Saturday, July 30, 2011
Generation Hope #9 - Hard-Hitting Awesome
I know I can be a harsh son-of-a-bitch when I review books sometimes. I admit I'm bias as fuck just like anyone else, but I try to be as honest as I can while making it entertaining with assorted dick jokes. I don't expect everyone to agree. I expect even fewer to take me seriously, but I try to offer insight in between the drunken ramblings of my reviews. That's where I hope to give value to the world of comic books. Now why do I say this? What the fuck does this have to do with Generation Hope #9? I could spend a whole blog post explaining it, but I'll skip that shit and get right to the meat of the issue.
I won't deny it. I've been pretty harsh towards Generation Hope. Ever since Nick Lowe killed the mystery about this book by essentially affirming that Hope Summers is a Jean Grey ripoff, it's been hard to really get into the book. Kieron Gillen's writing has been great and some of the Five Lights have been very compelling. The problem is that Hope has become more and more unlikable as a character. So while there is a quality story to enjoy, there's this 900-pound gorilla standing next to you slinging his shit right into your face. The gorilla is Hope Summers and the poop...well, it's a metaphor so I'd rather not get into details.
But I keep reviewing Generation Hope because it is an important part of what is going on with the X-books. The Mutant Messiah is the key to getting the mutant race up and running again. She's already assembled a new generation of mutants into this freakish cult that has made for some interesting and at times fucked up stories. Some have fallen flat. The last story with Teon was a bit of a mess that one could easily skip and not miss anything. With Generation Hope poised to play into Schism, it's a hard book to drop. So I'm left to keep following it and hoping that Kieron Gillen can do something that makes the shit that 900 pound gorilla is slinging just a bit less smelly. Now Generation Hope #9 doesn't tie into Schism. It's just a one-shot that takes place before it. But that doesn't mean it can't be good. Stranger shit has happened. Keep in mind we live in a country where angry white people make the most noise, yet we elected a black president.
Generation Hope #9 starts off with a somewhat simple premise. Jea-I mean Hope (I'll get it right sooner, I swear!) and Gabriel are hanging out in Cerebra with one of the Cuckoos, who is on monitoring duty in case a new light shows up. They offer to keep her company, but she reminds them she's part of a hive mind. She has all the company she needs. Jean G-I mean Hope makes some random comment about being ready. Gabriel tries to make out with her as he's tried to do since he first met her. So really, there's nothing new here. Gabriel is a horny teenager. I don't think we need to be reminded. Most teenagers his age would hump air if they could.
Speaking of horny teenagers, the real meat of the story begins with three seemingly normal-looking teenagers who are clearly breaking the law by getting pissed faced drunk and playing truth or dare. If Michele Bachman was president, she would have a massive migraine at how her imaginary god complaining how wicked they are. It's as racy as any truth or dare game I ever placed, except the dares we often did involved ingesting various insects and assorted substances we found in the back of my neighbors refrigerator (good times). The conversation soon shifts to mutants where one of the guys that's wearing a T-shirt saying "Bacon is a vegetable" (couldn't agree more) says he fantasizes about having sex with a mutant. Let's face it, that's nowhere near the kinkiest idea anyone has ever had. Clearly, this kids have never been to Japan.
Then the other guy in the room (who I assume is still sober) offers a different take. He doesn't see mutants like his bacon loving friend. He sees the pretty mutants that people want to bone like Cyclops and Emma Frost as the lucky ones. Other mutants who are deformed or have a body structure that makes them literally and figuratively unfuckable are the mutants with the real problems. He's not wrong about that either. The main X-men has a bunch of pretty people who are very fuckable to both genders. What's that say about the mutants who you can't jerk off to? It's somewhat of a mood killer that requires more booze.
Then just as someone's about to make a dare to eat something that will require poison control, irony steps in and pretty much date rapes them. The guy who just showed sympathy for deformed mutants suddenly start's melting. And I don't mean in the Wizard of Oz type tradition either. The kids face literally turns to goop and no sooner had he shown sympathy for deformed mutants that he suddenly looks like he just looked at the Ark of the Covenant from Indiana Jones. And what does his bacon-loving buddy do? Does he call an ambulance? Well keep in mind this guy may have been drinking so it's not that rational. In fact, it may be the cruelest thing anyone has ever done in X-men since Magneto ripped the adamantium out of Wolverine's body. He takes out his phone and starts filming it.
Now it's worth pointing out some real world parallels here. It wasn't long ago that some kid killed himself because his asshole roommate secretly video taped him, showing that he was a homosexual. That royally fucked up his life and was an utterly monumental dick move on the part of the roommates. I don't care how much this guy loves bacon, this is a dick move.
Hope (I got it right!) and the Five Lights detect this activity and spring into action. But while they're on their way to help this kid, his asshole friend decides he isn't a big enough douche-bag. So he starts broadcasting shots of his melting friend over the fucking internet. So not only is he freaking out, his life is being ruined. It's a lot for any kid to take in and as many of us who did dumb things that left permanent stains on their high school bathroom wall would know, teenagers don't always respond rationally. So while this poor kid is finding many reasons to unfriend this kid on Facebook, he grabs a fucking kitchen knife. No matter how drunk you may be, when someone starts swinging a knife you back the fuck up.
The Lights are on their way, really not sensing anything amiss at first. Then out of nowhere, they feel something and not in the same way you feel something when you see your first porno. It's more like you feel something when someone walks in on you with when you're holding said porno with a bottle of lotion and underwear that shall never be worn again. They know something is horribly wrong so Laurie in all her nude form jumps out of the X-jet and flies out ahead of them. When she arrives at this truth or dare nightmare, she makes a shocking discovery. That kid whose powers basically ruined his life is dead. It wasn't his powers that killed him either. He did that himself. That's right, a kid in a comic book commits suicide. It's not shown and it's not all that graphic either. But it gets a message across and it's a pretty damn powerful message.
Now this is quite a twist for a comic book. Whereas much of Generation Hope has involved needless Jean Grey hints and goofy teenage mutant antics, this is some serious shit. Teen suicide is something you just can't make a dick joke out of. It really happens and for reasons that aren't all that unbelievable in this comic. It's a very raw and very touchy issue. For Kieron Gillen and Marvel to address it is pretty bold and something that should be applauded.
The book then takes on a Nuff Said feel as no more dialog is said for the next few pages. The Five Lights arrive to see the body of the kid wheeled off. Hope is understandably pissed and that bacon loving douche-bag has made a bad name for every bacon loving douche-bag that ever lived. It's a sad moment because she knows they failed. They done fucked up and there's no way around it. If they got there sooner, Hope could have stabilized him and probably used her cultish personality to make him drop the knife. But that didn't happen. There's no supervillain here to beat up. There's just failure and a dead kid.
It seems over, but for some this shit can't stand. For some, these type of bacon-loving douche-bags need to be taken out. That's what Kenji tries to do after everyone leaves. He puts together some new art of his to sneak up on the kid and drill a fucking hole in his head so he'll think twice before being such an asshole again. It makes sense that this is Kenji. In the very first arc of Generation Hope, he had a much more liberal view of killing. But before he can start the lobotomy, Wolverine shows up to talk some sense into that twisted teenage brain of his.
From here, we learn a bit more about Kenji. Apparently, suicide hits close to home. His own father killed himself because he couldn't keep it in his pants and fess up to his mom that he's an asshole. They talk about how the world is fucked and on the seventh day God should have added fairness to the mix instead of resting. Now it's a bit odd getting advice from a guy whose killed more people than heavy metal music and OJ Simpson could ever hope to, but he makes a good point. Even if some people deserve death, that bacon-loving idiot does not. He's just what he is, an idiot. He then offers the it gets better line that has become such a rallying cry for people like that kid. It's a nice way to tie up a story that's based around this kind of tragedy.
In addition, Wolverine reminds Kenji that he's 19 and in Great Britain. That means they can reinforce another good message for the ages. A wise man once said that alcohol is the cause of and the solution to all of life's problems. When tragedy strikes and there's nothing you can do about it, sometimes the best thing you can do is just get shit faced. Excuse me. I just teared up a little.
I won't get too cute this time. This issue was pretty damn awesome. I know I've given Generation Hope some low marks lately. I think the book has earned those marks. For quite some time, the quality has really declined so for a single issue to come out of the blue and really kick ass like a Thai kick-boxer is a pleasant surprise. Kieron Gillen didn't just try to move the story of the Five Lights forward. He told a story that was more personal and more hard-hitting than most other comics on the racks. This was something very raw. A kid finds out he's got a condition he can't control and rather than deal with it, he kills himself. Not only that, his so-called friends made fun of him. That's pretty rough shit because that happens in real life. People have killed themselves over similar problems and for Kieron Gillen to craft a story like this is really amazing. Forget the whole Jean ripoff angle or the Five Lights. This is a story that hits readers on a personal level and hits them in all the right ways.
As powerful as the story was, there were still some sticking points. It was harsh, but like I said earlier it was a bit too tame. It could have gone further, but it didn't. Now I get that Marvel can't be too graphic here. This isn't the fucking MAX series where they can show tits, ass, and the Punisher ripping someone's guts out. But the story didn't even try to walk that fine line. That limited the impact, as strong as it still was. Gillen's writing was still strong, especially with Kenji at the end. However, this lost potential keeps this good story from becoming truly great.
Now as someone who still has night terrors about high school, I can fully appreciate these hard-hitting issues. I'm a big supporter of the it gets better movement. For Kieron Gillen and Marvel comics as a whole to do a story like this is something to applaud. Part of the original premise of the X-men was to relate to those who feel like outcasts. Generation Hope really tackled that issue and did so in a great way. It could have gone further, but it's still makes for a solid and memorable book. It may affect some more than others. It may come off as too light. Even so, it's a quality book from a series that desperately needed it. That's why I give Generation Hope #9 a 4 out of 5. It's a good segway into Schism. While issues like this may not affect the bigger picture of the X-books, it's definitely a story that's worth telling. No dick jokes here. I mean this in a way as serious as any raving drunk can say. Nuff said!