Saturday, February 18, 2012
Generation Hope #16 - Messianic Awesome
I tend not to make a big deal of comics that use the kind of messianic metaphors that make Pat Robertson, the Family Research Council, and James Dobson whine like little girls stuck in a room with a spider. I enjoy blasphemy as much as the next guy, but let's face it. The story has been done to death for the past 2000 years. However, the messianic story surrounding Jea-I mean Hope Summers (my memory sucks when I'm drunk) is not a story you would expect to hear from Middle Eastern goat herders. It's a story that Marvel has turned into an epic that has spanned years. Jean-I mean Hope (I need to sober up) is in a position to be the messiah to the entire mutant race. She's already helped boost their numbers with the Five Lights. Like a certain Middle Eastern preacher, she's gained some exceedingly loyal followers along the way and used those followers to go on the kind of adventures they right books about. Can't think of a good example, but you get the idea.
However, part of every messiah story involves a betrayal of sorts. You don't take on the role of a savior without making a few enemies because saviors by definition have to save others from something that's fucking with them. More often than not, it's a someone. The only way to combat it is to fuck with the system itself and Je-I mean Hope (need more coffee) has been doing more than her share. Since Second Coming, she's become less a messiah and more an insubordinate brat who thinks with her fist more than her brain. This has already led her to put Idie in a bad position that led her to leave the team in Schism. Then in the most recent arc, she brought Sebastian freakin' Shaw to Utopia and demanded that he join her team. She might as well have brought Mephisto on a double date with Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson.
All this has led to more and more anxiety from her fellow Lights and the other X-men, especially Emma Frost since she tends to despise redheads for obvious reasons. Now it's getting to a point where some are looking to play the role of Judas in Hope's (cold shower did the trick!) messianic story. Generation Hope #16 begins to tell that story. It starts off by showing Hope in a pretty conflicted position because after the hissy fit she threw in the last issue with Sebastian Shaw, Cyclops has given her the X-men's file on the asshole for her to study. In reviewing it, she gets a sense that she's dealing with a guy that may or may not rank somewhere between pond scum and donkey shit. Plus, he did try to kill Cable a few times. That can't help, but to Cyclops's credit he's still trusting her. To him, she's still the messiah and that means giving her the kind of leeway that Charlie Sheen gets with his family.
Messiah or no messiah, some of the Lights are finally getting tired with her bullshit. And who better to conspire against a Jean Grey ripoff than an Akira ripoff? Kenji made it clear at the end of the last issue that he didn't like the control she asserted on him or the other Lights. And being the kind of deranged artist that thinks logic doesn't make for good art, he starts plotting. He attempts to get Laurie involved and he shows a little creativity in the process (he is an artist after all). He uses those creepy tentacle-rape monster type powers of his to link into Laurie's mind where he creates an illusion where they're both normal. He points out (correctly) that Hope has power and influence over every one of them and the more Lights she activates, the more power she'll have. He briefly flashes an image of her becoming a Goblin Queen like one-woman army, which I admit is pretty hot, but since she's already a Jean Grey ripoff I would rather Hope leave Madelyn Pryor alone.
The fucked up thing about this crazy lecture is that Kenji isn't wrong. Hope isn't the tragic little girl that was running from Bishop for most of her life. She's an arrogant brat not afraid to assert herself on a bunch of young mutants who haven't had much time to adjust to the idea that they're doomed to being labeled a freak for the rest of their lives. She hasn't really made them feel normal. She's tried to turn them into soldiers for her rescue team. Even if he is one of those artists that sniffed one too many paint fumes, Kenji has good reason not to trust her with an army of Lights.
It's a very serious and emotional moment for Kenji and Laurie. However, James Asmus isn't without throwing in a bit of humor. In previous issues, Teon has proven unable to control his mating instincts around the Stepford Cuckoos. But cut him some slack. They're three hot blonds that like to dress in catholic school girls uniforms. How could anyone, let alone a hyperinstinctual mutant, help himself? Two of the Cuckoos try to hose him off like a priest taking a cold shower after watching the Little League World Series. They even create a nice dream-world for him where he's surrounded by beautiful women and all his does is eat, sleep, mate, and fight. Instinct or not, that sounds like Heaven in my book! But what's interesting here is one of the Cuckoos actually comes to Teon's aid. It leads to a rare fight among the triplets and not the kind you can masturbate to unfortunately. It shows that the Lights aren't the only one dealing with a potential rift. Could one of the Cuckoos have the hots for a lovable horndog like Teon? It's possible and could make for the kind of fantasy that both dogs and man alike can cherish.
So her Lights are conspiring against her. Her unofficial pet in Teon can't tear himself away from the Stepford Cuckoos. You would think this is shit she should be on top of, but she does have other crap to deal with. Namely Sebastian Shaw. After reading about what a douche-bag he is, she pays him a visit. Shaw has since shaved both his beard and head, making him look less like a rich asshole and more like the guy I buy pot from. You don't want to feel any sympathy fr this asshole, but he does make clear that he trusts Hope and Hope has to lie to his face that she would help him recover memories of who he was. Given what she's read about him, it's understandable. But still, she's supposed to be the messiah and lying like that is usually a bad sign. I'm sure even Jesus was a little more tactful when his disciples asked about him and Mary Magdalyn.
Everyone seems to either be plotting to kill one someone or fuck them. Teon seems to be improving his luck with the Cuckoos, but what about Gabriel? He also has a raging boner that won't go away. He's tried sharing it with Hope, which only ended in disaster. He tried sharing it with Pixie, who didn't much appreciate it either. But since he went out of his way to save her ass in the last arc, she's a bit more open to letting him lick chocolate off it now. She pays him a visit and it doesn't take long before she forgets all about his tendency to let his penis do the thinking and kisses him. Maybe it's just because Pixie has a lack of options on Utopia and not enough people have an Elf fetish. So why not go for a guy who is so horny at times that he would hump beanbag chair with a slit in it? It's not romantic, but they both get laid. So why not?
While Gabriel's day is getting better by the second, Hope's day just keeps getting worse. She crosses paths with Emma Frost again, who if you'll recall smacked her across the face in the previous issue in a rather awesome way. She just finished a meeting with Kenji, which is like seeing the President of Iran come out of a gas station bathroom with a nuclear weapons scientist from North Korea. In a very unmessianic way, Hope blows Emma off and once again it's not in a way you can masturbate to. My dick is starting to get very upset, but at the expense of diverting too much blood from my brain I'll also point out that Hope confronts the same gang of mutants that tried to rough her up in the last issue as well. It was a generic fight, but one that left Random and his buddies pretty humiliated. So it's a little surprising/ominous when Kenji comes along to break it up. It doesn't come off as an overly friendly gesture either. It's more a "the bitch is mine!" type move.
It's not just Kenji that's making a move either. After yet another instance where Emma wants to slap Hope a new one, she meets with Cyclops to nag him like any good girlfriend should when their fuck buddy is paying too much attention to another woman. What's odd is she's not wrong either. She points out that Cyclops is giving Hope way too much leeway and is blindly trusting that she's the messiah they all hope she is. That doesn't sit well with her and for once Emma Frost's tits, pussy, ass, and lips are not enough to sway Cyclops. Even the mention of the Phoenix does nothing so Emma Frost does something that if it happened in any other book would be big. She uses her powers to knock his ass out. It's not quite as bad as locking a clamp around a man's dick, but I imagine it's right up there.
This is a powerful scene, but once again it's playing off the old theme that Marvel won't do anything to seriously disrupt the Cyclops/Emma relationship. So it's hard to take seriously that something is going to happen here. Moreover, all this drama seems to be happening in a vacuum. It's really not clear how this fits into the events of the other X-books, if at all. It means either nothing meaningful will come of this shit or it's just one of those things that will be glossed over in other books. That's the problem with comics that are about to end. So many good things may happen towards the end, but it's all too easy for related books to write them off.
Now Hope's blind adherent isn't around to help her. It allows Kenji to take some pages out of Japanese anime porn and use that tentacle rape body to attack Hope in a way that isn't quite NC-17, but still pretty fucked up. Using his powers and getting help from former brain-in-a-jar Martha, he starts mind raping Hope into a dream world where he attacks her. He brings up the events of the first arc of Generation Hope where she used his own powers to fuck with him and tame him. He also taunts her at how she's an arrogant brat who wants to be a messiah, but doesn't give three sixteenths a shit about the Lights she influences. Again, he's not wrong. Hell, I found myself saying "It's about damn time!" when I read this scene. I'm not an art buff, but Kenji is alright! Aside, from of course, the tentacle rape connotations.
Once he's done screwing with her mind a bit, he wakes her up to show that she's in a position that another messiah back in Palestine 2000 years ago was in. She's nailed to a cross-like structure with Emma Frost, Magneto, Kenji, Laurie, and a bunch of other mutants surrounding her. They dare her to show that she's the messiah she claims to be, but Kenji also points out that messiahs have a tendency to die. It's really an either/or prospect. Either sacrifice herself like a good messiah or stop being such a bitch. It should be an easy choice for any reasonably minded person, but Hope Summers is the same arrogant bitch that brought Sebastian Shaw to Utopia. Reasonably minded left her sorry ass a long time ago.
This is the kind of story that hasn't exactly been brewing from the beginning, but the potential has always been there. Now James Asmus is realizing it and doing a damn good job of making good use of it. He really shines here in the way he handles these characters. I can honestly say that this is probably the best depiction that the Lights have gotten in quite some time. We don't just get to see Kenji and Laurie adjusting to their roles as mutants under Hope's wing. We get to see them wrestling with their very nature. The visuals and the mind games help give this book a unique feel. They don't go to some exotic location to fight a battle. Much of it happens inside their minds and really helps flesh the characters out. Because while Kenji sounds like an artist that smoked way too much weed at times, he's perfectly reasonable in despising Hope for her hold on the team.
The only criticism I can levy against this issue (if you can even call it that) is this drama doesn't seem to play off anything else that's going on in the other X-books. Shaw's presence hasn't been brought up to anyone yet and Namor, who was assured that Emma Frost killed the man, hasn't even been mentioned in a thought bubble. While this story may eventually mix with the rest of the X-books, at the moment it feels very isolated and narrow. It's written in a way that seems too cut off from the larger scope of the X-books. I know that Generation Hope is getting canceled, but that doesn't mean it can't play a part in the greater X-men landscape. It's still a very well-written book, but is too narrow in scope and we get no sense that the events in this issue will affect other books even if they should.
On it's own, Generation Hope #16 is still a quality comic. James Asmus has done an admirable job taking this series down the home stretch. Unlike the last arc that involved an adventure in Western China, this arc is more character based and brings to surface something that feels like an important element to the whole messiah aspect to Hope's character. With Avengers vs. X-men looming in the not-so-distant future, the timing couldn't be more appropriate. It just needs to fit into that larger puzzle. With that in mind I give Generation Hope #16 a 4.5 out of 5. When Judas got tired of being a messiah's prison bitch, he struck a deal in secret. When Kenji felt the same way, he took a more direct approach and played mind games with his messiah. Thus proving that even in stories that are a basis for all of Western monotheism, the Japanese are still more efficient. Nuff said!