Barry Reese

Pulp Writer Extraordinaire

dnagent1Every Wednesday, I focus on a character from adventure fiction (film, comics & prose) that I simply adore. This week we’re talking about: The DNAgents! Created by Mark Evanier and Will Meugniot, these teen heroes were genetically engineered by a corporation. Their desire to exceed their original programming and become truly human was quite endearing — and the fact that they were able to have amazingly fun adventures along the way made the whole thing even better! Originally published by Eclipse Comics, the initial run of the book ran for 24 issues and was followed by The New DNAgents, which ran for 17 issues. There was also a 3-D comic, a spinoff series (Crossfire) and a few other appearances here and there — including a quasi-crossover with Tales of the New Teen Titans # 48!

The DNAgents were:

  • Tank: Super-strong, wore heavy body armor to regulate and augment his strength. He was the emotional core of the group – naive but always wanting to do the right thing.
  • Surge: He could fire blasts of lightning and was very short-tempered. He enjoyed the fame that his powers brought him, sometimes too much.
  • Rainbow: A powerful telepath and illusionist. Since she was exposed to so many people’s inner thoughts, she was the most “sophisticated” member of the group, and was involved in nude modeling. Rainbow was my favorite member of the team, probably due to my love of girls in thigh-high boots and Will Meugniot’s spirited depiction of her sexuality.
  • Amber: This young, pig-tailed beauty could project disks of electromagnetic energy as shields, weapons or stand on them to fly. Very outgoing socially and curious.
  • Sham: He was a shapeshifter. Since he had no innate attack powers, he was also trained as a commando. Very insecure and attached to the other members of the team.

While everyone rightfully remembers the Will Meugniot issues (they were the best!), Mitch Schauer had a long run as artist on the series. Erik Larsen and Chuck Patton also did issues.

There was such a sense of fun to the early issues, even with their soap operatic emotional themes. These characters actually felt like young people in a way that so many other teen heroes just didn’t. Will Meugniot was key in that, I think, not shying away from the sexuality of either the male or female characters but never forgetting that this was an adventure story, first and foremost. Evanier has written many fine books through the years (I really liked his New Gods) but I’ll always associate him with the DNAgents more than anything else. He kept a consistent voice throughout the series, even when the artwork wasn’t as good as it had been under Meugniot.

If you’re looking to track down the issues, you can find them pretty cheap online. A black-and-white reprint book was issued of the early issues at one point but I found that I really missed the colors. Heck, a character named Rainbow in black and white just isn’t right! πŸ™‚

One of the high points of my writing career was getting to work with Will Meugniot. His cover and interior art will appear in The Rook Volume Five Special Edition and he did the interior images in The Adventures of Gravedigger Volume One. A really nice guy and one of my all-time favorite artists.

 

5 thoughts on “Characters I Love # 15: DNAgents

  1. You’re not the first person I’ve had express love for DNAgents. I think I’ll have to track this series down sooner or later.

  2. Definitely start at the beginning — the Will Meugniot issues are the best.

  3. Lewis Martin says:

    This is one of the series that I didn’t rest till I had every issue. You are right the Meugniot issues are great. I liked Dan Spiegle on Crossfire as well. Evainer had two good series on his hands there.

    1. Crossfire was a lot of fun, too – love to see it collected!

  4. Mat Nastos says:

    The DNAgents were one of my favorite comics growing up in the 80s. Loved the book, especially the initial run. I constantly wish there was a way someone could do a high quality reprint/omnibus of the series. The reprint that came out a few years back was terrible and made me sad 😦

    Great series!

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