Imagine What PETA Would Do In A Situation Like This
SO WHAT HAD HAPPENED WAS...Homeward Bound + Wall•E + Gundam + Rambo = WE3
Did that pop culture math equation get you all kinds of excited? If yes, you can stop reading this review now. Chances are, you're going to like this book a lot, even if you disregard the social commentary present in it. If curiosity is more the feeling your experiencing now, continue on and decide what to do with the book after reading the review.
So, for those of you still here, the basic premise of WE3 is simple. The government, in an attempt to alleviate the need for human involvement on the battlefield, takes former household pets and turns them into intelligent killing machines. As if that wasn't enough, they also stick them into weaponized mech suits. Unfortunately for the higher ups, the animals escape the facility they were created in and start making a B-line for a place called "Home" with the military in hot pursuit. The story combines the central motivation of the Homeward Bound movies with the endearingly limited vocabulary of Wall•E to make the animals likeable, the mech suits of the Gundam anime (as well as countless others) to make the animals awesome, and the brutality of movies like Rambo to make them terrifying. It's a strange combination that works really well.
Character dynamics are played out in much the way you would expect them too. The dog is stubbornly determined, the cat is angry and distrustful, and the rabbit is spastic. Each character fits into the role you would naturally expect them to fill, but that's not a bad thing. The three animals interact in a way that's entertaining on multiple levels. At times it's funny, and other times it's sad, but it all feels genuine and that's incredibly impressive given that that's accomplished when the three main characters have about two dozen words in their collective vocabulary.
WE3 does a great job of showing us a terrifying scenario play out using cute and cuddly animals. Each peaceful scene carries the weight of three friends that, despite their intelligence, are merely pawns in a global game of chess looking for a safe place to hide on the board. Conversely, each action scene shows just how violent and scary the world can be, all the more enforcing the appeal of running away from it all. Both portions of the story compliment the other continuously until its conclusion. It makes for a very powerful story overall.
ARE YOU SEEING WHAT I'M SEEING?While most people will pick up this book because of it's premise, it's likely that they'll finish it for its art. For starters, the overall look of the book is great. The art looks fantastic and it gels with the visual theme of the book wonderfully. Be warned though, this is NOT a book for kids, or anyone even remotely squeamish. I can easily imagine as many people throwing the book down in disgust because of the art as those who keep reading the book because of it. Shock value and brutality are two of the points used in this book to illustrate just how far the government in this story is willing to go, so the violence isn't mindless or pointless, but it's still easy to see the visuals of this book not resonating with everyone.
If you can get passed that though, you'll see quite a few interesting uses of panel structure. I won't spoil them here, nor will I say that they're all successes, but they are different and will likely get you thinking about what else can be done with panels when put into the right hands. Also of note is the opening portion of the story. The letterer of the book has about as much to do here as a colorist on The Walking Dead. There are no words, but the art speaks volumes on its own. It's a great example of letting your visuals do the talking, and it's one of the tensest scenes in the whole book.
One of my personal favorite aspects of this book are actually the three covers attached to the three individual issues that make up the story. As cool as it is to see Spider-Man or Batman posing, how much does it really add to the experience of a comic when that's all there is to a cover of one of their books? Here, the three covers could have easily been just the main characters posing, and it probably would have looked pretty dang cool. But instead, we're treated to a very creative set of covers modeled after missing pet fliers. This adds a completely new layer to the story, as we're not just dealing with random animals anymore. We're dealing with the lost pets of young children who're wondering why their best friends haven't come home yet. This is how covers should be used.