Cartoon Network 2-in-1: Ben 10 Ultimate Alien/Generator Rex

By Amy Wolfram, Jake Black, Scott Beatty, Eugene Son, Rob Hoegee, Aaron Williams, Jason Bischoff, Ethan Beavers, Mike Bowden, Min S. Ku & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-3305-1

The links between kids’ animated features and comicbooks are long established and, I suspect, for young consumers, indistinguishable. After all, it’s just all-ages adventure entertainment in the end…

DC’s Cartoon Network imprint is probably the last bastion of children’s comics and has produced some truly magical homespun material (such as Tiny Titans, Batman: Brave and the Bold or Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!) as well as stunning interpretations of such television landmarks as Scooby Doo, Powerpuff Girls, Cartoon Network Block Party and others.

This dynamic and fast-paced parcel of thrills gathers two of contemporary kids’ most popular TV sensations in back-to-back exploits taken from monthly periodical Cartoon Network Action-Pack (issues # 48-51, 54, 56, 57, 59) and opens with the further adventures of a boy who could become a profusion of extraterrestrial champions…

Ben Tennyson was a plucky kid who could become ten different alien super-heroes by activating a fantastic device called the Omnitrix. At first the young boy clandestinely battled fantastic foes with his eccentric Grandpa Max and obnoxious cousin Gwen but by the time of these tales Ben is a teenager, has gained global fame and his own power-packed teen posse including reformed super bad-boy Kevin Levin and romantic interest/techno-ninja Julie Yamamoto, all whilst struggling to master the far more powerful Ultimatrix device…

In short complete tales by Amy Wolfram, Jake Black, Scott Beatty and Eugene Son, illustrated by Ethan Beavers, Min S. Ku, Mike Cavallaro, Dan Davis & Luciano Vecchio, Ben and his hyper-charged avatars and BFFs tackle world-shaking threats and typical teen traumas beginning with ‘Fashion Victim’ wherein a sudden trend for kids to wear knock-offs of Ben’s signature jacket leads to mistakes and mayhem when short-sighted monsters and old foe Charmcaster attack, whilst ‘Going Viral’ finds an embarrassing defeat by a dragon posted on the internet by the young hero’s biggest fan.

There’s an impressive treatise on schoolyard bullying in ‘Dodge Ben!’ after which the indignities pile up when old foe Aggregor attacks during the cringe-worthy premiere of ‘Ben 10 on Ice’ and an alien journalist shares a day in the life of a galactic hero in ‘Breaking News.’

Ben’s notoriety almost leads to a tragic misunderstanding in ‘Star Chaser’ and Julie gets some unwelcome paparazzi attention in ‘Tabloid Trouble’ before this scintillating selection concludes with Ben’s persistent homework hassles in ‘The Monster at the End of this Book’

The last half of the volume is dedicated to a new boy wonder struggling to be a hero in a post-apocalyptic world…

Generator Rex is an amnesiac lad with the ability to turn parts of his body into fantastic technological weapons as a result of a global catastrophe which seeded Earth with nanites and turned the world into a constantly mutating nightmare.

The nanites randomly turn humans – and other organisms – into Exponentially Variegated Organisms or “EVOs”: monsters that cause even more death and destruction. Their threat is combated by the secret organisation Providence…

Rex, who can actually cure EVOs of their mutational infections, and his gun-toting, talking monkey pal Bobo are the agency’s top operatives in battling the monsters’ attacks and hunting down the suspected cause of the initial disaster, a maniac named Van Kleiss

The creators for these gripping yarns include Rob Hoegee, Eugene Son, Scott Beatty, Aaron Williams Jason Bischoff, Min S. Ku, Ethan Beavers & Mike Bowden.

The adventure begins in the EVO homeland of Abysus with ‘Distraction!’ as the boy and Bobo raid Van Kleiss’ castle on a seeming fool’s errand before tackling a forgotten enemy from the past in the epic length ‘Extra Baggage’

‘Heart of Stone’ introduces a potential rival to Van Kleiss’ malign dominance in the sultry serpentines shape of Dr. Eden Williams, after which there’s a beguiling change of pace with the twisted love story ‘A Blank Canvas’.

‘The Unforgiving Minute’ poses an impossible quandary for Rex and a group of survivors as yet uncontaminated by the omnipresent nanite contagion whilst ‘Only a Game’ finds the entire horror-hunting team playing spy at a “Warworld of Warlocks” computer convention before the action spectacularly climaxes when the impossible happens and Rex is apparently infected by nanites in ‘Freak Out’

Despite being aimed at TV kids, these mini-sagas are wonderful old-fashioned comics tales that no self-respecting fun-fan should miss, but if you still need further cajoling perhaps learning that both shows were devised by “Man of Action” might further persuade you.

Man of Action is the working pseudonym for an entertainment-think-tank comprised of Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey, Joe Kelly & Steven T. Seagle and whilst Ben 10 bears a striking – but surely superficial – similarity to two beloved and quirky 1960s DC second-string strips – Dial “H” for Hero and Ultra, the Multi-AlienGenerator Rex is actually based on Image Comic M. (Machina) Rex, which debuted in 1999 courtesy of Whilce Portacio & Brian Haberlin’s Avalon Studios, crafted and produced by Aaron Sowd, Kelly & Rouleau.

Accessible and entertaining for a broad range of thrill-seeking readers this terrific tome is a perfect, old fashioned delight. What more do you need to know?

™ and © 2011 Cartoon Network. Compilation © 2011 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.