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Gen 13. So many genres and incarnations, so little time. This is a Wildstorm universe based comic series that used to be owned by Image until DC Comics decided to engorge themselves on the Wildstorm label, and while still being printed today, is damn hard to locate in some comic shops.
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, 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 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 and Wolverine. 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. Chris Claremont was brought in to write an all-new, all-different Gen 13, but the new version wasn't accepted by readers. Finally, Gail Simone launched a Continuity Reboot of the original team in 2006, which was also critically well-received but Too Good to 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. After that, 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
Gen13 contains examples of:
- Amazonian Beauty: Caitlin Fairchild.
- 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.
- Breast Expansion: In the animated adaptation, when Caitlin first transforms.
- Clothing Damage: The number of times Caitlin Fairchild's outfit gets blown up or torn up is beyond counting.
- She's lampshaded this on several occasions.
- Differently-Powered Individual: The standard phrase used by the Government Conspiracy is SPB, short for "Super Powered Being".
- Evil Albino: The Albino
- Five-Man Band
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: Often can cross with Ms. Fanservice with all three girls.
- Matriarchy: The Koda.
- Mistaken for Masturbating: Inverted. In the current reboot by Gail Simone, Grunge has been 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.
- Psycho Rangers: The Deviants from DV8.
- 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.
- 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 officaly 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.