Classic Comics Cavalcade: ‘Gen13/Fantastic Four’ Embraces The Potential Of The Crossover

by Tony Thornley

Crossovers are always a little bit of fun. Seeing characters who don’t normally interact mix and mingle is a little thrilling. Intercompany crossovers are something special for that reason. For the next month, I’m going to take a look at four very different intercompany crossovers, and we’re starting with an obscure but very fun entry in Gen13/Fantastic Four.

If you missed the late 1990’s, you might not have known that Gen13 was everywhere. While the WildCATs and The Authority were technically the flagship titles of the Wildstorm line, Gen13 was really the breakout title. It was the 90’s equivalent to what Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Men or the New Teen Titans were for their time. The core quintet- Fairchild, Burnout, Rainmaker, Grunge and Freefall- were 90’s kids who were just trying survive growing up as superhumans at the same time that they struggled with the same problems their peers had.

I’m sure to most, the Fantastic Four seems like a weird crossover fit then. At this point though, they had already met Spider-Man and had two different adventures with Generation X. The Fantastic Four were actually a much better fit that most would expect, as their adventures were often crazy sci-fi romps.

From Kevin Maguire, Karl Story, Myplan Animation, and Richard Starkings, Gen13/F4 kicks off with a simple trip to New York. Unfortunately, while the kids are out on the town, their interdimensional teleporting pet Qeelocke is undergoing an unexpected growth spurt. Meanwhile, Reed Richards has detected an interdimensional energy surge, and a kaiju sized creature heading towards New York. From there, worlds collide as Gen13 tries to help their friend while stopping him from causing the destruction of New York City.

This story is just a fun romp. It has the silly and over the top hijinks that Gen13 is known for, and mixes it really well with the Four’s scientific problem solving. Maguire writes the hell out of Ben and Johnny meeting the Gen13 kids, which is the majority of the story. They’re a great mash-up, and Johnny fits right in with Caitlin, Grunge and Roxy. If there’s any problem with the story, it’s that it could use more room- either additional pages or a second issue.

As far as the art, this one-shot proves that Maguire hasn’t done enough Fantastic Four. His trademark expressive characters draw us into the story, as Reed struggles with his discovery, and he and Sue investigate. He makes Gen13 sexy, without leaning too far into cheesecake or T&A, as too many artists did with them. Qeelocke and his counterpart are both terrifying monsters too, which makes the twist of their end goal land even better.

I had sort of forgotten how much I enjoy Gen13 before I found this in my longboxes this weekend. This one-shot is twenty years-old, but it feels relatable and timeless. It’s too bad that it’s unlikely to ever be collected, but it’s an easy story to find in back issue bins at your local comics shop.

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