So Why Was It Successful?:
ASS. Ass ass ass. And legs. Sometimes boobs. But mostly ass and legs. J. Scott Campbell was made an almost instant superstar, and the fact that the book reveled in T&A more than anything else in Image at the time was a big turn-on to an audience of horny teenage boys. This wasn’t like a Liefeld or Lee book, where there were 1-2 hot girls- this was 3 out of 5, and there was fanservice GALORE. Fairchild got her clothing ripped so much even she got in on the gags over how much it happened. Rainmaker drew attention for going “I’m a lesbian” for the sole purpose of just kissing girls out of nowhere, then started walking around the homebase nude one day. Grunge went to an island of amazons and was immediately dogpiled by naked anorexics.
This book basically came right out and said “there’s really no plot here. Stare at the bare skin, please”. That it had a sense of humor about itself didn’t hurt- most of Image was up its own ass with how serious, grim and gritty their books were, and Gen¹³ came off as FUN. That it was drek and poorly written didn’t matter, because at lease it was light and breezy. I remember laughing at some jokes back in the day (particularly the ones about fanservice). It’s not funny NOW, but to a teenage boy it was good, puerile fun.
The Book’s History:
The book had a good, solid run at first- it had a spin-off in DV8 – but when Campbell left to start Danger Girl after the 20th issue, it started to fade away. John Arcudi & Gary Frank had a much more realistic style, and Scott Lobdell, he who helped ruin the X-Men in the 1990s, jumped on to increase the humor once more, but again fans didn’t care. Adam “Fish Lips” Warren took over the book to more acclaim… but his “Doom Patrol Fandom” didn’t increase sales either.
In short, the book went from “Hot Shit” to just actual “Shit”, to the point where they BLEW UP THE ENTIRE CAST WITH A BOMB in a 2002 story finale, choosing instead of revamp it entirely, with Chris Claremont writing. However, after barely a year, even this book was cancelled (revealing that “LOL no the bomb wasn’t real and everyone is alive”)- Gen¹³ was more or less entirely dead. Gail Simone was put in charge of a reboot in 2006, with no continuity with the original series, and got new creators in 2008 until it was cancelled with the rest of the WildStorm line. The characters were then folded into the mainstream DC Universe following Flashpoint , with Fairchild popping up on The Ravagers .
So Why’d It Die?:
Well, as a “T&A Book” with literally nothing else going for it- characters so bland to call them one-dimensional was over-praising them- it was fueled entirely by having a hot artist using it as his first book. It’d be like continuing any other “Artist Piece” without the creator. There was just no point. That the book was known as a Fanservice title is the reason it had praise and sales in the first place, but it was unsustainable, and no amount of “Superstar Creator” hires could put the toothpaste back in the tube once Campbell had gone. The book still had some name value, but none of this translated into sales. So really, there was no point in keeping things going, if all it had was the name value of the first two years. Perhaps if it’d made the characters worth anything but gags and ass-jokes, it could have been a bigger deal, but hey- 16+ years isn’t a bad run for a titty-book.