Pipeline: Pipeline2, Issue #24: My Gen13

Fri, November 19th, 1999 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

So how would I improve Gen13? If Scott Lobdell is reading this, go no

further. The following is a bunch of character analysis and where I think

they should be versus where they are right now. There's probably also

going to be some plot ideas. So if you don't want any of that stuff, I'll see

you next week!

GEN13 AS DAWSON'S CREEK

The comparisons seem obvious to me, but

it's much more than just jumping on the latest

trend in television programming. I think it

would be possible to inject the kind of smart

soap opera feel into Gen13, while still

maintaining a sense of fun and adventure in

the book. At the heart of it all, though, is the

fact that you're dealing with a bunch of

teenagers. They might be college-level, but

close to the freshmen level. (Speaking of

which, their quick adventure at becoming

school kids again either should never have happened, or should have

been more permanent. Take your pick, but don't go all wishy-washy on

me. Even Claremont kept the mutants in Australia for a long time!)

My problems with Gen13 are that they were never completely

thought-out at the beginning, and in some cases have been completely

mishandled. Stuff seems to get thrown on as an afterthought, and the

shocking revelations haven't been that terribly shocking. Some great

potential storylines were dropped completely.

In the end, I think it's time to move away a little bit from the T&A and

find some new niche. The T&A ain't selling like it used to. Let's find

something else. Let's get everyone excited about the storylines.

Let's start by looking at where the characters should be about now:

Grunge starts to realize his situation is pathetic. He

tries to get serious, but nobody takes him seriously,

and he just keeps backsliding. Eventually, Roxy will

be the one to pull him out from this, but it will be

after some sort of shared experience or grief, or

realization that their situations are somewhat similar.

He does, really, have a good heart but it gets lost

behind his exterior Tough Guy image. This isn't to

say he's been faking this grunge crap all along. That

was really who he was, but I think he may be just

starting to mature at last. It'll take a long time to correct, though.

Roxy is the classic rebel, with a self-destructive soft spot for Grunge.

She's more of a street kid. She has issues with her mother, her

non-existent father, her newfound sister, and her immature boyfriend.

Basically, she's completely lost. She'll need Caitlin to help her pull out of

this. Things are complicated by Grunge's reliance on her to provide his

"anchor."

Rainmaker is secure in her lesbianism, but feels alone

sometimes. Maybe she needs to go out and explore

some relationship somewhere. She hasn't had a

lesbian lover. Since she's come out of the closet, the

only person she's bedded that I can remember is

Bobby. Hunh?!? There was one brief almost-fling in

the Arcudi/Frank era, but that's it. She might need to

reconcile the lesbianism with the practices of her

Indian tribe. That would involve a little research:

What tribe is she from? What are their beliefs? If

there hasn't been a specific tribe mentioned, then you

can make one up as best suits the story.

Caitlin Fairchild has been mishandled from the beginning. She's a former

Nerd-turned-Amazonian. She should dress more conservatively. She

shouldn't be wearing thongs and showing off her figure. She shouldn't

be used to that right away. Furthermore, her powers are in a bit of a

flux. She's moody and when she gets angry, she gets slightly larger, thus

accounting for all her torn clothes. She's also caught: She's put in a

position of leadership, since she's smart and powerful. But she's not

sure she likes this, especially given her problematic powers.

(Speaking of clothing, can someone explain Rogue for me? It seems

that since Claremont left, everyone forgot about what her powers are.

She used to wear a complete bodysuit, covering her from neck to

ankles and neck to wrists. Not a bare spot on her body, save her face.

Boots and gloves covered up the rest. Nowadays when I see her in

X-Men, she's the pin-up girls, wearing ludicrously short denim shorts,

running around in short skirts, baring her midriff in public, etc. I'm not

decrying her femininity here; I'm just saying that for someone who is so

afraid of accidental contact activating her mutant powers, she sure

doesn't protect against it anymore! Even Jim Lee in the early

adjectiveless X-Men issues had her wearing full-length skirts when she

was going out for a night on the town. You can be covered up and still

look sexy. Maybe it just takes too great an imagination. . . )

Bobby is a lost soul. Can't find a lasting relationship.

Keeps getting dumped on by the girls. He thinks he's

God's gift to women, but he isn't. He's a bit cocky

with his powers. A hot temper to match his hot

flame. Relationship with his father is just starting to

come together at last, but won't ever get firmly

cemented in. Just when he thinks all is straight again,

something blows up without fail. He reminds me a

little of Geordi LaForge from STAR TREK: THE

NEXT GENERATION. He's a nice guy, deep

down, who just doesn't have any luck at all with the women. Yes, part

of it is due to his ego. That needs to be taken down a notch or two, and

maybe a semi-permanent love interesting introduced to make him

question his "womanizing" ways. What happens when he's split between

the "girl of his dreams" and all the other choices that are out there

waiting for him?

Lynch needs the kids as much as they need him. They help him from

spiraling back into his dark and depressing world. They also give him a

sense of purpose. He wants to work out his relationship with his son,

but has never really had much time and stumbles from the start. He's got

a dual-personality: Taskmaster and father. The two don't necessarily

meld together too well. He needs to start adjusting to a more "fatherly"

role with all the students. This will be hard for him, and he'll mess up

every now and then and go into Professor X mode, but that's his story arc.

This is a lot of stuff to lay out and set up. It would also require the

die-hard readers to let go of some hang-ups and adjust their

perceptions of the team and the tone of the book. I'm not saying it

should all be about relationship stuff, although I wouldn't be averse to

having a complete issue with everyone sitting around a table talking. But

the heart and focus of the book should be those relationships. All the

fights and the action sequences should serve to strengthen the character

dynamics and definitions. Nothing should be done for fluff, or to make

an excuse to put the girls in lingerie.

I would suggest the first six issues focusing on one or two characters at

a time in the lead position. Have subplots going on at all times, but the

focus should be on one specific relationship or character. They take

turns, and occasionally blend into each other. By the end of the first

year, the kids realize they're changing and need each other, but may not

be ready to accept it. Somewhere along the way, we'd also need to get

some villains into these stories. =)

Those are just my ideas. I'm sure there are dozens of other takes on the

characters. Their strength lies in their characterization and to see that

hidden under fluff writing or super-hero glitz and gloss is painful and too

big a loss. Gen13 sales have been gliding downhill since J. Scott

Campbell left. He's obviously a big part of the book. Maybe he'd come

back to do covers. (Heck, he does covers for everyone else while

DANGER GIRL is running chronically late, so why not!?!) But the

book has strong characters that should be capable of garnering a larger

audience if given the chance. My theoretical proposal would do just

that.

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