Some parties are always over too soon, and Gillen’s run on “Generation Hope” certainly counts as one that ended just at the point where the pizzas were supposed to be arriving. In this final issue, Gillen deals with the fallout from “Schism” while rotating characters in and out the cast, leaving a few threads for incoming writer James Asmus to pick up.
The most major changes are the departure of Idie, and the addition of Pixie to the cast. The former change has been largely dealt with elsewhere, while the latter gives the book a rather large injection of hormones. It’s all fun, if fairly standard teenage-superhero material of the kind that the series has mostly avoided thus far, and if Asmus makes the book a little soapier with his arrival, it’s clear from this issue that it certainly won’t negatively impact the book’s tone. Indeed, if anything’s wrong with this issue, it’s arguably that the relationship between Hope and Velocidad has mainly happened off-camera (or perhaps in too subtle a manner) since it was revealed some issues ago, which makes the tension harder to believe. If the hope is to do these plots, a more explicit soap-opera influence wouldn’t be amiss.
Gillen’s former “S.W.O.R.D.” collaborator, Steve Sanders, tackles the art for this issue, proving himself every bit as capable a handler of Gillen’s comic timing as he was on their last series together. The best moment is reserved for the final, ambiguous expression on Teon’s face at the end. Is he saying what he thinks, or simply what his power tells him is the right thing to say? It’s a look that requires a nuanced artist, and Sanders utterly nails it. As usual, the main problem with the art is simply that Utopia, in general, is an utterly uninspiring and visually bland location, and there’s only so much the artist can do to make a book set in a variety of hotel rooms and rocky outcrops work. It looks good, but only to the extent that it looks like what it’s supposed to, which is often rather bleak, utilitarian and featureless.
Perhaps the most unusual thing in this book, though, isn’t the story itself, but a reprint of several pages (at no extra cost) from “X-Men Regenesis” #1. The exchange between Laurie and Hope explains why Idie is being shipped off with Wolverine, and for that reason it’s right that it should appear in the main series. However, rather than take the “Spider-Island” or “Schism” route of redrawing the scene, it’s simply reprinted with a new context. The re-use of material in this way — as long as it doesn’t eat into the regular page count — is tough to complain about.
As far as “Generation Hope” goes, this issue ably demonstrates the potential of the characters beyond the book’s current remit, and acts more as a lead-in to a new run than a full stop on its current one. Subplots are reprised, rather than completed. Whether the book is being supported by fans of Gillen or fans of the characters remains to be seen, but there’s certainly no shortage of stories for Asmus to continue when he takes over. It’s sad that Gillen is leaving the series, but there’s no doubt that he’s leaving with the title primed to persist beyond his presence.