Throwback Comic Review: “Gen 13: A Christmas Caper” (Wildstorm, Jolly Jinglings Special)
Welcome back to Jolly Jinglings, The Splintering’s month-long celebration of all pipers piping and ladies dancing.
Today we’re going to take a look at Gen 13: A Christmas Caper, published by Wildstorm in 2000.
Written and penciled by Tom McWeeney and featuring inks by Richard Friend and colors by Jeromy Cox, Gen 13: A Christmas Caper is a 48-page one-shot story starring the Gen 13 superhero team. I don’t know much about the Gen 13 series other than Fairchild being smoking hot. In this flashback-style story, however, the team members are all portrayed elementary school age, so there’s no sexy Fairchild to be seen here… unless you’re a sicko.
Despite its double-sized page count, A Christmas Caper is a fairly simple story. The superpowered team of Rainmaker, Grunge, Freefall, Burnout, and Fairchild as well as their nanny/caretaker Miss Helga are eagerly awaiting Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve. However, Grunge has secretly calculated Santa’s precise arrival time, and he has a plan to hide near the team’s Christmas tree and catch him on video.
However, Grunge isn’t the only one concocting a Christmas scheme. Notorious villain the Baron and his partner in evil Contessa have a plan to use the Gen 13 team as bait to kidnap Saint Nick himself. The Baron’s goal? To finally get his hands on Santa’s “naughty” and “nice” lists, and essentially swap the names so that toys are delivered to all of the bad children, and lumps of coal to all of the good ones. In the mind of the Baron, this will throw Christmas completely out of balance, and ultimately destroy it in the hearts and minds of kids around the world. And with that – vengeance!
Without going into too much detail, the confrontation naturally concludes with a massive, enjoyable fight scene, though not every character gets the same opportunity to shine.
Even with the lack of sexy superheroines, McWeeney’s and Friend’s art is still very good, with exaggerated, almost “chibi” style characters that add a lot of energy to the book. The colors are very rich and a perfect match for the tone of the story, as well.
The entire book oozes with “Christmas spirit.” In addition to the festive artwork, the story is bookended with narration taken from Clement Clarke Moore’s poem, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and the book offers a satisfying, and genuinely heartwarming finale. Even as an adult reader, the kid versions of Gen 13 make a fun, lighthearted superhero team, and the fact that they are portrayed so young makes complete sense in the context of the story. There aren’t even any ads injected into the book to distract you as you read.
While I’ve never considered myself to be a fan of the Gen 13 series, A Christmas Caper may very well be my second-favorite Christmas superhero book (behind Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special), and this one is far more family friendly, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. If you are looking for a fun, all-ages superhero book awash with holiday spirit, I highly recommend Gen 13: A Christmas Caper. You won’t find any choice illustrations of Fairchild to stuff under your mattress, but you’ll probably have a good time.
Thanks for reading!
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