After revisiting Divine Right I hopped into some Backlash, the badass, mutagen enhanced soldier turned Stormwatch combat instructor. Before receiving his own monthly series, The Lash was teamed up with fellow resident masked deadly smartass Grifter from WildCATS for miniseries The Kindred. You see both Backlash aka Marc Slayton and Grifter aka Cole Cash were part of Team 7, a covert ops action squad that were exposed to the Gen Factor, a crazy, pink, radioactive type dealy that gave them all powers. Backlash is able to turn into mist and utilizes psionic whips to take fools out or swing over stuff while Grifter got the short thrift as his powers of telekinesis waned but he ages slowly and heals fast. But he's a deadly sharpshooter and was trained by an alien warrior so it all works out. Exposure to the Gen Factor gave Team 7 powers but also made some of them mad and commit suicide. Tapping into "The Rush" accelerated the mental and physical deterioration.
Hitting stores in 1994, four part The Kindred follows former teammates turned bitter acquaintances Backlash and Grifter as they attempt to rescue their former leader John Lynch and his assistant Alicia Turner. They've been kidnapped by a villain called Bloodmoon and taken to Caballito island. Lynch and Turner are put on trial as we learn that Bloodmoon is actually Robert Diaz, a thought dead member of Team 7. Injured and left to die, Diaz washed up on Caballito island where he was taken in by The Kindred, human/animal hybrids resulting from secret experimentation done by Lynch's contemporaries at International Operations. Basically The Kindred are the results of an early version of the Gen Factor so it's Lynch's and I.O.'s fault times two. It's action and one liners galore as Backlash goes in with the troops, Grifter turns up, they're captured, they escape, they rescue their comrades and shocked to learn that Diaz is still alive. Grifter tries to help his former friend but after so much pain and the mental derangement of the Gen Factor, Diaz is hearing none of it. After lots of bloody battle and explosions, Grifter has the chance to save Diaz after a bridge collapses but Backlash can't hold up the two of them and forces Grifter to let go, essentially killing Diaz a second time. While Backlash and Grifter begrudgingly team up for the series, by the end Grifter is back to thinking that Lash is a self centered @$$hole only looking out for himself.
As if you didn't know, I love 90's comics. The supersized bodies, egos and action all make for some fun and intense reading. With a globe spanning security force, secret mission backstory, genetic experiments gone wrong, hostile buddy dynamic and exotic locales, you really got a lot of bang for your buck. Sure it's overblown with the action, one liners, muscles, hot babes and all but that's the point, it was the action decade! You get Grifter talking about someone suffering from lead poisoning after shooting them, quoting John McClane as he swings in shooting, scantily clad, uber buff men and shapely women and oh so many masks with exposed hair. The layered and intricate backstory adds history and heart to the goings on but never gets too confusing between I.O., Team 7 and whatnot. Jim Lee and Brandon Choi provide story details while Brett Booth gives it all a kinetic and violent edge with lots of destruction, physical dust ups, fire and more destruction. This is also the series that sees Backlash jump kicking a man-bear as the Island of Dr. Moreau influence is used to excellent effect. Next time we dig into Backlash's ongoing series!