Written by Scott Lobdell
We start a new chapter in the unexplored and obscure second Wildstorm universe! The Titans and Superboy are teenagers manipulated by big corporations into becoming super beings, but they manage to escape and be heroes in their own right. Sounds familiar? If this origin story reminds you of Gen13, it’s not coincidental, and it’s no surprise many Gen13 characters appear.
The story is based around Harvest, a man from the 30th century. In his future, metahumans had declared war on normal humans and killed most of them, including Harvest’s son. Superman and Lois Lane had had a child called Jor, so Harvest travels to the past and kidnaps the kid, raising him as his own. He teaches this kid to hate all other metahumans so that Jor would help his cause, but eventually a genetic incompatibility between his human and kryptonian genes causes the kid to die. Harvest is overcome by grief after losing both of his sons, so he keeps travelling back in time to find a cure; but he keeps failing and eventually his chronal energy runs out. Now he’s stranded in our present time; If he is to stop the superhumans he needs to do it there, or nowhere at all. He creates the organization N.O.W.H.E.R.E. to continue his efforts to prevent the meta infestation. He can witness the first generation of metas now; he plans to use their own children to kill them. He begins attempting to recreate his son Jor; in this time he can have access to Superman’s and Lois Lane’s genes. The cloning project is called project Superboy.
Harvest sees himself as a hero; he might be harming thousands of teenagers, but it is for the safety of millions. He works for five years in kidnapping all the teenager superheroes he can find, but he needs a place where he can train his young army for his son when he’s able to lead them. He throws the kidnapped kids into The Colony, a huge underground complex under Antarctica where he leaves the younglings alone to survive. The place is filled with volcanic rock, lava and minimum food; it’s a ghetto of despair in which the dozens of teenagers are forced to fight to survive. It’s a place where he will be able to harvest the young warriors he’ll use to build a better future. Every year there is a Culling — a process of thinning the herd. He selects the best inhabitants of the Colony and sends them to The Crucible, a high-tech arena in which everyone must participate in a battle royal where it’s “kill or be killed.” The survivors go on to serve Harvest as his Ravagers.
N.O.W.H.E.R.E. not only kidnaps heroes, it also creates them. Harvest facilitates the creation of the Teen Titans through manipulation and summons the Legion of Superheroes from the future. Meanwhile, project Superboy keeps on growing until he’s a teenager; he’s kept in controlled environments for the entirety of his upbringing, surrounded by scientists and hardly experiencing any affection. The only person who seems to be on his side is a friendly redhead scientist, none other than an adult Caitlin Fairchild.
Wait, hadn’t she died in “Team 7”? As we’ll find out in the pages of “Ravagers”, she’s been cloned time and time again, brought back to life every time she dies. They aren’t exact clones, though, since they added in powers: now she can switch between her normal body and a huge body with super-strength and resistance, even though every time she powers up she risks losing control, and she can’t keep it up for long. It’s like she can only be the Caitlin from the old universe temporarily. She’s very different to the old Cait; she’s an adult and a legit doctor now.
Caitlin infiltrated the organization because she heard about the kidnapped teenagers, so she wants to save them. Also, she holds no memories of her past after being cloned, so she hopes she might find something about her own origins.
However, Superboy has no clue about all these agendas, so he’s never sure if he can trust anyone. He’s sent into a field mission before he’s properly prepared, so he barely survives. When he makes it back to N.O.W.H.E.R.E. he’s pissed off. He takes it out with Caitlin, starting to fight her and forcing her to reveal her super-strength. This blows her cover, so N.O.W.H.E.R.E. takes her away, and Superboy doesn’t even understand if he’s done the right thing. However, he can’t forget about Caitlin’s kindness, so he hijacks the truck transporting her outside the installation and hands her to Detective Jocelyn Lure. Jocelyn takes Caitlin to a good hospital outside of N.O.W.H.E.R.E.’s reach.
Meanwhile, the Teen Titans start forming when Red Robin finds out the kidnapped teenage heroes, so he decides to get to them before the corporation. Little do they know, they’re playing straight into Harvest’s hand, becoming proper heroes for his Culling.
It’s worth noting Teen Titans is drawn by Brett Booth, Wildstorm regular.
Next: We go over the entire Culling crossover, which includes Superboy Vol.6 issues 7 – 9, Teen Titans Vol.4 issues 7 – 9 and Annual 1, and Legion Lost Vol.2 issues 8 – 9, written by Scott Lobdell and Tom Defalco.