John Lynch travelling across America to warn the subjects of genetic experiments performed on them while he was director of International Operation. That was the general gist of the solicitations for the issues collected in these volumes. Anyone familiar with the Wildstorm Universe who read them, however, could easily see that this was going to be how Warren Ellis integrated “Gen 13” into “The Wild Storm.” Except… it really isn’t. The first five issues follow Lynch as he visits these survivors only to find out that they’ve changed. Mostly for the bad -- like, serial killer levels of bad for some of them here. It’s all very stylish and creepy thanks to Jon Davis-Hunt’s detailed art and even though these encounters all follow a basic formula all of them play out quite differently from each other. I thought that all this wound up being entertaining on its own terms, though anyone actually expecting to see the “Gen 13” kids, let alone see them in action, may come away disappointed.
The biggest surprise about this volume for me was that Lynch’s cross-country trip wasn’t its sole focus. I was expecting Ellis to spend an issue on each visit, but he devotes roughly half of each to the old man’s exploits. The rest of each issue is spent on keeping the title’s various plot threads ticking over in the meantime. So you get to see the formerly cold war between IO and Skywatch turn hot, the Daemonites and the Kherans pull even more strings behind the scenes, what Jack Hawksmoor is and what happens when he meets Jenny Sparks and Li-Min Shen, and whose side Angela Spica eventually joins. There’s even a fun cameo from two of Wildstorm’s most famous characters that should make it abundantly clear (if it wasn’t already) that the end goal for the series involves The Authority. Vol. 3 has a lot of interesting stuff happening alongside the setup and it gives me the feeling that vol. 4 is going to offer a very satisfying payoff for it all when it arrives in a few months.