Thursday, November 17, 2011

Generation Hope #13 - Generational Awesome

Don't mistake my drunken rants as evidence of my political affiliation. I treat politics in a way similar to my penis. I don't whip it out in public and I don't force it down peoples' throats. I try to do the same with religion. That's exactly why I think it's an appropriate approach for a series like Generation Jean-Ripoff. It's a series that involves a messiah figure that doesn't involve crazy people from Texas running for President. Yet at the same time, it's been more erratic than Rick Perry's brain farts. Some issues have been awesome in ways that blow the mind and shrivel the scrotum. Others have been more fucked up than an Lady Gaga's dresses. So when a new writing team enters the fold, they're coming into an orgy that has just as much potential of being awesome as it does gruesome.

James Asmus takes over for Kieron Gillen at a time when all the X-books are undergoing big change. Schism has passed. Lines have been drawn. Sides have been taken. Balls have been busted. Every series is adjusting a mutant race that can no longer go clubbing in downtown San Francisco during gay pride week. Among the teams most effected were Jea-I mean Hope Summers's lights. Their so-called rescue team couldn't rescue their heads from their asses as Idie became a killer. Yet they still proved that they could kick ass against the Hellfire Club's fancy new sentinel so with Pixie joining in to take Idie's spot (and swapping spit with a few members already) the new team is set to move forward in the new world of Regenesis. I would hope that they along with Asmus treat it as well as I treat my penis.

Generation Hope #13 presumably takes place after the dust has settled from Schism and everybody is getting their butt-cheeks unclenched. Now with a depleted island, Cyclops sees fit to make sure that Je-I mean Hope (sorry, daylight savings fucked me up) are still capable of kicking ass. Sure, they handled a sentinel, but for X-men that's like saying you banged Madonna. It was something to brag about a few decades ago. Now it's no big deal. So to test their wits, Cyclops pits them in an exceedingly lopsided battle against Colossus, Psylocke, Namor, Magneto, Storm, Illyana, and Meltdown. So I guess Cyclops was that unimpressed with their performance in Schism. That roughing up a bunch of teenager mutant wannabes is their way of spending an afternoon.

Overmatched or not, Jea-I mean Hope (daylights saving plus booze does not a coherent brain make) and her lights hold their own. In fact, they do better than hold their own. They actually make the X-men regulars look like they belong in the minor leagues with JaMarcuss Russel and Ryan Leaf. Gabriel is able to outrun both Psylocke and Meltdown. Pixie teleports Colossus to what I assume is a crack den in Moscow while casting a spell on Namor that doesn't involve him fantasizing about another hot blonde. Teon even manages to diss Cyclops by saying Namor is the alpha male.

Now this is a little unbelievable in some ways because these Lights are all still very young. In fact, they haven't been X-men for the comic book equivalent for more than a few months. Yet they're able to go toe-to-toe with the regulars? It's one thing if they were holding back, but it's a bit too competent for a bunch of young mutants getting instruction from someone who may or may not be housing the "city in Arizona" as Cyclops calls it.

Eventually, the regulars get tired of this shit. When Kenji takes on Magneto and uses that Akira rip-off body of his to face-rape the master of magnetism Aliens style, he stops holding back. He pulls a few magnet tricks to rip Kenji's malleable body apart in a way so graphic that even Quentin Tarantino wouldn't put it in his movies. Needless to say this stops the exercise and Magneto gets a good lecture from Cyclops. Magneto reminds him that he's fucking Magneto. He used to want to make meat coats out of humanity. He's not going to go easy on a Japanese kid who tries to face rape him. Yet he still manages to be a douche about it, but again it's Magneto.

What follows next is some potentially interesting insight into Kenji. There really hasn't been much done with him other than show just how creepy he is. But after he pulls himself together, Kenji begins to speculate the more philosophical aspects of being a mutant/living glob. He says every form of his body is linked, but if he separates it does that means he's separating his soul? It's the kind of shit only a stoned artist would make after he found out he's being evicted. But Kenji IS an artist. That's part of his character and this is the first time it's really being explored. I applaud Asmus for this. I'm tempted to applaud how he touches on Gabriel and how using his powers seems to make him age, but Gabriel's been such a douche-bag lately with how he lets his dick do all the thinking that it's hard for me to give three tenths of a shit.

As if Kenji hadn't proven himself creepy enough, he decides to take a page from Gabriel's playbook and do some flirting. But who would he go after? Maybe Surge, another fellow Japanese mutant? Fuck no! That would make too much sense. He goes for Martha Johanssen. Who is Martha Johanssen? Well she's not Scarlet's cuter, more accessible little sister. She's a brain in a jar. No, that's not a lead-in to a Sarah Palin joke. That's what she is. And for some reason, Kenji is attracted to it. I'm tempted to go into elaborate details about how fucked up this is, but Kenji is from Japan. This is the country that gave us tentacle rape porn and panty vending machines. A brain fetish is actually pretty tame for a teenage Japanese artist.

There's so much horniness going around that even Teon gets in on the action. He decides to tempt the Stepford Cuckoos. Let's face it, three hot blond triplets in school girls uniforms will have every man's instincts going into overdrive. But once Hope (there, take that daylight savings!) arrives to spare the Cuckoos one too many semen stains, she finds out they were tracking a mutant in Pakistan that she didn't know about. This pisses her off because she's leader of the rescue team. She's supposed to know about every mutant signature in case they need rescuing. This is one the Cuckoos kept from her and since they won't give her details, she does what any reasonable teenage girl would do and pretty much blows them off in a completely non-porno way.

Now for those of you who haven't kept up with recent events in the X-books, this isn't coming from nowhere. That mutant signature is a result of a fairly recent arc of Uncanny X-men. In that arc, Emma Frost went through a great deal of trouble to slip Sebastian Shaw under the radar of everyone including Cyclops and Namor. She managed to ship him out to Pakistan where she mind-wiped him and hoped she would never have to deal with his sorry ass again. Well now Hope Summers, who just a few issues back threatened to burn Emma Frost to a cinder, has found out about him. You can imagine why this would fuck a lot of shit up.

After using the Cuckoos's own powers, she assembles her lights. Kenji even brings along Martha for good measure because a brain on a stick is just SO useful on a trip to Pakistan. Now Laurie tries to explain to Hope that in this time period Pakistan is about as welcoming as a horny pit bull at a daycare center. But she doesn't listen. She doesn't care if there are terrorists in this part of the world that routinely bomb girls schools for just showing their eyes, let alone walk around naked like Laurie. She doesn't know that this is Sebastian Shaw they're dealing with. She thinks this is another mutant that needs to be stabilized. So she splits the team up to look for him, even putting Gabriel with Pixie just because she needs to keep his penis confused. If you've read Uncanny, you know Hope is walking into a metric fuckton of trouble.

We finally get a chance to dig deeper into these hormone issues. At this point there's mostly talking and not much action. There's a moment where Hope hints that Laurie is attracted to Kenji, but that's so random that even in Pakistan it would be considered fucked up. It's just random talking and it's not the kind of talking that hasn't been done in previous issues, so it kind of drags here. Then Gabriel just talks about how he's a fucked up teenager in a body that's rapidly aging every time he uses his powers. He tries to justify his hormones as being part of his bone-headed decision making when it comes to flirting with anything that even resembles a pair of breasts. Pixie basically tells him off for trying to make her the skank. It isn't until they encounter some guys with guns that the conversation actually starts to get interesting. Really, that's all they do. They talk until people start shooting at them.

It eventually does pick up when Kenji's new squeeze, Martha, finds the signature they're looking for. It's their old buddy Shaw, but they don't know it's Shaw and it's not even clear of Shaw knows he's Shaw. Confused yet? It gets a lot simpler. As the Lights all converge around him, he does something that would be extremely unexpected if it were taking place in any other part of the world. He reveals that he has a bomb strapped to his chest. And since he's Sebastian Shaw and he's in a part of the world known for that sort of thing, it's not terribly surprising when he blows himself up. Now he doesn't give a reason. That's essentially left for the next issue, as are most of the plots revealed in this issue. But it's an explosive way for the issue to end. It finally shoots an enema of action into a comic that didn't really have much and this is the kind that you don't have to lie to your proctologist about.

Now I can already hear the ACLU and the Community for Islamic Relations suing Marvel. It's one thing to have a mission in Pakistan. It's quite another to cater to all the stereotypes about shanty towns, goat farms, and suicide bombers. Please, Marvel. Let's not give Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity anything else to jerk off to when the cameras are off on Fox News. So what if they're accurate. This is the age of political correctness! Truth be damned!

Political correctness aside, this issue was a solid setup issue at the very least. At the most it was one of those charming stories that starts with a mistake and turns into a fiasco that's just awesome to unfold. It's like watching Mike Tysons beat the shit out of Darrel Strawberry. You're not sure why they're beating each other to a pulp, but you're pretty sure they deserve it. James Asmus shows that he has a good handle for these characters. He even dug a little deeper with some elements that Kieron Gillen only touched on like Gabriel's aging and his flirtation with Pixie. He even introduced some new elements like Kenji having a strange fetish (at least by non-Japanese standards). It all culminated in the encounter with Sebastian Shaw at the end, which quickly turned explosive. The man doesn't know who he is, but he's the kind of guy that will blow shit up whenever he gets a chance and that always makes for great X-men stories.

While the setup was nice, it was just that...a setup. I get the feeling that Asmus spent too much time setting shit up and not enough time moving shit forward. There's only so much shit you can set up before it's starts to smell. Now the stench wasn't overpowering here, but it was apparent. Some elements like Gabriel's assessment of his attraction to Hope and Pixie seemed a bit contrived. Laurie's attraction to Kenji just came out of nowhere. I'm not sure if those were setups, but they felt a bit random and that had me scratching my head a few times. Luckily, the picture of a big ass explosion at the end made it all worth it!

Now I try to avoid scoring books on a curve. Setup issues are hard to overly praise because they only put the story in a position for action. At the same time they're a necessary part of every story. Not every issue can start with the characters neck-deep in shit. It's necessary to show them wading through the sewage. In that sense Generation Hope #13 is more than sufficiently awesome. There's a bit too much talking at times, but it succeeds in making the reader want to see the next issue and since Marvel is in the business of selling shit last I checked I can safely say they succeeded. That's why I give Generation Hope #13 a 4 out of 5. Hope and her team have stumbled ass backwards into a fucked up secret that certain people in the X-men don't want revealed. At the rate this story is going, it looks like Jerry Springer will need to make a comeback in order to assess it. Nuff said!

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