Friday, December 27, 2013

Admit it: You would have read the hell out of Brandon Graham's Gen 13

On an early page of Walrus, PictureBox's publication of a sketchbook of Brandon Graham's (which you can get for half-off if you order before January 2), the artist describes the sorts of things that show up in his sketchbook, and one broad category he described was "Fantasy Football," which he described thusly: "I like coming up with what I would do with mainstream comics to make them into something I'd be into...have they ever put Aquaman inside an alien ocean that's inside a giant fish?"

Er, I don't know, but that would certainly be a pretty awesome Aquaman story, particularly if written and drawn by Brandon Graham.

Speaking of fantasy football, that's the sort of thing I really wish the New 52 reboot would have dabbled in, outside-the-box, let's-try-appealing-to-new-readers stuff like Brandon Graham writing and drawing a new volume of Aquaman where he's inside an alien ocean that's inside a giant fish, although obviously "Just Getting Geoff Johns To Write Aquaman For a While" worked well enough for them financially (Personally, I think Johns went too far into trying to make the character "cool," making him too bad-ass, too powerful and too defensive, but I never thought there was anything particularly broken with Aquaman in the first place; I'm definitely of the There's Now Such Thing As a Bad Character, Except For Geo-Force. And Red Tornado. And, like, 35% of the X-Men school of thought). (As it turned out, of course, DC wasn't terribly adventurous in picking creative teams or new directions for their rebooted line, and it turned out to be more of a numbering scheme and fashion move than anything else; even Marvel's fairly modest ideas like, say, Doing a funny crime book about Spider-Man's lamer super-villains or Having Mike Allred draw us a comic or Letting the Phonogram team have an Avengers title for a year seem radical in comparison to most of the initial The New 52 books. Oh well; maybe DC will throw Scrooge McDuck bags of money at Graham for Aquaman: Earth One.)

Anyway, at the top of this post is one of Graham's final fantasy warm-up sketches, a Gen 13 line-up consisting of original members Roxy and Fairchild, plus Static and Brainiac 5.

Gen 13, if you're not aware, was a superhero comic created in the early '90s by writers Jim Lee and Brandon Choi and drawn by J. Scott Campbell, set in Lee's original WildStorm Universe, which was first published at Image Comics before the imprint was sold to DC Comics. Like a rather astounding amount of the Image founders' creations, it borrowed quite liberally from Big Two super-comics, using barely-veiled analogues of Storm of the X-Men and The Human Torch of the Fantastic Four in its cast. It was about a team of five very '90s teenagers—one was even code-named Grunge—with superpowers, learning to use their powers, X-Men style.  It was mostly pretty terrible, but featured exciting art that lots of comics readers liked at that time, and the three females on the team had a habit of having their clothes fall apart, particularly Fairchild.

Adam Warren wrote and drew it for a while—first as a series of miniseries, then as an ongoing—and it was awesome then. Later DC rebooted it repatedly, as with their entire WildStorm Universe line,  and it seemed to get worse and less popular each time they did so. Finally the WildStorm imprint was shuttered, and the WildStorm Universe and many of its characters were folded into the new DC Universe created in the 2011 New 52 reboot, along with the old DCU and the publisher's "Vertigo Universe" characters.

DC hasn't tried a New 52 Gen 13 series yet (and seem to be shying away from using any WildStorm characters at all in the New 52-iverse), but they did put Fairchild in this book...
...which lasted about as long as one might expect in 2013.

Static got his own short-lived title—Static Shock—which was one of the first books to generate the sort of he said/he said post-mortem bickering of the creative teams that has characterized much of the New 52, and I imagine Brainiac was in one of the two Legion titles DC launched out of the reboot, both of which I think are cancelled now, but I don't care, because it's the Legion (You can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe for the New 52 Legion, they hired a writer who has been writing Legion comics off-and-on for about as long as I have been alive).

Anyway, look at that sketch, then close your eyes and  imagine: DC Proudly Presents Gen 13 by Brandon Graham!

Walrus is a really fun book. I plan to discuss it at greater length, and not get sidetracked into fantasy publishing, in a near-future post.

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