Superman/Gen¹³ #1 (June, 2000)
“The Never-Ending Prattle”
Story – Adam Hughes
Pencils – Lee Bermejo
Inks – John Nyberg
Colors – Guy Major
Letters – Mike Heisler
Edits – Eric DeSantis
Cover Price: $2.50
Here’s one I’ve wanted to discuss here for a while now. It’s a fairly common one to find in the cheap-o bins… so much so, that anytime I saw it, I always assumed that I owned it! Imagine my surprise when I actually set to reading the thing… and realized that I didn’t!
Heck, even now, I don’t have the other two issues of this thing… so, this won’t be a three-part post (for that my blog-stats are thankful).
Without further ado… let’s git it!
We open with the Gen¹³ kids being told where they’ll be spending their next field trip. Ya see, it was all left to Caitlin, and the only place she wants to go is… Metropolis… for “reasons”. The rest of the gang is not keen on this, and actually feels as though Metropolis might be the most un-hip place on Earth. Ol’ Lynch peels off some cash for the kids to spend on their trip, entrusting it to Fairchild. They hop onto a stinky train before transferring to a stinky bus… and finally arrive in the big city.
Upon de-boarding, the kids notice a bit of a kerfuffle going on in the distance. People are rushing toward it, and Fairchild’s eyes perk up. She wonders if she’s finally going to catch a glimpse of… him. Suddenly it’s all too clear to her teammates why she chose Metropolis.
And whattaya know, there “he” is!
Superman battles a giant ape… while, at the same time, trying to protect all of the civilians who’d gathered to gawk! They’re doing a really good job of illustrating how multi-faceted Superman’s “gig” is. Meanwhile, Caitlin is drawn to the Man of Steel like a moth to a flame, she tries to squeeze her way through the crowd to get a closer look. Unfortunately, Superman gets pounded by the monkey… and sent flying toward the crowd, smashing right into Fairchild!
Superman brushes off the blow before realizing he just, ya know, crushed a civilian. He gives her the ol’ super-once-over, and is relieved to learn that she’s still alive. He covers her with his cape and promises to come back just as soon as he can.
It’s here that the rest of the Gen¹³ kids decide to get involved with the skirmish. Grunge leaps up onto the ape’s shoulder with a resounding, uh, “Kowa-bung…hole”… yeesh. He punches his way inside the beast, only to find it’s being operated by a brain in a jar!
The brain, knowing the jig is up, ejects itself… and is out of sight before anyone can realize it. Lucky for them, they’ve got Superman on their side… who, it turns out, isn’t just faster than a speeding bullet… but can also hold his own against a brain.
Elsewhere, Caitlin begins to stir… and, she hasn’t the foggiest idea who or where she is. All she knows is she’s holding Superman’s cape. She wanders into the street, and right into the path of a fire engine… and dents the sucker good. Any guesses where this might be headed?
Back at the fight, Superman chats up Gen¹³ for a bit, and informs them that Caitlin isn’t where he’d left her… he does hear a bit of hub-bub around a certain fire engine some 20 blocks away, however. The heroes head over to get the skinny, and have the prior scene explained to them.
Superman leaves Gen¹³ to the search… and, they make a halfhearted attempt to find their missing friend. Heck, instead of actually looking, Grunge pops into a McDonald’s for lunch. Anyhoo, we rejoin fugue-ish Caitlin, still clutching the cape, as she blows through the wad of dough Lynch gave her at a costume shop. So… again, any ideas where this is goin’?
Gen¹³ decides their best bet to track down their pal might be… checking in with, ya know… Superman’s pals. And so, they’re off to the Daily Planet, where they’re introduced to… Jimmy.
Young Olsen escorts the team up into the offices where he introduces them to Lois… who, for whatever reason, is sitting very seductively on the edge of her desk. The kids aren’t so forthcoming with information… and so, she sasses them a bit. She knows way more about them then they think she does.
She assures them, not only is she on their side… but, there are other folks here who can also be of great assistance. One in particular, Clark Kent.
At that moment, across town, a bank robbery is goin’ down. The baddies flee the joint and run right smack into… well, just take a look.
This definitely feels like a circa-2000 book, dunnit? Pretty decompressed, with an art-style you wouldn’t ordinarily associate with the traditionally more “cheesecake” Gen¹³ characters.
In fact, upon first opening the thing, I was pretty turned off by the art. I just didn’t think it “worked”… and, honestly, would have preferred J. Scott Campbell or a clone thereof. In pressing on, however, I found a great appreciation for Bermejo’s semi-stylized (and still somewhat understated) work. I guess sometimes you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover (or opening splash page).
The story is… pretty neat! I like the idea that Caitlin Fairchild is a big Superman fan… and would orchestrate an entire “field trip” around getting the opportunity to see him flyin’ by. Having her actually be involved as a bit of collateral damage, leaving her in an odd fugue state, was a nice twist… and, I’m assuming, will facilitate the second two-thirds of this miniseries.
Overall… it is a bit decompressed, leading to a relatively “breezy” experience. That’s not always a bad thing. Can’t say I’d tell ya to pay cover-price or above for this, but if you find it on the cheap, you can do far worse.
(Not the) Letters Page: