Tag Archives: Stephen Callahan

“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 distinct and doesn’t feel as dated as the term Gen-X would become.

Where to find these stories:

  • the “Gen13” hard cover and trade paperback
  • the “Gen13 : Who They Are And How They Came To Be…” trade paperback
  • the “Gen13 Archives” trade paperback (book is in black & white only)
  • Comixology: “Gen13” vol. 1 issue 1

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

“Team 7 : Dead Reckoning” 1 – 4

this entry covers “Team 7 : Dead Reckoning” (aka Team 7 series 3) issues 1 – 4

Team7series3Here it is the final series of Team 7… kinda. More on that later, but first up; Lynch finally loses that pesky eye! So, there we go, one Wildstorm Universe mystery totally solved! Unfortunately this series is a bit of a letdown because it moves so fast and so herky jerky in time that it seriously could’ve been at least 2 if not 3 different mini-series. The biggest problem is that we have no sense of time outside of flashbacks to Team 7’s final mission.

The team’s final mission is a trip to Leningrad to rescue a young scientist who is at work for a superhuman program in Russia. This is the program that was set up by the Old Russian dude on crutches that bought it in the last “Team 7” series. When Cray, Slayton & Zig Zag took care of Old Dude, Fatty & Girl in Cambodia it more or less wiped out the fruits of the Russian superhuman program. Now the Russians are trying to get back in the game and it is up to our old buddies in Team 7 (minus Dane who was banished to Level 9 at the end of series 2) to stop those Evil Ruskies and gain a brilliant scientific mind in the process. Of course the mission goes pear-shaped almost immediately.

First things first, Team 7 finds Russia’s one new super-powered being and Lynch takes it on to give the rest of the team time to find the young scientist. Lynch is using all the psi-power he can muster to fight this being. The being is kicking Lynch’s ass, and Lynch tries to pour it on as much as he can to fight back. The drawback is that Lynch’s psionic powers are creating such a pressure on his skull that Lynch knows that he has to tear out his own eye to release a torrent of a psi-blast to take on his enemy. Time being of the essence, and with Lynch literally being the Clint Eastwood of the WildStorm Universe, he goes for it, explodes the other dude’s head and then passes out while the rest of the team meets their objective. While the team his having better luck, they certainly aren’t all that happy.

The team easily finds the man they’re after, a man by the name of Dbovchek, who wants to defect to America with all his scientific knowledge. They grab him, wrap him in the flag of the Soviet Union, grab Lynch and get the hell out of there. One twist, now that Lynch is down for the count Slayton is in charge and this pretty much pisses off the rest of the team, primarily Cash, who thinks he should be in charge. They rest of them don’t like Slayton either, but Slayton doesn’t care. He has secret orders and those orders are to get rid of Dbovchek when he has a chance. He sees his chance when Team 7, after a harrowing chase through the sewers of Leningrad, is being airlifted to safety. This is when Slayton shoves Dbovchek out the door of the helicopter to his death. Cash tries to save him, but has no luck. Why would Slayton do what he did? Because the powers that be want to keep the Cold War running, and a man like Dbovchek on either side threatens that balance. Who would give Slayton that kind of side mission? You guessed it, Miles Craven!

Ok, go back and re-read those last two paragraphs up there, go ahead, I’ve got time. Ok, you back, realize that those paragraphs, that single mission in the USSR, take place via flashbacks throughout the four issue run. You might think to yourself “What? But the actions of that mission inform the whole rest of the series, how can we get a feeling of what is going on when we don’t know how that mission resolved?” And I’d say to you “You’re damn right!” Reading this is kind of like a fever dream, a lot of things happening at once and you’re not sure how it folds altogether in a single satisfying story. Well, it doesn’t, but the structure is only half of the problem, the rest is a lack of year sign posting on the story in progress as well as trying to squeeze in a bunch of references to the WildStorm Universe at large.

Alright, back to that evil bastard Craven. Apparently when the most recent Presidential Administration took charge they reinstated Craven back into his former job as head of I.O. The members of Team 7 are very upset that Craven is their boss once again and most of them quit Team 7 and I.O. in protest, just like at the end of the first series. Much like that time when most of them quit Lynch, Slayton and Cray stay with I.O.. Cash and Callahan both quit I.O. and end up going to work for other military agencies. While Chang and Fairchild also quit I.O. they both go back to work for I.O. at some point. I’m not sure when, as we see them quit, but then we see them working for I.O. again, so without any more information (like when things are happening) it gets a bit confusing. Dane remains locked up down on Level 9 of I.O. and is starting to get along with his C.H.U.D.-like roommates down there.

Now, as we’re moving quickly through the late ‘70s we’re also starting to get more connections to the WildStorm Universe that is occurring, more or less, in the real-time of the ‘90s. We find out about Callahan’s first wife who he knocked up. When she had her baby the doctor, under orders from Craven, told Callahan both his wife and his baby died. Craven wanted to raise this Gen-Factored baby for his own (evil) ends. Callahan’s wasn’t nearly as passed out as the doctor things, and she gets wise to things, knocks out the doctor, takes her baby and high tails it to an Indian reservation in Arizona where her family lives and convinces her uncle to raise it. Thus we see the secret history of Sarah Rainmaker of Gen13. We see Lynch pissing off either his wife or Christy Blaze, not quite sure which, with his suicidal actions. Cray, under Craven’s direction finds and kills the man supposedly responsible for the death of his parents, which we’ll find out more about later in the “Fire from Heaven” crossover story. Slayton almost biffs a mission in Germany and we see that Craven wants him to infiltrate the U.N.s emerging super-group as a spy for him and I.O.. While Slayton initially balks at the idea, he eventually decides to sign up for Stormwatch anyway. We also see baby Grunge as well as baby Threshold and Bliss when we check in on Callahan and his new wife. Heck, there’s even passing mention of former Team 7 members Diaz, Johnson, MacNamara and Rhodes, but oddly nothing on Breckmann. But what of Dane?

Dane, mind-wiped and all from the Old Russian in series 2 is locked on Level 9, and has been getting brainwashed by his buddies there. He knows he can break free with their help. He also knows that when he breaks free he should warn his friends; because somehow Dane knows that Craven is after all of their kids. How does he gather his best buds back to I.O. to tell them this? He makes them glow. They all come running, and Cray brings along Zig Zag who was just getting settled in at college. Dane busts loose with his Level 9 buds, Team 7 takes care of them, the armed forces of I.O. show up, Zig Zag scares the hell out of them, most of the team then make their escape with a Team 7 members left standing around with Craven. The Team 7 members that ran off are all the parents (Callahan, Chang, Fairchild and Lynch) along with Cash, because he just plain ole hates Craven. Dane is passed out on the ground and Slayton knocks out both Zig Zag and Cray to join Dane.

This is pretty much how it ends, Zig Zag is now in service of Craven and I.O. along with Cray. Slayton is working for the U.N. and Stormwatch, but is spying for I.O.. Callahan, Chang, Fairchild and Lynch want to protect their children and Cash says he has an idea, but first, get all the kids into hiding. Where do we go from here? Well, it’s going to take even more time for that story to be told. We have to wait until the first issue of “Gen13” to start to put it together, and that isn’t too long, but for all the real answers we have to wait until the “Gen12” series which is so much farther down the line. Why not review it next? Well, because unlike the “Team 7” series, the “Gen12” series is told in flashback to an investigative government agent while he is dealing with the after effects of “Fire from Heaven.” So I can’t get ahead without spoiling too damn much, besides, it really is worth the wait! Oh, and no, we never really find out how Dane gets better enough to kick ass leading Wetworks, so don’t expect to ever really solve that mystery.

Next Week : “WildStorm Winter Special : Deathblow Gets Dusted” Preview by Allen Warner, Carlos D’Anada and Carrie Strachan

“Team 7 : Objective : Hell” 1 – 3

this entry covers “Team 7 : Objective : Hell” (aka Team 7 Series 2) issues 1 – 3

Team7series2Welcome back to the Wildstorm Universe. Yes, we’re still in the ‘70s. Yes, we see Team 7 come out of retirement for the first of many times. Yes, Dane still has that awesome beard. No, we still don’t know how John Lynch loses his damn eye! But we find out that Lynch has risen through the ranks in the military to be the main government liaison and blah blah blah, I’m boring myself. Basically, Lynch is in charge, Craven isn’t and Lynch needs to get Team 7 back together again to go on awesome missions!

First mission? Make sure that the Russians or the Khmer Rouge don’t get ahold of the nukes that the U.S. military left in Cambodia during ‘Nam! Also, to find out exactly how hard Team 8 got the shit kicked out of themselves. Answer: They dead. Wait, there was a Team 8? Yup! There was even a second proposed Team 8 (hell, there was even another Team 7, but we’ll get to that later in the pages of “Wetworks.”) So Lynch tracks down the prison that Cray had been incarcerated in and convinces him to help find the rest of the old crew. They head down to South America, where Cray finds a bone that’ll be important 20 years down the line and then he and Lynch team up with a few guerillas and find the rest of the living Team 7, minus Slayton. I guess minus Beckman, too, but we don’t know if he’s alive and blind somewhere or dead.

Fast forward to the actual mission and the team is parachuting into Cambodia and Slayton is with them, so it’s like the old gang is kicking it again, just in a different war torn area. Good news, this isn’t some crazy set up by Craven and his goons; bad news, that Russian on crutches that was after them in the last series is still after them, and he has some psionic agents of his own. I’m unclear why he wants to destroy Team 7; it’s either out of military strategy or just jealousy that the U.S. has weaponized agents similar to his own. Also, that old Russian dude also has psionic powers.

I don’t know why it bothers me so much that we have no idea where these Russians got their powers, but it really does. In the next “Team 7” series we will see the Russians trying to create more super powered beings, but I want to know how they’ve pulled it off successfully before that point. I typed a bit last week about trying to understand exactly how the Gen-Factor worked, and I still don’t have a concrete idea about it. It does seem like there are a bunch of folks that at some time were exposed to something that gave them the Gen-Factor, hence all the kids in “Gen13” and “DV8,” but we only really focus on Team 7 in that regard. In fact there aren’t many different ways to manifest some kind of superpowers in the Wildstorm Universe. Here they are in order of most common.

  • 1. You have been exposed to the Gen-Factor, or are a child of someone who was exposed to the Gen-Factor.
  • 2. You are an alien, have an alien parent or 2, get an alien suit or aliens messed with you.
  • 3. You were exposed to a magic superpower giving comet or the child of someone who was exposed to that crazy comet (seriously, no one believes me when I tell them this.)
  • 4. You were born on January first at the turn of a century, and are thus dubbed a Century Baby, or are the child of a Century Baby.
  • 5. You are a robot, have had robot parts put on you, hence a cyborg or own robo-armor.
  • 6. You come from an alternate dimension, or were altered by alternate dimension technology.
  • 7. You were created by a mad scientist.

I know, 7 different ways (with a handful of subsets, mostly due to heredity) to attain “super” status in the Wildstorm U seems like a lot, but look at the DCU or the Marvel U and start counting all the different ways you can gain superpowers and 7 will seem like a very short list. This limiting way to get superpowers kind of gets lost along the way, but holds up for so long in the Wildstorm U that even the outliers remain unique (the Doctor, Rose Tattoo and the Drummer).

Truth be told, the 7 numbered limit of Wildstorm U superpowers really stops holding up after the soft reboot in 2006 when we’re suddenly introduced to a bunch of superheroes we’ve never heard of before from Wildstorm’s supposed past. Up until then the only pre-1992 action we’d seen Team 7’s action in the ‘70s, got a look at Team 1 in the ‘50s, Elijah Snow and Jenny Sparks’ lives throughout the 1900s and heard a bit about the $tranger$ in the ‘80s. Only after the soft reboot is the universe filled with all kinds of crazy characters that must’ve had their superpowers come from something other than the main 7. When the Wildstorm Universe was coming together in the early ‘90s it really seemed that this was near the ground zero for superhero activity in their universe. Now it is cool to get a bit of backstory, like the “Team 7” books, but I felt they eventually over did it.

Speaking of Team 7 and the ‘70s, the team has found themselves in the jungles of Cambodia and an earthquake is erupting! But wait… is it a real earthquake? Nope! It is either a psychic projection or it is another psionic attack that is churning the ground and trees around the team. Cash twigs on pretty quickly that whatever is happening to them isn’t trying to hurt them, only scare them so he tells the rest of Team 7 to chill out and put out good vibes. Once this happens things calm down and they meet young blind girl who asks them what they hell they are doing in her jungle. This kid doesn’t take shit from anyone, and gives war back to anyone who brings war to her village. By literally peace-ing out Team 7 is saved her wraith and makes a new friend, name X’ing X’iang, and I kid you not, they end up calling her Zig Zag.

One of the many good things about Zig Zag is that she is much more powerful than Team 7, which comes in handy when the more experienced Russian psionics catch up with them. Also, she knows where the missiles are that Team 7 came to destroy, so Lynch and Cash go to investigate. Lucky break that Zig Zag knows where the missiles are! Well, maybe not so lucky because suddenly there are 3 powerful Russians attacking Team 7. The old man in crutches apparently kills Cray and then starts to work on brainwashing Dane. Callahan, Chang and Fairchild take on the Russian woman while Slayton takes of the fat Russian dude. How will Team 7 get out of this one? Don’t worry, I’ll tell you in the next paragraph!

How does Team 7 takes down the bad guys? Luck and good timing! Cray wakes up from his supposed death and shoots the old crotchety Russian. This is the first hint of Cray having any kind of powers, well before they just come out right and say exactly what those powers are at least. While fighting the fat Russian Slayton develops his trademark psionic fist whips and snaps chubby’s neck. Then the Russian chick begins to wail on them and Zig Zag has had enough and tears her apart. That’s it. Lynch sets the missiles to self-destruct and Team 7 collectively adopts Zig Zag and fly back home to the states to start working for the government. The only causality seems to be Dane’s mind, as it is a blank.

In the end this is my favorite of the Team 7 books, mainly because I didn’t have such high hopes as I did with the first series, and because of how the third series is plotted. Multiple flashbacks, things going a little too fast to keep up with, it’s an all around mess, as if they had 3 more books they wanted to do and decided to smash them all into one last series, so get ready for that. “Team 7 : Operation : Hell” is fun because it is so linear, the boys are getting or getting used to their powers, and they’re going on missions! In my youth as well as my adult hood, I could read another dozen Team 7 books like this!

Where to find this story:

  • Excerpts from Issue 1 of “Team 7 : Objective Hell” is in the “WildStorm Rising” trade paper back.

Next WeekTeam 7 : Dead Reckoning” (aka Team 7 Series 3) issues 1 – 4 by Chuck Dixon and Jason Johnson

“Team 7” Vol. 1 issues 1 – 4

this entry covers “Team 7” volume one (aka Team 7 Series 1) issues 1 – 4

Team7series1I’d like to start out saying that while “Team 7” isn’t the first book that Wildstorm ever put out, it is integral for the history of the Wildstorm Universe that we start here. The first several years of Wildstorm comics (up through the disastrous “Fire from Heaven” cross over) all, to some degree, revolve around the members of Team 7 and their former bosses at International Operations, an intelligence agency for the United States Government. Second, this book was never presented as a character telling a story to others, or even features a wraparound to set the book in the present timeline with flashbacks to Team 7’s exploits in the ‘70s. Finally, it must be said that when this series started the readers knew most of the key players already, and were excited to see their collective past together. In the end, knowing these characters going in is a bit of a hindrance, in fact, I remember hating this when it came out. I wanted answers to some of the built up mysteries in the Wildstorm U and I wasn’t getting them here at all. All I was getting was a sci-fi war story from the ‘70s and that wasn’t what I was getting hyped up to read.

When we meet Team 7 they are already in the middle of a mission that is already going wrong. The team is being led by John Lynch under the direction of Mile Craven at I.O. and consists of Stephen Callahan, Cole Cash, Phillip Chang, Michael Cray, Jackson Dane, Alex Fairchild, Andrew Johnson, Richard MacNamara, Mark Slayton and a member that we only ever get the last name of, Breckmann. The mission goes south, but we get to see how resourceful Team 7 is in saving their skin in a tough situation. The mission was screwed from the start with the team being tasked with saving some hostages that had already been killed, I’m guessing that the idea was to draw out Team 7 and pick them off. It didn’t go as well as the “bad guys” had planned, the team survives and I.O. gets revenge on the source of the bad intel.

If you were me at the time, you were thinking “Who the hell are Johnson, MacNamara and Breckmann? And where the hell are Diaz1 and Rhodes2? We’ve never heard of the first three and the last two have been mentioned as Team 7 members by both Backlash and Grifter!” Well, as an adult I see that the book needed some cannon fodder as Craven is sending Team 7 on their second doomed mission, the mission that imbued the boys with the Gen-Factor.

Let’s be honest, I’ve never been exactly clear on what the Gen-Factor means. I had always assumed that it had meant there was a structural change to one’s genes that gave the recipient super powers. It may have very well been this at one point, but as time goes on we find that you can freely give your Gen-Factor to another person, or it can be stripped from you by someone for their own use. My initial understanding always made more sense to me, as it tracked that the Gen13 kids would get their Gen-Factor powers due to the enhanced genes their fathers are passing down to them. That’s just me, I didn’t write this stuff, and I can be kind of an idiot.

Let’s talk about the Team 7 members we do know. We’ve seen Lynch in the pages of “WildC.A.T.s” before he became the mentor of Gen13, whose roster includes the children of Callahan, Chang and Fairchild. We’d gotten to know Cash as Grifter very well in “WildC.A.T.s” as well as Slayton in “Stormwatch” and also we saw him in an uneasy team up with Grifter in “The Kindred.” Cray had recently started his own solo title with “Deathblow” so we didn’t know him that well quite yet, but enough to be interested to see how he started to work for I.O. as well as why he didn’t seemingly have any powers at all. Finally we’d seen Dane in “Wetworks”, even if he looked and acted a bit different back in his Team 7 days. Oh, and Callahan had died in the open pages of “Gen13” Vol. 1 #1. During the time that “Team 7” was coming out, the only members that we didn’t know the final fate of were Breckman, Chang, Johnson, Fairchild and MacNamara. I should’ve known that if you weren’t alive in the current Wildstorm books, you were assumed dead or would be dying soon in “Team 7,” and to keep Chang and Fairchild live long enough to have kids, they’d need a few people to fall early on to keep the stakes high. The last we’d see of Breckman and MacNamara is in I.O. headquarters where they are both having trouble controlling their new powers. Breckman has torn his eyes out and sits bloody on the floor of a padded cell, while MacNamara commits suicide because he can’t control his body from sending blasts out from it, having already killed a few I.O. staff members.

Through this initial “Team 7” series we find that Craven had been trying to create super powered beings for a while under his own command, and Team 7 was the first to mostly be intact after receiving those powers. We also are introduced to Gabriel, a telepathic assistant to Craven. Where he came from, and how he gained his powers are unknown, but we do find that Craven has been keeping all his failed super-soldiers on I.O.’s 9th level, which technically doesn’t exist and Gabriel is frightened of it. We also meet Alicia Turner as a nurse where Team 7 is waking from their post Gen-Factor induced comas. Wildstorm readers had already known her from “WildC.A.T.s” and I have to say, she ages just as well as Cash & Dane do, to say, in 20 years, she really doesn’t age at all, unlike Craven, Lynch and Slayton.

Wait, I haven’t told you the final fate of Johnson yet! Johnson just goes on to be a real dick on the first Team 7 mission with Gen-Factor powers and Cash kills him for it. Johnson had pretty much become a monster, mind controlling the team’s enemies into commenting suicide with a smile as he laughed at them. Cash wanted to win, but not like this, so he takes out Johnson. This starts a real rift between him and Lynch and as a result we start to see the team fall apart. Some want to remain loyal to Craven and I.O., others want to get away from the craziness that their lives had become. Also Fairchild gets kinda rapey trying to mind control a girl at a bar and Cash kicks his ass for it. Cash really hates mind controlling. The team fraying all comes to ahead when Craven decides to send Team 7 on their final test.

Oh, the final test. I’m still not sure what Craven was hoping for. He takes all of Team 7, except for Cray, as he’s not showing any powers, and sends them on a mission to a temple in Middle East. While there the team finds that there’s no strategic reason for them being at the temple and Lynch and Cash start to have a mind battle. Then Craven launches a low yield nuclear missile at the Team to see if they’ll survive. Yup, that’s the final test; let’s see if this can destroy them. The team that without super powers was already surviving the near impossible by working together and being smart. I know that Craven is a jerk, but come on, from everything we’ve seen, even if we didn’t know they’d all survive, we’d still assume they’d all survive. Team 7 huddles and concentrates on their psionic powers to shield them in a bubble force field and protects themselves from being blown up. They don’t give a shit about any of the monks in the temple though, them monks is dead.

Predictably having a nuke lobbed at Team 7 is the final straw and the only members willing to work for I.O. are Lynch and Slayton. Cray is pretty much blackmailed/coerced in to staying with I.O. by Craven after he threatened to murder half the crew of the boat that launched the missile at the rest of Team 7. Callahan, Cash, Chang, Dane and Fairchild all retire to a small town in Nicaragua, hoping to hide from I.O. and anyone else who would try get them to use their powers for purposes they disagree with. Good call, as we’ve seen a very creepy Russian man on crutches who has been one step behind Team 7 this whole time, who seems very interested in what they’ve been up to.

That’s it, that’s the first series! As an adult I really enjoy it. I enjoy seeing what good friend Cray and Dane were back then. I enjoy seeing Cash as a brash young man, but I wish he would’ve developed his sense of humor a bit back then. It was also fun seeing Lynch as a being highly fallible, which we’ll go years in the Wildstorm U before we see a hint of this again. When I picked up this book as a kid I really wanted to know how Lynch lost his eye, why Dane acts so different in “Wetworks” as well as how I.O. was founded. None of this is really answered in this series. In the future we’ll get an answer to the first, clues to the second and some murky details on the third, but nothing all that definitive. Also most of the team winds up in a small South American town? What? Really? How do they get to be who they are? I thought this was a prequel to some of Wildstorm’s biggest names! I want more story, dammit!  As an adult comic reader I’ve learned patience, but I really wish we would’ve gotten a bit more into the personalities of Callahan and Chang, who we never really see again for any true measure of time. They and Fairchild really come off as bit players in this book, and I feel the book is suffers a bit because of that.

Where to find this story:

Next Week : Team 7 : Objective : Hell (aka Team 7 Series 2) issues 1 – 3 by Chuck Dixon & Chris Warner

1 We’ll see more with Robert Diaz in “The Kindred” mini-series
2 Jack Rhodes, also known as Cyberjack, is a supporting cast member in the “Backlash” comic.