The Gold Bricks started as a project to get the original 50-issue black-and-white Gold Digger series into a convenient, but impressive format, with 25 issues per volume. They’ve continued since then with 25-issue collections of the color series. On one hand, the production’s a little cheap, with ~600 pages on thin newsprint paper that that has yellowed over the years, but the binding is amazingly solid.

The regular series sees a refining of Perry’s art and character design, though it remains very loose in feel. As a regular series, and 25 issues, there’s a number of story arcs in the first volume. One of the more impressive things, reading it all now, is just how little ‘throw away’ pieces there are: a lot of things in here continue being central parts of the series for a long time to come, or secondary characters show up for a story… and then show up again a dozen issues later at a logical point. The fact that Fred Perry is writing all of this doubtless does wonders to keep things consistent, but it can be amazing just how much he juggles. Some characters do fade away though. Tark and Mesha from the original story slowly get sidelined, and then basically take a job that rotates them out of the recurring cast.

Perry loves making references to popular culture as part of his light-hearted tone (the computer-book from Inspector Gadget showed up in the limited series), and he spends a couple moments explaining one, establishing the A-Wing as one of that world’s next generation fighters. Which is a fun way of underscoring that superscience is a part of that world. A lot of the stories in here are short, and as the series went on, story titles got dropped; here’s the bigger stories:

Issues 1-4 — The Curse: The first story of the continuing series, and the second big story for GD (I kind of wonder if Perry had originally planned it out as a second limited series). We start with another ancient-ruin-exploration-gone-wrong (Gina was beaten to the loot by Croesus no less), a demon, and the creation of Brianna. That last is introduced really well, with the issue starting with the aftermath, and going back to figure out what happened.

Issues 4-6 — Tooth and Claw: The end of The Curse melds straight into the next story, which I always felt didn’t have quite enough groundwork laid, but was still quite logical. Britanny’s relationship with Stripe has disturbed the relationships within El Dorado, and now that comes back to bite Britanny. Not only do we get a rematch with Jetta and Thabian, but we finally get to see more of Gina and Britanny’s dad, Dr. Theodore Diggers, and get an idea just what he can do (that he was a powerful mage had been established in the mini-series, now we get to see what that means).

Issue 6-7 — Night Flight: Dark Bird returns for a rematch with Ace. This story really shows off that Fred Perry loves flying and aircraft, and he does a good job narrating a multi-plane dogfight.

Issue 7-8 — Crime Syndicate X: Early on, we get a mention that Cheetah had spent time ‘super heroing’ in high school with a friend, and that gets picked up with Cheetah running into her old pal the Pink Avenger in New York, and things go into a typically wacky take on superhero adventures, though with something of a nasty twist as the main villain is smart enough to find out heroes’ identities and threaten friends and family.

Issues 13-19 — The Lich King: This story technically starts with #15, but the the issue and a third before lead straight into it. Meeting the werewolves brings in more details on the end of the war between them and the werecheetahs, and leads directly to the next big story dealing with Dr Digger’s father,  and a very epic story with the fate of Gina and the realm of the undead at stake. It’s the biggest story so far, and is very well paced, and introduces Jade, the alternate world of magic, and Gina’s mother (who is every bit as competent as the rest of the family).

Aside from those, there’s eleven issues in here that are single-issue stories, mostly with lots of high-action plots, with more character-focused bits being banter and side-pieces to the rest, though issue #24 takes a break from high-speed action but still has lots of character-based conflict. Issues 11 & 12 establish that GD and Ninja High School are in the same universe, with the Rat Exterminators and Dog Supreme showing up from NHS. The number of characters grows explosively in these stories, and most of them are seen again later. There’s also several bits of circling back to the limited series to continue things introduced there.

One nice continuing thing in the series is that there’s multiple references to time passing. A previous issue’s events are often a week earlier, so between that and multiple-issue stories, it probably isn’t keeping up with publishing time, but it’s a lot better than many series of this type. Overall, this volume is a little over two years of growth in the characters, and the extreme sexiness gets toned down just a bit, which helps. (Not that there isn’t still a lot, but it does tone down a bit. Gina especially tones down a bit, though she is getting into a love triangle by the end of the volume.)