Gold Digger Some Eventful Issues

I'm going to have to start griding these out a lot faster if I want to have a chance of getting through the entire series before #100 is released...

GD-18 cover

GD-18 #1 (1998)

Print Run: 4,000

This one-shot is a collection of short stories featuring the Diggers sisters as cute-as-a-button six year olds. Fred Perry also uses this as an excuse to fill in a couple of holes in the backstory - Dr. Diggers' brief career as a superhero is mentioned for the first time (which also introduces a new character who pops up again in issue #41), we get to see the fateful day that Jonathan Diggers was mutated into the Lich King, and the question of "just what happened to Gina's pet canary Peeper" is finally resolved. Still, the stories tend to alternate between charming and touching, and they highlight one of the reasons that Gold Digger is so popular - Fred is able to create a sense that these are people who really love and care for each other, and their interplay feels like gentle ribbing rather than forced banter.

Oh, and did I mention that Gina and Cheetah are hideously cute six year olds?

GD-18 p.15GD-18, p. 15

Interestingly, at least one of these stories introduces a minor continuity error - namely, Dr. Diggers drops Cheetah's backstory on young Gina here, though in the Mangazine stories she claims to have never heard the story before. It doesn't make a lick of difference which version is the right one because it doesn't affect anything else in published Gold Digger stories.

Gold Digger v2 #40 cover

Gold Digger v2 #40 (1998)

Print Run: 5,000

Here's what I wrote about this ten years ago when it was first released (thanks Google!):

GOLD DIGGER #40 (Antarctic Press): As Strype and Cheetah prepare to get hitched, a new werecheetah shows up! Will Cheetah be forced leave Strype to repopulate her species? Nah, probably not. A fun single-shot issue from Fred Perry, and a nice change of pace from the big cosmic going-ons of late. Expect a lot of cameos from characters we haven't seen in years, and the obligatory moment where the bad guys try to ruin everything. Perry's art also hits a new level, and some of the revised character designs in this issue are extremely cool-looking. Funny, thrilling, attractive, and as fun to read as it must have been to write. GOLD DIGGER continues to be one of books where the artist's love of what he's doing is infectious, and has you gripped from the first page. Always recommended in my book. Grade: B+

Weddings are a great storytelling device for serial fiction - there a chance to get everyone together in one place, to wallow in history, tie up loose plot lines and start new ones, and there's an (almost) guaranteed happy ending. Fred doesn't disappoint here, squeezing almost every friendly character from 45 issues of Gold Digger into one chapel, but he has a problem. Up to this point, Stripe and Cheetah's relationship has been defined by Stripe's feelings of inadquacy and weakness - he's just felt inferior both physically and emotionally to the girl of his dreams. Well, now Stripe is a near-godlike being with alien artifacts, and has managed to almost single-handedly save his entire species from extinction. So where does the dramatic tension at the wedding come from?

Through the introduction of a male werecheetah (Raphiel), who throws the whole wedding into chaos. Some the characters try to convince Cheetah to dump Stripe for Raphiel so that the werecheetah line won't become extinct. Other characters (like Brianna and the villanous Tanya) see a chance to turn the unstable situation to their advantage. And everyone is flabbergasted. The nice thing, though, is that all of the problems are resolved neatly. Cheetah gets to marry Stripe, Raphiel gets a chance to continue the werecheetah line, eeryone else comes to turns with their feelings. Well, almost neatly - Raphiel turns out to be a golem created by Tanya, and she turns him back into muck as punishment for his failure.

Anyway, a nice, light issue with an unreservedly joyous ending. Probably my favorite issue of Gold Digger, period. So let's celebrate with the last page.

Gold Digger v2 #40, p. 40Gold Digger v2 #40, p. 24

That's about as perfect an ending as you'll ever see in a comic book.

Gold Digger Beta Cover

Gold Digger Beta #1 (1998)

Print Run: 7,000

And here's Gold Digger's first foray into color. Thing is, the color isn't much to write home about.

Gold Digger Beta p. 17Gold Digger Beta p. 17

For starters, the color output is woefully inconsistent - Penny might be a rich mahogany on one page and chocolate milk on the adjacent page, and Gina ping-pongs from extremely blonde to mousy brunette. The coloring itself is pretty perfunctory - there's no serious attempt to incorporate atmospheric effects or to use color to guide the eye around the page, just to fill in objects with an appropriate color. Details added at the coloring are sometimes used to shore up some haphazard pencils, which I normally hate (but I'll give Fred a pass because he's both penciling and coloring the book).

And yet, the color version of the comic is still somehow more appealing than the black-and-white version. The bright, simple (and somewhat garish) coloring is a nice change from the dark, super-airbrushed Image coloring that was predominant at the time. And hey, let's face it, Fred never really seemed to master black and white, either.

The plot is simple - Penny Pincer discovers the ruins of an ancient civilization, brings in Gina to consult, and everyone gets jumped by a monster that may have been responsible for destroying the ancient civilization in the first place. Good, back-to-basics stuff. Still, who knew that we'd still be in the middle of this plot 100 issues later?

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