Warren Does It Again - Areala
Adam Warren is not the only person on the face of the planet who can take an utterly absurd idea and turn it into something that is actually enjoyable and laugh-out-loud funny, but he is certainly one of the best at his job and clearly loves his work. In this case, his work was taking the characters from Gen13 and inserting them into a no-holds-barred, poorly-dubbed, action-overloaded, violence-laden, hyphenated-description-requiring chop-socky martial arts film while still telling a coherent story and including nearly every other Image-owned character as a cameo in some form or another. Yes, I'd have to question his sanity as well if I was his editor and he'd just pitched the story to me.
But then I'd remember that I'm not dealing with any mere writer/artist here...I'm dealing with Adam Warren. And that means no matter how whacked out the concept sounds when it's being pitched, it will turn out just fine at the end.
It's no surprise that Warren landed the gig of writing Gen13's final issues, as he was one of only a handful of people outside of Jeff Scott Campbell, Brandon Choi and Jim Lee who truly understood the way the minds of the characters worked and the logic of the world they inhabited. And nowhere is this more evident than his work on "Grunge: The Movie."
The relationship between Grunge and Roxy works so well as the catalyst to the start of this story that Warren almost doesn't have to work at all. The set-up is there for all to see: Boyfriend drags semi-interested girlfriend to movie marathon of Hong Kong martial arts action flicks at the mall. Boyfriend gets the idea that he could make movies just like the famous directors showcased. Girlfriend expresses disbelief and then dismay as boyfriend attempts to show her exactly how he would act and direct such a film. Hilarity, as they say, ensues.
The reason the story works in the first place is because of Grunge, pure and simple. This wouldn't even make sense with any of the other Gen13 characters in the director's chair so to speak. But, as noted above, Grunge is only half of the storybook talent. The other half is made up by my favorite Gen13 girl, as Roxy proves herself to be a more-than-adequate spoiler for Grunge's disturbed and mangled plot.
It's impossible to be certain, but it seems like Roxy herself takes a perverse kind of pleasure in watching Grunge worm his way into a corner, and then come up with a way to worm out of it again. Clearly without her input from time to time as they walk the mall, Grunge wouldn't have done half the "work" necessary to make up this would-be movie, and thus Roxy bears a good portion of the blame for egging Grunge on. Great characterization for them both here.
As far as everyone else goes, two of the Gen13 characters really get the shaft: Rainmaker winds up getting wasted off-camera in the opening scenes of the story, and Burnout suffers the same fate, getting only the obligatory "avenge me, bro..." monologue before kicking the bucket due to a medical condition known as "being impaled with far too many sharp, pointy things". Fairchild gets cast in the role of a female warrior, much to Roxy's annoyance (since she's been cast in the sidekick role of "Kiddo"), but halfway through the story she winds up relegated mostly to "fan service" with Roxy as the pair parade around in their underwear while firing guns. John Lynch himself is cast as the Big Boss, a role that Warren allows the normally stolid Lynch to play with gusto and a healthy dose of extremely wonky English subtitles.
The rest of the book is stuffed to the brim with cameos from all over the Image and Wildstorm lineup: DV8, WildC.A.T.S., Grifter and plenty of others line themselves up to get cut down by Grunge and Company in one over-the-top action sequence after another while Grunge pays homage to (read as: rips off) Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, The Bad Lieutenant, Jan de Bont, and every other seminal "cool" action film of the late 90s while finding time to rip on Leonardo DiCaprio, MTV, Ben Folds Five, and people who can't properly pronounce Tsui Hark's name.
Had this comic been made ten years later, everyone would have accused Warren of ripping off "Kill Bill" as the American-made homage to kung-fu movies. As it is, one almost has to wonder if Tarantino didn't find himself writing some of his four-hour epic after picking up a copy of "Grunge: The Movie" and confusing it with the storyboards for his film.
The bottom line is simply that Warren, once again, delivers a tale that is meant to make you laugh until your sides hurt, and if you happen to be into kung-fu movies, anime, martial arts, or any of the afore-mentioned action films you will be in for an extra treat.
You'll also never look at Hot Wheels track the same way again. But that's between you and your therapist.