Michael's Long Box - The Great Gen 13 Re-Read, Part 13: Gen 13 #6 (November 1996)

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Gen 13 06 cover.jpg.jpg

Having concluded their adventure in Madagascar last issue, the next issue of Gen 13 shows up a mere 30 days later. That's right, the book has officially gone to monthly status! The Wildstorm crew definitely has their work cut out for them in this regard, so let's see if they can hack it as we dive into a new two-issue story arc!

Gen 13 06 p01.jpg

Now that I have @blewitt's attention . . . .

Let's do the time warp! We haven't heard from Ivana and her entourage since they fled into the night after the destruction of the original Project Genesis facility in issue #5 of the mini-series, so it's time to check in on them. Seems they've relocated to a base on Caballito Island, where Ivana and Threshold are in the process of thawing out the remaining cryogenically frozen Gen Actives they took from the desert facility.

Two years ago (in our real time, not in-universe), Caballito Island was the setting for a four-issue mini-series called The Kindred, which involved Backlash and Grifter mounting a mission there in order to rescue a still-employed-by-I.O. John Lynch and Alicia Turner. Caballito was another I.O. black site used for Gen Factor experimentation, involving animals as opposed to people. Real Island of Dr. Moreau stuff. The project was scrapped, and much of the island was blown up at the behest of Miles Craven, but the bulk of the testing facilities remain intact. This makes it the perfect place, in Ivana's opinion, to set up shop since it's the last place Craven (or anyone else) would think to look for them.

While Threshold and Ivana thaw and sort out their new recruits, Bliss is bored. Insisting they should be out there looking for the Gen 13 kids, she hops in a plane and jets to find something more exciting than a laser-nuked hunk of rock. Ivana's understandably irritated, but Threshold's there to calm her down. And by 'calm her down', I mean 'sex', because those two are totally getting it on between the panels. There's also an odd bit of what might be foreshadowing:

Gen 13 06 foreshadow.jpg

Seriously, I'm not sure what this is supposed to be. If you know, drop a comment!

My best guess is this is one of the left-overs from the Kindred experiments, but I don't remember there being any revelation concerning it. Certainly not in this story arc. We'll file it away as something that may or may not get a payoff later. Brandon Choi, Jeff Scott Campbell, and Jim Lee all had a hand in this issue's script, so it could be a case of someone having a cool idea and later writers completely ignoring/forgetting about it. Better hit that 'Follow' button and check each subsequent entry in this series, just in case.

With that flashback out of the way it's time to skip forward to the present, where the way back to California from Madagascar runs through Italy. Specifically to Rome, where an air traffic controller strike has grounded all outgoing flights for the foreseeable future. Stranded in a country where they don't speak the language and have no adult supervision, James McArthur having left to do his own thing back in Cairo, the teenagers should be screwed. Fortunately before he ditched them, McArthur told them about Mr. Bovini, a former associate of Lynch's, who could help them out with anything should they get into trouble.

An impromptu layover in a foreign country where no one has so much as a change of clothes qualifies, so Fairchild makes the call and Bovini is only too happy to help. He sets the five up with accommodations in a sweet hotel, takes them on a no-expense-too-great shopping spree for fresh threads, springs for full makeovers and haircuts, treats them to a wine-infused fine dining extravaganza, and even offers up his own Ferrari for a spot of cruising about town. All he asks in return is that they ask Lynch about some old photographs he left in his care.

Thus, our bedraggled and worn-out crew go from this . . .

Gen 13 06 p 06.jpg

Check out Burnout, doing a great Chris Cornell impression!

. . . to this . . .

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. . . in two pages flat.

Now, why would Mr. Bovini be willing to go out of his way to do all this just for an old photo album? Well, this issue plays a little game where the Italians speak, uh, Italian. And since none of our protagonists understand the language, neither do we. Unless we turn to the back of the book, where every text box gets its own little translation so we can follow along.

This is an interesting gimmick, but it's annoying in that it interrupts the flow of the story while the reader flips to the letter column, locates the appropriate page and panel number, reads the translation, then flips back to continue the story. And this is something that can happen multiple times on a single page. It's a fun experiment, but clearly someone decided it didn't work as well as they might have hoped, since subsequent collections of this story feature re-lettered panels using the English translation. This really does help the story flow better, but it's cool to see the Wildstorm guys having this kind of fun with the book. Clearly it was selling well enough they felt they could take chances like this without alienating readers.

But honestly, by the end of the issue, I'm sure the Italian language was the last thing on anybody's mind. Remember all that alcohol flowing freely at dinner? Choi, Campbell, and Lee sure didn't, because having a few too many, this happens:

Gen 13 06 Burnout Rainmaker kiss.jpg

And that, naturally, leads to this the next day:

Gen 13 06 oops.jpg

You thought the letters about Rainmaker were savage before? Give it a couple issues, because this scene unleashed a deluge of mail on poor editor Sarah Becker's desk.

Just to clarify: Rainmaker and Burnout didn't actually do the deed, they just had too much to drink and fell asleep in the same bed after making out. Nevertheless, an uncomfortable situation all around which turns out to be the catalyst for major trouble as Bobby angrily flames on and jets into the sky. This draws the attention of a team of super-powered beings called The Centurions. These five are part of "The Order of the Cross", a group of appointed guardians of the Vatican, protectors of the Catholic Church, and their orders are to round up any SPBs who show up in or around Vatican City. Bobby's just drawn their attention, and it's not long before a brawl breaks out:

Gen 13 p 16 - 17.jpg

While one of the five tracks down Burnout, the other four bum rush the other kids. When Rainmaker zaps the orange-and-red-skinned Velena, the mech-suited Volare unloads his arsenal at her, bringing an entire building down on top of the Apache. The rest of the team finishes off Fairchild, Freefall, and Grunge and heads back to the Vatican with their captives, leaving Rainmaker for dead and Burnout to be dealt with by the Coda-like Domina.

Just as she's about to deliver a savage beatdown on Bobby, Domina screams and writhes in pain as something overloads her mind. She collapses into Burnout's arms as he looks up and finds himself staring at none other than . . .


Well, well, well! Looks like one of the good guys is going to have to team up with one of the bad girls in order to get his friends back. Of course, this is Bliss we're talking about here, so there's no telling what she's got planned now that she's actually found the Gen 13 bunch. To trust or not to trust: that is the question which must preoccupy Bobby's mind, and ours. At least until next week, when we wrap up this story arc in preparation for a side trip into another Wildstorm book to learn what happened to Lynch. The excitement never stopped in the 90s, y'all!

We close the issue with a kick ass action pinup by the late Jason Pearson, who would go on to create Body Bags for Dark Horse, as well as work on X-Men, Batman, Grendel, Witchblade, Legion of Superheroes, Ultimate Spider-Man, Deadpool, and many other books over the course of his all-too-short life (he died of a stroke at age 52 in December of 2022).

Gen 13 06 pinup.jpg

Rest in peace, man.

Final Score

out of

This is a fine setup for the conclusion of this two-part story arc. The way the kids wind up in Rome without adult supervision is a little hokey, but the Wildstorm gang had just returned from their own European excursion and they wanted to give something back to their supporters from across the Atlantic by setting a story there. Jim McArthur might have dipped out between last issue and this one, but don't worry: our Bruce Campbell lookalike shows up again later, with a lot more to do than just ogle Fairchild.

As noted before, the only part of this issue which really doesn't hit is the 'flip back and forth to get the translation' gimmick. I don't hate it, but I don't think it went over well with readers, so I'm not surprised it was edited out of future collections. And hey, it gives you a nice choice: if you want the original experience, pick up the original issues. If you want the more streamlined experience, you'll find it in the European Vacation TPB. European Vacation doesn't include the Jason Pearson pinup though, so if you're a fan of his art then you'll need the single issue.

Honestly though, this is Campbell, Choi, and Lee kicking back and having a blast with these characters. Issues like this were what made it so much fun to be a comic nerd in the 90s, so thanks for taking the plunge with me one more time. See you in a week for the pulse-pounding, senses-shattering conclusion to this story arc, krunk-heads!


Ah yes, Jim Lee art. 😍 I've never been into Gen13 but the art will always draw me in. ❤️ So... what's SPB? 🤔

Thanks for the comment, @artgirl! SPB in the Wildstorm universe stands for "Super-Powered Beings". Marvel likes to threaten lawsuits against other companies that use the term 'Mutant', claiming it is inextricably linked to the X-Men, so to avoid the wrath of the Mighty Marvel Machine, they went with "SPB" to describe their metahumans. :)

Oh i see

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