Gold Digger v2 #9-12 (1994)
By Fred Perry
After the big Ninja High School crossover, Fred Perry sensibly returns to some single issue stories to give incoming readers a taste of the overall Gold Digger universe. In issue #9, Gina returns to Shangri-La to break up with her boyfriend (who, as a largely sedentary character, can't really be worked into the series all that easily). In issue #10, the Diggers explore some caverns under El Dorado and discover some unexpected tenants. In issue #11 the daemon mouse from the first story arc returns to bedevil them, and in issue #12 they travel to the Antarctic to explore a crashed alien spaceship.
Even though these issues are stand-alone stories, there are some interesting things going on here. The cosmology of Shangri-La, explored in issue #9, turns out to be vitally connected to some recent storylines. Issue #10 introduces the concept that the Kryn and Atlanteans are actually aliens, which will lead to many of the big events over the next several years of Gold Digger. Issue #11 introduces Seance, Dr. Diggers's apprentice, who will be Gina's on-again off-again love interest for a few years. Issue #12 re-introduces the werewolf/werecheetah conflict that's going to play a big role in the series over the next year or so. There's also an attempt to tie the series more closely to the Ninja High School universe - the Rat Exterminators show up in issue #11, and Dog Supreme is the primary antagonist of issue #12.
If there's anything wrong with these stories, it's Fred's tendency to resolve everything with a quick ending. The robots in issue #10 just kind of blow up, the daemon mouse is dispatched of in two panels, and Dog Supreme bails at the first sign of trouble. Only issue #9 comes off as well-plotted, even though a huge fight scene is resolved with a quick toss of a pudding cup, because a few more pages are spent tying up the emotional aspects of the story. Again, though, this isn't Shakespeare. Fred keeps the plot moving and the dumb jokes flying, and that's really all you need.
Not much to talk about art-wise - from the crossover on, the art is pretty stable for a few years. Here's a representative page from issue #11...
There are some things I really like about this page. First off, the lettering is really nice - there's just no substitute for hand-crafted dialogue and sound effects. It's hard to imagine a font conveying the depth of Brittany's anger, or underscoring the action as effectively as that "wam" in the lower left-hand corner. The cartooning is very nice - the effect where Genn's entire lower jaw is reduced to a single straight line really undscores his open-mouth shock, while Brittany's bulging veins and grinding teeth accentuate her anger. And as always, the action seems very real and physically plausible, even though you know that a mouse isn't going to be flipping a 300 pound woman any time soon.
There are some serious problems with this page, though. Even though the scene is set in the Diggers' kitchen, there are precious few reminders of that fact on this page or the surrounded pages. Indeed, there are few backgrounds or even many middle ground shots, which causes you lose track of where everyone is. Consequently, when the mouse smashes Cheetah into the breakfast table you wonder just where it came from. And, as always, there's a lack of variation in the line weight and no real attempt to spot black areas or details intelligently, which means that you're not given any real visual direction by the drawing itself. (Actually, the sound effects appear to be doing all the direction here.)
Print Run: 3900
That's a big jump - over 50% from the last issues of the last few issues of the regular series. I'm wondering how much of that represents an actual increase in readership, or just anticipation of increased demand following the crossover. Given the way that the readership fluctuates up and down over the next half-year or so, I'd guess it's a little of both.