Sunday, October 16, 2011
Generation Hope #12 - Integrating Awesome
When some incredibly amazing shit happens, it's easy for the stench to spread. That's not necessarily a bad thing. If the story is bad, the stench will make other stories suck donkey balls at a bachelor party in Tijuana. If the story is good, the stench will make other stories more awesome than a dozen strippers and a pile of cocaine. For that reason, Generation Hope has been seriously benefiting from the events of X-men Schism. This event was awesome in ways that exceeded all expectations and bludgeoned those expectations like Mike Tyson on a meth high. And it isn't just by leeching off the events. Generation Hope actually played a significant part in developing the story because Idie was the one that fired the fateful shot that triggered the schism. As such, she drew Generation Hope into the fray and their role was a significant factor in making Schism awesome. Well that and Cyclops and Wolverine beating the shit out of each other, but that's besides the point.
With X-men Schism #5 and X-men Regenesis #1 in the books, pretty much every loose end has been tied and cleared up. The last remaining vestige resides in Generation Hope #12, which is very much like X-men Schism #5.5 and X-men Regenesis #1.5 because it takes place right after the events of these books. And by directly I mean scenes from Regenesis were cut and pasted into Generation Hope #12. Now I'm tempted to label this as stuffing filler in a burger the same way McDonald's stuffs meat substitutes into their Big Macs, but if it's part of a larger picture I'm willing to call it something else. I don't know what yet, but I'm sure there's a word for it that only my old English teacher knows. She would hunt me down and kick my ass if I botched it so I won't even try.
The book starts right in the middle of the events of X-men Schism #5 and before the events of X-men Regenesis #1. If you're confused, don't be or get better weed. Je-I mean Hope (sorry, 12 issues in and that shit still gets me) is celebrating with the rest of the young mutants. They just bitch slapped their first sentinel, which for X-men is like losing your virginity to two cheerleaders behind the bleachers of the homecoming game. It's a very satisfying moment, but it's somewhat bittersweet because of how it came about. Laurie is quick to remind Jean-I mean Hope (you know the drill by now, I'll get it) that Idie became a killer because of this shit and it's royally fucked her up. Something has to be done about it and messiah or no messiah, she has to take some form of responsibility. Keep in mind that responsibility and teenage girls aren't usually associated with one another. They're like gay Republicans. They exist, but it's counter-intuitive to see them.
While it's still technically a victory, some were still injured in ways that don't require complex musings over the innocence lost by a girl that kills. Gabriel sustained a leg injury. No, it's not a metaphor for a man losing his masculinity or anything. The guy hurt his leg and somehow he uses that as a way to win simpathy from Pixie. She's his age and she's a hormonal teenager who once lost her soul (then again some teenage girls don't have souls to begin with so that may not be saying much). Even while he's injured, Gabriel can't resist thinking with the wrong head. Hell, he's let his penis do most of the thinking since he was first introduced. Since Pixie has a cute face and a decent rack, he just can't help himself.
This whole victorious spirit is still lingering with the other young mutants. They defeated their first sentinel! They should be proud! It also gives them an excuse to act like assholes sometimes. Rockslide, who once tried to bone a vampire Jubilee, decides to ask that burning question that so many others on message boards have asked about Laurie. Is she running around naked? If so, how the fuck is this not a MAX comic? Marvel will show some characters get decapitated and they'll show incest with the Maximoff twins in Ultimate, but a nipple? Oh someone sacrifice a goat at the temple of Odin! It's a funny scene and Kenji helps make it funnier by offering some burgers that he grilled using his own body. When they ask him about the meat he's a little coy. He says it's part of his body, but then he says it's not. It's really not too clear, but if Marvel has naked blue-skinned chicks running around then why the hell wouldn't they joke about cannibalism? There are just no lines they can't cross except for fucking nipples.
They choose not to stick around an make Kenji get them a straight answer. So Hope leads Laurie and some of the other young mutants back inside to check on Gabriel. Once there they find hims swapping spit with Pixie. Now he could make an excuse to say that he was practicing CPR, but seriously that shit doesn't work anymore and I'm quoting a sexual harassment lawsuit from a Baltimore strip club as a reference. Hope (who swapped spit with Gabriel at one point as well) is understandably pissed. Then again she's a redhead. Redheads tend to get cast aside. It puts Pixie in an awkward position and to her credit she really didn't know. This is all Gabriel and his inability to tell the difference between his brain and his penis.
The next scene actually isn't part of Generation Hope #12. If you read the intro (and let's face it, there are more people who read Apple's user agreements), you would have noticed a note that said there was a section taken directly from X-men Regenesis #1. Well in case you were too stoned to remember, you get a refresher course. Nothing is changed at all. It depicts Hope acting all pissed at first that she has to break up her team. Then Laurie confronts her with a fucking gun because she's among those who don't like this whole messiah influence they have on her. Since Hope is used to having a gun pointed at her, she doesn't really flinch. She just plays the 'my adopted daddy that raised me in a shitty future is dead' card and that's enough to win her some sympathy points.
Now there's no need to go into further details with this scene. It's in two books. There's no excuse to miss it. But on the surface just repeating a scene seems like a waste of ink. Yet here, the scene flows with the events of Generation Hope #12 just as it did with X-men Regenesis #1. It doesn't feel copied and pasted. Aside from the different art, you would never know that it wasn't part of the book. So in that sense I'm not going to bust an capillary over this stunt. It still works with the story and that's all we readers can ask for. I'm not unreasonable. Not every scene has to be a retelling of the Last Supper.
So after Hope agrees to let Idie go with Wolverine, we get back to the original stuff. That involves Hope blowing off steam with a gattling gun. Hey, she was raised by Cable. Shooting off guns is how she unwinds. Makes me wonder if Ted Nugant is actually her biological father (Come on, Marvel. You know you wanna!). Once she's less homicidal, she visits Pixie and they clear things up. She makes it clear that swapping spit with Gabriel didn't mean dick and she wants her to be part of her rescue team. It sounds like an awkward way to recruit, but then again if Gabriel is going to act like a man-whore why not use him like one?
Speaking of the man-whore, Gabriel takes some time to scold himself and his dick. He also muses how his time warping ability is actually making him older. Now this hasn't been addressed before, but anyone who didn't use physics class to take a smoke break knows that when space is warped time usually follows. As Dr. Nemesis demonstrated in the early days of Generation Hope, Gabriel isn't actually super fast. He just warps space around him. That means according to Einstein, he's aging faster. As a result, he's trying to enjoy life in his prime because it's going to end sooner for him than for anyone. He still comes off as a douche-bag, but he does have an excuse for making his functioning dick count.
He and Kenji eventually meet up with Hope and Pixie. She reveals to him that he'll have plenty more opportunities to swap spit with her because she's joining the team. It's awkward, but I have a hard time believing that Gabriel's penis isn't somewhat happy. Hope essentially ignores the whole innuendo aspect of it and basically says that they're still a rescue team even if Idie is leaving. Kenji also takes a moment later to completely go off on how much he hates Hope, but like Laurie she has a hold on him. This is another telling sign that Hope's hold may be tenuous and in the long run she'll make more enemies than friends.
But it's not enough for Gabriel to simply be forgiven for shoving his tongue into the mouth of a pretty girl that just happens to be there. As they leave, he finds out that Teon took a shit in his bed. Now if any other character did that, it would be a big fucking deal. But this is Teon. He's a basic creature, like a dog that hasn't been potty trained. Or like a dog that's been trained to strategically shit in certain areas. Hope has him trained pretty good and I think it sends a clear message to Gabriel. Don't act like a shithead or you'll get shit in your bed!
A good poop joke definitely helps soften the blow of a more emotional scene like Idie's departure. While she hasn't said much in this issue, she's done enough throughout the Schism saga to say everything that needs to be said. It's the first time that one of Hope's followers breaks off and leaves. Even though she may have a good reason, it's still a tough blow. It's like being in a band and finding out your drummer wants to quit and study calligraphy. It's upsetting, unexpected, and it fucks with you.
Hope's growing distress is not being going unnoticed by others. While Hope is getting humbled in a less-than-messianic way, Cyclops and Kitty have a brief discussion regarding Hope. It centers around a "city in Arizona" as Kitty calls it. Cyclops knows what she's talking about. It hasn't been teased. It's been confirmed. Hope has the Phoenix Force, yet nobody in any X-book has bought it up in any capacity. Yet finally, Cyclops gives the explanation. Hope lost her adopted father and is under tremendous pressure to be the mutant messiah. Throw Phoenix and potentially Dark Phoenix into the mix, and that's a big fucking problem. Kieron Gillen has already discussed this in interviews long before Schism was ever announced, but the fact that it's only being addressed on panel now is kind of fucked up.
Now every time the Phoenix is mentioned, I'm compelled to reference the red hair and green eyes that make Hope Summers so difficult to tell apart from the character she ripped off. Even though Marvel has confirmed repeatedly that Jean Grey is dead and they're not bringing her back, they still insist on making Hope her replacement. Aside from using guns, there's nothing that Hope Summers has done throughout Kieron Gillen's run that Jean Grey could not have done. If she was meant to be a different character, I'd say that Marvel has failed at this. At some point it'll have to be addressed. That point may involve the Phoenix finally doing what it does best, blowing up and raising all sorts of holy hell. We don't know when that will happen, but after a scene like this it makes me feel as though it's already way overdue.
Despite all these worries about hardships, Hope is already plenty fucked up. Without the Phoenix, she's still feeling the pressure. Letting Idie go is a sign for her that she's not earning a passing grade at this whole messiah business. While she's lamenting, Teon pays her a visit and comforts her in a way that doesn't involve shitting on her bed. Teon doesn't usually say anything too intelligent other than fight and mate, but like any well-trained dog he comforts his master when he or she needs it. So he pooped in someone's bed and consoled the mutant messiah that may or may not go Dark Phoenix. I'd say that's a pretty productive issue for Teon!
It's a bittersweet yet fitting way for Kieron Gillen's run on Generation Hope to end, at least for now. Seeing as how he's staying on with Uncanny X-men, those such as myself who have come to get a good buzz off his writing need not go into crack withdrawal. The end of Schism marks the end of a significant story for Hope and the Lights. It's a good transition point. Generation Hope #12 was light on the action, but high on character development. It gave each light a chance to develop. Idie stole most of the show with previous issues. The other four lights caught up with this issue and for the most part, they caught up successfully.
Some moments were done better than others. Gabriel's character continues to be all over the place. I like to think that it's just because he lets his penis do too much thinking, but he really doesn't have much coherence as a character. At least here Gillen makes an effort to make sense of his actions. Kenji adds to his creepiness factor with implied cannibalism, but he's mostly offering witty commentary and really doesn't seem to contribute much. Hope and Laurie are the ones that benefit most from this issue. Laurie is the smart one so she actually scrutinizes this strange connection that the lights have with Hope. And for once, Hope actually shows some humanity regarding the rigors of being a mutant messiah. For the past few issues she's come off too much as an unflinching bitch who just brushes this shit off the same way Tommy Lee brushes off herpes. She actually shows some strain for having such a huge responsibility. For a teenage girl, it feels very relevant and the actual mention of the Phoenix Force certainly helped. It was long overdue and it probably should have been done in previous issues, but it's better late than never I suppose.
There were many important moments in this issue. Some of these moments are likely to have an impact on future X-men stories. They're as well done as can be even if some elements were more refined than others. Generation Hope has been somewhat erratic for the past several issues, but Schism has brought back the prominence that made it so amazing when it was first launched. This issue exemplifies much of what makes this series so appealing while tying in perfectly the events of Schism and Regnesis. It's a hell of a feat and one Kieron Gillen should tattoo on his forehead with pride. He probably won't do that so I'll just give Generation Hope #12 a 4.5 out of 5 and leave it at that. The schism is complete and so is the regenesis! Now the new divide can begin and hopefully that sweet stench of awesome will carry over! Nuff said.