A Brief History of Gen13, Part One
If you've already been through this month's Previews, you've most likely seen DC's solicitation for their relaunch of Gen13 by Gail Simone and Talent Caldwell. Because brother, I've seen it.
And I am way more excited about that than anyone has a right to be.
And it's not just because I'm a big fan of Gail Simone, either. See, I have what you might call an unhealthy amount of nostalgia for everyone's favorite Gen-Active youngsters. And while it pains me somewhat to admit this, Gen13 was the first series that I ever went back-issue hunting for to put together a run, mostly owing to the fact that it first hit the stands when I was twelve years old, an age at which a young man is scientifically proven to be unable to resist the allure of super-powered teenagers having huge, stupid fights.
It's the principle on which Marvel Comics is entirely based.
Of course, it's entirely possible--heck, let's be honest: it's more than likely--that you don't share my affection for the sensational character finds of 1994, but that doesn't mean you'll be left out of the fun this October.
No, it just means I'm going to update for two days about Fairchild's breasts. Deal with it, homes.
I vividly remember having a conversation in the seventh grade where I told a friend of mine that he had to read this new comic about these teenagers whose genetics gave them superpowers that were hunted by the government and he told me that that sounded exactly like the X-Men. My response, of course, was something along the lines of "No it doesn't! Shut up!"
Of course, these days, I've matured slightly, and I'm finally willing to admit that Tim was right all along: Gen13 is pretty much exactly like the X-Men. But it's the X-Men... For the 90s!
There are, of course, a few differences. Instead of having random genetic mutations, the kids of Gen13 are actually the descendents of the subjects of Gen12, which mostly included the members of Team 7--and that's way more numbers than any secret origin should have in close proximity. All you really need to know is that their parents were given superpowers by the government, so now they have them. Got it? Moving on.
Said superpowers kick in after the kids are pressganged into the covert workings of the unimaginatively-named International Operations under the guise of a suspiciously secretive scholarship program that, for some reason, requires olive green jumpsuits to be worn at all times. Anyway, IO's Torturing-Teenagers-Into-Manifesting-Superpowers Division is headed up by the evil Ivana Baiul and her henchmen, creepy incestuous brother-and-sister super-enforcers Bliss and Threshold, who run a tight ship with their standard issue Evil Psionic Abilities.
Fortunately for Our Heroes, they get a little help from IO Director-Gone-Rogue, John Lynch, and promptly escape to the La Jolla underground. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them... Maybe you can hire... Gen13.
Wait. That's not right at all. Ah, screw it, it's close enough. You get the point. Besides, we've got bigger concerns to worry about. Namely, just who these crazy super-heroes are.
Our de facto main character is Caitlin Fairchild, who got to be leader of Gen13 by virtue of being the smartest, prettiest, nicest, strongest, toughest, and, of course, tallest. When her Gen-Factor power manifested, it not only made her incredibly strong and practically invulnerable, but it also changed her body shape, much like Ben Grimm from the Fantastic Four. Only instead of turning into a horrid rock monster that only a blind woman could bear to love, Fairchild got really hot.
Which was good, because before she got her super-powers, she was a scrawny Computer Science major at Princeton with a pair of glasses that took up roughly a third of her face:
That's right: She was one of those... Hey, Ogre, can you help me out with this one?
Thanks. Let's have a big hand for Donald Gibb, everybody.
Defining Moment: While I'm tempted to say that Caitlin can be summed up completely in this panel where she comes to terms with her nigh-constant sales-increasing near-nudity...
...I simply cannot deny the outright badass appeal of this scene from the awesome and ridiculously over-the-top Gen13 Annual by Warren Ellis and Steve Dillon:
Let's go ahead and get this out of the way: Sarah Rainmaker is a lesbian. This does not stop her from hooking up with Burnout one night while the team's kicking it in Rome, but that's beside the point. Anyway, she grew up on an Apache reservation in Arizona, but after being taken to IO's secret lab, she developed the ability to control the weather. Mostly, though, she just shoots "bio-electric shocks" which--when amplified by her gauntlets--manifest themselves as lightning bolts from her hands, and that's pretty cool. So cool, in fact, that she rarely uses her other powers at all, which is good because if she did, you might remember that she's a Native American with weather-control powers, and if you put any thought into that, yikes.
Also, if you take it by percentage of pages, she walks around naked more often than Storm during Chris Calremont's X-Men. Weather powers apparently make you want to not wear clothes.
Did I mention she was a lesbian?
Incidentally, J. Scott Campbell's original pencils for that scene had her licking her lips in the last panel. So in case you were wondering, there is in fact a line that Image Comics circa 1994 would not cross.
You know how every team has a "Wolverine?" You know, really cool character that stands out and that everybody likes because he's so frigg'n cool? Yeah, well, Bobby Lane is the exact opposite of that. In addition to his remarkably persistent soul patch, Burnout has the ability to burst into flames and float menacingly in the background of crowd shots, and eventually turns out to be Lynch's long-lost son, which leads to a lot of "You don't understand me, old man!" conversations. Also, he has a (slightly) unrequited crush on Rainmaker, which brings his romantic interests up to: 1) A lesbian (see above), 2) Bliss, a sociopathic supervillain who wants to have sex with her own brother, and 3) a nice young college girl who plays guitar in a local rock band, with whom he goes on one (1) date before his house is blown up and he has to go to an island to fight dinosaurs. You'd feel bad for him if he wasn't just taking up space that could otherwise be used for panty shots.
Defining Moment: Burnout doesn't really have a defining moment, but in the second issue of the ongiong series, he helped defeat a supervillain with some intense rocking out...
...and that'll have to do.
Semi-Professional slacker and lecherous pervert Percival Edmund Chang's Gen-Factor allowed him tot ake on the physical properties of whatever objects he touched, much like Amazing Man from the DC Universe. BUt since I never spent my summer vacation looking for back issues of All-Star Squadron, Grunge will always be cooler. Plus, he eventually started wearing a belt studded with various rocks and metals so that he'd always have something handy to change into, and thus, never ended up laying on the floor in shards after accidentally turning to glass like some people.
Anyway, he also has a photographic memory, and--despite being referred to quite often as being a moron in need of a shower--managed to score with Freefall, an entire island of sex-crazed ninja amazons, and Swift from the Authority, which never fails to boggle the mind.
Defining Moment: From Adam Warren's totally awesome 3-part story, Grunge: The Movie, I give you the single greatest cover that Image Comics ever published:
Grunge getting punched in the face so hard he sees Lucky Charms while Fairchild and Freefall are in the background, naked, tied up with Hot Wheels tracks. Doubting that cover's awesomeness will only make it stronger. And what's more, the dialogue for the fight scene is made up almost entirely of quotes from poorly subtitled kung fu movies. If you ever get a chance to buy it, do so.
Roxanne Spaulding, like Master Gee, is the baby of the bunch, usually being referred to as being around sixteen despite the fact that she a) goes to college, b) gets a tattoo, and c) spends a heck of a lot of time naked. Although admittedly, that last one's to be expected; the breakneck pace of a book like Gen13 doesn't have time for clothes, buster. She has a crush on Grunge, and also, since everyone is somebody's long-lost relative in this book, she turns out to be Caitlin's long-lost sister. And she might have psychic powers. Or not. Whatev.
Her Gen-Factor gives her control of gravity, but alas, she's a smoker, and her addiction to cigarettes allows her to be taken over by a midget toymaker in a donkey costume who wants to have sex with her with a robotic exoskeleton in--wait for it--...
The Christmas Issue.
Defining Moment: How about we let Brandon Choi's captions from Gen13 #1 handle this one?
And of course, rounding out the cast we have Lynch, the one-eyed bastard child of Nick Fury and Clint Eastwood, and my personal favorite, Anna the Robot French Maid Assassin.
It might just be the best comic ever.
TOMORROW, ON THE ISB!
Find out why it's not! You know the cast, now thrill to their best (and worst) adventures! Plus, shock follows shock as the ISB delves into the Gen13 Lettercolumn! DARE YOU MISS IT?!
From the centerfold of the Gen13 Rave one-shot comes, hands down, the single greatest image you will see today:
Man oh man. Seriously, I've been making fun of things on the internet for like nine years now, and I have no friggin' idea where to even start here. All I know is that I want this thing as a motivational poster for the word "RADNESS."