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I Love Ya But You’re Strange – That Time Gen13 Met Betty, Veronica, Archie, Katchoo, Shi, Wolverine, Hellboy, Madman…

by  in Comic News Comment

Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

Today we look at 1996’s Gen13 #13 (which was split into three comics, an A, a B and a C) which sends Grunge on a magical journey through the land of Sequential Art as he learns a moral about the dangers of a speculation comic book market.

First off, Gen13 #1 had thirteen different covers just a year or so earlier, so they certainly are not trying to say that they were not part of the problem. That said, we can’t begrudge writers Brandon Choi, Jim Lee and J. Scott Campbell for accepting that they were part of the problem and make their commentary about the dangers of a speculation-driven comic book market.

The book opens with the Gen13 kids visiting a comic book store where Grunge is obsessed with a “rare” “chromium” comic book cover that sells for $79.95! At one point, his teammate Fairchild points out all the cool alternative comic books Grunge could buy and he laughs at her, he just wants that Chromium comic, dammit!

Well, after having a bad hamburger, Grunge goes to the bathroom where he meets a mysterious stranger who offers him the Chromium comic in exchange for his SOUL! Grunge quickly accepts, and thus, the story kicks in…


When he awakes, he meets his guide, a Tinkerbell version of his friend Roxy (who is romantically interested in Grunge but he seems to be oblivious to it).

First off, Grunge meets the kids from Riverdale, in what I think was J. Scott Campbell’s best series of pages, which is why I’m including them all (Alex Garner inked Campbell on the issue)…





On his journey through the land of S.A. (Sequential Art) on his way to help the Wizard (who, oddly enough, I don’t think actually represents anyone in particular) defeat the Frenzy Beast (representing a collector-driven market as opposed to a “just enjoying comic books” market), Grunge meets a number of allies, including Fone Bone (who warns Grunge that he just ate some Beanworld folks)…



Here, the writers take a bit of a shot at Rob Liefeld, whose Extreme Studios had just left Image recently…


Then the “bad girls” that Archie was worrying about attack. Lady Death, Witchblade and I think Avengelyne represent the said “bad girls,” while Shi and Francine and Katchoo show up to save Grunge…


(Other guest stars from independent comic books that I didn’t show were Hellboy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Savage Dragon, Spawn, Madman, Monkeyman and O’Brien, Jungle Princess and The Maxx. Oh, and Tony Robbins also shows up, because, well, why not?)

The Frenzy Beast then creates some zombies (“Marvel zombies,” I presume) to stop Grunge but a big guest star shows up to save him (the amulet was given to Grunge earlier in the story by “Leegor,” Jim Lee mixed with Igor, who mentions that it helped him in one of his old gigs…


And finally, Grunge has to decide whether collecting a “super-rare” chromium cover is worth the destructive effects of a speculative market (which were being felt dramatically in the world of comics back in 1996)…


Grunge wakes up from his dream and has a new attitude towards comic books and, of course, of Roxy, who he kisses, giving the book a happy ending.