Saturday, April 30, 2011
Generation Hope #6 - Ripping Off Awesome
I try to be a gentle soul when I review comics. I'm only human. Sometimes I'm in a bad fucking mood when I rant about the books I read. A bad day at work, a skunky bottle of booze, or some transvestite hooker calling me up at one in the morning bitching about how I stole her/his thong will make me seem meaner than I really am. Well when it comes to comics like Generation Hope (or Generation Jean Ripoff as I can't stop calling it), I have to be a little drunk or I have to have just dropped a few grand on a hooker to be in the right mindset. I know the whole issue with Jean/Hope was an annoying, drawn out gimmick that made some fans feel like they had their balls shoved in a toaster. It still tarnishes this series like a shit stain on a male model's underwear.
Now I'm going to try and be fair with this review of Generation Hope. I like Kieron Gillen's writing. He's done a kick-ass job in Uncanny X-men and he's had his moments in this title as well. However, I'm not going to stick my fingers in my ears and gouge my eyes out at the obvious flaws that have plagued Hope since before Gillen even touched an X-book. I know I sound like a raving lunatic who never should have left rehab half the time, but I actually do try to be objective in all my reviews. So I'll do my best with Generation Hope #6 and let my liver kick my ass later. Will that make everybody happy?
Generation Jean Ripoff #6 is billed as "The story that will have fans shitting their pants for the next five years!" Or something to that effect. We hear that sort of thing from a comic series ever other week or so. Given that this series is still in it's infancy, we shouldn't be surprised that it's being billed as the best thing since Emma Frost's breast implants. This series is coming off a rather gripping (yet uneventful) one-shot in the previous issue where Jea-I mean Hope confronts Cyclops along with many other X-men about her role. She basically sets up her Five Lights as a rescue team for new mutants. It's very much like what the X-men were in the early days. Now it's official. It's a new niche for this title, but does it work? That's what this issue is supposed to show.
It starts off with Cyclops giving fans more reasons to call him a prick. He basically takes Kitty Pryde (who is still wearing that ridiculous space suit) and demotes Rogue. This isn't too unexpected because Rogue has done jack shit and a half-piss as Je-I'm sorry Hope's so-called chaperon. So Cyclops promotes Kitty as the one to watch over this so-called messiah as she goes through a bratty phase with a bunch of fanatically loyal cult members. Not a very good role, but he coddles Kitty into accepting.
As for Jean Ripoff and her lights, they're basically living their normal lives on Utopia. It's actually a nice insight into how these young teenagers who have about as much X-men experience as the people reading the book actually live. Surprisingly, they're still basically teenagers. They study, they draw, and they sing lousy songs that become extremely embarrassing when someone hears them. Plus one of them is naked in Laurie. I'm pretty sure being naked and not feeling shame is also part of being a teenager, although it reminds me there are certain videos of me on the internet I need to delete.
This care-free moment is also mixed with some of the more unique aspects of being mutants who can do shit that can only be mimicked on very powerful drugs imported from Cambodia. For one, Idie actually says something. That's right. Idie, the bastard love child of Firestar and Iceman, talks. Kenji, the Akira rip-off, is back to painting and does it with the kind of intensity that most teenage boys put into masturbating. And Gabriel ends up having to explain his lousy singing to Jean-I mean Hope while not coming off as an asshole. Okay, that last one has nothing to do with powers, but it might as well be a mutant power for a teenage boy to save face in front of anything with breasts.
Then all this happy-go-lucky teenage mutant crap goes to hell when a new mutant, a sixth light, is detected by Cerebra. It's a big deal because it isn't just Cerebra that sees it. Jean Ripoff and all her other lights feel it too. Not only that, Little Miss Red Hair and Green Eyes flashes a familiar fire creature in the background. Just like the last issue, we get another Phoenix tease.
Now I understand that the Phoenix is a big part of the whole mutant messiah story. But if Marvel really wants fans to stop bitching about Jean Grey, they need to stop dropping these fucking hints. They're more annoying than rectal warts and explosive diarrhea. Nick Lowe spilled the beans already. Jean Grey is dead and Hope is her replacement. Never mind that this shit is like a kick in the nuts and an ice pick to the kidney, but a little subtlety wouldn't hurt. Can someone at least pretend that this bratty little redhead isn't a total Jean ripoff?
But I digress. Like compulsive eater at an all-you-can-eat buffet, the Five Lights heed Hope's (there, I got it right. Happy now?) call. They suit up in their uniforms, which by the way don't look like X-men uniforms but that's not a bad thing. These are kids still learning to be X-men. They should have to earn the right to wear that X. Along the way, Rogue says she's staying behind. Hope doesn't seem too broken up about. Remind me again why they were supposed to have a bond of sort? Is that like President Obama's cigarette stash and just being swept under the rug? As if this series needs other overused plots, Kitty Pryde takes over and she puts some humor into it. It's a nice change-up from Rogue, who didn't anything memorable in all the time she was Hope's unspoken prison bitch.
Hope basically tells Kitty that they're a team and get out of her way in a way that's only somewhat bitchy. Then they arrive at their destination, which happens to be a hospital in Germany. Because when has anything bad happened in Germany? While my sarcasm is digested, it's worth noting Kitty is STILL in that lousy space suit. Now it may be the case that this happens before the current arc in Uncanny. If so, then that's bearable. But if that arc ends and she's still in this damn suit, that's just fucked up.
Hope shows once again that she's as irresponsible as she is a ripoff. The hospital is locked down. Everybody inside seems to have raided Michael Jackson's medicine cabinet and passed out. So first she sends Gabriel into the hospital. He passes out before he even gets to the door. Then she sends Laurie like a rat into a maze of chainsaws. She passes out too. It's a little pathetic that these teenagers are actually listening to her when I can't get a teenager to pull their fucking pants up. Eventually Teon goes in and since his mind is akin to a well-trained dog that hasn't been neutered yet he gets the lights out. This leads them to conclude they're dealing with a telepath. They have the most powerful telepaths on the planet back on Utopia and they can't figure that shit out? Really?
Then to move in, Kenji pulls a new trick out of his ass and not in the traditional Japanese way. He says he can use his power to protect them from telepathy. However, it involves him sticking a slithery tentacle into the back of their necks (which I guess is better than what tentacles usually do in Japan). Wait a minute? When the fuck did he have the power to protect against telepathy? Gillen tries to explain it here, but it's flimsy as hell. Moreover, they leave Idie behind. Will that girl EVER have a role in this series? The NAACP will be on Marvel's ass by the time you finish reading this sentence with the way Marvel is treating young black girls.
So armed with this contrived telepathic protection, Hope leads four of her lights into the hospital. At first they find just a bunch of unconscious bodies. Teon channels his inner Scooby Doo and leads the Lights to their target. He does it in a much less dorky way as well. But at the same time, those unconscious bodies come to life and somehow their eyes were turned inside out. Don't know when telepathy ever gained that ability, but it's a nice way to show that their brains are about as useful to them as their wisdom teeth now. Unlike the zombies in The Walking Dead (a comic you seriously should read by the way), these guys don't eat brains. They walk around, drool, and try to eat random shit. They're sort of like Snookie, minus the herpes.
The lights navigate the hospital until they locate the source of the telepathic disturbance. It comes from what may be the most dangerous source of all, a pregnant woman who looks like her water just broke. It would have been easier if the telepath had been a paranoid schizophrenic who had his meds switched with crystal meth. But it's not the woman that's the telepath. It's the baby. It's a new twist on this new generation of mutants. Babies can now have powers before they're even born. I can see the anti-abortion crowd making protest signs of this shit already.
The problem is the baby, the aspiring telepath, does not want to leave it's mother's womb. Why would it want to? It's got everything it needs. Food, shelter, and it's already in a pussy so I guess that counts as sex. Never mind how pissed this would make the mother, the baby is doing something any baby would do. It fights back by taking control of everybody in the hospital. This puts the lights in a very awkward position. They have to fight back against a homicidal baby and an army of mindless zombies. It's like Chucky meets Night of the Living Dead. It sounds cliched, but it works pretty damn well and is enough to make readers crave the next issue.
It's a strong ending to a book that had many eye-rolling moments early on. Kieron Gillen's writing is still strong, but it lacks the refined touch of his Uncanny X-men books. There's still a solid story behind this mess. The whole point of Generation Jean Ripoff was to tell stories about the new generation of mutants. The first wave of lights followed a different path compared to mutants of the past. This issue took it a step further, using that same theme of instability that the other lights experienced and applying it to a much more difficult situation. They're not just dealing with confused teenagers. They're dealing with a baby that doesn't even know up from down at the moment. It's not a ground-breaking concept, but it does work nicely and leaves just the right impact.
The main theme of the book works much better than the last issue. The last issue just had Jean Ripoff telling everybody that she's her own brat and they need to stay out of her way. This issue actually has her trying to be the messiah that she's been billed as. While it works well, the little things are still lacking. Idie is still not doing jack shit. The Hope/Rogue plot has been completely overlooked and underdeveloped. Kenji basically pulled this new telepathy resistance out of thin air. Kitty Pryde's presence really hasn't changed anything either. Plus there was yet another Phoenix tease and for most fans that shit is old. It's one thing to hint at things to come, but to use teases that have long since lost their impact isn't good storytelling. It's just annoying.
I can't say this issue lived up to the hype that the summery claimed. It isn't the kind of story that makes you grab a vacuum cleaning to pick up the pieces of your mind after it's been blown. It's still an improvement over the last issue. Kieron Gillen has a solid handling of these characters, but the lack of refinement that makes his Uncanny books so strong just isn't here. If you can ignore the little things, it's a solid book. If you can't, at least the main theme is more coherent. I can't give it too high a score, but I can't tell readers to avoid this book like the plague. I give Generation Hope #6 a 3 out of 5. There's plenty of room for improvement, but this book will keep getting hampered so long as there are annoying Jean Grey/Phoenix teases. If Marvel is trying to make Hope her own character, they're doing a lousy job because every time she flashes her Phoenix flare she gets that Jean Grey vibe. When someone has red hair, green eyes, and the Phoenix Force they don't think Hope. They think Jean. Until that changes, this book will continue to have holes. But those holes can be filled with solid storytelling. Nuff said!