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An unflinching tale of violence and compassion
We3 - Frank Quitely
Member Name: princesschickpea
We3 - Frank Quitely
Advantages: thought-provoking, poignant, fantastic art
Disadvantages: can be a bit gory for some tastes
We3 is one of those comic books that has become a modern classic. It is the heartfelt and dynamic story of three animals that are part of an experimental weapons programme by the US military that has left them cybernetically enhanced, and they are now facing decommission - a typically human euphemism for being put down. In fact, the decisions and actions of humans are put under relentless scrutiny in this book which will leave you feeling emotionally drained and probably lead to more than a little introspection. That's no bad thing. It's a rare book that makes us question our motives and morals. And it's even rarer that a comic book does so.
You don't need to be an animal lover to enjoy this book. The plight of the animals simply acts as a method to explore the outcome of humaity's grotesque decisions and the heart shattering reality of death. If you are keen on animals, as I am, you might find it particularly difficult to read, but I implore you to finish it, as the carefully crafted poignant morality of the story deserves to be read through.
As many comic fans will have come to expect from modern comic books, this is not a book for children. I can't stress that strongly enough. There is plenty of ultra-violence and gore, not for gratuitous reasons, or to simply to please fans of the genre, but to illustrate keenly just how real and brutal our realities can be. Perhaps older teens will be able to appreciate it, but that comes down to parental judgement. It is available in both paperback and a hardback deluxe edition with extra material previously unpublished.
It's written by Grant Morrison with art by Franck Quitely. Morrison and Quitely are giants in the field of comics, with many great and compelling stories between them. But this is one of their best. The story is a classic pursuit tale, with the animals trying to escape decommission and their 'masters' relentlessly hunting them down. Sometimes the mechanics of the story as an entertainment device get lost in the discussion of We3's moral merits, but the story is full of peril, trust, betrayal, and ultimately some kind of justice and hope. Even without the attendant moral and philosophical questions, this is a book that stands up well to scrutiny.
And oh my, the art! It is cinematic, vibrant and kinetic, leaping off the page and conveying action and movement in a way that is rarely captured on the page. It can be unpleasant, or uncomfortable, but it is glorious and visceral, and it lifts this story to levels that other comic books can only dream of. It is innovative (and remains so to this day - no other book has ever challenged it) and daring and really brings the story to life. Without it, We3 would only be half the book it is.
No doubt you will be left with intense emotions in the aftermath of reading this and it will introduce you to the potential, power and value of the comic book medium. I literally cannot recommend this comic highly enough, nor heap enough praise upon it. It is one of the very few books, graphic or otherwise, that has truly stuck with me to this day. If you are the kind of person who enjoys challenging, thought-provoking read, We3 should be at the very top of your must read list.
Summary: Modern take on the classic pursuit story trope which poses powerful moral questions
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