Miles Craven of International Operations, an American intelligence agency, wanted his own SPB program (super-powered beings), so he re-activated an old Cold War project, the Genesis Project, for its 13th generation with a focus on the progeny of Gen-12. These teenagers were invited on the auspices of a government internship, offering specialized experience and substantial college scholarship. They were trained like a ROTC program and secretly dosed with a chemical activator that would make them “gen-active.” Once they started developing superpowers and became suspicious of their role at the training facility, the teenagers escaped with the help of John Lynch, an IO agent and friend of their parents.
Together, they decided to stick together, with Lynch training them so they can put their powers to good use.
Gen 13 was created in 1994 by writers Jim Lee and Brandon Choi and artist J. Scott Campbell. Their intention was to create a younger team that was "less angry" and "less bloodthirsty" than other superhero teams that were popular at the time.
Visually the team is heavily inspired by Jim Lee. However, J. Scott Campbell gave the team a younger, manga-inspired look that proved popular.
Originally the comic was entitled Gen X, but Marvel objected due to the similarity to its popular X-men series and its upcoming title Generation X. The creators decided to change the title to Gen 13.
The team roster remained the same throughout the first continuing series: (Caitlin Fairchild, Roxy Spaulding / Freefall, Edmung Chang / Grunge, Sarah Rainmaker, and Bobby Lane / Burnout).
In an alternate universe, Caitlin Fairchild led a different group of super-powered teens: Janelle Moorhead, Gwendolyne Matsura, Hamza Mansour Al-Rashad, and Ethan York.
In the Wildstorm reboot, the members of the original Gen 13 team were again brought together by and escaped from a shadowy government agency.
Freefall and Rainmaker leave on the Carrier with the Authority, and Grunge joins up with the Wildcats. Fairchild and Burnout merge with Gen 14: Breakdown, Ditto, Runt, Hardbody, and Windsprint.
Major Story Arcs
Gen 13’s first adventure together was to run off to Africa against the wishes of their mentor, Lynch. Caitlin found a damaged dogtag in Lynch’s records that could belong to one of their parents. It was found by an expedition funded by a rich older woman, Caroline MacArthur. After getting directions from Caroline, Gen 13 headed to Africa where they got separated during a crash. Grunge and Rainmaker were taken hostage by a splinter group of Amazons called the Coda. Freefall and Burnout were picked up by some pirates, whose captain’s daughter was taken by the Coda, and Caitlin washed up on shore, alone, but close to the shipwrecked son of Caroline, James.
Thinking her entire team was taken by the Coda, James led Caitlin to their hidden city and snuck in together. They found Grunge, who was being prepared for a human sacrifice. Caitlin was about to act, when the pirates broke down the door with Burnout and Freefall in tow. She used their distraction to free Grunge and Rainmaker and join the pirates in the fight. After saving the Coda leader from a vicious pirate, Rainmaker earned a favor. She used it to free the captain’s daughter and end the feud right there.
Free from the Coda and the pirates, Gen 13 was free to go home. With James’ help, they made it to Rome, where a contact of James would take care of the team. He fed them, got them new clothes, and found them a place to stay. Unfortunately, when Bobby let off some steam using his powers, they got the attention of the Vatican City SPB team, The Centurions, as well as I.O. gen-active, Bliss, who was looking for Bobby specifically. Bliss would team up with Bobby and Rainmaker when Caitlin, Roxy, and Grunge were taken prisoner by The Centurions. Once free, Caitlin used a computer to look at The Centurions and use the intel she found as leverage for a ride home.
Running From I.O.
When the world was put into danger by a villain named Damocles, all the SPBs were called into action including Gen 13. During this crossover, Caitlin would reunite with her father, Alex, and the team would cross paths with their I.O. replacements, The Deviants. Together, Alex and Lynch, revealed to be Bobby’s father, would prepare them for the challenges ahead, from facing off against Ivana Baiul and her new gen-actives to going back to school.
It wasn’t long before The Keepers of the I.O. attacked their new home, blowing it and Anna, their robot housekeeper, with it. Lynch decides to head to New York so the team can break into I.O.’s main data hub in the Flatiron Building and wipe it of Project: Genesis. Unfortunately, I.O.’s security infrastructure in the city was highly advanced and staying stealthy was difficult. Ultimately, they could not get their hands on the info they needed, but they did convince Ivana to get more aggressive in ending them.
After Ivana posted Lynch’s face all over the news, the team had to head to Florida to lay low. The tension was getting to them though. Lynch and Alex came to blows over how to proceed against I.O., while Roxy and Sarah decide to split. They tried hiding with Roxy’s mom, who revealed that Caitlin was actually Roxy’s half-sister, but I.O. saw this as an opportunity to attack. Roxy and Sarah were scared into re-joining Gen13, however, Lynch took off after his disagreement with Alex.
Death and the Broken Promise
I.O. made their move when the team was attacked by The Coda looking for Alex. Alex had pledged himself to Cordelia, leader of The Coda, in exchange for helping him escape I.O. in the first place. By swooping in after The Coda attack, the new leader of the I.O., Professor Tindalos, tried to pass himself off as their savior. He invites them back to his lab where he is able to mend Alex completely. The team mistakes his hospitality for trustworthiness at first, but his constant advances on Caitlin, of whom he is obsessed with, lead them to believe otherwise.
Worried about Tindalos’ power hungry madness, his main enforcer turned on him. He informs Alex that Tindalos intends to destroy this world looking for another and that he is hunting gen-actives using Alex’s old friend, Isaiah. By manipulating his enslaved friend, Alex is able to turn Tindalos’ cyborg drones against him briefly before Tindalos’ failsafe blows Isaiah up, injuring Alex in the process.
Gen13 makes a break for it, but Tindalos quickly catches up with them. Even the sudden appearance of Lynch, who was tipped off by Sigma, having already escaped Tindalos, could not help them overpower Tindalos. It took Alex, severely injured, missing an arm, and letting loose the full force of his powers to take down Tindalos. Unfortunately, it meant Alex’s death as well.
Thanks to Max Faraday taking out I.O., Gen-13 no longer needs to hide. They head back to New York City to start living their lives the way they see fit, but their mentor turns out to be the villainous Tao in disguise. In exchange for helping them find Lynch, Gen-13 take up a new job with Science Ninja Squad, tasked with cleaning up various projects and agents now abandoned by the defunct I.O.
Dr. Sun is one of those agents. He has been trafficking top secret experiments on the Asian black market for profit and petty vengeance. They believe he is responsible for freeing a pregnant kaiju previously in I.O.’s possession. After finding it a more appropriate place to nest than downtown Tokyo, the team is forced to contend with monsters of a different size. Dr. Sun also released a number of violent “hokemutants” (pokemon knock-offs), one of which had killed an entire school. Gen-13 was able to round them up so Grunge could absorb them, thanks to power upgrades from the Science Ninja Squad.
Before he could release any other experiments, Dr. Sun was tracked to Hong Kong. Gen-13 set up a sting to arrest him, but they were not given important details. Dr. Sun was a cyborg with an array of powers and easily overpowered them at first. He was well equipped to neutralize each of their powers, but he was no match for Grunge’s martial arts. Grunge gave their contact at the Science Ninja Squad the opportunity to get close and turn him off.
Once Dr. Sun had been captured, their contact shared with them a video message from Lynch informing the team that he was deep undercover and not to go looking for him. They leave the service of the Science Ninja Squad with their new gear and transportation as a parting gift.
As a fluke, the Gen-13 gang happened to check in on the smoldering hole that used to be their California safehouse only to find it completely repaired. Upon investigation, they found their robot maid, Anna, had rebuilt herself and the home while the team had been on the run. Excited to leave the bitter New York winter behind them, the team set up shop back in sunny SoCal.
So excited they hesitated to ask why a reconstructed I.O. safehouse wasn’t targeted by I.O. splinter groups that are now independent. Anna had been killing any of them that got close, however, she wasn’t prepared for his “sister” droids to show up to scrub the safehouse. They burn the house back down and make off with Anna’s body. Gen-13 used every I.O. and gen-active contact they had to get any info on the battledroids.
The team was lured by the droids to an abandoned I.O. facility where they were used to fuel a Gen-factor bomb that unleashed a blast of raw extra-dimensional energy, with the side effect of releasing their powers as disembodied patterns of Gen-factor resonance which grew in power devastating Southern California and threatening the entire universe. Gen 13's allies, The Mongolian Barbecue Horde, discover that the environmental anomalies have been caused by the manifestation of Gen 13's powers and use an I.O. Gen-factor Extra-dimensional Energy Transmission Nullifer to nullify their energy patterns. In the process, Fairchild is translated into a living reality distortion (or "Gen-upload": the process by which human personality is encoded into a Gen-factor) and becomes in essence, a god.
Worldstorm - Reboot
After the events of Captain Atom: Armageddon, the series went through a soft reboot. The team's origins were all retold, updated, and modernized-- losing some of the tell tale 90's aspects that had been aging badly as time went on. They were all created by a corporation called Tabula Rasa (an I.O. government subcontractor), under the leadership and sadistic genius of Dr. Cross. They are the 13th generation of artificially engineered and enhanced beings created for the private use of Tabula Rasa's anonymous and incredibly wealthy clients. This is revealed to the group when they are forcibly taken from their families-- who are really just Tabula Rasa employees. The teens however escape the clutches of Dr. Cross and Tabula Rasa.
After escaping from I.O. through one of their own teleporters, the Gen 13 kids find themselves flung into Wildstorm's future where a great disaster has befallen the Earth. Disoriented and confused by this new development, the kids set out to discover what happened and how they will survive in this harsh new world.
An animated movie was produced by Disney in 1998, following the events of the firs comic arc. It featured such voices as Academy Award winner Cloris Leachman, Star Wars' Mark Hamil, and rockstar Flea. Around this time, Wildstorm's sales started to slip, and owner Jim Lee contemplated putting it on the market, specifically DC. Because DC was owned by Time Warner, a competitor of Disney, Disney decided to shelve the finished product.
It received a limited video release in Europe and Australia and was first screened at Wizard World Chicago 1998.