Sunday, May 29, 2011

Generation Hope #7 - Birthing Awesome With Complications

It's been a busy couple of weeks for the X-books. I know I'm behind on some of these titles, but don't blame me. Blame God for only making the weeks seven days long. Also ask him why Jesus didn't come back on May 21st like that crackpot guy with the billboards said. I'd love to know the answer. But in addition to time constraints, the other X-books have so much going on. X-men Legacy has the Age of X aftermath. Uncanny has Breakworld. Uncanny X-Force has the Dark Angel Saga with Age of Apocalypse. X-23 had the Collision arc with Daken. Somewhere in this mix, Generation Hope is still going on. I haven't forgotten about that book, but the past few issues have been a bit sub-par. They haven't been bad, but the other X-books have been so much better that it's like a someone lighting a match in the middle of a forest fire.

Now I've been trying to remain objective with this book. I still feel the urge to call it Generation Jean Ripoff because that's basically how I see it. I can't look at Hope Summers and not think Jean Grey. When a character has red hair, green eyes, and the Phoenix Force my eyes instinctively roll and somehow the nearest wall becomes a target for my head. Given that I can't sustain much more brain damage, I'm still trying to follow along with these stories. Kieron Gillen's writing has been very solid all around. Even when there are flaws within the characters, he finds a way to make it work. He's like whatever plastic surgeon Joan Rivers uses. He's got a beaten up piece of road that he has to make drivable.

Generation Hope #7 continues the plot that started in the last issue involving a new light. Like the other lights before it, this one's a little fucked up and not fucked up like an all nighter in Las Vegas with Pacman Jones. It's fucked up in that this new mutant is a fucking infant still in it's mother's womb. It's almost time for him to come out, but he doesn't want to. It's nice and cozy in the womb. Who can blame him for wanting to stay inside? He's like Flavor Flav and all his illegitimate kids. He loves being inside women so much that he won't wrap his tool or pull out. So to stay in the womb, the infant does what any rationally minded being would do. It uses it's telepathy to take control of every mind within the hospital and turn them into drooling zombies. See? Perfection rational for any kid that never saw enough Spongebob.

The issue begins with a brief conversation between Kitty Pryde and Idie. Kitty is the one taking point in this mission and yes, she's still in that stupid space suit. But that's secondary to Idie, who has had fewer lines than Rob Schneider in Adam Sandler movies. When she finally does speak, she makes it a point to call Kitty an immoral woman for getting freaky with her Russian stud of a boyfriend without marrying him. Now this is pretty fucked up in that she has to have been on Utopia long enough to know who hooked up with who. She was actually in a classroom with Emma Frost two issues ago and you would expect that she met up with someone like Wolverine, whose dick is more overused than Donald Trump's hairpiece. Yet NOW she's revealing that she has a problem with pre-marital sex? Either she has the worst attention span in the history of comics or she was just in the mood to sound like a bitch.

That scene has absolutely no bearing on what's going on inside the hospital. The baby is directing it's army of drooling zombies at Je-I mean Hope and her lights (sorry, it's been a while). They keep chanting "unself" as if it's the code-word at a secret brothel under Washington DC. Kenji (who may qualify as Akira Ripoff) tries to hold back the mindless hoards without hurting them. Jea-I mean Hope tries to have Teon restrain the mother. The baby doesn't like that. It responds by blowing out all the windows. It seems like an immature way of giving them the finger, but there's actually more to it and it has nothing to do with Dane Cook's stupid "mega-finger" joke.

Since the hospital didn't provide enough mindless goons, the baby decides to add to it's ranks by taking control of Kitty, Idie, and the dozens of other media types who thought a hospital under siege was a safe place to be near. So they all turn into drooling zombies looking to swarm the area. In that sense they really aren't much different from the real media so I honestly couldn't tell if they were being controlled or if they worked for Fox News. But it does present a dangerous problem for Jean-I mean Hope. Idie is among those in the crowd. Aside from her nagging views on pre-marital sex, she also has fire and ice powers. That's slightly more dangerous than annoying media types. To get her out of the fight, she taps her inner Cable and formulates a plan.

The plan involves Laurie (the fish girl as she's often called on message boards), flying out at high speeds and carrying Idie as far away from the area as possible. This way she's out of the baby's range. It's a decent enough plan. Hell, it works better than the last three douche-bags that tried to run for president on the republican ticket. Idie is freed, but there's a bit of a side-effect. Apparently the fish girl is more fish than she looks. While she's flying, she takes on the shape of a winged mermaid. Seriously, that's the only way to describe her.

Now I'm no aerospace engineer, but I do think I'm one when I'm tripping on acid. I'm pretty sure that fish fins don't work too well when flying. So Laurie's design is a bit...well, I'd need a few more tabs of acid to figure that out. But while it probably won't gain any interest form NASA or the Air Force, it does make her look pretty badass. Plus I think she's still technically naked so that's always a plus. Anytime a freaky blue-skinned chick is naked in a comic or porno that usually means something awesome is happening.

While Idie is re-inserting her eyes, the baby summons more drooling zombies. From the outside it looks like she's taking all of Berlin under her control. Last time someone tried that, a big ass wall got built and a lot of nice people got shot. Kenji kindly explains that he can't protect everyone's mind, a trick that was still utterly contrived from the last issue. But he is able to protect Idie and Laurie's mind when they return. Laurie looks a bit more presentable. Her crazy appearance isn't even mentioned, which seems like a bit of an oversight if you forget that they're dealing with a baby on a power trip. But she does offer an explanation which Jean Gr-I mean Hope (I'll get it soon) hasn't seemed to figure out yet. The baby doesn't want to be born. Why would it want to leave it's cozy womb for a world with an NFL lockout, American Idol, and crack-pot preachers who say the world is going to end every few years. The lights have their work cut out for them, but Kenji manages to link up with the baby's mind.

Again, it's another crazy trick he's pulled out of his ass in the past few issues and not in the same disturbing way you see in Japanese anime porn. It's another case of a solution being a bit contrived. Now I know I use that word more than Snookie uses Planned Parenthood, but it's an important concept. If there's no rhythm or reason for something to happen, it disrupts the flow and progression of a story. Kieron Gillen showed a great deal of progression in his Uncanny books, linking one event to the other. So it's pretty disappointing to see it underutilized here.

Once linked in, the lights start trying to convince the baby that it should leave it's cozy womb. Hope (there, I got it!) tries first. She says something that you would expect to hear from any character that looks, acts, and wields cosmic forces like Jean Grey. Usually this is enough to make a point or give Wolverine a boner. For the baby, it just freaks it out. I guess it doesn't like confronting Jean Grey ripoffs as well.

The other lights try and fail just as miserably. Laurie seems to think that a baby might give a damn about how great the education system is in Germany. Idie thinks it's a good idea to scare a baby with the prospect of Hell. It made Jerry Farwell a complete asshole so it shouldn't come as any surprise that the baby doesn't care for it. Kenji tries reverse psychology, which has been known to work on some kids. I remember my first-grade teacher telling us again and again NOT to scratch our butts and it never failed. Then Teon gives if a try. You might think a simple-minded teenager whose only instinct is to fight, hump, and mark his territory like a wolf wouldn't have much to say to a baby. But somehow, being as dumb as a sack of hammers carries some weight with a crazy unborn baby.

He doesn't say anything while at the same time, the drooling zombie army (which I think is also the name of a New York punk band) overwhelms Kenji. There's no contrived power he can utilize to get out of this one. He and the lights are about to be trampled like toddlers at the Apple store during a new Iphone launch. But surprisingly (or laughably depending on how high you are), the drooling zombies just stop. They stop and they step aside so Teon can work. Again, he hasn't said anything at this point so either the baby just creeped out as hell or something's going on here that isn't articulated. It's fucked up and contrived yet again. I feel like I should copyright that word because I use it more than anal lube at Andy Dick's house.

Teon leads the unfortunate pregnant woman to a bed. The lights and the drooling zombie army follow. Teon finally says something to the baby. He just says "No flight. No fight." The baby is scared. For some reason that's enough to make it unscared. I get that most babies don't think logically, but even that's pushing it. So in front of all those people and without the massive amounts of blood and placenta, the woman gives birth.

Now it feels like Gillen missed an opportunity to be daring here. Anybody who has ever seen a live birth knows it's messy as hell and involves more screaming than the last six Wes Craven movies combined. Yet this birth happens so cleanly you would think the woman was just baking a loaf of bread and pulling it out of the oven. It seems to undermine the whole point of a baby entering an ugly and conflicted world as the Marvel 616 universe so often is. It's not like Marvel hasn't shown messy births before. There was a What If comic with Wolverine where it involved an impromptu Cesarian. It's just too...clean a resolution.

It's still a nice moment even if it doesn't really go anywhere. Once Hope stabilizes the baby's powers, they become dormant. So basically, it's not going to mind-control anybody anymore. All those people it controlled are left to wonder what the fuck happened and check to make sure their asses aren't bleeding. That's never addressed, neither is how the baby's powers can just go dormant again and they won't have to worry until it's a teenager. Given how slow comic time progresses, I'll be pooping into bags by the time that character comes back into the picture. It basically means the story ends without it changing jack shit. For a story that was billed as being so ground-breaking, it really doesn't leave much of an impact or make much progression.

But just as the lights are patting themselves on the back, they return to the X-jet to get some news from Kitty. It was hinted at in the last issue. Someone in the Marvel universe just placed themselves below Dr. Doom in terms of sheer douche-baggery and hired a lawyer to sue the X-men. It's actually Teon's parents, who were never mentioned in the slightest after he showed up. They want him back. It sets the stage for a next conflict. So whereas this story involved a confused, super-powered baby, the next one will involve lawyers. I'm pretty sure I would rather be locked in a room with Apocalypse and Sinister.

While the ending is nice in that it sets the stage for the next conflict, the resolution to this story was a bit  underwhelming. Everything was nicely tied up, but again it left no real impact. The new light isn't really much of a light since the baby's powers aren't going to manifest until it's older. At least previous issues of Generation Hope have shown some progression in that the events of the previous issues influenced the events of later issues. In earlier issues Hope argued with Cyclops to make her lights part of a team. They became a team. In this story a new light was detected and now it's basically been swept under the rug. It's not like it's an unhappy ending, but it was too clean and closed. The next story hinted at the end has nothing to do with the baby so it feels choppy in the end and takes away from the overall impact.

There's still plenty to like about this book. The art is solid and each light gets to shine in their own way, although Idie still comes off as a bit of a jerk. Laurie definitely shined here. Her powers continue to develop in unexpected ways. And somehow Teon plays the hero, coming off as the lovable brute that still humps your leg. The overall concept of the baby trying to resist being born is still a novel approach. I credit Kieron Gillen for taking a few risks, but it felt like he only went halfway with it. It could have gone a lot further and that's what makes this issue only partially awesome.

Generation Hope hasn't been a bad series, but it started off so strong. Then the whole Jean Grey ripoff story broke and the subsequent stories have just been mediocre at best. The book hasn't crashed and burned. There's still plenty of appeal. You won't be disappointed by this book, but you won't be blown away either. Compared to books like X-23, Wolverine, Uncanny X-men, X-men Legacy, Uncanny X-Force, and now X-men First to Last it's just completely outgunned. So for Generation Hope #7, I give it a 3 out of 5. I wanted to give it a lower score, but the concept was solid even if it wasn't followed through. Gillen didn't try to shock readers too much or get too messy. In an era where comic characters can't smoke, but can make deals with the devil I credit Generation Hope for trying to have a little substance behind the style. For that, it's awesome in it's own right. Nuff said!


  1. I used to think Laurie was going to be a throwaway boring character and Teon was going to be a creepy, copy, dumb character but they have gotten interesting in this issue.

  2. I agree, Laurie has gotten more interesting. Her shape-shifting in this issue came out of left field, but I concede it is interesting. Much more so than Idie being an overzealous Christian. The lights have potential, but I still can't take them seriously under Jean Ripoff's leadership. I think they would do better in a place like the New Mutants or even the Legacy team. There's plenty of room for improvement in this series. So long as Kieron Gillen's writing remains solid, I'll keep reading it. Thanks for the comment!

  3. just wait til it turns out... yeah hope really Is jean...
    (wha? ya really think they gonna say she is, right now? just a big mind-fuck... )

  4. I hope you're right, but given Nick Lowe's public statements and Marvel's aversion to Jean Grey I seriously doubt that. I would love to be proven wrong, but I'll believe it when I see it.