Saturday, August 20, 2011
Generation Hope #10 - Killer Awesome
Fresh on the heels of X-men Schism #3, I'm compelled to offer my drunken ravings on the book that links right up with it. The story in Schism is a big fucking deal. So big that just one book doesn't cut it. So what better way to subtly grow the story without adding big ass numbers to it and shamelessly leech sales for another floundering series than to use Generation Hope as a go-between? It's not nearly as fucked up as it sounds. It's not even as douchy a move as it sounds. If you read Schism #3 (a thousand lashings with Courtney Love's pubic hair if you didn't), then you know why using Generation Hope can and should link up with Schism.
As a quick refresher, X-men Schism #3's defining moment wasn't a bunch of snot-nosed kids somehow took down the X-men with weapons that Homeland Security would kill for. It was Cyclops giving an order that had Idie, one of the Five Lights, cross a big line and became a killer. She's among the youngest of the lights. She's also the most naive in a ways. She's like that girl you meet at a party who is from Bumfuck Texas and doesn't know the ingredients of a Bahama Mama. Everything is new to her. She was the one that was actually shocked when Kitty Pryde told her that she fucked her boyfriend without marrying him. Where she comes from, sexual repression and religious dogma are so normal that all enemas are shaped like crosses. She seemed to get over that, but she still didn't carry herself as your typical X-man. She's a young girl who just began filling out a bra. So her becoming a killer was a big moment and one big enough to wound the hearts of everyone who ever wrote slash fanfiction with Cyclops and Wolverine because it drove a big fucking wedge between them.
But the story of how Idie ended up in a position to be a killer wasn't really revealed in X-men Schism #3. Why would it? It has to designate a certain number of pages to depicting homicidal kids. This is where Generation Hope #10 comes in. This issue tells the story of how Idie made it to that fateful moment. Fittingly enough, it's told from her perspective. It fills in the gaps of Schism that Marvel is usually content to ignore like the 800-pound-gorilla humping donkey. It begins with the Five Lights staying out of the big sentinel battle that's been unfolding all over the world. Since they're a rescue team and not robot-killing specialist, they stay behind on Utopia and watch the mechanical carnage. It's only slightly more entertaining than a UFC match and a knife fight between monkeys.
Not everybody is taking it seriously. Gabriel watches it the same way some guys watch Monday Night Football. Don't know what that says about him, but he still comes off as an ass. Since the Five Lights are still novices, they don't understand the deeper meaning that goes into destroying mutant-killing robots. I know that's like saying taking a shit is poetic, but there is a deeper meaning here. Laurie and Idie get into a bit of a debate about it. Laurie is reading Xavier's old journals so she supports the old school position that says mutant killing robots are bad and they must be destroyed. Seems reasonable enough, but Idie sees it differently. She sees herself and mutants in general as monsters. She doesn't blame humanity for making killer robots like this and she does have a point when you think about it. This debate prompts Laurie to invite Idie to the mutant history museum. For those of you who already read X-men Schism #3, you know why that's a bad idea. If you haven't, you're probably confused and in need of some light head trauma.
Idie accepts Laurie's invite and goes to the museum. While the main team is off smiling for the paparazzi, they're acting like your typical tourist minus the incessant bitching about buses not being on time. Laurie carries herself like your typical nerdy intellectual. She's the kind of girl that can go into museum and have the same face that a guy would have when he walks into a strip club. The history and insight of a museum hold genuine appeal to her. For idie, it's a bit different. She looks as comfortable as a gay man at a Hooters because she's not like Idie. She's a girl from Africa who until recently didn't know there was a world outside her village. That sort of shit will affect a girl.
Laurie and idie aren't the only one at the museum. Kenji also joined in. He's an art guy so again, a museum would appeal to him. It's a little league game to a pedophile. He and Laurie are drawn in and they get a nice refresher course on sentinels. Since these mechanical monstrosities are such an integral part of mutant history, they start debating in the same way a Jets fan would debate with a Giants fan. This is where Kieron Gillen's writing really shines because he's very good when it comes to dialog. It's very conversational and it takes time to offer perspective, something that books like X-men Schism #3 did not take time to include. How could it when there were more pressing matters like homicidal kids?
Kenji and Laurie are so damn busy with their intellectual dick-measuring contest that they don't see Idie wander off. Again, she's a girl from Africa. Their conversation may as well be in Sanskrit for her. So she checks out a few other exhibits. Along the way, she meets up with Prodigy. This is a nice touch because he's a character that shows up only once in a blue moon. He's rarely had much of a role outside of New Mutants and he offers a little living history to Idie, telling her about how some of his friends died at the hands of mutant-hating douche-bags. This is something Idie herself hasn't really experienced before so it has an impact and sort of sets the tone for what we already know happened in X-men Schism #3.
Idie keeps wandering and finds herself at another exhibit. This one involves a recording of a very special girl with red hair and green eyes. Again, if you think that's referring to Jean Grey, you should know better by now. Marvel's new company policy for the past few years has been fuck with Jean fans as much as possible so make sure you get a copy of the memo! This redhead isn't Jean, but close! It's Rachel in her old Hound uniform. Now she's still in space getting the shit kicked out of her by the Shi'ar so Idie is watching a recording. She basically talks about how her future sucked ass and how mutants like her were treated by humans the same way Colonel Sanders treats chickens. It's a reminder that the future can suck in a big way and it's not clear if that future is still going to happen.
Later on, Laurie catches up with Idie and she comments how Rachel has similar hair to Hope (or Jean ripoff if you prefer). I think Kieron Gillen took a subtle potshot at all the angry Jean Grey fans out there by having Laurie say that she doesn't look like her and not every redhead looks like Hope. It would have been less subtle for Gillen to walk up to every Jean fan in their sleep and beat them over the head with a baseball bat saying "Jean and Hope aren't linked. Jean is fucking dead. Now shut up and accept Hope Summers, damn it!" But I guess this works as well. Still seems like a dick move.
All the high culture and intellectual debates are nice, but this is an X-men comic tying into a major X-men event. That means shit has to start blowing up at some point. Well once again, this issue links up with X-men Schism #3. The battle against the Hellfire kids takes shape and Idie, Laurie, and Kenji are on the sidelines. Laurie does what any college educated girl would do. She fucking runs. Idie, however, decides to linger. That or she's in the process of shitting herself. It's hard to tell. All she understands is there's a big ass fight unfolding right and front of her and that's not a good thing.
Flash forward to the latter part of X-men Schism #3. The X-men get their asses kicked by the kid Hellfire Club. I will repeat that. The X-men are beat by a bunch of deranged children. That's worth reinforcing because even in another comic, that's fucked up. All the while, Idie is contemplating what the hell she can or should do at this point. She stayed back, not letting the other X-men or the Hellfire kids see her. She sees the X-men get defeated and she's now the only one between them and a role in whatever perverse fantasies an insane kid can come up with. I'm guessing it would involve dressing up like Spongebob.
All the while, we see what is going through Idie's mind. Again, Kieron Gillen does a masterful job of articulating the emotions that she's experiencing. At the same time, she's getting conflicting orders from Cyclops and Wolverine. These orders were documented in X-men Schism #3. If you want to see it, buy that book or check out my review. I'm not going to repeat it, but all you need to know is Cyclops wanted her to take those Hellfire goons out. Wolverine didn't want her to become a killer. Guess which one she chose?
It was graphic enough in X-men Schism #3, but in this issue it's like an extra dash of hot sauce atop a jalopeno burrito. Idie crosses that line. She becomes a killer and takes out the Hellfire guards. She's not subtle about it either. She burns them. She freezes them. She generally ensures that they die a very painful death. Yet all the while, she still looks like a confused teenage girl. It's disturbing and somewhat tragic. It was a turning point in X-men Schism #3 and it's a turning point in Generation Hope #10. In any case, Idie will never be the same. This after being ignored for a good chunk of the series. Way to overcompensate Marvel!
When all is said and done, Idie meets up with Jean Ripoff (aka Hope) and the rest of the lights outside the museum. This is presumably before it explodes like it did in X-men Schism #3. As one would expect, Hope is pissed. Laurie and Kenji didn't do dick. They left Idie to face this impossible decision all by herself. Seeing as how she's gone out of her way to whip their ass into shape, she's pretty upset with them. Here, Laurie reveals something startling. When Hope isn't present, they aren't fighters. They're just teenagers with mutant powers. That cult-like influence on them really doesn't serve them well on their own and Idie just showed why. It's a distressing and potentially disturbing revelation. It puts the Five Lights in a very uncertain position, one where nothing can really be the same anymore. Then again, this is X-men. Cataclysmic change happens every other Tuesday.
This comic marks a significant contrast with X-men Schism #3. While that issue was all about big moments, big spectacles, and homicidal kids this comic was more of a personal story. It gave readers a sense of what Idie was going through before she got that fateful command from Cyclops. Most of the issue isn't spent depicting how she fucked up a bunch of Hellfire goons with a mix of fire, ice, and presumably lawsuits from Jesse Jackson. While that would have been awesome in it's own right, more of the story is focused on showing where Idie is coming from. She sees mutants as monsters and she understands that they're dangerous. Yet she's okay with this. It sounds like a twisted perspective, but it makes a fair amount of sense when you think about it with a slightly sober mind. That's part of what makes it so compelling.
Aside from the subtle potshots at how all redheads look alike, there weren't too many flaws in the telling of this very personal and very insightful story. It's the kind of comic that doesn't just compliment another. It actually enhances the overall event because it adds a much needed personal touch. Idie in many ways is the victim of the disagreement between Cyclops and Wolverine. She becomes a killer and it affects her. Now there are some elements that were underdeveloped. It would have been nice to see something done with Prodigy and it was never answered what the other lights were doing when kid Hellfire struck. But that's only a minor hole that's easy to ignore. I just assume they ate the shitty catering and had to take the Browns to multiple Superbowls.
In the end, Generation Hope #10 was one of the most compelling issues. However, it doesn't feel like a natural continuation of what the previous nine issues have been. It seems that Generation Hope can only be best when it's complimented by other X-books. When it tries to stand on it's own, it's often bland and boring. This feels like a bit of a flaw. You could probably cal this X-men Schism #3.1 and it would work just as well. But labels aside, it's still an awesome book. I tip my hat and raise my glass of whiskey to Kieron Gillen for making this issue awesome. I give it a 5 out of 5. The X-men are divided and Idie is caught up in the middle of it all. Her story deserves to be told and unless you're a card-carrying member of the KKK, you'll feel for her. Nuff said!