3.22.2012

Gen13 :: Road to Comic-Con


I mostly stuck with DC and Marvel throughout my youth, but Image comics presented a pretty exciting third alternative in those days. The brand was different from the cleaner cut styles of DC and Marvel; it had an certain edge and free attitude that gave rise to great series like Spawn (a masterpiece of a comic book series, btw), Witchblade, Wildcats, and of course, Gen 13.

I think Gen13 (and similarly Marvel's Generation X) was borne out of an interest in capturing the rise of the MTV generation of the mid 90's. As described by co-creator Jim Lee, it was an attempt to have fun and explore a universe featuring a team of meta-human characters who were just discovering their powers. What would they do with them? How would they adapt to society?

Very X-Men like, but by then, the X-Men property was already nearly 20-30 years old; and at the time, there were very few comics tackling this type of story in a modern 90's setting [Never mind that the Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four reboots rekindled this in the early 2000's]. Consequently, Jim Lee, Brandon Choi, and J. Scott Campbell packaged together their vision with Gen 13.

So what's so special about Gen 13? Relative to today's standards, maybe not that much. Much of the allure was in its risque presentation and it's fresh take on the teen superhero genre. The characters themselves weren't anything that we hadn't seen before, rather it was their naive Gen Y attitudes which contrasted sharply with say a veteran Superman or eternally tortured Batman.

There's Kaitlin, the featured red-headed leader of Gen 13, who analogizes Captain America for the most part (a scrawny, but highly intelligent nerd who turns into an insanely physiqued super-human); a Human Torch clone; a Storm clone; a Jubilee type with gravity powers, a Beast type with metamorph abilities; all held together by a Nick Fury type.

I gotta admit though, at some point this series grew a little stale because of the smaller scale that it operated on; whereas Generation X had a rich established X-Men/Mutant universe to draw upon for pick-me-ups, Gen 13 just sort of stalled, eventually leading to their demise (which I recently learned got ret-conned).

Whatever its fate was, I'll always remember Gen 13 for what it was: something fresh and new ... until Ultimate X-Men came along and beat them at their own game.

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