“Generation Hope” started out a little rough for my tastes. Kieron Gillen’s work was strong, but not as strong as I’d hoped, and the art wasn’t quite working for me, either. But by the time we hit issue #5, a quieter issue, with guest pencils from the excellent Jamie McKelvie, I was intrigued. This month, issue #6 is even better, building on what worked so well in #5 and expanding on it nicely. “Generation Hope” is a book that feels full of possibility while being delicious fun at the same time.
In this issue, Hope and the kids are still home on Utopia, being test and trained, when Cerebra discovers a sixth light at a hospital in Germany. Hope and her team are dispatched to bring in the new “light,” with their new “liaison” Kitty (still clad in her ridiculous astronaut suit) in tow. The reason Rogue has been replaced with Kitty is a little unclear, and seems kind of rude, but Kitty works well with the team and will likely be a nice fit. In Germany the team eventually gets into the hospital (and the funniest two pages of the issue are their attempts and failures initially to do so) and discover the sixth light about to be born and protecting itself by creating an army of “zombie-like” innocent bystanders and hospital staff.
Gillen not only gives each of his characters distinctive and interesting voices, but he just knows how to construct a great story. We get an intimate feeling for these characters and their lives, but never does Gillen sacrifice advancing the plot. The plot, itself, works nicely as both a standard superhero story and as a surprisingly good horror story. The build is perfect for any solid horror tale, as our heroes enter a frightening abandoned (sort of) environment, and explore it. Gillen even lets his characters acknowledge and poke fun at the horror aspects of their journey which adds a nice awareness that any teen worth his or her salt likely has.
I’m not too familiar with Salvo Espin’s work beyond “Generation Hope,” although the internet tells me that he did some of “Black Widow and The Marvel Girls,” which I confess I did not like, but what he does in this issue is lovely. The layouts are clean and clear, and the characters are well realized and consistent. The work is confident and expressive. Additionally, the best two pages of the book rely heavily on a visual gag that Epsin pulls off brilliantly. He makes smart choices about character expressions and with building tension, and he’s doing particularly interesting things with Kenji’s powers. The only downside to the art is that Kitty’s still stuck in her ridiculous 1950’s astronaut suit, which is not Espin’s fault, but I hope Gillen will be able to get us away from as quickly as possible, for everyone’s sake.
Like all the best comic books you can see Epsin and Gillen working in wonderful synch on “Generation Hope,” and it makes me excited about what they can do here together.