Generation Hope continues to remind me what it is I like about the X-Books when they’re done right. With its focus on a younger team of recently powered mutants, it allows for an X-Men story that gets back to its roots of teenagers not only trying to defend themselves against threats to mutantkind, but also dealing with the struggles of growing up. Issue 12 manages to blend those two things perfectly to offer a book that gets to the heart of what X-Men stories are, even in the midst of the X-Team shake-up that is Schism.
As Hope’s team deals with the aftermath of the Sentinel attack on Utopia — as well as the divide in the team between Wolverine and Cyclops — this issue is full of emotionally charged scenes. However, Gillen manages to hit all the right notes with each one, allowing them to hold their weight instead of feeling like too much. The scene between Hope and Laurie in Hope’s bedroom is especially powerful, as it gives the reader both a good look into what drives Hope as a character as well as offers some point of understanding between two characters who have grown dangerously at odds.
The final scene between Hope and Teon is also moving, and I like Gillen’s ability to present Hope as both as strong as she needs to be and vulnerable when she can be. It’s that portrayal of Hope as a multi-dimensional character that allows her to be so compelling. It pushes the reader to want her to succeed even when she isn’t always able to make her perfect choice. She’s a young girl who’s lived her entire life with the weight of the world on her shoulders, and her strength truly shines as she’s able to reflect and admit that what she has to do isn’t easy.
This issue also captures the spirit of teenage angst, with the plot thread of the Hope/Gabriel/Pixie triangle woven through. Not all the problems the X-Men face are supervillains and Sentinels, and this hint of romantic drama adds a touch that brings a sense of realism to the lives these characters live. Gillen shies away from weighing the issue down with a “catfight” or too much teenage handwringing over love gone wrong, but instead allows Pixie and Hope to confront Gabriel’s two-timing in a way that speaks to their strong characters. Gabriel is also given understandable motivation for his behavior, which helps to keep the addition of relationship problems to everything else from feeling like it was forced into the issue to tack on a reason to put a little tension between Pixie and Hope.
With the Schism arc at a close, this issue also offers a great jumping-on point for people who haven’t previously been reading the series. Hope’s team has been changed by the recent battles the X-Men had to face, and this comic sets up a restructuring of what it had been in the past, as well as a place to move forward. There’s a break in the action as the team recovers from their latest blows, and this issue could potentially give new readers the chance to familiarize themselves with who the characters are before the next story arc begins. If you haven’t been reading Generation Hope already, this is the issue to pick up.
Sara McDonald started reading comics in the third grade, and now puts her English degree to good use talking about them on the Internet. She currently resides in Western Massachusetts with a roommate, three cats, and an action figure collection and spends the time she isn’t reading comics working for a non-profit. You can visit her blog at Ms. Snarky’s Awesometastic Comics Blog.