Category Archives: I.O.

“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 17 – 19

this entry covers issues 17 through 19 of “Deathblow” volume 1.

Deathblow_Vol_1_17Reporter Karl Woodbern has info on Kaizen Gamorra. It’s information that Kaizen does not want to get out, in fact, the Gamoran leader wants him dead. Who’s a hotshot reporter supposed to turn to for protection? Why Rayna Masters of course! Not that Woodbern wants Rayna to protect him, or even her main dude the Sergeant-Major. Nope, Woodbern wants the protection of Micheal Cray more than anything! Here’s the kicker, Cray and Woodbern have a past and in the past Woodbern’s actions resulted in the death of one of Cray’s soldiers. Thusly, Cray hates Woodbern and does not want to work for him. Woodbern gets Cray to come around once Woodbern mentions that the information he has concerns Cray and is tied into files about Project Genesis.

Alright, then we get into some business with Woodbern needing to get his computer disk of information, but it’s all kind of too much. I mean there’s a strip joint and a stripper involved after all. And then Kaizen’s goons show up to shoot up the joint and kidnap Woodbern. While the goons get away Frank Colby and the Black Razor’s show up to spoil the fun. Rayna manages to intimidate Cobly into leaving them all alone, and the stripper hands off Woodbern’s info disk to Cray. Cray hits up his information buddy Henri Rothchild for help reading the disk, and finds more information on it than Woodbern let on! Not just information on Project Genesis but also about an organ harvesting program, Gabriel Newman and Cray’s Pops! Uh oh! Time to high-tail it to Gamorra!

Deathblow_Vol_1_18Rayna and the Sergeant-Major get into Gamorra by plane as Cray parachutes in, because that guy is bad ass always takes the hard road. Rayna pretty quickly gets taken in by more of Kaizen’s goons. And while the Sergeant-Major thinks he’s hot on the tail of these kidnappers, it turns out he’s been faked out too. Time to break into Kaizen’s compound. Not that he’s alone in that action.

As Cray descends down into the ocean to then swim to Gamorra after the skydiving (see, dude’s bad ass!) he recounts a previous mission in Gamorra where he met up with a freedom fighter named Mai-Li and took on a round of Hunter-Killers. Wouldn’t you know it that twenty years later, Cray’s contact for the compound infiltration happens to be Mai-Li! And damn if they don’t have to hunt down some more Hunter-Killers! While breaking in Cray and Mai-Li come across the Sergeant-Major. Ou boy Kaizen, trouble is headed your way!deathblow_18_trio

deathblow_v1_19So the Sergeant-Major, Mai-Li and Cray are hacking into Kaizen’s system to try and find exactly where Woodbern and Rayna are being held. First hurdle, they’re not together. Second hurdle, they’ve been noticed and the chief of security is throwing his big guns at the three of them. The Minotaur, Borgia, and Gila have been dispatched. They are the toughest of the tough, and come with their own Hunter-Killer army!

While things are looking dire for all our heroes, at least the Sergeant-Major has gotten Woodbern, and they’ve all converged on where Rayna is being held, the problem is the same as it has ever been. Mainly these: Kaizen, Kaizen’s goons. After the Minotaur kills Mai-Li, who was sacrificing her life for Crays, Colby and the Black Razors show up again. Seems as if they were sent by Craven, who was instructed to save Rayna and her employees by the First Lady of the United States. Rayna and the First Lady were old college pals, and Rayna used her influence to help wrap the mission. Though it could’ve gone sideways at any point, everyone is really lucky that Colby can get a job done. Too bad Woodbern is so brain damaged from his torture during his kidnapping that he can’t remember a bit of the information he wanted to protect.

Continuity Corner:

  • While it doesn’t weigh on our main character much in this story, we see Craven getting in trouble with Senator Killory about Project Genesis being reactivated. We’ll see more of Senator Killory later in the pages of “DV8.”
  • deathblow_17_tranceWe clearly see that Trance is in the shadows of Craven’s office. Posed much like when we saw him during “Gen13” Vol. 2 issue 2. And just like in that appearance he’s willing to give out information on the whereabouts of John Lynch. This time he’s seeking information about Kaizen Gamorra from Craven, where as before he was asking for information on Craven from Defile. Because he is in silhouette I’ve never really put together it was Trance before, but yeah, it’s totally Trance and I’m totally dense.
  • We’ve had a few references to some big operation that went down in Gamorra years back in a few past issues and here we have some flashbacks to it. Cray is with his Seal Team 6 team, so Tom Archer is accounted for, but I don’t see Armand Wearing at all! Maybe he was one of the kidnapped scientists?
  • No word if Mai-Li Tsung is related to the Tsung family we meet later on during “Fire from Heaven” but I’m going with a pretty strong “maybe” and am thinking it probably goes back a few generations. Third or fourth cousins at best for Mai-Li and the Doc.
  • deathblow_19_cybernaryWe have a small cameo by Cybernary in this run. While it was originally intended that when the “Deathblow/Cybernary” flip-book was coming out, they were occurring at the same time (this was in the letter pages) we now see that that cannot be the case. Those issues open with a Cybernary free of her creators running around before being captured by other curious parties and having her origin recounted. It’s not until her proper series begins that we even see the conclusion of her story concerning her escape from her creators. She recounts the escape story as happening in the not too recent past, which means for best reading, we should still put her books off a bit more to build some time between this appearance and the next. But how cool was it to see her and Cray in the same book again?
  • I like to keep this story line near the start of this section, just because it starts laying out a lot of what is to come in the WildStorm Universe. We learn about Kaizen and Craven working together. We also see that they’re working on a project concerning Gen-Actives. And we have Craven laying out his plan to hunt down the Team 7 members as well. Not to mention the first hint of what happened to Cray’s parents. We even have a doctor examine Cray and then start to refer him to genetics expert Dr. Tsung! There’s a lot of set up that slowly starts to pay off in the pages of “Deathblow,” “Gen13,” and the “Fire from Heaven” crossover.

NEXT: “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 23, 23.5, 24 and the Despot & Strafe “Homecoming” short story by Ron Marz, H.K. Proger, Renato Arlem, Darryl Banks, Robert Jones, John Lowe, Art Thibert and Dan Panosian

“Grifter” Vol. 1 issues 2 – 6

this entry cover issues 2 through 6 of the first volume of “Grifter”

Grifter_v1_002The story picks up in Nicaragua, right in the aftermath of the “WildStorm Rising” cross-over. StormWatch is headed back to SkyWatch, supposedly with Slayton, and Wetworks is headed back to the States, supposedly with Cray. Dane not only offers Cole a ride home with him but also offers him a position on his team. Not being one for charity Cole turns him down. Dane forces some cash on Cole so that he can at least get home, and Cole considers it a loan.

It doesn’t take too long for Cole to find trouble in a small Nicaraguan town. This trouble is named Luiz Pacheco, and he calls a bunch of armor-suited hooligans on Cole. Pacheco is a member of the Nicaraguan secret police, and he’s calling in these hooligans for Neo who studies and tries to replicate fancy pants weaponry. The armor suits are evidence of Neo’s work, they’re close, but not quite. Turns out that Neo has had his eyes on Cole’s VADs and needs them stolen so he can study them. Neo totally gets away with the VADs after Cole is knocked out by previously mentioned hooligans.

Even though Cole was knocked down and couldn’t move while his VADs were being stolen, he could still hear, so he knows enough to follow Neo to Taipei, Taiwan. He is still recovering from the beating he took during “WildStorm Rising” as well as from Neo’s hooligan force. After passing out on the plane ride, he is woken up and proceeds to head to an old girlfriend’s place. Her name is Yim, an ex of Cole’s and boy is she a sass machine! She gives him a hard time, but ultimately she takes care of him… in more ways that one. Oh my!

After a rest, Cole steps out while Yim naps and is on the look out for Neo. Neo, being a very subtle kind of chap has a building with his name plastered all over it. While Cole is checking out the place from a nearby tea house he is stopped by Zaijian. Zaijian turns out to be Yim’s current boyfriend, and he saw Cole leave her place! Uh oh! Cole talks his way out of getting a beatdown (or worse) from Zaijian and then proceeds to break into Neo’s warehouse. Cole manages to find his VADs and encounter Koko, the fattest cat in the WildStorm Universe. As he is taking his VADs back an alarm goes off, while he’s searching for a place to hide, he spies a warhead trigger. Cole’s got a bad feeling about what Neo’s been up to.

So Neo is making a warhead trigger for an evil jack-wagon named Diabolik. Diabolik wants to blow up all of Japan because he had a bad time with a Japanese doctor. Alright, to be fair to Diabolik, this Japanese doctor did make him the abomination of a man he is today. Sure, he can now live on land as well as water, but the cost was too damn high in the end. So Diabolik, in a pretty much racist fashion, decides all of the Japanese are evil and must be blowed up. So Diabolik shows up at Neo’s warehouse, but before Diabolik can get away that warhead trigger from Neo, Cole makes his presence known. Diabolik not sure what to do starts using his crazy ass weaponry and hits some barrels full of explosive material, bringing the whole building down on himself. Also, Cole was on the balcony at this time, so you know, he gets hurt from a fall due to the explosion but doesn’t get a ton of rubble landing on him.

Zaijian, ever the nice guy, doubles back to save Cole. Not because he’s talked with Yim, but because he heard the explosion and just knew Cole was involved. Zaijian seems like a pretty stand up guy in the end. Also, it turns out he’s totally a secret agent too! He’s a member of the Temple of Confucius and they’ve been after Diabolik for awhile. The Temple decides to hire Cole as a contractor to help Zaijian take down Diabolik once and for all because of course Diabolik survived the explosion. Cole has a plan and a good idea what Diabolik is up to. He needs to get that trigger back to where ever the warhead and missile are located.

Cole has the idea that the rest of Diabolik’s plan does not take place in Taipei, and surmises that Diabolik will be heading off to wherever the show is supposed to go down via a helicopter. There only so many buildings that have a helipad in Taipei, so that’s where Cole sets up his sting operation. It’s at the Sun and Moon Bank and while chasing down Diabolik a woman gets caught in the crossfire and is injured. As Diabolik is getting away, the Temple of Confucius are on him. Turns out that the helicopter was all part of the plan and they can use it to track Diabolik. Cole tells Zaijian to use his paycheck to make sure that the woman who got injured is cared for, then he and Zaijian take off in jet pack/glider thingies and land on the island Diabolik has set up for his missile launch.

So, Diabolik is ready to pound Japan with a gigantor missile. On this island is an old friend of Diabolik’s named Dr. Denning. It looks like Dr. Denning is being held captive by Diabolik. Not so, the good doctor is already dead. Diabolik just kept Denning around because he technically owned the island, and Big D thought that Denning actually understood his hatred of the Japanese. Cole and Diabolik spar and Cole eventually gets the upper hand. He also figures out where the missile is so that Zaijian’s T. of C. buddies can take care of it. With the battle all but over, and the island starting to blow up for… reasons… Zaijian and Cole find only one of the jet pack/glider things in working order. Cole is ready to let Zaijian have it when Zaijian grabs Cole’s arms and flies off the island with him. Eventually, the weight is too much and with the explosions over Cole tells Zaijian to drop him and come back later with help. Zaijian complies, and drops Cole into the ocean with the warning “Watch out for the sharks.”

Grifter_v1_005Cole ends up being caught in a Japan tuna fishing boat net. The Japanese sailors get him back to Japan and the first place Cole heads is the Tokyo I/O office. He confronts the head of the office, a man by the name of Crenshaw, and asks for help getting a passport. This being I/O, there’s a string attached to everything. Crenshaw wants Cole to help in getting back Regiment, a Team 1 member that was sold to the Japanese for research and assumed dead. Turns out, he just woke up and is on a Hulk-like rampage. Cole says no dice, and storms out. He’s never working for I/O again. He then heads to a bathhouse and massage parlor. While taking his much-needed shower (he smelled like ocean water and fish) Regiment tears down the wall screaming for Craven. Like it or not, Cole is now doing a job for I/O.

Cole goes about kicking Regiment’s ass as well as he can. He gets the promise from Crenshaw that he’ll get everything he needs to get back to the U.S. as well as some background information on Regiment. Cole soon realizes how outmatched he is, and requests some bigger, badder weapons to out the big boy to sleep. While I/O is coming up with that tech, Zaijian shows up to help Cole. Apparently, the Temple of Confucius was called in to aid Cole until that requested VAD cannon could be delivered. VAD cannon in hand, Cole knocks Regiment out and takes his passport and cash with him as he heads back to Taipei with Zaijian. What’s Cole up to? Well, he wants to see the young woman that got injured during his fight with Diabolik at the Sun and Moon Bank.

Continuity Corner :

  • I don’t think Cole ever paid Dane back for that wad of cash.
  • We finally see the fate of Regiment after the disastrous Team 1 mission. He rode that missile towards New York City but was able to steer it off course to upstate New York. Not only that, he absorbed all the radiation. His passed out irradiated body was then sold to Dr. Tei in Japan, which is where he resided until I/O decided they wanted him back and he subsequently woke up and was brought back into the WSU narrative.

NEXT : “Backlash” issues 9 through 11 by Sean Ruffner, Jeff Mariotte, Brett Booth, Dan Norton, Mel Rubi, Edwin Rosell and Sandra Hope

“WildStorm!” issues 1 – 3

this entry covers issues 1 through 3 of “WildStorm!” an anthology of short stories, some which were longer stories divided up between issues 

I’m just gonna start off this entry by letting you all know that I’m just going to break it up into the individual stories. I’m not sure if there is very much to tell as some of these stories are rather short. When it comes to short story collections, they sometimes work better if you divide all the stories up so that they can occur better with their respective titles, but in this case, the first three issues work pretty great all together like this for their respective titles.

In the Gen13 story, “Now Departing from Gate 37” we have Roxy and Grunge shipping a package for Lynch at the San Diego airport. While on this chore they witness two shady individuals try to kidnap a child. Of course, they save the kid, by crashing a helicopter, and also find out that the would-be kidnappers are from I/O! They figure the boy must be gen-active and that’s why I/O was after him. Roxy and Grunge tell the family, due to no one seeing them cause the helicopter crash, a freaking helicopter crash, it would seem that anyone from I/O would assume that the boy died in the crash along with the agents. Since the family is going to Chile, Grunge just tells them to stay there and hide, no one knows the boy survived, so if you keep a low profile you shouldn’t be bothered again by any secret government kidnappers.

The “Deathblow” story isn’t so much a story of Michael Cray, so much as it is something that happens while Cray is around. This seriously could’ve happened to any of the WildStorm heroes, but it happens to befall Cray. So there Cray is, stuck in traffic and there’s a crazy guy yelling in a Celtic language who rode a stolen horse over Cray’s car and busted the windshield. I’m not being rude, the dude is legitimately crazy. Of course, Cray has no idea of this until after he’s done kicking this dude’s ass and the guy’s doctor fills him in. Not that Cray seems to care, he just wants to know who to bill for his car repair. To be honest, this doesn’t really feel much like Cray at all. It feels a lot more like Brock Sampson, to tell the truth.

In the “Spartan” story we find the titular Spartan scoping out a factory that’s producing Hunter-Killers. In fact, they’re new improved Hunter-Killers! Also, Spartan’s not the only one, Ben Santini and the Black Razors are there too. No one is really happy about this “team-up” to stop a bigger bad and spend more time bickering amongst themselves rather than investigate the factory. Worse comes to worse and Santini is knocked out and the Razors aren’t sure who to follow. First, they follow Fleming, until they all decide he’s a dink and they start taking orders from Spartan. During all of this Spartan is having a crisis of conscious as to why anyone would follow him, a robo-man. In the end, the Hunter-Killers are stopped, the factory is in ruins, Santini is fine and Spartan learns a valuable lesson about himself and teamwork. Gag.

In “Taboo” we finally learn how Amanda Reed ran afoul of the Cabal and ended up in Purgatory Max. I’ll admit I had my doubts about this tale, but the creative team pulled it off fine. See, the Cabal was trying to trick Amanda into killing the doctor that first bonded her symbiote suit to her. Amanda, didn’t want to, she fled, and Pike finished the job. Once the doctor was found dead, the authorities reviewed the security footage from the doctor’s office and found Amanda all over them. They hunted her down, captured her, had her stand trial. She was found guilty and then sentenced to Purgatory Max for life. Well at least up until Slayton came to break her out.

Finally, we get Union starring in “My Enemy, My Monkey” a short little yarn that is… well, it’s about the dumbest story in these books. Union sees a giant cyborg gorilla being ridden by some kind of samurai lizard man in the middle of New York City. Union dives in to stop this crazy occurrence, only to find out he’s on the set of a movie. How hilarious. For me, it doesn’t track, simply for how damn long the fight goes on before the director yells “Cut!” Also, throughout the whole story Union is still treating the man in the gorilla suit as if he is an actual gorilla, and Union has never seemed that dense or ignorant before. Hell, he just saw the lizard samurai take off his mask, he should’ve put two and two together like we’ve seen him do before! Also, there’s a crazy fan that wants revenge on the actor playing the lizard samurai, revenge by shooting, and Union stops him because, hell, he’s there. Man, this is dumb. I’d almost rather see this lizard samurai/cyborg gorilla movie!

Continuity Corner :

  • I’m basing the Gen13 story placement off of that fact that it was reprinted in the “Backlist” trade along with other early adventures of the team. In that book, it occurs between issue 0 and issue 1 of volume 2. From a storytelling perspective, you need something in between those issues to justify the time jump that occurs between issues, most noticeably seen with Rainmakers hair length. “Now Departing from Gate 37” is just another one of the things they did in the period. With us reading this as part of the WildStorm Universe, on the whole, we have other titles showing us time progression to account for that.  So, yeah, we’re keeping it in the early days where it is needed, but we are having a different placement than if we were reading it as just a perfect progression for “Gen13”
  • For the placement of “Deathblow,” I think this is the time that Cray spent in New York telling Rayna about the Los Angeles job, in “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 13 and 14. It also explains why he’s so close to Virgina before we see him in “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 16.
  • From the way that Spartan talking about Marlowe, it’s pretty clear that the little guy is still around, so it has to take place before “WildStorm Rising.” Also, Spartan isn’t wearing his StormWatch gear so it can’t have happened after “WildStorm Rising” at all. And because Marlowe basically disappears after he gets back to Earth during “Fire from Heaven” there’s no place for this story to take place at any other time.
  • I also like to think that this is what Spartan was up to when Warblade was off in “Warblade : Endangered Species”.
  • It is nice to see the Black Razors as depicted in WildC.A.T.s Vol. 1 issues 15 & 16… well pretty much. Coleman isn’t really the right skin color, but everything else is close enough.
  • There’s a member of the Black Razors being referred to as simply “Fleming.” No word on the first name being either Alex or Cyril.
  • While everyone wants to seem to place this Taboo story much earlier in the timeline, because it is her origin, both parts are clearly labeled “Five years earlier,” so it’s a flashback. Also, having this story take place right before she’s on the lam again in “Backlash” issue 7 adds a certain sense of tragedy to that storyline. She’s not good at running on her own. Also, “Backlash” issues 1 through 5 are so tightly strung together there wasn’t room to put it closer to her introduction.
  • When Slayton was breaking into Purgatory Max to get Taboo in the first place there was such a big deal made about him both breaking in and out, as if no one had ever done that before. Obviously, Pike had, or else how could he have been there to taunt Amanda? I just don’t see the authorities letting Pike just come and go as he pleases.
  • I think this is a good place for “My Enemy, My Monkey” as well, because Union is still in New York at the end of “Union” Vol. 2 issue 2. He goes to Chicago in “Union” Vol. 2 issue 3 and we don’t see him leave that city at the end of the issue. Also, there’s no real explanation as to how he got onsite to start fighting with Majestic by the time issue 4 rolls around, he’s just there. There’s not a lot of decent windows for this story to take place, honestly. I was surprised I found this one!

NEXT : “Union” Vol. 2 issue 3 by Mike Heisler, Ryan Benjamin, and Tom McWeeney

“WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 15 – 16

this entry covers “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 15 through 16

WildCATsVol1_15-16There’s not too terribly much I can say about these two issues. We have Travis Charest on art and James Robinson on script. It’s like a perfect comic book! Even better it is starring some of my favorite comic characters, the WildC.A.T.s! So yeah, I love it, but it isn’t an overly complex story.

One of the biggest differences of this comic, is that it doesn’t really seem to star the WildC.A.T.s at all! In fact, if this was an episode of a television show, it’d come off more like a backdoor pilot for a spin-off series. It stars I/O’s Black Razor team as lead by Ben Santini. The Black Razor’s are dispatched help keep certain government officials from getting assassinated. Jacob Marlowe has been appointed to an energy commission by the government, who will be meeting up with all kinds of very important, and high ranking people. While on a mission saving one official they start to find out information on the next hit, and that’s where the WildC.A.T.s come in.

As it turns out, I/O have done their homework and figured out that it is a Daemonite plot to take out these government officials. They also find out that one of the ways these hits have been being carried out is with a Daemonite shapeshifter. On the one assassination attempt they manage to foil, they find out that the shapeshifter they were after was already placed for the next assassination. Next on the hit list is an oil baron, who’s meeting with Jacob Marlowe, and just who is this shapeshifter posing as? Oh, a WildC.A.T…. duh! See how it all comes together?

It doesn’t go smoothly and the Black Razors are basically fighting the WildC.A.T.s as they try to establish which one of them is fighting in an unusual style. Listen, I know the WildC.A.T.s haven’t been around long, but I can’t figure out how I/O already has a handbook of their fighting styles created. I mean, geez so much for being a covert action team, everybody knows a little too much about these guys! Anyway, Santini figures it out, turns out it was Maul, and takes him out in the middle of the battle. He smarts off to Jacob and takes off. Now the only mystery left is, where the hell is Maul?

Like I said, not too much to it really. A simple story told and drawn incredibly well!

Continuity Corner:

  • Santini has hated Jacob ever since he shot out his left knee in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 2, just to get attention, that little creep.
  • While he’ll pop in here and there over the years, Santini will get a starring role in the WSU as the leader of “StormWatch : Team Achilles”
  • Though by reading through the letters pages, it seems that there was supposed to be a series starring Santini and this group of Black Razors that never materialized.
  • Speaking of this group of Black Razors, I’m not sure we see them again, except for the Spartan short stories in the first 3 issues of “WildStorm!”
  • Speaking of a particular Black Razor seems as if Adam Fleming changed his name to Cyril between issues. Either that or I didn’t notice if there were twins on the team.
  • On the first few pages of issue 15 we see Jacob noticing that Warblade wants to go on a Daemonite hunt, which means “Warblade : Endangered Species” can’t be too far behind.
  • If you hadn’t already figured it out, the Daemonite that was posing as Maul was the shapeshifting one we saw on the last few pages of “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 14. We saw him showing off his skill to Defile, who is all mixed up in this.
  • One of Jacob’s main jobs on the energy commission he’s been assigned to is undo all the messed up stuff that B’Lail put in place while he was possessing Dan Quayle.

NEXT: “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 15 – 17 by Ron Marz, Mat Broome and Trevor Scott with Ryan Benjamin, Dan Norton, Alex Garner, Sandra Hope, Tom McWeeney, Chuck Gibson and Jim Lee.

“Gen13” issue 1/2 and 0

this entry covers “Gen13” 1/2 and issue 0. “Gen13” 1/2, which was reprinted at one time as “Gen13” issue -1, was also in the “WildStorm Rarities” book, and had a complete overhaul in art and dialogue in the “Gen13 : Backlist” trade.

gen13vol2_0An alternate name for this entry could be “Five Short Stories Featuring Gen13.” As both issues are shorts that are chronicling what the Gen13 members were up to between the first volume and the second. They’re mostly small and fun stories, and they’re done by a variety of artists. I imagine one of the many reasons they were done was to give more lead time for J. Scott Campbell for the series proper and keep the “Gen13” name alive and out in front of the comic buying and reading audience.

The first story, as detailed in “Gen13” 1/2 has the kids pretty fresh out of the mini-series going on a bit of a road trip. Rainmaker has already left to be with her family in Arizona and the kids are now just driving around, supposedly they’re just killing some time before meeting up with Lynch down in San Diego, but they could just be being silly ass teens with no real direction. They have been told by Lynch to stick to the backroads to avoid altercations with local authorities or Ivana’s Keepers. They’re having some real problems with reading the map to said backroads, but that’s only the start of their troubles. When they pull over to ask directions and get some gas they also encounter Loran, a Traveler, or rather The Traveler, who shifted through time. She’s on the hunt for Langston, better known as Timespan who we’ve seen in a few issues of “StormWatch.” Loran has no time to deal with the primitives of this time, and in her little freak out bully time against some innocent bystanders, she catches the attention of Bobby, which in turn gets the rest of the kids to go after her. It’s a tough battle, but in the end, Loran gets tied up with a stop sign and left of the cops, as the kids continue their road trip to San Diego.

The next story is the first of four from issue 0, it stars Caitlin as she’s meeting up with her cousin and her family in Portland. Caitlin isn’t quite sure at this point if she really wants to go down to San Diego, and she might just stay in Portland with family. No sooner than she starts talking to her cousin (and her jerk husband) do some suited men start walking their way. Caitlin fears the worst, that they were sent by Ivana or by I/O and she does what she can to get away. This involves being hit by a train, then picking up said train and tossing it. That puts some distance between her and the rude boys, but she knows it’ll only slow them down for so long. Lucky for her a friend of Lynch’s pulls up and whisks her to the airport to catch a flight to San Diego. Did I say one of Lynch’s friends? Oh, turns out all these guys were pals of Lynch and it was all a set up to make sure Caitlin didn’t find a reason to stay in Portland and to make sure she joined the team. Oh, Lynch, it’s stuff like this that made so many Team 7 members dislike you.

We move on to Bobby picking up Sarah at the reservation she grew up at. Bobby act like a jerk, Sarah schools him and he gets all boo hoo emo boy. It’s all pretty uneventful, but a decent character moment for both. It’s nice seeing Rainmaker so excitable and enthused showing her world off to Bobby, as she pretty much becomes the cool level headed character of the book. I’m not saying it comes across as out of character either, it perfectly fits, but it’s a side we rarely see.

On to Las Vegas, where we find Roxy and Grunge trying to track down Roxy’s stepmom. Vegas was her stepmom’s last known whereabouts, but after hitting up all the major casinos they find out she’s already left and headed to New York City. Regardless of this Grunge and Roxy manage to stir up some trouble. We have some business with a hitman who looks a lot like Grunge, so much so that he gives him his jacket, in order to… I dunno, sneak out of the casino easier? Not sure what all that was about, but we do see Roxy using her power to win big at roulette. The casino notices this and sends goons out to stop the pair. Maybe Grunge had to be mistaken for the hitman so that we’ll see why the goons are using such extreme force, but come one, this is a fictional universe, where casinos always employ over the top goons as security. We’ve seen it a million times. What we see for the first time is Grunge using his power on Roxy as well as himself to evade said goons. Just as the pair is running out of the casino Bobby and Sarah pull up to help them get out of town in a hurry.

The final story concerns Lynch, breaking back into I/O to wipe records of Project Genesis and steal some files as well as some funds. Lynch knows all the secret ways in because he went over the plans when the I/O towers were build and made a few alterations. He gets all high-tech and uses a refraction suit, which basically makes him invisible. He almost gets away without being caught, but he just couldn’t shield his thoughts from Alicia Turner. We get reintroduced to Frank Colby and find that he took Lynch’s former position at I/O. Due to their past Colby and Alicia let Lynch go, but neither seem happy about it, and you can tell a bridge has been fully burned between them and John.

We get a single page wrap up, showing all the teens meeting up in La Jolla (which is a seaside community in San Diego) arriving at their new home. The kids meet Anna for the first time and Lynch lets them all know, it’s time to learn something, and he’s ready to teach! It’ll be at least a few months, comic time, before we catch back up with the Gen13 crew, heck, Rainmaker has to grow out her hair! But this was a pretty fun way to show us what the kids and Lynch get up to in their off time. Not to mention that it was a bonus for all of us to see Jim Lee and Travis Charest do some art for these stories!

Continuity Corner:

  • I mentioned this up top, but when the “Gen13” 1/2 story was reprinted in the “Gen13 : Backlist” trade the art and dialogue are completely different. The penciling is still done by Ryan Benjamin, but it’s been a few years and he’s got a better sense of the characters. It’s paced a lot better too, but the original wasn’t bad to begin with. Choi took over the dialogue on this version from H. K. Proger and makes a few small changes. In his version Caitlin wasn’t lost, Bobby isn’t so angry, Caitlin is sending a letter to her family instead of sending a payment for the stolen VW bus, and Loran is calling everyone “devols” instead of “primitives.” Oh, and Loran is named, she wasn’t in the original version. It is interesting to see the pages side by side and note the differences! Also, big shout out to John Pannozzi for bringing the two different versions to my attention in the first place!
  • The “StormWatch” and “Gen13” books have so little in common tone-wise, that it’s kind of jarring to see these books interact in any way outside of a line-wide crossover. This book is the only WildStorm book that even references The Traveler and Timespan outside of StormWatch, it wasn’t like we saw these two fighting their way through the background of “WildC.A.T.s” or “Union.”
  • Roxy does eventually find her stepmom in “Gen13” Vol. 2 issue 27 when the team is in New York.
  • Grunge says he was born in Hong Kong, but grew up in Seattle. Did he forget about all that time he spent on that Coda island?

NEXT : “Spartan : Warrior Spirit” issues 1 through 4 by Kurt Busiek, Mike McKone and Mark McKenna with Mick Gray

“Savage Dragon” Vol. 2 issue 13

this entry covers “Savage Dragon” Vol. 2 issue 13, the Image X-Month version written by Brandon Choi and penciled by Jim Lee.

savagedragonvol2_13Alright, right at the top, why am I doing an issue of “the Savage Dragon?” Well, listen up kids, here’s a story about the craziness of ’90s comics and it’s called “Image X-Month!” See, “Image X-Month” was a “clever” “marketing” “ploy” that was a lot more fun than was intended. In it, each of the 6 Image Comics founders, would take on an issue of another Image Comics founder’s main book. I mean, each book was pretty closely tied to each of the creators, so this would be a silly little shake up. I only picked up Eric Larsen doing “WildC.A.T.s” and Jim Lee doing “the Savage Dragon” as I was picking up “WildC.A.T.s” regardless, but I wanted to see the other side of the coin with Lee and Choi doing “the Savage Dragon.” Little did I know it was going to end up being a pretty important Grifter book!

Seriously though, and I’ll get into this in a few weeks, but Eric Larsen gave us a pretty fun little “WildC.A.T.s” book for Image X-Month. Sure, Savage Dragon and the Freak Force figure into the story, but it is mostly a “WildC.A.T.s” cross-over issue. In “the Savage Dragon” the Dragon is a mere bit player. If I was a “Savage Dragon” fan back then, I would’ve felt super short changed! Not sure how the other four books fared, but this always seemed a bit unbalanced to me, even though I was basically getting what I wanted, a Grifter solo book!

So we pick up with Cole and Alicia Turner living it up in Chicago. We find out that this is the old stomping grounds of Cole, he grew up in Chicago, not only that, but he used to do some work for the mob as well. The mob is alive and well in Image’s Chicago, as regular readers of “Savage Dragon” know. One booth over and there is some of that well-known mob action going down. Also, out on the street, the Savage Dragon and some of Chicago’s finest are monitoring the situation.

Of course, a fight breaks out. Mobsters never do mob stuff subtly anymore. Cole, seeing bullets flying gets in on the action too. Whether it’s to protect Alicia or just shoot some obviously bad dudes, it’s unclear, actually, it’s probably both. The main guys shooting up the joint are Spetsnaz and Max, and they are shooting on behalf of a new wanna-be boss named Demonseed. It’s at this point I wish I’d read “the Savage Dragon” because seeing Demonseed, who has a Darth Vader Mask on under the bubble dome on his bright red armor, that has bat wings, being taken as a credible mob boss type is nuts. But, as not a regular “Savage Dragon” reader, I guess I don’t know what Dragon nemesis Overlord looks like, so this could be keeping in line with the tone of the book. Cole recognizes Spetsnaz clearly, and Max a bit, before Max fires a bullet at Cole that causes him to pass out. Then the Savage Dragon and the police kick down a wall to join the fight. Some of the mob guys have goddamn “flash suits” and the Dragon’s partner gets shot up by Spetsnaz as he and Max get away. As sad as that all is, all I’m thinking is that “flash suits” are still hella-dumb.

Next thing we know Cole is waking up in a hospital and getting grilled by the Dragon. It doesn’t last long as Alicia soon turns up pulling US government rank on behalf of I/O to get Cole out of there. While Alicia wants to get Cole to safety, he knows that he has to go find this Max character.

What is so special about Max you ask? Turns out, he’s Cole’s little brother. Not only that, apparently he’s also an I/O secret agent, infiltrating the Chicago mob scene. While Cole is off talking to his bro filling the readers in on the former, Alicia is looking up I/O files figuring out the latter. Bad news for Alicia, this is when Spetsnaz breaks into her hotel and kidnaps her, leaving a note for Cole, written in lipstick on the mirror, like some horrible 1980’s urban legend. Of course during the kidnapping someone in a neighboring room called the cops, so when Cole shows up, so does the Dragon. This series of near-misses and misunderstandings is hitting a “Three’s Company” kind of level.

So Cole fills the Dragon in on what’s going down. There’s an arm’s shipment at the docks for Demonseed, so he and Spetsnaz will be there to collect. Also, they have Alicia. Also, Cole has a guy on the inside, Max. The team up happens, the Dragon and Cole burst in guns blazing, Max jumps in and as soon as Alicia is free she also picks up a gun. Demonseed and Spetsnaz are on the run, trying to get away in a small boat when Cole opens a crate to find a rocket launcher and blows the escape boat to hell.

And that’s it, team up over. The Dragon feels like he got what he wanted, the bad guys and their weapons off the streets, so he has no reason to detain or delay the Cash brothers or Alicia any longer. Max and Cole exchange hugs and catch up a bit, and now it’s time for Cole to Alicia to head back to New York.

Continuity Corner:

  • I’d always had this happening right before “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 14, the other Image X-Month book, but I realized, we have Cole here with Alicia and not in New York. It makes the most sense that this is post “the Kindred” series and before his return to New York in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 12.
  • When Cole is in the hospital we’re introduced to nurse Ann Stevens. We’ll see much more of her in “WildC.A.Ts” Vol. 1 issue 14.
  • This is the first we see of Max Cash AKA Max Proffit, who will become a big player in the book in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 21.
  • Real world moment, Cole and Max’s secret spot is up on top of this apartment building across the street from Wrigley Field where they would watch Cubs games together. I’m trying to figure out where this could be. I grew up in Illinois, I made it to a handful of Cubs games, and have hung around the general Clark & Addison area, can’t think of any logical place this could be. Then again, it’s been ten years since I’ve been around there, there could be gaps in my memory.

NEXT: “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issues 10 – 13 by Chris Claremont, Jim Lee and Scott Williams (with H. K. Proger, Ryan Benjamin, Dan Norton, Richard Johnson, Al Vey, Tom McWeeny and Karl Story)

“Gen13” Vol. 1

this entry covers all five issues of volume 1 of “Gen13” also known as the “Gen13” miniseries.

Gen13Vol1_01-05At long last, John Lynch becomes the hero that he was always destined to be! I mean, we still have almost the entire page run of “Gen13” Vol. 1 before we get to that! And it’s about damn time! It might be obvious, but much of how the early part of my reading chronology is arranged is watching the heroic rise of John Lynch. Look at the section named “Part 1 : WildStorm Rising” and you’ll find “Gen13” Vol. 1 right smack in the middle of it! Maybe I’m not being clear, but “Gen13” was one of my favorite books when I was younger, with “WildC.A.T.s” being a close second and I always thought a lot about John Lynch and his history.

I fanboyed hard for this book, I even bought 2 copies of each issue so I could cut out the coupon and mail away for what ended up being “Gen13” Vol. 2 issue 0. I gave my cut up versions to my Cousin Sean, just to spread that WildStorm love! I remember getting that 1/2 issue from my friend Randy because I’d missed out on that issue of “Wizard.” I should reverse that, at the time Randy wasn’t my friend, but a good acquaintance who was also into comics and ska music who I formed a solid friendship with years later. But issues 0 and 1/2 are still a bit of time away, for now, we need to get to issue 1!

This issue opens in the late ’70s with Stephen and Rachael Callahan getting taken down! In front of their children, lil Matthew and Nicole, how horrible! Even worse, Frank Colby was the trigger-man on Stephen! Well, that might be worse for us, see, we know both of these characters, I’m not sure at that time if Colby knew Callahan or not, but he did need to be convinced to pull that trigger. After that, the team from I/O brings in the kids as instructed, fulfilling Dane’s warning in “Team 7: Dead Reckoning” that “Craven wants your children.”

Ok, we skip to the relative present and meet Caitlin Fairchild, a Princeton student at the end of her sophomore year. She suddenly is getting an offer for a Summer internship that she knows nothing about. Well, we know what it’s about, it’s H.B.I.C. of I/O’s Sci-Tech department, Ivana Baiul’s Project Genesis, now renamed Project Gen13. This is the closest that Miles Craven will ever come to having his own team of super-powered beings… and still, it fails for him. If he wasn’t such an evil bastard, I’d feel sorry for him. But, yeah, this entire “Summer internship” is just a cover for what’s really going on out here, and by out here I mean in a government compound built into a goddamn mountain in the Nevada desert. Several children of Gen12 parents are brought here in order to see if they can get their powers to manifest and in turn work for I/O.

Caitlin soon comes to find herself as part of Pod 7, where her and her pod-mates, Grunge, Roxy, and Bobby, are subject to a battery of physical tests. These tests are set up to see if they are indeed gen-positive and will manifest powers or not. Not only does it include weight lifting and treadmill running, but also being placed into an “incubation” tube. If that wasn’t enough, the food in the commissary is full of drugs meant to jumpstart the student’s latent powers.

While up late one night feeling sick due to her gen-factor kicking in, Caitlin discovers Roxy and Grunge goofing off after hours. This leads to a full on altercation with the security team at the Nevada base. Which in turn leads to a group of I/O’s Keepers to start chasing them down. When the kids hit a dead end, suddenly, to the rescue is Bobby and Rainmaker along with a mysterious new pal that turns out to be Matthew Callahan in disguise.

Oh wait, I hadn’t told you about what happened to Matthew and Nicole after being captured. They were raised by I/O and they’re kinda messed up because of it. Ivana seems to have done a number on Matthew personally, and Nicole is suffering from what seems to be all kinds of abandonment issues. Also, unlike their Gen13 (the team) counterparts, they usually go by their code names full time, so from now on, I’ll pretty much call them Threshold and Bliss.

Ok, so Threshold in disguise leads the Gen13 kids out into the Nevada desert and tells them that they need to take the fight back to I/O and Ivana. It’s all just a ruse to see in their powers will activate under pressure. Everyone except for Grunge has, and is using their powers by the end of it. Caitlin makes it clear she’s done fighting, so she stays behind as the others return to the compound and get captured. She gets a psychic flash from Roxy saying that she and the others are in trouble and she grabs a gun and is headed towards the compound to get her buds back.

If only breaking back into the compound was easy. Ok, actually it was. But once inside Caitlin encounters a huge hulking noseless beast named Pitt. Pitt was brought to this compound by Lynch, as he re-enters the narrative. Lynch picked him up, and as I/O protocols say, until he can get a captured threat to a more secure location, that he is to house any capture at the nearest I/O location, in this case, the Nevada compound. Lucky for Pitt, his buddy Timmy was captured by Ivana for being possibly gen-positive, so that’s what Pitt was doing in that area in the first place. Anyway, Pitt breaks free as Caitlin is on the search for her pals, and they start to tussle. Not sure why I don’t have as big of a problem w/ Pitt being in these comics, as I did w/ Youngblood in WildCATs. Perhaps, like Savage Dragon, we don’t need to know too much about Pitt’s backstory. Also, by tieing Timmy and his possible powers into it, it gives us a bit more of a narrative reason for them to be there whether we know the characters are not.

Caitlin and Pitt continue to fight until they fall through enough floors that they’re right in front of Lynch and Ivana. Meanwhile, Grunge finally manifests his powers and knocks out Threshold and as they begin their escape they find the hole left by Caitlin and Pitt’s fighting. As Caitlin and Pitt are lying in front of Ivana and Lynch, Lynch gives the order for his men to stand down, as there’s been too much destruction already. Ivana pissed off at that statement, and at Lynch in general, just starts shooting up both her and his soldiers. The rest of the Gen13 kids catch up, Pitt and Timmy escape, and the fight just gets bigger.

Lynch sees that the kids are pretty good at what they do, battling back the Keepers, but he thinks their inexperience could get them killed. Lynch calls in his experimental task group, the Black Hammers, and helps the kids escape. When asked why he would do this, he relates to them the story of Team 7 and their fathers. Basically, we’re watching a man as he realizes his career is crumbling as he has far too much doubt about what the company he’s worked for has done to the world, and to the children of his friends. So he sends the kids down a garbage chute and goes to confront Ivana.

Ivana is busy freezing and trying to get gen-active kids into transport to continue Project Genesis elsewhere. When Lynch gets to her he finds out that she’s replaced much of her body with robotics. That bionic bitch! After she gets Lynch to use his powers to save himself she takes off in her helicopter and activates a self-destruct sequence on the compound, knowing that using his powers tuckers Lynch out. But Lynch still as access to the Black Hammers, who save his ass, and not a moment too soon! While all that was going down, the Gen13 kids were getting their asses kicked by Threshold until Rainmaker manages to get ahold of Bliss and reach a stalemate. With Lynch and the Black Hammers arriving, the stalemate is over and the two Callahan kids take off. Lynch agrees to take the kids underground and help them find a way to do something good with their powers. It’s a sweet ending to a pretty sweet comic.

Unlike a lot of the comics at the time, this was a pretty straight forward story. I’ve complained earlier about the wonderful mess that is many of these books. One of the reasons I think that “Gen13” caught on right away was the storytelling in both the art and the script. It didn’t constantly double back, it didn’t toss in a bunch of unnecessary information, it was just some good comics! But there are a few lingering questions, not so much story related ones either…

John Lynch has always been called “the Nick Fury of the WSU”. I find it interesting that they took that character type to be the mentor to the WSU’s teen team group. It was a good call, but I’ve always wondered whose call that was. Was it always intended that Lynch would leave I/O at some point? Or was it a choice Lee & Choi made once they wanted to do Gen13? I have so many questions just about the creation of this book!

Grunge ends up being the only character that goes by his “code name” at all. I mean, OK, in all reality Fairchild and Rainmaker’s code names are just their last names, and Bobby does go by Burnout every now and again. Is Roxy ever called anything but Roxy? She’s called Freefall so infrequently it’s kind of hilarious that she was ever given a code name of any sort.

Of all the gen-active kids, we know precious few of their parents. If we’re talking both Gen13 and DV8 we know of only 8 of their lineage (Roxy, Caitlyn, Grunge, Bobby, Sarah, Matthew, Nicole, and Rachel) and that’s only from 5 different Gen12 parents. Where the hell did all these other kids come from in Project Genesis?

Continuity Corner:

  • Ivana Baiul got her version Project Genesis started in “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 0 back in the late ’70s (when the Gen13 kids were just tiny tots) and we see it in full swing with the recruitment of Rainmaker in “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 8.
  • Had “Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 5 – 12 actually happened, it’s pretty funny to have Lynch refer to Pitt as an “S.P.B. biker” in issue 9, hell, it’s pretty funny either way.
  • Final pages of “Gen13” Vol. 1 issue 5 show the set up for “DV8”, with Ivana freezing and stealing the bodies of other Gen-Active kids, but it still takes so long for us to get there!
  • Going by the 3 kids on ice that we get a good look at, it could be argued that two of them are Rachel Goldman and Hector Morales but I don’t know that we ever see the third one make another appearance. Then again, when they unfreeze Jocelyn Davis again in “DV8” issue 11, it’s implied that Ivana still has many gen-actives on ice somewhere, who don’t suit her needs and therefore remaining frozen.
  • Speaking of “DV8,” if Colby didn’t know Callahan when he shot him in issue 1, we find out in “DV8” issue 30 that Colby went to great lengths to save the (now retconned to be) severely wounded Callahan. That Colby, always surprising you! (EDIT: commenter Arclight points out that Colby indeed knows Callahan and with out saying it basically said “look at the panel again and read it, ya dummy!” Just kidding, Arclight didn’t really imply that, but yeah, they’re right! See their comment below.)
  • Oh, Helga! I loved this character. No nonsense tough gal. As much as I always thought there could be some kind of place for her to come back, when she did in Vol. 2 issue 50… it was kinda…well, horrible.
  • Bit of a real-time calendar S.N.A.F.U. but “Gen13” Vol. 1 issue 1 takes place in May/June 1994, and “WetWorks” Vol. 1 issue 5 takes place in November-ish of 1994. I’m sure there’s a way to move all this kind of stuff around to get it to even out correctly… but frankly I don’t know that you could ever get it perfect enough, I mean in all reality “Gen13” Vol. 1 issue 2 was coming out shortly after “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 8, and that was quite a while ago by my reading chronology. I also tend to arrange in story arcs for the best reading experience, while knowing a lot of these stories are happening at the same time, so yeah, little inconsistencies (to me at least) are bound to happen.
  • Speaking to the marketing, in the letter column for issue 4 it said to watch for the upcoming issue 6 after the mini-series was over. Part of me was glad they restarted the series, but on the other hand that put the second issue of volume 2 smack dab in the middle of “WildStorm Rising” not the best marketing move for a new book.
  • The orginal name for this book was “Gen-X” and was marked in other WildStorm comics as such, but that soon ran into some copyright issues with Marvel, who had planned on launching a book called “Generation X” as part of it’s X-Men line. Not sure if lawyers got involved, or just a “Hey, knock it off” kind of phone call, but the name had to be changed. If you’re wondering why they got to “Gen13,” it’s because an alternate name for what we currently call Generation X was The 13th Generation (among several others). In the end, I think it ended up becoming a much better name for the group. Much more distict and doesn’t feel as dated as the term Gen-X would become.

NEXT: StormWatch” Vol. 1 issue 10 by Ron Marz and Dwayne Turner