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[personal profile] dreamcatchings

I just finished reading the fourth (aka 2006-2011) run of Gen 13 a couple of days ago. It was terrible, especially the end of it. The beginning wasn't actually as bad as it could have been even though it was slightly slow and seemed to heavily rely on the fact that any potential readers would already be familiar with the characters from reading the other runs. There were actually quit a few in-jokes to be found in the first two TPBs that hearkened directly back the the first and second runs. While this was a nice touch, I think it also probably hurt the series form being able to branch out and successfully bring in new readers. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure the kids have a lot of loyal fans out there who were very happily clamoring for a new series. The problem is that we didn't get anything worthy of the original two runs. (I cannot discuss the third run because I haven't read it and from the Wiki entry I looked at it didn't sound much like it was really part of the original story anyway so I'm okay with skipping it.)

The fourth run was extremely lackluster in that it refused to do any sort of character exploration. By the end of the series I still had no real feel for the kids. I didn't care about them, and I felt like they were hollowed out. It didn't feel like the creators cared very much for them, either. They occasionally gave some nods to the original personalities of the kids, but that was it. They were more story driven than character driven. I'm all right with that mode of storytelling when it's handled well. If the story is good enough to warrant me not really caring that if you blindfolded me and read the comic to me that all the voices would sound the same I can live with it. This is not the case with the fourth run. The story is haphazard and jumbled. It often diverts itself into other comic books. I don't mind crossovers, but it's important to either divulge enough information about them that the reader can discern what's going on without picking up the book or to make it a completely separate story that has no bearing on the main focus. Gen 13 didn't do that in the fourth run. They just assumed that you'd want to track down the other titles and made it impossible to cohesively follow the plot without searching out the other issues.

By the final issues, which I opted to download as digital comics onto my Fire because there is no TPB and the back issues were pricey in print, the storyline was so garbled and the characterizations so lost that I was completely disgusted and fed up. I like having full runs of things, though, so I gritted my teeth and read it despite the fact that it was practically impossible to follow, which is rare for me. I don't mean to come off sounding like a braggart or anything, but I'm pretty good at following non-linear, leaps of logic plot lines. I sort of prefer it to everything being spelled out for me like I was an idiot. I do get upset if plots are purposefully dropped and forgotten *cough*Harry Potter*cough*, but I'm more than fine with making some leaps and putting things together for myself. It's part of the reason why I love post-modern writers. When the story devolves as much as the World's Endplot, though, I just want to seek out every person responsible, punch them in the face repeatedly and then sit them down to read the original two runs of the comic book they're seemingly purposefully ruining any chance of reviving ever.

I'll admit that I got into Gen 13 late. I don't remember when it was exactly, but I know that it had been out for several years by that point. The whole reason I got into it was actually because of a good review/synopsis that was in Wizard, which I bought and read whenever I could. (It should be noted here that my comic obsession started when I was young and thus there was never enough money of my own to go around in order to buy all the comics I wanted. The allowance that I earned I never saw because my mother just took me to the comic book store weekly, and it was spent before I could have ever asked for it in cash. Thus I sort of learned how to efficiently manage credit at an early age. I had to keep track of the accumulating "imaginary" allowance and then subtract anything I bought from it. Sometimes I would go over and have to "pay it back" by waiting the accumulation out. It was a weird system, but I think it was very helpful for me in the long run considering how good I am at managing my finances.)

Anyway I did manage to get into Gen 13 although I had to sort of fight with my mother over it. She had some concerns, which I can see as valid considering the way that the female characters were portrayed. As a kid I just shrugged it off. I knew it wasn't serious, but I didn't actually understand the undertones of it. These days I tend to look back it more as a social satire sort of thing. It might not have been. I'll admit that I honestly need to reread the original runs in order to actually sound like I know what I'm talking about because it's been years. What I do recall is liking the characters in the original runs immensely. They did actually seem like people. They had an actual story. They grew as characters, and I felt like their characterizations made sense. At the end of the day, they were still actually kids. As with all comics there were absurd twists and turns in there, but that's part of the fun of handing yourself over to a fantasy world with spandex clad heroes who have gained superpowers in one way or another. Yes, there was an awful lot of cheesecake, but there always seemed to be this undercurrent to it, especially in retrospect, that it was tongue in cheek. The fact that it was so over the top was their way of making a satirical statement about how other comic books portrayed their characters. I think this sense of it was lost as the original creators moved on. It can be difficult for one person's vision and understanding to transfer to another and everyone brings their own interpretation, which is actually what I love about literature. It can be taken in so many ways.

However the fourth run is just sporadic and cobbled together. There is no sense of care here. I don't believe that any of the people working on it gave a shit about the characters they were conveying. Maybe they looked at it and just saw the cheesecake aspect. Maybe they never read any of the other comics. I think if you're going to write characters it's pretty damn important to have a sense of where they're coming from even if you're doing a reboot. I'll use LSH as a prime example here because it gets rebooted seemingly every two years, and I've read about three or four versions of it by now. While there are substantial differences in each version as far as history and character, there are still a number of things that remain the same. There are threads that you can easily discern if you've been reading along for a while and pick up on. There's always a sense of care with those characters. Even background characters typically get some fleshing and care. You know things about them. As far as numbers go, LSH is huge. They might have the biggest character roster of anything I've ever read. It gets hard for me to keep track of all the characters and their back stories, but the writers who are allowed to have a go at them know. There's a sense that they live these characters. They care for them. I get none of that sense of care with Gen 13 in its last incarnation. Simone proves that she can provide allusions to other things, but after thinking about it she probably could have gleaned most of those in-jokes from looking at the covers of the older runs rather than having to do any reading.

I was disappointed with the entire thing. The beginning was lackluster, and the ending was so awful that I was beginning to wonder if it had been written intentionally just to ensure no one would ever pick up the book and the characters again. I'm still not positive that I'm wrong about that last statement. I've started getting into the new 52 thanks to a friend at work, and we were looking at the expected titles that are supposed to launch soon. One of them features Fairchild. She's the only Gen 13 character I've seen really mentioned in the new 52 thus far, and the fact that they broke her out, just her, speaks volumes to me. Don't get me wrong. I don't hate Caitlin, but she was never my favorite. (I'm a Roxy fan all the way.) Purely from an aesthetic point of view, though, I know why she was picked. Put Fairchild on the cover of a comic book and teenage boys (and probably a lot of grown men as well) are going to buy it whether they know anything about the character or not. When the original runs of Gen 13 used her in this way, I thought there was a streak of humor in it, a way to poke fun at a majority of the audience whether they got it or not. DC, however, proved that they are not really cognizant of this thread with the fourth run of Gen 13, and I don't see them getting there anytime soon unless they've hired a writer who is completely going to surprise me and knock my socks off. I won't be holding my breath, though.

Note: The icon I'm using (on LJ) was made a long, long time ago for [personal profile] mizzmarvel, but I find that I have no other Gen 13 icons except the ones that I made so whatever. She'll live. ;-)


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July 2012

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