Gen¹³ (vol.2) #-1 (January, 1997)
Story – Jim Lee & Brandon Choi
Script – H.K. Proger
Penciller – Ryan Benjamin
Inkers – Frank Percy, Dev Madan, J.D., & Richard Johnson
Letterer – Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist – Joe Chiodo
Color Assists – Wendy Fouts, Paige Apfelbaum, & Monica Bennett
Editor – Sarah Becker
Editor in Chief – Mike Heisler
Cover Price: $1.95
While on the subject of oddly-numbered issues of Gen¹³… today we’re going to look at a “minus one” issue. Ya see, this was originally part of the Wizard Magazine mail-away Gen¹³ # in 1995… which they then reprinted as sort of a bridge between the Gen¹³ mini-series (1994) and ongoing series (1995)… even though all of the editorial captions inside still reference the mini-series. If that stinks of a quick ‘n easy cash grab to you… I’d say you were on to something.
Anyhoo… I almost certainly did more research on this issue for it’s “placement” than for anything between the covers. As far as what all of my usual haunts say… this issue is recognized as part of the ongoing volume (vol.2 – 1995)… so, that’s what we’re going to call it.
We open with the Gen¹³ kids driving a van through Oregon in search of Milwaukee… which might sound ridiculous, until you realize that there is a Milwaukee, Oregon. The first time I looked at this I was ready to start yanking at that thread. Anyhoo, Fairchild is at the wheel, and is insistent that she hasn’t gotten them lost. Burnout’s riding shotgun, and he’s not so sure. They pull over at a gas station to find out exactly where they are. Turns out they’re more than a little bit off-track.
While the boys are inside, Caitlin heads off to a mailbox to send in a check for the van they stole. Roxy is confused… and surprised at Fairchild’s fat-walletedness. Turns out she just drew the funds from big-bad Ivana’s bank account. Then… an explosion!
Here we meet a woman in some armor that makes her look like a reject from the Mutant Liberation Front… garish purple, hoses everywhere… just a real sight to behold. Still… better than generic dudes in suits! Burnout “flames on” and Grunge… er, throws a soda can at her. Sadly, Grunge’s assault yields the better result.
The battle continues, and the girls get involved. Fairchild hits her from behind… the woman strikes back, which causes… uh… Fairchild to… well, give birth to a bolt of lightning? I mean, here, just look at it…
Then Roxy jumps in, causing enough of a distraction for Grunge and Burnout to recover. Grunge grabs the woman… and throws her into a nearby fuel truck. That’s probably not the best idea… even in the best of times.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Roxy then lights up a cigarette… and tosses it into the eruption of fuel! This is the sort of hyper-violence that I’d have written when I was like 11.
Get this, though… the explosion… which, in reality should have destroyed the entire neighborhood… doesn’t even make this mysterious armored woman flinch. And so, Fairchild once again sneaks up behind her… and starts yanking at those hoses that all the villains had attached to their armor back in the 90’s. I thought they were just for show… but I guess not!
We wrap up with the Gen¹³ kids tying the baddie up and splitting town before the police arrive. All the while, the mysterious armored woman warns them that someone called Langston is trying to destroy the time stream. Our “blurb” suggests we check out the Gen¹³ miniseries… which, by the time this issue came out was already three years old.
This was kiiiiiiiinda brutal.
Let’s get the confusing production out of the way first. This is Gen¹³ #minus-one… which came out the same month as Gen¹³ (vol.2) #16. It looks like it’s supposed to be the bridge between the Gen¹³ mini-series (1994) and the Gen¹³ ongoing series (1995)… however, they couldn’t even be bothered to update the editorial captions inside the book to reflect that. I couldn’t imagine trying to make sense of this had I picked it up off the racks in 1996/1997. Like, where does this go? When do I read it? Why is it even a thing that exists… when we already got the story in Gen¹³ #½ (as if that’s not confusing enough as it is!)?
Ay yai yai.
Onto the story… well, first the art. The characters come across as off-model for most of this story. Fella who pencilled it is competent, however, the storytelling here was pretty weak. Let’s just look at Roxy… her look completely changes from panel to panel. She has a different face and hairstyle (length and color) on different panels on the same page! I don’t think that was one of her Gen-Active Powers! I’d excuse it if this was some long epic story… but, it’s 13 freaking pages. 13… get it?
In reading this issue immediately after the Claremont one from yesterday, it’s pretty clear that what WildStorm needed was someone to help calibrate. Here we have fuel-tankers exploding… leaving little damage, and since it isn’t mentioned, we’re going to guess no loss of life. In the Claremont issue we have kids being chased by a shadowy organization of dudes in suits. There’s just gotta be a “happy medium” somewhere in there, right? Ehh, what do I know?
Overall… I didn’t enjoy this. The uneven art was pretty distracting, and the story… what there was of it, was pretty nonsensical. I suppose if you happen across this in the cheap-o bins, it might be worth a flip through… but I wouldn’t suggest breaking your back or bank for it, unless you’re a Gen¹³ completionist.
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