Monday, November 8, 2010
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Salvador Espin
The story opens in Tokyo, Japan, where we check in with Kenji Uedo, one of the Five Lights. An artist, Kenji is not exactly feeling like himself at the moment. This is a scene that I previously saw, and praised, when it appeared as a preview.
From there on, we are introduced to the team, made up of an eclectic group of individuals. Each one comes from a different part of the world, and each one approaches their new found powers from a unique perspective. Idie, for example, had until a couple of weeks ago a very small worldview, shaped by the fact that she grew up in a small village in Nigeria. She is not handling the changes well, looking at them as more of a curse, yet still deep down wanting to believe they are a blessing.
As they make their final approach onto Tokyo, Kenji greets them in the form of a giant monster that would be perfectly at home in a Japanese sci-fi/horror movie (as Kirk pointed out in the Moments of the Week, it’s a pretty clear homage to Akira). There’s a pretty funny scene where we get in the mind of Teon, a feral, dog-like mutant. Teon is all id, without ego or superego to keep it in check. He engages Kenji because it’s a matter of death and life, he fights for his own survival (all while looking for a suitable mate) because he has to, not out of some higher moral imperative. And yet, for one reason or the other, he listens to Hope.
Take for example Hope, who by all rights looks like Jean Grey, and yet her personality is closer to Cyclops. She is the battle-hardened leader, the one that can communicated and organize even this herd of wild cats. Teon could very well be Beast 2.0, but instead of a gentle giant that we are all oh so quite familiar with, we get something completely different. All of the kids have definite traits, neurosis, and ideas that are worth examining further and that will doubtlessly be explored and expanded in upcoming issues. At least if they survive, the issue ends with a huge explosion that may take out a huge chunk of Tokyo.
While I have given plenty of praise for Gillen, Espin deserves a lot of credit too. He does a great job of conveying the emotions and facial expressions of the characters in all the different scenes. Another important part of Espin’s job is to make sure the characters look like teenagers, something that other artists often fail to do. Their body proportions are what they should be: there’s no hulking muscle masses, or giant Double D breasts. You would think that this is what every artist should be able to do, but that is not the case. Espin does quite well well in changing the mood of the scenes: the parts with Kenji are suitably creepy and full of heavy shadows. And that full body reveal of him? Quality stuff all around.
Verdict - Buy It. Generation Hope shows a lot of promise, and delivers an intriguing first issue. If you are intimidated by the X-Men’s complicated continuity, you should know that Generation Hope is very new reader friendly, and I was able to catch on despite not reading the main X-titles. What I’m trying to say is: give Generation Hope a chance. You might just like what you find.