Gen¹³ (vol.2) #13C (1996)

Gen¹³ (vol.2) #13C (Early November, 1996)

Story – Brandon Choi, J. Scott Campbell & Jim Lee
Pencils – J. Scott Campbell
Inks – Alex Garner with Richard Friend, Tom McWeeny & Edwin Rosell
Ink Assist – Peter Guzman
Colors – Joe Chiodo with Martin Jimenez
Letters & Computer Colors – WildStorm FX
Assistant Editor – Gigi Barbes
Editor – Sarah Becker
Cover Price: $1.30

Well, we kinda have to do this one now, don’t we?  Hey, is that Shi in the corner box?

One thing before we continue into the usually faffin’ about… Looking at the indicia here… I’d forgotten that Image era speculation brought about having to put FIRST PRINTING right there just after the comics’ title.  Oof… sadly, these days the second and third printings are far more valuable for reasons of availability.

We pick up shortly after we left off last issue with Grunge, Madman, and Tink traveling along the cleverly named Route 666.  They hear a bit of a ruckus, and the cameos already begin.  The trio come across Maxx and Jungle Princess (who I wanna say is Rainmaker)… just as they’re about to be attacked by the Bad Girls Archie warned us about!  They are Lady Death Mortem, Angela from Spawn Guardians of the Galaxy… and I wanna say Zealot from WildC.A.T.S.  Grunge does not appear to be terribly bothered when Lady Death mounts him, even though she’s planning on running him through with her blade!

Luckily before Lady Mortdeath can start slicing, Shi blocks her blade!  Well, how did Shi get here?  I’m glad you asked… it looks as though she was driven there by Katchoo and Francine from Strangers in Paradise!  The hell is going on here!?

Lady Death has some words with Shi, but decides that on this day perhaps discretion would be the better part of valor… and so, she and the Bad Girls flee.  We get a brief bit between Jungle Princess/Rainmaker and Tinker Fall, in which we get to see a bit of Roxy’s homophobic nature and Rainmaker’s lack of subtlety… I guess even in the land of S.A. she’s uncomfortable around the ladies.  Anyhoo, Katchoo gives Grunge and Madman their Cadillac (which the Wizard lent to them) in order to head out to the frontier… where they run into Hellboy!  And, er, Monkeyman and O’Brien… who I don’t know all that well.

Here we learn that the only solution to the problem of the Frenzy Beast lies with Grunge’s Chromium Cover.  No sooner do we find this out than the Beast shows his ugly mug… in his right hand he holds… the Wizard… who, I really don’t recognize… not sure if he’s supposed to be someone important or not.  I’m guessing so, but I haven’t the foggiest.  Anyhoo, the Frenzy Beast wants the Chromium Cover, and promises to fulfill Grunge’s hearts desire should he hand it over.

Suddenly zombies start pulling themselves out of the ground (one of whom is wearing a Spider-Man t-shirt… I wonder if the artist got their fair cut of the merch sales!  The zombies quickly overtake the good guys, leaving it all in Grunge’s hands.  Suddenly, when all hope appears to be gone, the Good Witch (who appears to be Fairchild in a Disney Princess get-up) arrives on the scene with some words of encouragement.

… and motivational speaker, Tony Robbins?  Are you friggin’ kidding me???  This sounds like I’m making it up, I’m sure… but, for real… it’s Tony freaking Robbins… and he’s here to motivate Grunge.  Ay yai yai…

Starting to think this is MY fever dream!

Oooookay… tough talk from Tony inspires Grunge to get in there and TCB.  He recalls the trinket I neglected to mention that Jim Lee gave him last issue… it’s a glowing “X” donchaknow… and from it springs… well, just look…

With BONE CLAWS!  Continuity lives in Grunge’s fever dream!

Grunge approaches the Frenzy Beast… who now has his face!  He holds up the Chromium Cover and demands he free his friends… otherwise he’ll destroy the comic book!  When the Beast calls his bluff, Grunge starts a’tearing!

Next thing we know, Grunge begins to wake up… in the real world.  He struggles to his feet, and suddenly the ginger nerd from a couple issues back runs in claiming that some creeper stole his Chromium Captain Pyro.  Grunge realizes that the creeper in question is the one he so willingly offered up his mortal soul to… and figures, ehhh… he doesn’t really need the book after all.  He hands it over to the dweeb, which makes Roxy super proud.

We wrap up our issue… and this incredibly strange-slash-fun-slash-insane story with Grunge and Roxy finally locking lips.

What… the…?  Tony Robbins?  Gleaming teeth and all?  I didn’t just dream this, did I?  I’m afraid to even post this one… lest folks in white coats carrying nets come knocking at my door.  I mean, I’ve read some weird comics before… but, I’m not even sure how to describe what we’ve just seen.

At least it was all a dream in the comic, right?  This is a pretty neat telling of a fever-dream for the comics’ (and late-night infomercial?) obsessed Grunge… and I had a helluva good time reading it.  Definitely not something I wanna see happen more often, but every once in awhile?  Yeah, this was great fun.  A celebration of who was who in the comics world during those halcyon post-crash days of 1996.

Really not much more to say… the story was insane, but fun.  The cameos were incredible… and the art was really quite good.  Seeing J. Scott Campbell cover all of these characters over the past three issues has been an absolute treat.  I never would have guessed he was such a versatile artist.  I know he has a style… and it’s one I think is phenomenal… but to see him cut loose on the Archie characters… Hellboy… even Katchoo from Strangers in Paradise… the man is one hell of a talent.  And, as with most of WildStorm’s offerings… the coloring is fantastic!

Overall… ya know… when I started on our visit to the world of WildStorm, I wasn’t planning on giving this a solid recommendation… more of a “you may dig this”.  After reading all three, I gotta say… if you’re a fan of 90’s comics, this strange trilogy belongs in your comics library.  Worth a read and definitely worth owning, just for the novelty and trippiness of the thing.

I personally really enjoyed our little detour into the WildStorm universe… and think I can safely say we’ll have more on the horizon.  DC’s pulling the concept out of the mothballs in 2017… and hell, if it’s good enough for them… it’s good enough for me.

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