Hope’s mission in Japan comes to a climax as she faces off against a crazed Kenji. Meanwhile, Cyclops is a jerk, the new mutants (not New Mutants) struggle with their new roles, and Wolverine stabs something.
This issue reminded me of Peter Parker: Spider-Man #84. In that comic, Spider-Man and the Juggernaut duke it out over a misunderstanding, all of which is drawn terrifically by John Romita, Jr. Along the way there are some great character moments for both combatants and, despite being part of a larger story for both characters, the issue stands well enough on its own. That is what this issue of Generation Hope does and it does it with a much larger cast.
Let me start with the art here. Even if the characters didn’t all have completely different body types, Espin and Koblish make them each individuals, with different postures to reflect their very different personalities. In many ways, the art is reminiscent of Stefano Caselli’s work back on Avengers: The Initiative. The characters are exaggerated and dynamic without crossing over into looking ridiculous. There are a couple of minor problems in the art, but they’re just that–minor. The biggest issue was probably one of the panels in Hope’s monster fight with Kenji. Something gooey definitely explodes, but I’m not sure what or why. Otherwise, this is a fun issue to just pour over and look at.
On the story side, Gillen does a great job giving each character a voice all their own. The pompous ravings of Kenji make him a great foil for the level-headed but always positive Hope (who, incidentally, fluctuates between being a total bad ass and the nicest girl ever, and both sides totally work). Each of the Five Lights has at least one character moment. My only complaint here is that Teon the dog-boy just doesn’t have a lot going for him in terms of character right now. He reminds me of the New Mutant’s Warlock with a dumbed down way of speaking, but even more so. Like, times a thousand. Please teach this guy how to speak, even if you have to call it a secondary mutation. Other than that, everyone else speaks and interacts in an intriguing and fun way that makes me want to learn more about these characters and see where they go as this title progresses.
This book exemplifies the core themes of the X-Men universe. You have a group of teenage outcasts, feared by the world, but still trying to make it better. It is my sincerest hope that this book continues to perform at this level, because if it does it will be a contender for the best Marvel book on the shelves right now.