DC NEAR-MISS: Generation X #1 (1994)



DC NEAR-MISS: Generation X #1 (November, 1994)
“Third Genesis”
Writer/Co-Creator – Scott Lobdell
Pencils/Co-Creator – Chris Bachalo
Inks – Mark Buckingham
Letters – Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors – Brian Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Edits – Bob Harras
Edits-in-Chief – Tom DeFalco
Cover Price: $3.95
From Marvel Comics


What’s in a Name?


Well, first of all… lemme just warn that this will be probably as tenuous a “DC Near-Miss” as I’m ever going to cover here… though, no promises.  First of all, this is more of a WildStorm Near-Miss… and, second this “Near-Miss” in particular doesn’t have anything to do with a comic, concept, or character… but, a title.


That title… well, duh, is Generation X.  Well, actually it’s more like 4/11’s of the title.  Let’s jump back to the early days of Image Comics… and in particular, the inside-back cover of Stormwatch #2 (May, 1993), which bore a rather curious advertisement (which is the only reason why I actually own a copy of Stormwatch #2):




Now, that’s a pretty familiar crew of folks to WildStorm fans… with only a sorta/kinda-familiar name… GenX!  Slated for release in August, 1993… which would have beaten the book we’re about to discuss to shelves by over a year!  Keeping in mind, this is early Image, so… for all we know, this wouldn’t actually have made it into shops even in the calendar year of 1993.  In fact, it wouldn’t… though, this time we can’t completely blame it on the freewheeling “growing roses” formula over at the House that Todd and the Gang built.


It would appear that Homage/Aegis/WildStorm or whatever we wanna call them were sincere in wanting to get this title onto shelves and into the hands of speculators comic book enthusiasts pretty darn quick.  The Speculator’s Best Friends over at Entertainment This Week (American Entertainment) had the bugger up in their solicits:




If we jump ahead a couple of months to Wizard Magazine #23 (July, 1993), we can find, not only the same ad from Stormwatch #2… but four-pages of character pin-ups from this would-be worldbreaker:




At this point… it’s like, if Marvel didn’t already know what Jim Lee and Company had in mind in launching their own “X” title… they’d definitely know by now.  Well… let’s move ahead another month, shall we?  Wizard Magazine #24 (August, 1993) didn’t just give us a full-page ad… or even a character “study”.  Nonono, it’s here that we’d get a full two-page spread!




Well… fellas, if you wanted Marvel’s attention… I think that might’ve just gotten it, because this is the last time (to my knowledge) that we’d see any promotional items for this property ending with an “X”.  In fact, GenX would sort of slide into the background for a number of months.  The next print advertisement I can find for the property appeared in Wizard Magazine #29 (January, 1994)… where the X had already been changed into a ¹³!  Turns out, the “¹³” and the X are kind of interchangeable… as Generation X (the real-life concept) is viewed as the thirteenth Generation… which is to say the “13th Generation since American Independence”.  So, really… it’s a pretty clever “work around”.  I wonder how many people picked up on that… I sure didn’t!




So, what happened?  Did Marvel put the kibosh on GenX?  Here comes my obligatory DC Near-Miss “I’m sure I’m not blowing any minds here…” but… yeah.  That’s what happened.  It’s not without precedent either.  In fact, in that very same Wizard #29, the top news item is:




Marvel taking legal action against Jim Shooter’s Defiant Comics over their title Plasm… claiming it was too close to the MarvelUK title, Plasmer (which I’m guessing about eight people in total ever read)… this forced Shooter and Co. to scramble and change the title of Plasm to Warriors of Plasm.  Why were Marvel being so scarily (and tenuously) proactive here?  Well, if I’m remembering right, this is around the time where my main man Hart Fisher took Marvel to court over their use of the title Dark Angel (also a MarvelUK book)… and won!  What’s more, MarvelUK’s Dark Angel was originally called Hell’s Angel… which they were also sued for!


The poor Gen¹³ kids got pushed back so far, they didn’t even get the opportunity to make their debut in their own book!  Their first full appearance occurred, in of all places, Deathmate: Black (September, 1993)!


From – Deathmate: Black

For confirmation on the Marvel-ous involvement with GenX/Gen¹³, here are a few bits from the comics press of the day… starting with one from an article in Wizard: The Guide to Comics #38 (October, 1994)…




And again, a handful of months later in Wizard: The Guide to Comics #44 (April, 1995) – complete articles will be included below.  Pardon my horrible highlighting…




Later, they’d even reprint that original GenX ad we saw all the way back in Stormwatch #2 with the new (and permanent) title:




And the rest, they say, is history… or something.  So, I hope this sorta “nebulous” Near-Miss doesn’t cramp the usual “style” of this blog… I feel like this is an interesting story to share (though, I’d bet most people already knew it), because honestly… we could’ve been living in a world where DC Comics would have technically been able to publish their own X-Book!  How weird would that’ve been?


So, yeah… here I am sharing an interesting story… or maybe, just maybe, I really wanted to talk about Generation X?  You be the judge!







It’s a
brisk and beautiful Autumn morning at the Massachusetts Academy (Generation
X
will always remind me of the Fall), and young mutant Husk is out
for an early run.  She manages to run 5 miles in 35 minutes, which she is
pretty darn proud of.  Teammate, Jubilee,
however… thinks it’s just plain wrong to be up and at’em this early in the day.  Even going as far as referring to Paige as
“one sick puppy”.  Well, hold that
thought for just a second, Jubes…

They chat
for a bit, mostly Jubilee “big leaguing” Paige since, ya know she was once on
the X-Men.  She might mention that from time to time… as in, ya know, all of
the time.  She’s also pals with
Wolverine, which she might also mention every now and again…


Husk
decides that, in lieu of a shower… she’ll just shed her top layer of skin…
which is absolutely disgusting.  Jubilee
is not pleased, and honestly… I don’t blame her.  What’s worse… as if there could
be
something worse… Paige just leaves her shedded sweaty skin on the ground.  What does she think, the birds are gonna eat it?  That sets a dangerous
precedent!  Also… my wife is annoyed if my socks don’t make it into the hamper, couldn’t how something like this would be received!


The two are
interrupted by the arrival of M.  She
flies in, which is supposed to be a big no-no.  They do not want to draw
any attention to the Institute after all.  M feels she has nothing to hide.  She’s kind of a jerk…  


Banshee
interrupts the banter, informing the young ladies that it’s time for their 7AM
training.  But first, he’s going
to have to unload M’s luggage, which has arrived in the form of several big-rig
trucks.  Like I said, she’s kind
of a jerk.

D’oh!
We shift
scenes to an airplane where we meet a man with half his face wrapped in
bandages.
  Perhaps the smartest
little girl on the planet it enamored by him… even refers to our boy as
having “
some kind of bio-nuclear psionic biokinetic field inside him.”  Huh? 
Our new pal, Jonothon Starsmore decides to give the gal a bit of a show…
peeling his wrap back ever so slightly, displaying the freaky light-show
beneath.
  He peers down at a
letter he’d received from Xavier’s… and wonders what he might’ve just gotten
himself into.


We return
to the school grounds where Synch is in hot pursuit of… someone, okay…
Skin.  This is probably the first good look we get at the red and gold
Generation X uniform in action.  He
recounts the gang’s run in with the Phalanx to catch newcomers up… and inform whatever
was left of the speculator market where the can find some “hot” first
appearances!


He comes
across Skin’s belt, which distracts him long enough to allow Skin to strike!  They wrestle about a bit, and wind up tangled
in Angelo’s super-elongated fingers.


Inside the
school, Banshee introduces Jubilee, Husk and M to their new training facility…
which is a biosphere.  Jubilee
scoffs, and refers to it as a “Danger Grotto”. 
Skin and Synch crash through the window… it seems their training already
started!  Banshee is kind of ticked off… and understandably so… it’s
only their first issue, and the place already needs repairs!  Emma Frost enters the room, and acts about as
snotty as we might expect.


The
co-headmasters bicker back and forth for a while.  While they do, Jubilee catches a glimpse of
Gateway out of the corner of her eye. 
For those unaware, Gateway is an aboriginal teleporter/precog who first
appeared in Uncanny X-Men #229 (May, 1988).  He’s since been retconned as an ancestor to
X-Man, Bishop… though, not at this point. 
Anyhoo, he vanishes just as quickly as he appears.


We shift to
Boston’s Logan International Airport where we meet a strange shadowy individual
wearing a sort of gas mask.  He is being driven by his diminutive servant
known as “D”.  He is there to meet
the incoming Jonothon Starsmore.


Back at the
Academy, Jubilee and Everett are getting ready to head to the airport with
Banshee to pick up their newest member. 
M is busy climbing trees… perhaps telling us that she’s not quite as
mature as she projects.  Hmm… that might just become a mess of a
story to tell somewhere down the line.


Banshee
pulls up in his sweet convertible.  Jubilee hops in the back and sits all
“cool girl” style on top of the back seat.  Banshee puts the pedal to the medal, to freak
Jubes out.  Can’t blame Sean one bit, she sorta had it coming.


After a
good chuckle at her teammate’s expense, M starts wandering the grounds… where
she comes across… Gateway!  After
a moment, she concludes that… this visit means, that he must have returned.


At the
airport, we see Emplate lurking about looking for Starsmore.  This page
feels very much like something out of a Vertigo comic.  It’s a pretty wild artistic juxtaposition
between normal humans and the disturbing Emplate in a rather mundane locale.  It’s here that we learn that Emplate feeds
off of mutants… sort of “vampirically”.


Elsewhere in the airport, we find Banshee and company.  Synch
suggests that perhaps it’s normal for mutants to be feared and hated… seeing as
though, the three of them could level the entire airport.  Real mood-killer, this Everett… answering the “tough questions” that nobody’s even asking, to boot!


Chamber
deboards and heads into the airport, where he is snatched by the face by
Emplate… who has this disgusting little mouth in the palm of his hand.  The Generation X’ers leap into battle… and
are not terribly effective.  Ya
see, Emplate is able to redirect all of their attacks back at them.


Luckily,
Synch is able to “synch his bod” to absorb it all.  Starsmore is able to fight back… which is,
according to Emplate, not supposed to happen while he’s feeding.  It’s here that we get our first
“full-frontal” on the teen we’ll know as Chamber.  The lower half of his
face down to his chest is a cavity of sparking energy, hence all’a dem bandages.


Emplate
recovers and begins another approach… when the rest of Generation X
appears!  Husk immediately runs
in… and is struck down for her troubles. 
Fearing she might bleed out, Jubilee runs in to… yeugh… peel off a layer
of her teammate’s skin.


Next, M decides to run in… but she is halted in her tracks. 
Ya see, Emma Frost invaded her mind and forced her to pause.  In the distraction, Emplate disappears.  The entire crazy event is written off as not
having been seen by the public because Emma made the team “psi-blind to the
herd”.


We shift to
Emplate who arrives… I dunno, home… wherever that is?  We find out that
he’s been keeping a person chained up there for him to feed off regularly.  We also find out… that person escaped!


Back at the
Academy, Skin lights up a cigarette… because he’s from the wrong side of the
tracks.  That’s what the many “misunderstood”
characters did before Marvel imposed their across-the-board smoking ban in the
early-2000s.


Chamber
notes that there is someone here to see them… and outside on the lawn sits our
old friend, Gateway.  Banshee and
company run out to see what’s up… Sean growing more aggravated with each step…
until finally, Gateway speaks!  He
mutters, perhaps the first word we’d ever seen him mutter in the comics (if I’m
not mistaken, anyway), “Penance”.


Further out on the lawn they find… a red skinned girl with very long and pointy fingers… now, who might this be???  Izzit Void Indigo?!  Well, any observant reader
might presume this is the red-skinned girl with the long fingers who was in all
the promotional art!  This is Penance, by
the way… and she will be kind of important.






I… love this friggin’ book.  This is one of those books that never fails to take me back to where I was when I was reading it.  This book, I dunno, just felt special.  Perhaps this was due to it being the first “big” mutant-book launch that I was actually “a part of” as a fan… but, I remember being super-hyped for this to finally arrive… inflated cover-price and all!


Plus, it always reminds me of my favorite time of year… the Fall, which, living in Arizona, isn’t a thing I get to experience anymore!  I love the look of the brown, orange, red and yellow leaves floating through the panels… the sweatshirts and flannels… this book just gives me a very “cozy” feeling… and that’s almost certainly one of the reasons why I will always love it.


The characters we “meet” here, are mostly those we already knew from The Phalanx Covenant… and they’re all very likable and… in many ways, relatable (if you’re a teen-ager… which I was).  I feel like, at their core, these folks are… ya know, sorta archetypal… but, only at their surface-level.  I mean, you can sort of “file them” under where they fit in a group dynamic… but, we will actually get to know each and every one of them better… and they will all become fully-fleshed out individuals.


It’s funny, a few weeks back when I looked at the Near-Miss of Giant-Size X-Men #1, I lamented the current methodology employed by Marvel when it comes to introducing “new” mutant characters.  We just get a bushel of ’em, all at once… and we’re expected to care.  If we don’t get on-board, “we” (the readers) get the blame for a book’s failing.  We kind of get that “bushel” effect here… but, Lobdell is able to side-step the side-effects, in that he introduced most of the cast in waves over the past few months of X-Men-family comics.  Not only did that allow us to “meet” these characters, but it further upped the ante on the hype for the big Generation X debut.


Let’s look at the art.  I’ve said it before, but Chris Bachalo is absolutely in my Top Three Comic Artists of all time… he might even be Number One!  I absolutely love his work… and Generation X might be the best of his best.  This book looks like “candy”… it’s just beautiful.  Even the “scary” parts look gorgeous!  It’s hard to even put into words what it is I like so much… other than to say it looks “right”.  This is the perfect art and perfect Artist for this book.  I couldn’t imagine it launching under any other pencil… and boy, did this poor book take a nosedive (in every conceivable way) after Chris (and Scott) left!


Anyhoo, this is an awesome book… featuring an awesome team… created by an awesome team.  I’m so glad I found this (admittedly tenuous) way of sharing it here at the blog.  If you’ve never read these early issues of Generation X, you owe it to yourself to do so!  Just know when you’ve reach the Pooka, you’ve gone too far!





“Gen-erating Excitement” (missed opportunity on using X-citement) by Andrew Steven Harris, from Wizard: The Guide to Comics #38 (October, 1994):


 



“Voices of a Generation” by Jeff Lang & Andrew Kardon, from Wizard: The Guide to Comics #44 (April, 1994):


(Not the) Letters Page… actually, a Sketchbook:





Interesting Ads (that you can only fully appreciate after 6-8 weeks of waiting by your mailbox):


Some “Lenticular” Fun:

4 Comments

  1. Scott Lobdell has never been my cuppa (although I will admit he must be doing something right to remain gainfully employed in the industry or thirty years). On the other hand, Chris Bachalo and/or Mark Buckingham… Damn, that's some beautiful comics right there! And I say that as someone who still wishes they hadn't traded up to the X-Verse from Vertigo even after all these years. (Not that I can really blame them, of course. Careerwise it's a no-brainer — the difference between being able to buy a nice house and being able to buy the art supplies to draw a picture of a nice house.)

    Oh, and those Marvel surveys aren't quite as innocuous as they seem.

    Soon after this issue came out, Heroes World was acquired by Marvel to act as the publisher's sole distributor. This ill-fated move, combined with other marketplace factors of the time, resulted in the financial failure of many other comics distributors and retailers.

    What's less well known is that Marvel had an aborted second phase in their plan to cause the collapse of the entire North American comic book market, um, streamline their distribution model. Marvel's aim was to sell comics directly to readers and collectors by setting up retail and mail-order operations. These surveys were the first step in identifying potential customers.

    • For me, Scott Lobdell will forever get a pass for having written Uncanny X-Men #308… probably among my favorite single-issues of all time (despite the rather massive lettering error that completely ruined "the" moment of the issue).

      Heroes World is a very interesting subject… We spent a few episodes of Weird Comics History going through the absolute disaster of the missed shipments, missed billing, "Marvel Marts", the whole shebang… which ultimately wound up hand-delivering a distribution monopoly to Diamond. It's almost surprising that the industry survived it at all!

      I've actually been collecting the Heroes World catalogs… they're definitely a trip to look at!

  2. I used to love Generation X. It's kinda what got me into the X-Men titles though admittedly I've never really been "obsessed" with the X franchise per se. This title did help fill the void left in my life when The New Titans was cancelled. I think another part of what led me to check out this series was Jubilee's involvement in DC Vs. Marvel and that live action tv movie on Fox around that time. I'd always hoped for a crossover between Generation X and Dan Jurgens's Teen Titans. Ironically, we did get a couple of crossovers with this team and Gen13. Wonder how they managed to come to an agreement there. I'm also thinking it's this same kind of analness that forced DC to start calling Captain Marvel Shazam which if you think about it is kinda like calling Frankenstein's monster Frankenstein. And why didn't that Hart Fisher guy take DC to court over them calling Donna Troy's enemy Dark Angel?

    • I was definitely "all in" at this point… completely X-Obsessed.

      I remember actually being psyched for that gawd-awful Generation X TV Movie! This was back before the very idea of a comics movie didn't result in an involuntary dry-heave… but, wow, that was rough!

      I'm planning on eventually covering those Gen13/Generation X crossovers… it's been a hundred years since I've read 'em, but I remember liking them a great deal!

      I think Fisher's lawsuit is kind of like how DC can have "Captain Marvel" in a comic… but can't use CAPTAIN MARVEL as a title. Also, he's the guy who wrote a comic called KILL MARVEL and sold those "Marvel Can Suck My…" t-shirts during Comicon during the mid-to-late '90s, so it might've been a bit personal!

      We did an episode of the Cosmic Treadmill podcast on Hart Fisher's life-and-times in the industry that I am very proud of… he's definitely an interesting study! Very 1st Amendment-Minded too!

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