Yay, welcome back! So… yeah, it’s been a bit, but here we are, back again… and if you didn’t think a blog covering early ‘90s Image books might sometimes be a few months late… well… dammit, I’ve used this joke before, haven’t I? OK, on with the show!
It’s not often I get to say this, but this series is a mess, a beautiful fantastic mess! Those three last words can be used quite a bit individually to describe different WildStorm books, but all three at once, that’s what makes “the Kindred” a special book. Part of the mess nature of the book just comes down to how most comics were written at the time. Straight ahead narratives didn’t become en vogue for comics until around the time Warren Ellis took over on “StormWatch.” Getting too clever by half, trying to ape the styles of better writers or just plain understanding your story enough to toss in extra stuff to keep it interesting for yourself as the writer all seem likely stories for early WildStorm books. Though “the Kindred” may suffer from the age old problem of too many cooks in the kitchen, I mean it credits Jim Lee, Brandon Choi, Brett Booth and Sean Ruffner with the story. It doesn’t give a breakdown on who was in charge of the final script, but I’m guessing that it was up to Brett and Sean. Regardless, it is still a fun book, and when it came out I felt like it was a big deal, seeing two different guys from team books team up together! Also we get some I/O action, sweet!
Let’s get to the story here. Backlash is still on the lookout for any and all information on Daemonites. He goes to his old pal Cyberjack. Cyberjack AKA Jack Rhodes was a Team 7 member, who was off the team before they got their powers. Not that you’d’ve guessed that by looking at him, considering he’s half cyborg. And even more unlucky for him, all those robotical parts don’t even help keep him out of a wheelchair. I can’t remember if we ever get a straight story on where these cybernetics came from. Was it back when he was in I/O after being rendered paraplegic? A couple “long vacations” in Genosha? Is he more of a DIY kinda guy? Either way, he’s got no info for Backlash and before Backlash can leave, a bunch of I/O goons bust in and kidnap Backlash. Kinda odd, if they needed him why didn’t they say so when he was calling Lynch in the “Prologue” to this book? Don’t worry, it’s not a continuity error, we’ll get to it. I/O talks Backlash into coming with them, and he agrees, as long as they leave Cyberjack alone. Of course, since it’s I/O goons, once Backlash is far enough away, the last I/O man present is ordered to kill Cyberjack. Before that can happen, Grifter shows up to save the day. How’d Grifter get here? Remember that page he got back in “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 8? Yep, Cyberjack sent him that page. But how did Cyberjack know he’d be in trouble enough to need saving? Well… read on, we’ll get to it!
Back at I/O proper, Backlash meets up with Frank Colby. Colby, Lynch’s right hand man… well, right hand man after Alicia Turner. Colby is a character I’d never paid much attention to until I started reading all of these books from WildStorm back to back. He shows up so often! And even though he’s usually kind of a dick because he tows the I/O company line, when he decides to go rogue a few years later in “DV8” he gets to be pretty awesome. Anyway, he tells Backlash that Lynch and Turner have been kidnapped by a group calling themselves the Kindred. Backlash isn’t interested, but Colby changes his mind by showing him the carcass of B’Lial, the Daemonite that possessed Dan Quayle! Apparently Youngblood handed it over to I/O after the events of “WildC.A.T.s” Vol. 1 issue 4. Colby agrees to tell Backlash what he knows about the alien creature, in exchange for him leading an I/O Black Razor team to save Lynch and Turner from their kidnappers. Colby’s done his research and already knows where they are hiding out, Caballito Island, and where they are most likely keeping Lynch and Turner.
Before Backlash is off to Caballito Island, Grifter catches up with what’s going on. See, before Grifter left Team 7 and I/O for good, he installed a virus on the Team 7 files that I/O has so that whenever they’re accessed I/O’s system would crash. Cyberjack can tell that the Team 7 files have been accessed once more, but something was odd, it was accessed by Lynch, but Lynch had just recently been kidnapped. How Cyberjack knows most of this boggles my mind, but he’s just trying to tie the “Call to Action” moments together. Maybe his true power is explaining the narrative. Either way, this is why he paged Grifter, someone was accessing the files, it’s just a bonus that Grifter got there in enough time to save his life. Cyberjack gives Grifter a lift to I/O where Grifter breaks in, crawls through the massive ducts and overhears Colby and Backlash talking about the Daemonite and becomes keen to help save Alicia and to a lesser extent Lynch. To tag along, he secretly hitches a ride on the Black Razon’s plane to Caballito Island.
OK, so what exactly is going on on Caballito Island? Well, back in the day, I/O scientists were trying to perfect the Genesis Serum by experimenting on animal fetuses in a research facility on the island. All part of another attempt of Miles Craven to create his own superhumans. Well the scientists leave, after getting the results they needed, and leave their experimental creatures there. Time goes by, and these creatures are all grown up, and somehow a man who goes by the name Bloodmoon finds these creatures and becomes their leader. The creatures are the titular Kindred, and they, as well as Bloodmoon, mean to try Lynch for inhumane crimes against nature for his part in I/O and in the creation of the Kindred.
But who is Bloodmoon? He’s another Team 7 member that left the team pre-Gen-Factor-ing, there so damn many of these guys! This one is named Robert Diaz and Backlash left him for as good as dead on a mission in South America, way back when. This pissed off Grifter, who wanted to go back for Diaz, and it very may well have been the start of the rift between the two. Though shot, Diaz managed to hang onto life enough to get tossed into a prison camp. After a few years he escaped the camp, stole a boat, and landed on Caballito. The Kindred allowed him to live among them, but they didn’t trust him. He eventually finds the I/O base, finds the writings of the I/O scientists and starts taking the Genesis Serum. He gets stronger, smarter and adopts the name Bloodmoon. He lets the Kindred in on how they were created and then becomes their leader. He is also hopelessly addicted to the Genesis Serum and needs to find a way to make more, as he’s recently run out. So yeah, he acts as if his a big animal-man right’s activist, but he’s just a crazy junkie who is all out of his super-science happy-foo drug.
Well Backlash, Grifter and Colby don’t spend too much time on the island before they are found out and brought before Bloodmoon. What they are witness to is Lynch already on trial, and the trail is him fighting one of the Kindred in an arena, Roman style. Lynch fires up his crazy Gen-Factor powers, and correct me if I’m wrong, but this may be the first time he’s using them since the Team 7 book. I assume he doesn’t use them that much because of how crazy it affects him, and it takes Turner to calm him back down after he kicks the hell out of his opponent. Wait… Turner has psy-powers too? Yeah, it’s cool, but it’s kinda dumb how she got them. See… uh… Grifter gave his to her when they were still dating. Uh… yeah…
Now, while Lynch has passed the trial, he’s not free. Instead of being killed, his punishment is to live out the rest of his life on Cabillito with the Kindred and Bloodmoon. Bloodmoon summons Backlash and Grifter to their own trial against a God-damn muscle bound teddy bear. Backlash gets beat up and dumped in a lake. Grifter gets beat up and put in a research tank to heal, as well as get information from his body about his Gen-Factor to help Bloodmoon make new drug. Not sure how that’d work seeing as how most of Grifter’s Gen-Factor is in Turner… but you know, that story hadn’t been written yet, so you know… whatevs. After Grifter is put in a normal prison room, he breaks into the walls and goes to see Turner. Some dude just like climbing through vents. They have a moment, and she says how much she still loves him. The ladies in Grifter’s life toss themselves at him, and he always remarks back that they’re too good for him, so he can’t stay with them. Cole, work on you self esteem, buddy! You’re a pretty alright guy! Also, Colby and Lynch are together and manage to break out of their prison cell as well.
Colby and Lynch go to rescue Turner, find Grifter with her, and it turns out that Backlash wasn’t dead after all, and they all meet up and try to escape. But there’s nowhere to really run! It’s a fucking island! The Black Razor ship was attacked when I/O was first arriving. But, in a moment of deus ex machina, the one I/O member that never went to the research facility, managed to survive the plane crash, avoid other members of the Kindred, rebuild the radio from the downed ship, and contact I/O. Implausible, but not impossible, I guess. It’s a real Billy Madison moment with Grifter saying “I sure am glad I didn’t shoot that guy!” kinda thing. Anyway, he arrives on a helicopter, over a bridge as Bloodmoon and the Kindred are chasing our heroes across it. He lowers a ladder, Lynch, Turner andColby climb up it right away. Then, suddenly the bridge starts to break with Backlash, Grifter and Bloodmoon still on it. Ridiculous names equals ridiculous consequences. Grifter grabs ahold of Bloodmoon’s arm and tells him that he won’t be left behind this time. They start to fall and Backlash catches them with his whippy-hand things. Backlash is too weak from all the fighting to hold both of them up, and since Grifter refuses to let Bloodmoon go, he sends an electric shock up his whip which gives Grifter a spasm causing him to drop Bloodmoon.
Back on the helicopter, on the way home, Grifter decks Backlash for letting Diaz die… again. Lynch calls Craven and tells him what’s been going on. Craven basically says “Glad you’re OK. Oh, the kidnappers were crazy Dr. Moreau creatures and ex-Team 7? Also the entire team of Black Razors are dead? No worries, it’s all good, we’ll take care of it, lates bitches!” and shoots a gigantic lazer beam from space at the entire island. This frustrates Lynch beyond belief. It’s like he knows that I/O is wrong right now, and that Craven is usually a right bastard, but I/O was always doing questionable, yet good things! Now, he’s not so sure. If only there was a rag-tag band of teenagers to show him the way to a more fulfilling life…
The helicopter drops off Grifter and Backlash before they get back to I/O headquarters, because Lynch seriously doesn’t want to have to deal with the paperwork of explaining Grifter’s part in the mission. He gives Backlash a disk with the info on the Daemonites and the Cabal as well. Did Lynch just have this in his pocket the whole time? Whatta crazy wacky guy that Lynch is! Always carrying computer discs with sensitive information in his pockets. Never know when a buddy might need information about the aliens that put his girlfriend in a coma! The helicopter takes off and Grifter and Backlash share some choice words before they each go their separate ways. Grifter plans on taking Backlash down if they ever run into each other again. I mean, we know that won’t happen, but it doesn’t seem like Grifter is big-talking, he’s real-talking. It’s just that future events will put doing the right thing, and not beating the hell out of Backlash, on a higher priority.
- I/O lazered the living damn out of Caballito Island, but the island and I/O base will become home to the DV8 team later. Also, the Kindred survive, Craven might want to get that space lazer checked.
- Lynch is becoming more and more disillusioned with Craven and how I/O is being run. Can’t blame him for running off with Gen13 after all this. This is such good set up, I’m not even kidding, I think it works so perfectly! John Lynch is practically the center of the WildStorm Universe and it has been fascinating watching him grow as a character.
- The Genesis Serum is the product of Project Genesis, the program that lead to Team 7 getting their powers after the serum was perfected, as well as being the government project that was reopened later to find the super powered children in Gen13 and DV8.
- We also find out that Project Genesis was started after the failure of Team One. Craven really wanted his super powered beings to be on his terms after that mess it seems.
- It’s not long before we see Grifter and Backlash again, on the same side, and not acting like jerks to each other. It happens in the pages of “Deathblow” and it’s a mini Team 7 reunion too! So sweet! But they laid on their mutual distaste for each other so much in both “Team 7” and “the Kindred” that it feels kinda odd that they’re not snipping at each other the whole time.
Where to find these stories:
- the “the Kindred” trade paperback