Saturday, September 24, 2011
Generation Hope #11 - Bitching Becomes Awesome
Reviewing any comic after having read a story as awesome as X-men Schism #4 is like smoking a joint while already fully drunk. You're already buzzed and the effects feel somewhat tame. But no matter how high I am, I'm always willing to get a little higher. Especially when it comes from comic books. To hell with my brain cells and everything my doctor or the pussies at AA tell me. Some awesome is just worth it.
Generation Hope has been more wildly varied than the stock market in recent times. For a while it was painfully mediocre. Every successive issue made me wish that Bishop would come back from the future and put two between Hope's eyes and one in her mouth just to shut her annoying ass up. Hope Summers has soured on me as a character so much that if she was a lemon I would be kissing the back of my head by now. Thankfully, Kieron Gillen has done a much better job of making the Five Lights great characters in their own right. Laurie, Idie, Teon, Gabriel, and Kenji are basically sperm cells in the scope of so many other characters. But they've quickly established themselves as new, original characters with their own personality. Sure, one of them looks like an Akira rip-off, but given how original Marvel and DC have been lately they might as well have discovered a new universe in Scarlett Johanssen's underwear drawer.
Generation Hope has taken a sabbatical from their typical teen tirades lately to fully integrate itself into the story of Schism. That or Marvel just wanted to boost sales of the title, which were inching dangerously close to X-men Forever numbers beforehand. Whereas Schism tells the story from the point of view of Cyclops and Wolverine, Generation Hope tells it from the point of view of the five lights. Keep in mind they haven't been X-men for long. This is their first time facing a killer robot. And like your first sexual experience, it's bound to be a humiliatingly awkward and nerve racking experience.
Generation Hope #11 picks up after the fancy new sentinel that those kid Hellfire brats released starts coming together over San Francisco Bay. It's now basically a lumbering monster poised to overrun anything that stands in it's way. In a sense, it's like Sarah Palin only with slightly more proficiency in math and US history. Jean Gr-I mean Hope (sorry, but after she came up so often in the Schism #4 review it's going to be tougher telling them apart) is sitting on the shores of Utopia with the Lights, contemplating how they're going to get out of this in once piece. At this point they must feel like Charlie Sheen's credibility. It's so damaged that it's practically unsalvageable.
Laurie, being the one who stayed awake in class, argues logically that they should run. They're not X-men veterans. They're teenagers still trying to cope with having blue skin and having to pay royalty checks to the makers of Akira. They're not equipped to handle this shit and they're right. To this point in the series, they really haven't taken on something on the level of a sentinel. They're supposed to be a rescue team. Not a stand-and-get-your-ass-mashed-like-a-chicken-at-KFC team. She's perfectly right in every respect, but Jean Gr-I mean Hope isn't having it. She was raised by Cable and she's a bit of a brat. So she has no qualms with kids being soldiers. I know it's hard to call someone from her background a bitch, but I'll say it anyways! She's a real bitch.
Laurie isn't without her detractors. Kenji, who must have stayed up long enough in his history class to know what happens in America when minorities are stuck in interment camps, argues that they should stand and fight for what's theirs. Like it or not, Utopia is the only home they've got. After the world started throwing sentinels at all things mutant-related, where else do they have to go? Even though he looks like an extra in an anime porn movie, he's got some balls or at least something like them.
Laurie still isn't convinced though. She sees what happened with Idie and she would rather not go through it herself. Keep in mind that at the beginning of this series she was just your typical college student. Now she's a blue-skinned fish girl that runs around naked on a mutant rescue team. I'm sure somewhere a creationist is shitting themselves. But then Jean-I mean Hope (I'll get it soon enough) basically overrules her and tells her to nut up or shut up. And Laurie points out that she does that knowing full well that she has this mysterious hold on the Lights that they can't escape. Then she rightfully calls her a bitch. Thank you Laurie! You've now earned my respect and I will be happy to get you a fake ID so we can get wasted at my cousin's Halloween party!
Beyond making Laurie more awesome than she's ever been to this point, she finally brings up the drunken elephant humping the 800-pound gorilla in the corner within Generation Hope. For reasons not fully understood by wildly speculated upon in comic book forums, Hope (see, I got it!) has this strange hold on her Lights. After she fixed their powers, they basically follow her the same way fat people follow an ice cream truck. Hope has never acknowledged that old, but now she's not denying it and basically using it to fuck with Laurie. So yeah, you need further proof that Hope is a brat? The prosecution rests!
What happens next may very well give me a blue-skin fetish and a fish fetish. So beware Long John Silvers! Because Laurie, the overly analytical grade grubber, actually does grow a pair and slugs Hope across the face. That's right, one of Hope's own Lights/prison bitches stands up to her and gives her something that she's more than deserved lately. It's a powerful and immensely satisfying moment. And it's easy to sympathize with Laurie. She understands that she's under Hope's thumb and she can't do shit about it. So like any frustrated teen that still struggles with impulse control, she picks a fight. Excuse me, I just teared up a little.
Hope, seeing as how Cable taught her not to take shit from anybody, fights back. It's nowhere near as epic as the fight between Cyclops and Wolverine in Schism #4. You get the sense this is more a fight between sorority girls over who stole who's underwear or who fucked whose boyfriend in the back seat of a BMW. For a comic that has been all talk and no action, this is basically light beer. It's not enough to get you buzzed. It just has a decent enough taste to warrant not using it in a bar fight. Naturally, the other Lights get involved. They try to break it up and Gabriel uses it as an excuse to cop a feel from Hope. Either way, it's nowhere near the most epic fight you'll see. It's not even top 50.
Finally, Idie speaks up. Never mind the fact that she's still traumatized from having killed some people a few issues ago. She still has enough balls to remind them that a few issues ago, she was just a scared little girl whose parents didn't know the difference between a mutant and a witch. As such, they got themselves killed. She may not have Laurie's college credentials, but she does have common fucking sense and common fucking sense dictates that fighting each other is fucking stupid. So yeah, when the girl they're trying to protect becomes the voice of reason something ain't right.
Laurie realizes this and begrudgingly accepts it. She agrees to stand and fight, hoping that her perfect blue-skinned ass gets out intact (as do I). Along the way they're joined by some of the other young X-men like Prodity, Rockslide, Pixie, and Anole. They made a brief appearance in an earlier issue so it's nice that they're showing up now. But they really don't seem to make much of a difference. They just show up to add numbers to this shitty kid-army that now has to face an approaching sentinel. Hope, never one to turn down a chance to throw more kids into the fire, accepts their offer.
Once again, Laurie has a problem with this. And why wouldn't she? She's already on the hook for Hope's cult-leader influence. She might as well be stuck in a family of Rick Perry supporters and forced to cheer when they talk about the death penalty in Texas. She makes it clear that when this is over, they need to talk about Idie. After what she went through, she shouldn't be playing the role of kid soldier. She's 14. She should just be entering her Twilight fan stage and masturbating to thoughts of Edward Cullen. Hope, being the bitch that she is, just brushes it aside. I sincerely wanted Laurie to deck her sorry ass again, but alas there's no such action.
In fact, there's really no more action within this whole issue. The fight with Laurie and Hope was it. Seriously, this issue was basically one fight scene and a whole lot of arguing. At this point you're either yawning or you've already passed out drunk. Because besides Laurie punching Hope (as awesome as that was), there's not much else besides talking. That's okay for an episode of Law and Order, but this is Generation Hope during fucking Schism no less. For there to be this little substance to go along with the style is just fucked up.
There's not much else left for this comic to do aside from make a nice, smooth transition into Schism #4. Remember that scene where Cyclops fired off an optic blast at the approaching sentinel? Well that's where this issue ends and where the events of Generation Hope #11 meet up with it. I admit this is a pretty nice way to tie each book together, but the lack of action and the lack of substance make this feel like filler and not the kind that involves diced onions mixed with mustard (What? Don't tell me you don't put weird shit on your burgers). So when the comic ends, you're thinking "Well it's about time." It's not the worst type of filler a comic could have, but it leaves so much to be desired. At least we got to see Hope get punched in the face. So it's not a total loss.
I've never been too big a fan of comics where characters just stand around and talk. If that's the basis for a good comic than I could just walk around with a camera, record all drunken rants I have with my buddies on a Saturday night, and get a job writing comics that will eventually lead to six Eisner awards. Sadly, that isn't the basis for anything aside from hangovers and the occasional bar fight. I get the sense that Kieron Gillen was trying to add depth to what the Lights were going through after the recent events in Schism. In the end I think he tried too hard. This book suffers from too much talking and not enough actually participating in the events of Schism. All the Lights do is basically argue amongst themselves while a killer robot is approaching to fuck them over. Well I'm all for character development, but like taking a piss after one too many beers there's a time and place for it. Like stumbling into the ladies bathroom while your date is doing blow off a toilet seat, this issue was neither.
It helped that Kieron Gillen's dialog and characterization were solid. The arguments Laurie had with Hope made this book worth picking up. It's a plot that has still been development for many issues, Hope's bizarre influence over the Lights. Unlike members at the Church of Scientology, Laurie has the balls to think for herself and speak out. She sees what's happening with the Lights and she doesn't like it. It's a great moment and I admit seeing her deck Hope was as satisfying as seeing your old parole officer get arrested for banging a hooker behind a Burger King. But it wasn't satisfying enough to make this comic truly awesome.
I still say that Generation Hope #11 fits into the greater story surrounding Schism, but it doesn't fit as nicely as it could have. There's just too much talk and not enough substance. This issue had the potential to do so much more. In the end it offers a perfect transition between Schism #3 and the events of Schism #4, but everything in between is sub-standard at best. For that reason I give Generation Hope #11 a 3 out of 5. It saved itself from a 2 out of five just for Laurie decking Hope. Bishop hasn't come back to blow her head off yet, so I'll settle for her own lights beating the shit out of her as she so rightly deserves for being a lame Jean Grey ripoff. Nuff said!