Gen 13. So many genres and incarnations, so little time. This was a Wildstorm
universe based comic series that used to be owned by Image
until Jim Lee sold the imprint to DC Comics
. DC gave it no less than three different reboots.
The book was created by Brandon Choi, Jim Lee
and artist J. Scott Campbell, and any familiarity with those three should already give an idea of what the book was going to entail. The characters were introduced in Deathmate Black
(September, 1993). In 1994, they got a 5-issue mini-series. It sold well enough for the introduction of an ongoing series in 1995. It focused on the exploits of five teens who were invited to participate in a government research project, but who all later discovered it was nothing more than a prison used to locate children with "Gen-Active" genes that the government would later attempt to experiment on and use as weapons, of course.
The roster consisted of:
- Caitlin Fairchild a.k.a. Fairchild, redhead resident Shrinking Violet geek girl turned Amazonian team leader.
- Roxanne "Freefall" Spaulding, the smart-mouthed smart ass spunky chick, with gravity manipulation powers.
- Percival "Grunge" Chang, a diminutive perverted slacker, and resident ditz, with the power to absorb the properties of any material he touches.
- Robert "Burnout" Lane, the angst-ridden musician who can Play With Fire.
- Sarah Rainmaker a.k.a. Rainmaker, a weather-controlling Native American who had bisexual "will she or won't she" tendencies.
Their mentor was John Lynch
, a gruff and grizzled former soldier and ex-agent for the conspiracy that gathered them, who was basically, for lack of a better term, the hybrid love child of Clint Eastwood
. Lynch freed them and acted as Team Dad
for this Secret Project Refugee Family
While the book was derivative of the millions of other books focusing on ridiculously attractive teens or teams with superpowers, it occasionally took it upon itself to hang a lampshade
on the very conventions of the genre, including the constant Clothing Damage
, the rambling villains, and more, which allowed it to not only cater to its audience, yet give them a wink as well.Gen 13
and its spinoffs have also tended to gather a wide variety of talent. To start with, this is the book that made J. Scott Campbell famous before Danger Girl
. Warren Ellis
wrote the first eight issues of DV8
, a book starring the titular Psycho Rangers
and series Arch-Nemesis
Ivana Baiul. Adam "Empowered
" Warren did two well-received parody miniseries ("Grunge
: The Movie
" and "Magical Drama Queen Roxy
") and was the writer for what turned out to be the final issues of the original series. In an unexpected twist, the entire cast were Killed Off for Real
by a nuclear weapon.
Following this, Chris Claremont
was brought in to write an all-new, all-different Gen 13
, but the new version was not terribly good
and poorly received. Set in an alternate universe, the story featured a strangely alive Fairchild mentoring an all-new team
. This version was cancelled after sixteen issues, ending with the resurrection of the original team.
Finally, Gail Simone
launched a Continuity Reboot
of the original team in 2006, which was also critically well-received but couldn't last. The series had been Retooled yet again
, along with the rest of the Wildstorm universe, as part of the World's End Crisis Crossover
, it seems to have been folded into the DC Universe along with the rest of Wildstorm as a result of Flashpoint
; there are no plans to revive the book, but some Gen 13
characters have shown up in the "DCnU
There is a little known direct-to-video animated film that was released overseas, titled Gen 13: The Movie
Gen 13 contains examples of:
- Aborted Arc: Numerous throughout the comic's various incarnations. Notably, Adam Warren had planned a lengthy character arc for the oft-overlooked Sarah Rainmaker, only to have the book cancelled after only one issue of said arc was completed.
- Claremont's entire run became this, cut short to sixteen issues and its last arc being about resurrecting the original team.
- Adorkable: The "New52" Fairchild in her "normal"◊ form
- All Just a Dream: The penultimate two issues of Warren's run feature an over-the top hedonistic party night complete with skinny dipping and hook-ups between the team and their other Gen-active friends. It turned out that this was all happening in Fairchild's subconscious in the microseconds before she and the others were vaporized by a nuclear weapon
- The Claremont run turned out to be this as well, with the entire continuity existing inside Fairchild's mind as she restructured reality to bring her team back to life.
- Amazonian Beauty: Caitlin Fairchild, although her muscularity varies Depending on the Artist
- Animated Adaptation: There was one made, but it was never officially released in the US.
- Asian Airhead: Grunge, a Chinese-American California surfer/skater/slacker dude, was presented as an extremely rare male version of this at the beginning. He tested well in school, however, thanks to his Photographic Memory.
- Between My Legs: This◊ cover.
- Boobs of Steel: Caitlin has super strength, and her chest is the largest in the team.
- Book Ends: Adam Warren's run on the title begins with everyone sans Grunge dead which turns out to be just a dream with the team being alive. Ignoring the epilogue, it ends with a giant party eventually revealed to be an illusion of Fairchild's as the team is vaporized by a bomb.
- Break the Haughty: Warren Ellis' run on DV8 consist almost entirely of this happening to the cast. Even sociopath like Bliss and Treshold ends up broken or close to breaking point.
- Breast Expansion: When Caitlin first transforms, her muscles grow and her breasts.
- Captain Ethnic: Unsurprisingly, Claremont's run had two of these
- Hazma Rashad who was a Black Muslim and began every damn sentence with "Oh, Allah!" or variations thereof.
- Gwen Matura who was Asian-American and who's powers came from a magic spirit dragon. Really.
- Character Development: Ellis' take on DV8 has a lot of this, as the cast actually gains some, if twisted, sense of morality and starts to care about each other.
- Clothing Damage: The number of times Caitlin Fairchild's outfit gets blown up or torn up is beyond counting. Heck, the first issue shows her wearing a torn up nightgown.
- Continuity Reboot: No less then four (!) times now, not bad for a franchise that's only existed since 1993...
- The first came at the end of the original Wildstorm run when the entire team was killed off
- The second came at the end of Claremont's run when the comic was rebooted again and the original team were bought back to life.
- The third occurred with the Worldstorm reboot of the Wildstorm universe
- The fourth occurred with the launch of the DC "New 52", with Fairchild and Grunge both appearing in the rebooted DCU.
- The start of Warren's run could also count as a minor reboot as he effectively reset the comic to where it was two years ago. Given the "quality" material of those two years, this was not exactly a bad thing.
- Continuity Snarl: The Gail Simone run ended up being this due to Executive Meddling. Wildstorm's editors flip-flopped back and forth over weather the Worldstorm re-launch of Wildstorm's titles were going to be a full reboot, a soft-boot or not a reboot at all, and then failed to tell Simone when they reached a conclusion. The result was her run being a full Continuity Reboot at odds with the rest of the relaunched Wildstorm Universe.
- Differently Powered Individual: The standard phrase used by the Government Conspiracy is SPB, short for "Super Powered Being".
- Downer Ending: The end of the first volume.
- Embarrassing First Name: Grunge goes by "P. Edmund Chang", because the "P" is for Percival.
- Evil Albino: The Albino
- Evil Counterpart: The Deviants of DV8 are Ivana Baiul's answer to Gen 13. Like our heroes, they're also Gen-Active teenagers with attitude problems — only they're all borderline psychotic and at I/O's beck and call.
- Executive Meddling: Killing off the entire team was not Adam Warren's idea, but rather forced on the book to make way for the all-new team.
- Fanservice: From the cover of the first issue, it's clear that this is a major point of the series.
- Five-Man Band
- Five-Token Band: Claremont's version of the team.
- Fairchild (Female team leader; could be also considered this because she's the only "real" person in a world that exists otherwise in her subconcious)
- Ethan York (Irish-American son of a firefighter who was killed in 9/11)
- Ja'nelle Moorhead (Black female, ambiguously bisexual)
- Gwen Matsura (Asian-American Female)
- Hazma Rashad (Black Muslim paraplegic. His superpowers include being able to walk)
- Gangsta Style: The page illustration is from the "Grunge: The Movie", where writer/artist Adam Warren parodies the tropes of Hong Kong wuxia and Heroic Bloodshed through Grunge's fantasy movie script, featuring other Wildstorm characters in supporting roles. Grifter holds his gun sideways, Jackson Dane holds his upside down, and Jester holds his right side up but pulls the trigger with his tongue.
- Genius Bruiser: Caitlin Fairchild.
- Grunge is genius-level too, with a photographic memory. He just puts a lot of effort into pretending to be a dumb slacker.
- Go-Go Enslavement: Has happened to Caitlin Fairchild at least twice. The first time it's a mad scientist; the second (or at least a subsequent) time it's an alien warlord. Unlike most heroines, she actively dwells on the fact that this means the villain saw her naked.
- In a borderline third case, she becomes indebted to a villainess who forces Fairchild to go on a mission for her in a fetishistic latex costume. She's not technically a prisoner (except to her debt and/or sense of honor) but at the end of the mission, the villainess erases her memory, leaving her thinking that she still owes a favor (and suggesting that this isn't the first time she's done it).
- Gravity Master: Freefall.
- Growing Muscles Sequence: In the animated adaption, when Caitlin first transforms.
- Her Codename Was Mary Sue: "Grunge: The Movie" and "Magical Drama Queen Roxy" are fantasies on the part of Grunge and Freefall (respectively) that cast them as amazing heroes over whom everyone is in awe. In the former case, it's a literal story thought up by Grunge.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Just about everyone in the Wildstorm Universe is hot for Fairchild in some way. Except Freefall.
- Heroic BSOD: Post-Worldstorm, Grunge suffers through a bad version of this when he's forced to kill Kid Apollo to save his teammates and spends the next few weeks suffering from depression.
- Hypocrite: Rainmaker frequently admonishes Grunge for being perverted, but she herself makes perverted comments towards women. For example in Issue 17 she yells at Grunge for staring at them when they were kidnapped and dressed in teddies, but two pages before remarks to Catlin that a Coda Warrior has a "nice ass."
- I Know Kung-Fu: Pulled by Grunge on a rather physically unimpressive scientist who had developed a power-nullifying device. After the team spends almost all issue helpless, he hands the scientist his ass in about three panels.
- Informed Ability: Fairchild was supposed to be a genius. Instead most of the series' writers depicted her as being an outsized bimbo with the odd reassurance that she was smart.
- Innocent Fan Service Girl: Often can cross with Ms Fan Service with all three girls.
- Involuntary Shapeshifter: During the Claremont run, Fairchild was turned into a shape-shifting, purple goo-monster. Of course this being Claremont...
- Male Gaze: Especially at Caitlin. One issue shows a villain's spy camera, and the focus square was right on her breasts.
- Matriarchy: The Koda.
- Mistaken for Masturbating: Inverted. In the Gail Simone version, Grunge was shown as being a geekish, mommy-boy kid. Wanting to "reinvent himself", he cleverly and systematically rebels against it, for example disposing of all his anti-asthma medications, vitamins and dietary supplements in the toilet while faking a double-entendre laced Immodest Orgasm just to mess with his family.
- Most Common Superpower: Caitlin, as shown in that trope's page image.
- Power of Friendship: Ellis' DV8 had really dark take on this trope - friends watching each other's back becomes a necessary thing to survive for the entire cast.
- Psycho Rangers: The Deviants from DV8.
- Reality Warper: Fairchild became this after her death, creating an entire universe (the Claremont run) as a way of bringing her team back to life.
- Redheaded Hero: Caitlin
- Redhead In Green: Caitlin's powers awaken when she wears a green nightgown. The now torn-up dress is featured on the cover of the first issue.
- Robotic Reveal: Anna's a demure maid who cooks and cleans for the group, looking very much annoyed when her carefully cooked breakfast goes ignored in favor of various snacks, junk food and cold pizza. Then she turned out to be an assassin droid with concealable blades and weapons of destruction.
- Secret Project Refugee Family
- Similar Squad: The "Mongolian Barbeque Horde" from Adam Warren's run.
- Soapbox Sadie: An oft-mocked facet of Sarah's personality
- Statuesque Stunner: Caitlin, of course!
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: From the "They weren't even trying" file - What were the odds that someone named "Sarah Rainmaker" would gain weather control powers? She's a Native American, see, and as we all know they all have names like that, right? Right?
- The same book gave us the slightly less on the nose Caitlin Fairchild, who imaginatively fights crime with the Code Name "Fairchild." The manifestation of her powers gave her enhanced beauty and a perfect physique.
- And Burnout's nickname was "Burnout" before he gained fire powers.
- Their Gen-12 parents were all given (barely-controllable) psychic powers via Super Serum. Perhaps, since their own powers were inherent until activated, they subconsciously "selected" what powers they got based on their own names and/or personalities? It would also explain why a slacker wannabe would end up with the power to mimic anything and a shrinking violet who was always pushed around would become indestructible and strong enough to literally push everyone back.
- Superpowerful Genetics: They inherit powers from the genetic Super Soldier project that produced Team 7 and other gen-actives. Naturally, these powers have nothing to do with their parents' powers.
- The Movie - In 1999, Disney, of all companies produced an animated direct-to-video adaptation of the film. It can be noted that despite being Disney, it is much Darker and Edgier than their other direct-to-video projects that borders between PG-13 to R with intense action violence, profanity, brief nudity and blood and gore. Never officially released in the US.
- Took a Level in Badass: Grunge. He starts out as your more than average nerd with genius IQ and photographic memory. And the first name... Percy. So he starts working out, hides his book smarts and his photographic memory, starts using his middle name, trains in martial arts and starts skateboarding. And turns into a stereotypical 'stupid' musclebound frat boy slacker by the start of the series when we first see him. And then he gets superpowers.
- In the current reboot is made clear that Grunge is actually a kind Papa Wolf to his teammates, feeling compelled into amassing degrees in Badass to better care for them, hiding behind the slacker facade.
- Too Much Information: One issue is kind enough to add to Freefall's misfortune of being kidnapped by pirates and forced to cook for them by telling us that she's "riding the crimson wave." Thanks, Roxy.
- Twofer Token Minority: Sarah Rainmaker, Native American Lesbian. Her personality rarely went beyond that.
- Claremont's run had Hamza Rashad, a Black Muslim in a wheelchair
- What Happened to the Mouse?: With the cancellation of the first run a number of outstanding storylines - most notably the disappearance of Lynch - were never resolved.