Codename: Genetix #1-4
Issue(s): Codename: Genetix #1, Codename: Genetix #2, Codename: Genetix #3, Codename: Genetix #4
The first wave of Marvel UK titles, which came out last year, seemed like a bit much all at once. It turns out, though, that they were just the tip of the iceberg. Most of those Wave One (not an official phrase, and of course there were earlier books like the original Death's Head and the first volume of Knights of Pendragon) titles had good core concepts. But they never really delivered. Knights of Pendragon went through about five status quo changes trying to find something that would work. Motormouth and Killpower lost Gary Frank, a big part of the appeal of the book. Warheads was a great concept but the books were a total mess, and that's basically true for Dark Angel too, although to a lesser degree on both ends (i.e. a little less great an idea, and a little less of a disaster in practice). Death's Head II is the outlier in that it stayed true to a good concept, retained a relatively strong creative team (even after losing Liam Sharp), and (at least judging by the sudden ubiquity of the character) seemed relatively popular. Where i have seen sales numbers, the other books have been in the 25-50,000 copies range. I am sure these books were held to a different standard than in the US (where to call them cancellation numbers would be an understatement) but these books were distributed in the US with X-characters plastered all over the covers, and they were promoted in the Bullpen Bulletins. And the books all get cancelled pretty soon, which is a good indication that they weren't meeting expectations. But the potential was there, and there was clearly talent in the UK that could have delivered on it.
So you might think that the first order of business would be to regroup, get the house in order, and make the existing books as good as possible. Instead, the Marvel UK office pumped out even MORE books, to the point where the Wave One launch looked quaint and restrained. The difference, and i think this is key, is that most of the new books were mini-series. Just about everything was by some mix-and-match of the same creative teams. So it feels to me like the idea was to just throw a bunch of random stuff up against the wall with the hope that something might stick like Death's Head II did, and if most of it falls there's no messy cancellations to deal with.
This mini, for example, introduces a whole slew of new characters who fail to leave an impression. And the core concept has so much in common with previous Marvel UK books that i can't believe it took more than some quick notes on a lunch meeting napkin to come up with it. Basically we have more characters that are products of Mys-Tech who eventually learn that Mys-Tech is evil and rebel.
The Genetix teens were created by Dr. Oonagh Mullarkey, the same scientist that created Killpower. They are "genetically enhanced children", each with individual powers, that have been given "bio-armor" derived from the protosilicon tech that was used in the Digitek project. They were also given memory implants, and they're all connected with a symbiotic link.
We've actually seen their first known mission already, in the Killpower: The Early Years continuity insert (published after these issues). Their first mission in this series - although it's said to be their first mission, period - has them fighting a creature called Sporr.
The creature replicates itself when hit and the kids don't do a great job of containing it, so a team of Warheads (but not the characters from the Warheads series) are sent in to clean up afterwards.
I like all the Marvel UK continuity being used here, but of course that's sort of inevitable since literally every Marvel UK book so far has some connection with Mys-Tech (except, arguably, Death's Head II, if you don't count his participation in the Mys-Tech War crossover).
Wolverine gets involved because he's helping investigate the murder of some Canadian hunters with his good friend Lightfoot.
They get attacked by some werewolf-looking things.
Lightfoot is killed, and with the tragic loss of his longtime friend, Wolverine vows to get to the bottom of the monsters. It turns out that they are earlier creations of Mullarkey, who created them from the DNA of criminally insane prisoners. The way things are presented, i think maybe we're supposed to wonder if the Genetix kids are created from the mental patients before we learn that it was really the werewolves. But i can't say i devoted too much brainpower to wondering about anything in these issues. The monsters are called the Pride.
To follow the trail, Wolverine contacts Dark Angel, who has been dealing with Mys-Tech for a while and has connections with the X-Men. Some more nice cross-continuity. If nothing else, the series gives us that, even in the use of perpetual guest stars like Wolverine.
Wolverine tracks down the Mys-Tech base and gets into a fight with the Genetix.
But the arrival of the Pride causes them to join forces.
The Pride are led by a boss named Prime Evil, who goes after Mullarkey.
If you think Prime Evil is a goofy name, it turns out Mullarkey used to go by "Ms. Tieque".
Prime Evil is upset about how Mullarkey created him, so he kidnaps her and takes her to the Savage Land (which is very crowded around this time, thanks to visits in Captain America's book and Wolverine's solo series).
Wolverine and Genetix follow.
I haven't spent any time detailing the Genetix characters powers and "personalities" (such as they are). But the series did helpfully come with some back-up material, and you can click on the characters names to read their descriptions. For the most part, Shift pulls weapons out of portals to other dimensions (sort of like Devil-Slayer?) and he's a loose canon. Ridge has arm barbs and gets into physical combat, and he seems to get possessed and go into uncontrollable rages. The rest just seem to float around and use energy powers and don't make much of an impact. Stinger is the lady that felt she had to one-up Psylocke by adding high heeled shoes to her pointless leg bands.
Wolverine is captured and Mullarkey is forced to perform experiments with his genetic material that create a new race of Dino-Men for Prime Evil. Mullarkey secretly works to help Wolverine, and makes sure that the Dino-Men are unstable, and they soon fall apart.
In the meantime, since Genetix are without a guest star chaperone, Ka-Zar and Zabu show up to help out.
During the dinosaur fighting, Shift's collar falls off. The collars are supposed to keep their powers from going Haywire, but the characters now realize that isn't true, and in fact it just makes their powers stronger. They start to wonder what other lies they've been told.
The combined heroes manage to defeat Prime Evil, but for the final fight they wind up portalling back to the Mys-Tech base. The subsequent explosion attracts the ire of Mys-Tech exec Ormond Wychwood, but since Genetix were being developed as his personal bodyguards, he agrees to keep Mullarkey's failure quiet.
After they learn that they've been kept in control with memory implants, Wolverine offers to bring Genetix back to Xavier's institute, but they want to stay on their own and focus on making the "bitch" pay.
Prime Evil is shown to still be alive in the Savage Land at the end of the series, for what it's worth. The Genetix characters will continue to appear in other minis, including Death Metal vs. Genetix and another Genetix series (no "Codename:"), which is part of a Gene Pool event. Both are published towards the end of 1993.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: When talking to Dark Angel, Wolverine says that he got the name Oonagh Mullarkey from Alpha Flight. But we don't know who in Alpha Flight he might have talked to, so i haven't listed anyone.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBase, Dark Angel, Ka-Zar, Oonagh Mullarkey, Ormond Wychwood, Ridge, Shift, Sporr, Stinger (Genetix), Vesper, Wolverine, Zabu
Very 90s Rob Liefeld-lookalike art, especially in that last scan.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | September 12, 2016 8:01 PM
Sporr appears again in the Genetix series, so he should be listed as a Character Appearing.
Posted by: Michael | September 12, 2016 10:11 PM
Very weak art, but it at least has functional storytelling, which had become a rare commodity at this time period.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 13, 2016 1:45 AM
Added Sporr. Thanks Michael.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 13, 2016 8:42 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|