Quarterbin Follies #17: Wildstorm-Tossed (Part 2)

Wildstorm1So, when I left you all last, it was in 1997, and Wildstorm was but one part of the multifaceted Image Comics cannon. We discussed the hit-and-miss crossover with Marvel's Generation X, and we discussed “next time.” Well, it is next time, and I am here to continue. But, not just yet.

As anyone who has read more than a few of my columns will know, I am passionate about comics and collecting. But, it is not just about the comics or the stories; it is also about OUR stories – our experiences. Granted, not every one of our lives is a story that deserves the telling, but this is my column.

I bought the last installment's comic when it was new-on-the-shelf from a local collectibles shop called Homestake Coins, Cards, and Comics. This was riding in the wake of the dying comic-boom, and Homestake, well, was almost like having a real comic shop.

Anyway, today I will be looking at 1999's DV8 #27 and 2009's Gen13 #29. The former I acquired in a grab-bag from a fly-by-night Halloween shop here in my very own and sleepy hamlet, while the latter, I snagged in nearby Cheyenne, Wyoming, at a little comic shop called The Loft. There, at The Loft, where they are anxious to sell you pretty near anything, there is a quarter-bin where everything's a buck, but that's inflation.

When Image began in 1992, as previously discussed, the creators strove to be one big happy herd with six different shepherds. And I hear it worked pretty well for a while, with crossovers linking this pocket to that pocket – an intra-company wonderland. Well, at some point, I guess, some of the parties started making noise, and in 1996, the “Shattered Image” miniseries firmed up the dividing lines of the universe, which in turned paved the way for Jim Lee's departure. For it was in 1998 that Lee took his Wildstorm ball and went home, or rather, to the loving arms of DC Comics.

I asked Barry whether the change in publishers had affected the over-all leanings of the Wildstorm Universe. He told me he didn't really know, as it was about that time he stopped having so much extra cash – when the need to pay rent outweighed the desire to read every book out there. The “Struggle” is real, friends. Regardless, DC began publishing Wildstorm material, and that, if not much else, allowed for a different level of exposure and for new crossovers. I, the die-hard DC Junkie, remember only too well when Mr Majestic swapped places with ole Superman himself!

DV8 was a spinoff of Gen13, another team of youngsters, but where Lynch tried to keep the Gen13 kids off the radar and away from International Operations, the DV8 kids were on the government payroll. Rather than heroes, the Deviants were up for anything – drugs, sex, whatever – they could find to get themselves into. In Issue #27 (by Mike Heisler, Al Rio, and friends), the team has been rocked by the betrayal of Team Leader, Threshold, and the death of member PowerHaus (although, I have no idea whether those things are related). Nevertheless, there seems to be a spike in hostilities among the “kids.” I mean, they read to me like they must always be hostile one to another, but in this comic they seem even more on edge. Anyway, after a news report of a murdering teenager vanishing into thin air, a group of operatives is sent to poke around: emotion-manipulator, Bliss; were-wolf/bat/frog, Evo; and security agent-come-driver, Sideways Bob.

So, across the continent they wing, only to discover the disappearing boy who calls himself “Empty” – perhaps a bit too easily. It seems that Empty has allied himself with a group of super-powered youngsters who feel doing what they want is just the most important thing. Sound familiar? And I guess that is my real take away – I see no reason to care about these characters. Everyone is just as dirty as the next, and murder is barely a matter of perspective. Now, I am not trying to say that every story should be about a noble Captain Marvel or an altruistic Billy Batson. I think comics have a lot of room for the Dick Graysons to look for their places in the grand scheme, or for the Logans or the Frank Castles to seek whatever redemption, justice, or vengeance they can find. That being said, DV8 has a pretty big cast, and every one of them seems to just be a morally ambiguous jerk. The comic does have a back-up story that delves into the politics of International Operations, but that does little to sway my distaste.

Wildstorm2My final book this trip is Gen13 Vol. 4, Issue #29, and it is after the “End of The World as You Know It.” In a massive crossover event, the Wildstorm universe was beset by their version of the Apocalypse. And in a comic universe where angels and demons are actually warring aliens, rather than warriors of the transcendent realms invisible – well, as you might imagine, life continued after the end. But, not for everyone. If I understand this right, the Gen13 kids ended up being knocked off at some point, only to become the gene-seeds for a new, younger batch of super-clones! But, as luck would have it, the minds of the originals somehow lived on in thecloned 'Batch-13' bodies. Really, I suppose it was an almost clever way to avoid letting your teenaged “Gen-X” characters become middle-aged, doughy has-beens, like the rest of us Gen-X-ers, but I digress.

It seems that in light of the “End of All Things,” those “left behind,” those survivors – well, they had a shortage of food, and rather than plant some seeds, some of these survivors turned to soup. People soup. That is the situation that Eddie “Grunge” Chang finds himself in page one, plunging headlong into a massive stew pot the size of a small gymnasium. Meanwhile, the other Gen13 kids are each trapped in some sort of bubble, and as they fight their various ways out and get their bearings, they realize they need to come to the rescue of a certain tattooed, skate-boarding slacker. They do, but not before Fairchild is stabbed clean through the back! Gah, it is a cliffhanger!

I cannot imagine a worse comic to try and review – although, I'm sure one exists. It is fine for what it is, and kudos to Scott Beatty and Mike Huddleston for that. However, this was a true middle chapter, and the writers and editors did nothing to meet new readers on the ground floor. Nevertheless, I did find it pleasant enough, but not quite so much as to seek out the issues before or after. But, I did spend some minutes on Wikipedia, for whatever that is worth.

This story was from 2009, as mentioned elsewhere, but this was less than a year until DC shut the doors on Wildstorm in preparation for the New 52, and I am not sure I even have anything to say about that! At least, not today!

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Mathew D. Rhys

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