For the limited length of the graphic novel, so much is packed into it to evoke a wide array of feelings.

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