Gold Digger v2 #41-50 (1998-1999)

Gold Digger v2 #41 cover

Wow. There's an awful lot going on in these issues, and it's rare for a single plot to play out in consecutive issues. Here's a quick run-down of the plots and sub-plots.

  • Cheetah is stalked by a group of were-rats, who ultimately plan to kill her because she has the potential to single-handedly wipe out their race. Ultimately, they manage to "bell" her with a magic collar that they can track.

  • Stripe is scouted by a secret society of superheroes, who could certainly use the help of someone who has the ability to knock around evil galactic empires single-handedly.

  • Gina and Penny explore the remnants of Civ-Alpha, trying to find a way to stop the Beta Phantoms from GD Beta. They manage to awaken the last surviving Saurian from Civ-Alpha, only to realize that the Beta Phantoms are trying to stop the Saurians from destroying the universe rather than vice-versa.

  • Brianna, Genn and Seance travel to Jade to try and find a way to resurrect Raphiel, the fake were-cheetah from issue #40, and turn him into a real boy.

  • Genn and Seance wrestle with their mutual sexual attraction.

  • Jade's Northern Edge Guard are looking into a series of kidnappings. The trail leads them to some villains led by Tirant (the electric supervillain from issue #9).

  • Tirant's girlfriend Array, who has the ability to manifest new bodies with vastly different powers and appearances, tries to convince Tirant that her slow, soft conquest of Jade is preferable to his flashy confrontational style.

  • Tirant's henchman G'nolga decides to use Brianna and Gar in a complicated plot to get revenge on her old rival — Julia Diggers.

  • A weird combination of events, including a solar eclipse and a sharp whack on the head, causes Brianna's long-dormant "Grave Digger" personality to re-emerge. When her two personalities are physically separated, the battle between the two of them practically levels an entire city, but Grave Digger is finally defeated by a kind word from Genn.

  • A freak mid-air encounter leads to a rematch between Ace and Death Bird (and her sidekick Skippy). It's probably the most exciting dogfight you'll ever see, or at least the only one where the planes involved are a DC-10 and a

That's an awful lot of plot for ten issues, and the amazing this is that most of them are actually really good. Oh, sure, the GD Beta plot sort of fizzles out — the big battle between the Saurians and the Beta Phantoms takes place off-camera and isn't really brought up again. But the "Grave Digger" arc is actually really well done, the two-parter with Death Bird is perfectly executed comic relief, and even the Array sub-plot comes to a satisfactory conclusion. From here on out, Gold Digger plot lines really start to pay off in a big way.

Artistically, Fred's style hasn't changed much from the previous year, but his fight scenes managed to kick it up a notch.

Gold Digger v2 #41, p. 21

Gold Digger v2 #44, p. 21

Yep, this page is a bit chaotic and it can be a bit hard at first glance to see where one panel ends and the next panel begins. But there's a lot Fred is doing right — the dynamic panel shapes and irregular gutters heighten the sense of action, and he knows how to place the figures and cuts to give you the maximum balance between up-close action and a battlefield overview. And let's not underestimate the power of some nice big sound effects, either.

And then, the series made the leap to color, and everything changed...

Print Run: 5000

Issue #50 is the last issue that includes the print run in the indicia. By this point, though, sales have clearly leveled off.

With those numbers I'm surprised that Gold Digger was able to make the jump to color. I'd always thought you needed to sell 10,000 copies to make color printing affordable. Maybe Brenner was able to make lower print runs feasible. Or maybe with sales leveling off the jump to color was necessary to push the title to the next level.

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