Tag Archives: Frank Colby

“Fire from Heaven” Prelude

This entry covers “Fire from Heaven” issue 1/2 and the “Fire from Heaven” Prelude parts 1 through 3, which include “Sword of Damocles” issue 1, “Sigma” issue 1 and “Deathblow” volume one issue 26 by Johnathan Peterson, Warren Ellis, Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner, Randy Green, Tomm Coker, J.J. Kirby, Ryan Odagawa, Mel Rubi, Danny Bulanadi, Bob Wiacek, John Tighe, Mark Irwin, Richard Friend, Troy Hubbs and Trevor Scott.

firefromheaven_halfTime for the great big never-ending WildStorm crossover known as Fire from Heaven! This crossover is long… very long! Fourteen official chapters, a three issue prelude, a three issue finale, an almost unconnected preview type issue and an unofficial coda in “Deathblow” volume one issue 29. For those keeping count, reading the full story is 21 and a half issues of comics. That’s a LOT of story, so let’s get into the “Prelude” to it all, starting with that weird half issue I mentioned above.

We open on our first of four short stories in this half issue with Kaizen Gamorra admiring the major city of Gamorra, known as Zodome. Turns out Kaizen has no time to lollygag, as there’s science trouble down in the Gen-Lab. Kaizen has his scientists working on Gen-Active individuals, trying to figure out what makes them tick. But, for the final test, of the undefined goal, the latest Gen-Active guinea pig explodes. Leaving Kaizen upset and down a few scientists.

Meanwhile, across the Pacific Ocean in Berkley, CA, we encounter a pickup game of basketball. We have four kids playing with only one of them named. I’m pretty sure one of them is supposed Ethan McCain, who we saw in a page of “Gen13”. The guy who I think is Ethan sinks a three pointer by unknowingly using his powers and we move on to our next short story.

StormWatch is getting set up with all the military hardware they can think of! Every nation on the globe is willing to sink more personnel and weaponry into the StormWatch program. Good for Bendix, but will it be good for everyone else? We also check in on the moon based StormWatch members! Yay, looks like the StormWatch moon base got rebuilt after Argos wrecked it!


The final story before we get to the “Prelude” proper is introducing our big-bads for the crossover. They are Damocles and The Sword. A bunch of mercenary bounty hunters (unrelated to The Mercs, but kinda related to The Bountyhunters) has found an Earth in an alternate dimension. The kind that both The Sword and his master Damocles have been asking about. This pleases Damocles, for now, he has found his next target! Oh yeah, this Earth is the WildStorm Earth, if you didn’t see where this was going, I really can’t help you.

thesword_001It’s time for us to better get to know these villains! First, we see The Sword and he’s got company. These four are a bit familiar to us, they’re The Bountyhunters that faced off with Gen13 a few issues ago. They’re there letting him know they failed to get the Qeelocke. It’s a big deal. The Sword’s boss Damocles needs easier ways to hop from dimension to dimension, and a Qeelocke would be much more effective. Currently, only The Sword can easily skip around from universe to universe, the other means of transfer gates personally offend Damocles and thus are only to be used sparingly.

Damocles lets The Sword and the Bountyhunters know that on the latest new Earth that they’ve found, there are creatures with Gen-Factor. That mean only one thing, there’s a representation of Damocles’ greatest enemy there; Sigma. Sigma apparently destroyed the world, as well as Damocles’ family. Damocles isn’t sure if they’ve found a different version of Sigma, or if it is the same Sigma that ruined everything for him. He tells The Sword to forget the Qeelocke, go to this new world and find Sigma.

The Sword and The Bountyhunters wind up in Gamorra following on a Gen-Factor hunt. You see, after another failed Gen-Factor science mishap, this time a clone of Sigma, Kaizen has unwittingly sent up a telltale sign to The Sword that Gen-Factor shenanigans are going on over here. The crew Sword-ports to Gamorra and confronts him. Kaizen, ever the smoothy, tells The Sword to learn more about the Gen-Factor that he needs to hunt down our old pal Dr. Tsung in San Francisco and bring him back to Gamorra. Oh, also, before that, Kaizen recommends that The Sword take out Winter in NYC. Kaizen lets The Sword know that Winter is the only real threat he’d have on this planet, so it’s best to get him out of the way first.

You little stinker Kaizen! You’ve got quite the double cross going on here.

In a crazy turn of events, The Sword was able to take down Winter. That’s not good! Now he’s on his way to meet up with the rest of The Bountyhunters and their raid on Dr. Tsung’s house. Oh man, is this fake plan actually working for them?

sigma_001Okay, rewind back to before The Sword and pals are busting through the side of Dr. Tsung’s house. We meet Ethan McCain and he is having a hell of a day at college. Spilling acid on himself, contemplating joining a frat and watching the gal he has a crush on hanging out with a bigger oafish guy. All that and he’s being followed by some secret agent chick.

Once he gets back at home Ethan is involved in some kind of VR experiment with his adoptive dad. That dad just happens to be Dr. Tsung! Whaaaaa? I guess these are some kind of tests to open up Ethan’s Gen-Factor potential, but I’m really not sure. Dr. Tsung has also been pulling visuals from his nightmares to plug into the VR environment to test Ethan. One of these enemy combatants looks an awful lot like Damocles! Just as the test ends Dr. Tsung’s house is invaded by a bunch of Hunter-Killers sent by Kaizen. Ethan reacts on instinct and manages to fire some kind of multi-phasic energy blast! It works! Ethan has real powers! And it might be enough to take out some HKs, but suddenly he’s staring down The Sword and he knows things are only going to get harder!

deathblow_v1_026There’s really no time to worry for Ethan and Dr. Tsung as Team 7 arrives with Gen13 to try and even the odds/save the day. Oh, don’t forget that secret agent chick, too! Her name is Maggie Monroe and she’s there to protect Ethan and the doc. In a case of too little, too late The Sword manages to capture Dr. Tsung and the Bountyhunters nab Qeelocke and then ‘port back to Gamorra. Roxy jumps into the portal to save Qeelocke and ends up in Gamorra with Dr. Tsung and most of the bad guys for this arc. We also find out that Maggie was hired by Cray’s father to always watch out for and protect Dr. Tsung and Ethan as long as Miles Craven lives. With Craven dead, she thinks she’s out of a job, but after what she’s seen, she knows she needs to team up with this group of near strangers to save Dr. Tsung from Kaizen.

Back in Gamorra, Kaizen lets it slip to LeGauche that he’s planning to bring Craven back to life. Also, he contracts LeGauche to do a job for him while he’s in between masters. LeGauche teams up with Minotaur and his goons to murder a handful of United Nations members while they’re touring Zodome. The idea is to frame the rebels, such as Cybernary and her group, and have StormWatch come to Gamorra to protect Kaizen from anyone that could stop him from his ultimate goal of creating a Gen-Omega!


Continuity Corner:

  • “Fire from Heaven” issue 1/2 might be able to have been read between issues 24 and 25 of “Deathblow” volume one. The science “accident” Kaizen had could account for the break in the connection that Craven experienced.
  • Man, that basketball scene in “Fire from Heaven” 1/2… Like I said, I’m pretty sure the blond kid is Ethan but you wouldn’t know it from the art or the fact and no one calls him by his name. Seriously, the only person named is the redhead girl, Laurie. Also, I think the woman that gets hit by the basketball is the secret agent Maggie Monroe who was hired to follow and protect Ethan, despite her looking nothing like what we see in “Sigma” issue 1.
  • We see Team 7 and Gen13 in “Sigma” issue 1, they’re on a plane that is called “a commandeered I/O stealth transport.” Later we’ll come to find that the jet wasn’t procured from I/O, it was taken from the WildC.A.T.s by Cole. That doesn’t keep it from being a plane that was built by I/O as we all know that Jacob had access to that kind of stuff. At least I think that’s what’s happening in “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 29. Either that or no one told Alan at the time where Cole was supposed to be and he wrote that before he was informed and then wrote “Fire from Heaven” issue 1.

NEXT: “Fire from Heaven” issue 1, “Backlash” issue 19 and “Gen13” volume two issue 10 by Alan Moore, Sean Ruffner, Brett Booth, Brandon Choi, J. Scott Campbell, Jim Lee, Ryan Benjamin, Ryan Odagawa, Chuck Gibson, Richard Friend, Mark Irwin, Mark Pennington, Alex Garner, JD, Tom McWeeney and Scott Williams


“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issue 25

This entry covers pages 18 – 22 of “Deathblow” volume one issue 24 and then all of issue 25 by Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner, Jeff Mariotte, Scott Kolins, Geof Isherwood, Trevor Scott and Rick Bryant.

deathblow_v1_025The Gen13 kids are on their way to meet Team 7 out in the wilds of Virginia. While the kids are wondering why they’re alone in the middle of nowhere, Lynch informs him that his old friends are already all around them. Cash, Cray, Dane, and Slayton emerge from the foliage to meet the young group. While most of the guys are either giving Lynch the business for becoming a “family man” or teasing Cray because of his report with Grunge, Roxy is the only thinking that, hey, one of these Team 7 guys could be her father. Is it a coincidence that all Team 7 members that are Gen13 fathers are dead or in hiding except for Lynch? Is there something here about not wanting our heroes to be dads for some reason?


Soon the group comes upon the I/O towers. Team 7 and Gen13 are going to break into them to take the fight directly to Craven in revenge for stealing their Gen-Factor. As they’re figuring out the best way to break in, we see Craven sending LeGauche to Gamorra with the Gen-Factor extracts. He’s also giving other members of the Brethren (who are joined by another member named Animus) orders to keep everyone out of I/O at all costs. Finally, he calls up Kaizen, straps into some crazy contraption and starts an up-link to Gamorra and the Gen-Omega.

Craven’s idea of leaving the Brethren in charge comes to a head once Frank Colby clocks in. He immediately questions why the hell the Brethren is in the Tac-Ops department, and where the hell Alicia Turner is. The Brethren threaten Colby’s life and he relents to working with them. Just at that moment Team 7 and the Gen13 kids are breaking into I/O via the old service tunnels. Colby eventually meets the group in the service tunnel and agrees to help them continue to break into I/O. Colby is a straight shooter and even though he’s been seen as Craven’s stooge, he’s only been doing it for the better of his country. Until Craven shows exactly how crazy he is being, Colby will do as directed by him. Locking up Alicia and calling in the Brethren is too much for Colby to ignore. If Team 7 is at I/O to exact revenge, he’ll help them out.


Well, Colby helped Team 7 and Gen13 right into a Black Hammer ambush. Uh oh! The two sets split up, Team 7 will handle the Brethren and the Black Hammers, Gen13 will take Colby and go rescue Alicia. After a few twists and turns, this eventually happens and the two teams are reunited to confront Craven. Well, kinda. Team 7 wants to take care of Craven themselves, leaving the Gen13 kids with Alicia and Colby outside of the crazy tech room where Craven is residing.

When Craven is confronted he starts spilling even more secrets that Gabrielle did an issue back. Turns out that Cray’s parents were killed by LaGuache on behalf of Craven because Craven was pissed that Cray Sr. helped Dr. Tsung get away with his research. Then, Craven, had Cray kill the man that had gotten the blame for the “terrorist attack” that ended up with both his parents dead. When I say that Craven is a certified dick, these are the kinds of things I’m talking about. Then Team 7 goes around and tells Craven exactly what he’s stolen from each of them. Suddenly, off-panel a gun goes off and Craven receives a single shot in the head. For now Craven is dead, and Team 7 can stand down for a night.


Continuity Corner:

  • We pick up on page 18 of issue 24 of “Deathblow” because we need the Gen13 kids to get the call from the full Team 7 group at the end of “Gen13” volume two issue 9, and on page 17 Slayton isn’t with the crew yet. While I really hate to split up books in the middle of pages, I think this one is reasonable and necessary.
  • And yes, Grunge is sporting longer hair again, despite having it cut and a big deal made about it in “Gen13” volume two issue 8. It’s a bit of a common mistake that will plague a lot of Grunge’s depiction in the “Fire from Heaven” crossover.
  • Old service tunnels, the air duct system, a wall in a top level bathroom, all ways to break into I/O, and all but the last one are super obvious. What kind of high security are the I/O Towers supposed to have?
  • Colby full on admits to Lynch that if he was really Craven’s stooge, that Lynch wouldn’t have made it out of I/O after being caught in “Gen13” issue 0.
  • Wait, aren’t the Brethren Gen12 like Team 7 is? Why doesn’t Craven just steal their Gen-Factor? Are they not powered with the Gen-Factor? If not, why are they also labeled as Gen12? Or is it that because Craven likes the Brethren and hates Team 7 that he only wants to steal the Gen-Factor from them?
  • What exactly is Craven attempting to do in his tech room? He’s uploading himself to a new body, a Gen-Omega body soon to be chock fulla Team 7 Gen-Factor. This body was constructed by Kaizen Gamorra and is in Gamorra. Not sure why he’s spilling all this truth to Team 7 as he doesn’t think he’s really going to be dying. If he was dying what would he have to lose? Sure, tell away! But he plans on being back, in a younger body… so… uh… why give your enemies MORE reason to want to come after you?
  • We found out about Cray killing the supposed architect of the terrorist attack that killed his parents back in “Team 7 : Dead Reckoning.”
  • While it is never stated who fired the shot that killed Craven, I’ve always assumed it was Cray. Mainly because it is his book and the title of the book is “Deathblow.” Kinda works on two levels.

NEXT: “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issues 25 – 28 by Alan Moore, Travis Charest, Scott Clark, Aron Wiesenfeld, Kevin Nowlan, John Nyberg, Dave Johnson, Troy Hubbs, JD, Scott Williams, Dexter Vines and Bob Wiacek.

“Deathblow” Vol. 1 issues 20 – 21

This entry covers “Deathblow” volume one issues 20 and 21 by Brandon Choi, Trevor Scott, and Tom Joyner.

Deathblow v1 020Last we saw John Lynch he was being captured by a bunch of Black Hammers in Japan. Now we find out where he’s been taken. It’s a secret I/O base in San Diego where he’s being tortured by LeGauche. LeGauche is going to take his Gen-Factor. Yup, that can be taken right out of someone. Don’t you mind how! Craven even dipped in to give Lynch some shit. Craven wants all the Gen-Factor and is mightily pissed that Ivana took off with a bunch of frozen Gen-Factor pops and Lynch doesn’t know where the rest of the Gen13 kids are. Still, some Gen-Factor from a for realzie Team 7 member is more than good, and LeGuache extracts it.

Meanwhile, coincidently, Cray is thinking of Lynch. After the quick save he had in Gamorra from a bunch of Black Razors, Cray is pretty surprised to find Lynch not there. Colby informs him that Lynch no longer works for I/O which confuses Cray even further. You know things are bad when John “Company Man” Lynch defects from I/O! Cray explains to Colby about some of the stuff he saw on Gamorra, all the information about Project Genesis and Team 7 that Kaizen Gamorra had laying around. Cray tells Colby that he needs some help finding Lynch, but says he can put him in touch with someone who can.

The someone that can help Cray out is none other than Alicia Turner. She got a call from Colby and Cray, found out where to find Lynch and went to check it out before Cray joins her. Although she worries that this is either a trap or a means to draw out Lynch, she heads inside the La Jolla estate. Just about know the Gen13 kids finally show up after a long flight from Rome, and they are not happy to see a stranger in their home. Predictably, a fight breaks out between the kids and Alicia. It gets even worse once Cray is on the scene! Before too much damage can happen, Anna comes home from grocery shopping and is curious why the Gen13 kids are beating up on friends of Mr. Lynch.


So yeah, time for some explanations! Cray learns that these kids are all the children of Team 7 members. Alicia discovers the location of Lynch. They learn about Operation Rebirth and that Kaizen Gamorra is mixed up in it, and that LeGauche is the man running the operation. And by “running the operation” I mean hunting down Team 7 members for their Gen-Factors at the behest of Miles Craven.

Deathblow v1 021On their way to rescue Lynch, Cray and Grunge come to a bit of a head. Grunge has been giving Cray a tough time ever since he showed up, but as soon as Cray mentions Grunge’s father things change. Grunge wants to know all about his Pops. It’s kind of sweet in a really sad way. Dude is just curious about his roots.

On to the actual rescue… it goes pear-shaped pretty fast with everyone but Cray and Grunge getting captured pretty quickly. Lucky for everyone that even a diminished John Lynch is still the definition of bad ass because he wipes the floor with all the I/O goons coming at him with what’s left of his Gen-Factor. He is even trying to use the Gen-Factor to try and locate the kids to save them. This isn’t as smooth as one would hope because Lynch’s Gen-Factor bugs out like we’ve seen before. This time Cray pops in to calm Lynch down and get a handle back on things.


Lynch, Cray, and Grunge regroup and put the hurt on LeGauche and the rest of Craven’s lackeys while saving all their captured friends. LeGauche gets away, and our heroes manage to get the hell away from the I/O base before backup arrives. Cray says he’s going to do what he can to prevent the other Team 7 members from having to deal with LeGauche alone like Lynch did. Lynch promises Cray that he’ll look through all the Project Genesis data he has to try and find out the latest scheme that Craven is up to. As Cray leaves Lynch and the kids he takes a page from their book and decides to stop Craven he needs to get Team 7 to regroup and work together again, like the brothers they are.

Continuity Corner:

  • How did Alicia know where to possibly find Lynch in La Jolla? I assume this is from the information that Trance gave to Craven back in “Deathblow” volume one issue 17.
  • Oddly enough, Cray knows who LeGauche is, but doesn’t know him well enough to realize that he was fighting him in “Deathblow” volume one issue 15. He still thinks LeGauche is locked up until Alicia tells him otherwise in issue 20.
  • Cray makes the same mistake I always used to make, assuming that the Gen13 kids are the children of Team 7 because Team 7 were the only Gen12s. Nope! LeGauche and his team of bastards (which we’ll start meeting soon) are all Gen12s, too! It’s just a coincidence that the Gen13 kids all have Team 7 poppas. The DV8 team seems a bit more realistic with only a handful of them having Team 7 dads.

NEXT: “Wetworks” volume 1 issues 12 – 15 by Francis Takenaga, While Portacio, Jonathan Peterson, John Ruzum, Tom Raney, Terry Shoemaker, Ryan Odagawa, Roy Martinez, Rick Bryant, Sal Regla, JD, Brad Vancata, John Nyberg, Gerry Alanguilan, Danny Bulanadi, Randy Elliott and Jeff Whiting

“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?
  • This story line 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:  The “Cybernary” stories from “Deathblow/Cybernary” volume one issues 1 through 3, the “Cybernary” story from “Deathblow” volume one issue 4 and “Cybernary” volume one issue 1 by Brandon Choi, Jim Lee, Steve Gerber, Nick Manabat, Jeff Rebner and Richard Friend.

“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

“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