We’ve looked at unofficial crossover before here in Retro Review corner, such as the Aquaman story that concluded in an issue of Sub-Mariner, and the wild and wacky battle between (for some values of between) The Invaders and The Freedom Fighters.

But this sort of thing didn’t only happen in the wild and wacky 70s, as we’re about to find out…  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of DNAgents #14 awaits!

DNAgents14CoverDNAGENTS #14
Writer: Mark Evanier
Penciler: Will Meugniot
Inker: Willie Blyberg
Colorist: Jo Meugniot
Letterer: Carrie McCarthy
Editor: Mark Evanier
Publisher: Eclipse Comics
Cover Price: $1.50
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $2.00

Previously in DNAgents: Genetically-engineered superhumans created by the Matrix Corporation, The DNAgents may dress like superheroes, but they’re really just confused young people. Rainbow, the telepath, was the first to try to find out about normal humans, even striking up a romance with private investigator Jay Endicott, known as Crossfire.  Naive Tank is superhumanly strong, so much so that he wears special armor to regulate his power.  Amber, the outgoing and curious energy-projector, could use her electromagnetic powers to fly, as well as repelling things with energy-type shields.  Insecure Sham, whose shape-shifting power made him least useful in combat, but may have been the most powerful DNAgent of all.  At the time this issue begins, the team’s de facto leader, the headstrong young Surge, had struck out on his own (an adventure chronicled in his own four-issue limited series), leaving the team somewhat rudderless.  Worse still, strange things are afoot at Matrix…

DNAgents141
Something gross and slimy is hiding in the basement…

…but that’s just Hotchkiss.  *rimshot*  The bit about bubbling strangeness in the DNA dumping pool doesn’t get followed up in these pages (subplot for a later ish) but what we do find out is some important back story involving a group of super-troubleshooters known as Project: Youngblood, who were called in to steal important bits of Matrix Research back from a rival lab during the DNAgents’ development process.  Now, that process has resumed, and while Hotchkiss prepares to try to recapture what he considers Matrix Property, his former business rival Krell is trying to press the DNAgents into service to take the entire company down.

DNAgents142

Yes, that is complex.  That’s kind of a given with any Mark Evanier joint, you will have a lot of twists and turns, so you’ll need to pay attention and hang on.  F’rinstance, remember what I said about Surge’s solo adventures?  Those included a bit of property damage, which Hotchkiss is able to use to back up a lie to the members of Project: Youngblood, whom we also mentioned earlier.  The five members of that team might seem a bit familiar…

DNAgents143

Led by the Black Owl, nightwing-ed former sidekick to the hero Owlman, Project: Youngblood counts among its members the wonder-ful Amazing Girl, cyborg hero Roboto, the alien star-firing heroine Celestia and Heartstring who…

There just aren’t any decent puns for Jericho, dangit!  Yes, folks, they’re analogues of most of the then-current lineup of the Teen Titans, which is why this whole thing started with a discussion of crossover madness.  The P:Y Team sets off to find the DNAgents, unaware that said team is starting to fall apart at the seams, thanks to the wear and tear of superhuman activities on their young, innocent souls…

DNAgents144

Rainbow’s angst is partly driven by a (possibly psychosomatic) loss of her psychic powers, the thing that she thinks makes her useful to her brothers and sisters in genetic frippery.  Our heroes make their way to the Matrix Lab, triggering enough alarms that Project: Youngblood is alerted…

DNAgents145

Meanwhile, the DNAgents are repelled by Matrix Security, and are forced to refuel on the Las Vegas strip (like I said, it gets complicated) leaving themselves open to attack…

DNAgents146

I love the fact that, rather than a lasso, Amazing-Girl uses bolas, while Roboto has massive, articulated robot feet to keep his massive steel body upright.  Granted, some of the details (like the strange star belt A-G has, and Black Owl’s helmet) aren’t quiet as sleek and superheroey as I might have hoped, they work because the DNAgents Universe is somewhat more realistic than the DCU.  All-out battle ensues, with DNAgents and Youngbloods going mano-a-mano, including some excellent strategy in the battle between Sham and Heartstring-who-is-totally-not-Jericho.

DNAgents147

Before anyone gets seriously hurt, though, Rainbow and Amazing-Girl realize that both teams are being manipulated for political reasons, leading to one of the cutest “heroes met and now realize they’re on the same side after all” moments in my comic-reading history…

DNAgents148

Seriously, it’s adorable, and this page shows off one of the greatest strengths of Will Meugniot as an artist: body language and expressions.  He’s not an artist who excels with weird superhero type uniforms, but tell me that Roboto and Tank don’t look like they’re having a hell of a good time in that panel.  Both teams agree that, whatever is going one, they’re likely to find the answers at the mysterious Matrix lab, so they proceed to break in.  Once there, Rainbow tries to telepathically discern the truth, only to find her power still on the fritz…

DNAgents149

It seems that the real problem is that the Regeneratum (which is not quite like unobtanium, but in the same ballpark) has caused the reactor that powers the station to go critical, and the remaining scientists have been desperately trying to find a way to shut it down…

DNAgents1410

The decision is made that the DNAgents will take the containment rod and shut down the reactor, in the hopes that their superhuman physiques will allow them to survive long enough to keep the entire Southwest from becoming a nuclear wasteland.

But the heroes of Project: Youngblood aren’t willing to let such unique creatures die without a fight.

DNAgents1411

Making the way to the core of the reactor, the titanic teens place the control rod, but are nonetheless consumed by the radioactive energies within, and are vaporized.  This leaves a very dejected DNAgent quartet to pick up the pieces of their broken hearts and other such clichés…

DNAgents1412

Though the story in this issue contains a lot of stuff that only makes sense in the context of the larger DNAgents storyline, it’s still a strong issue, and one that makes great use of the slightly familiar guest-heroes.  If you imagine Nightwing, Jericho, Wonder Girl, Cyborg and Starfire in place of the Project: Youngblood heroes, the story works even better, and it’s even more fun to remember that noted Teen Titans fan Rob Liefeld (the creator of the later Youngblood team) more than likely is aware of the existence of this meta-crossover storyline.  DNAgents #14 is a strange beastie, but it reads well even 30 years later, with quirky-but-effective art, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  Of course, the important thing to remember is: This is only HALF of the story!  For the other half, you gotta join us next time around…

Same Retro time, same Retro Channel!

We've looked at unofficial crossover before here in Retro Review corner, such as the Aquaman story that concluded in an issue of Sub-Mariner, and the wild and wacky battle between (for some values of between) The Invaders and The Freedom Fighters. But this sort of thing didn't only happen in the wild and wacky 70s, as we're about to find out...  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of DNAgents #14 awaits! DNAGENTS #14 Writer: Mark Evanier Penciler: Will Meugniot Inker: Willie Blyberg Colorist: Jo Meugniot Letterer: Carrie McCarthy Editor: Mark Evanier Publisher: Eclipse Comics Cover Price: $1.50 Current Near-Mint Pricing: $2.00…
Interesting character work, quirky designs, and familiar-seeming guest-heroes make for a memorable issue.

DNAGENTS #14

Writing
Art
Coloring

Interesting character work, quirky designs, and familiar-seeming guest-heroes make for a memorable issue.

User Rating: 1.65 ( 1 votes)
[signoff predefined=”PayPal Donation” icon=”icon-cog”][/signoff]

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

Previous post

[Sneak Peek] Book of Death: Legends of the Geomancer #2

Next post

[Sneak Peek] Mirror's Edge: Exordium #1

2 Comments

  1. Frank
    August 17, 2015 at 8:11 am — Reply

    Back in the day, I picked up a lot of Eclipse comics. Quality wise, they were on par with the Big Two. It’s too bad the company imploded in the 90’s. They had a number of great titles.

  2. August 18, 2015 at 5:44 am — Reply

    I dunno… I read a few of the DNAgents comics in German translation… I do not like them very much. And so did the German audience. The publication was cancelled after only half of the issues… so this particular issue wasn’t released in Germany. I still have to check for the Teen Titans book though. But I’m not too optimistic about it.

    Fun fact: In Germany the DNAgents were called “Die unschlagbaren Fünf” = “The Unbeatable Five”! Cheesy name, maybe it is the reason for the limited popularity with the German readers ;)

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section