Gen13: Best of a Bad Lot
by Gail Simone, Talent Caldwell (WildStorm, 2007)

Sometimes, a comic-book character is so burdened with backstory and decades of plot twists that the only thing to do is reboot the title and start fresh from scratch.

That wasn't really the case, however, with WildStorm's Gen13, a team of teen superheroes who were created in the mid-1990s. Granted, a bad decision was made a few years ago to kill them off and replace them with an entirely new set characters, but that move was negated not too long afterwards, when readers learned they weren't really dead after all. (In other words, the new team wasn't selling very well.)

Once the original characters were back in place, all might have been right with the world for Gen13 fans ... but then WildStorm decided to start the whole thing over with a brand spankin' new origin that swept aside everything that had gone before.

Poor decisions aside, the more pertinent question is how well they did the job. The answer is ... eh.

Core team members -- Fairchild, Freefall, Rainmaker, Burnout and Grunge -- aren't all that different from their previous incarnations. The revamped genesis of their powers is murkier, involving false parents, an archvillain with a baby fetish and an assistant motivated solely by her sexual desires. By the end of the book, it's still hard to tell if the teens were unwitting participants in a secret government program to create supersoldiers or if they were roped into a private enterprise to provide super-powered snuff films to rich Internet voyeurs.

Once WildStorm caught on and got rid of the B team, the book should have focused on the elements that made the early series such a success. Some of the elements that made this series worth reading -- adventure, a wide-eyed sense of fun, strong character interactions and, let's face it, cheesecake -- have been filtered out of this new version. Best of a Bad Lot boils down to a reboot for reboot's sake that creates more problems than it solves.

review by
Tom Knapp

24 November 2007

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