A fateful zoo outing spurs a mystery for the Generation X kids! With an unseen attacker preying on voiceless (and faceless) students, can this ragtag group of mutant misfits get to the bottom of it before this unseen menace strikes again?
Writer: Christina Strain
Artist: Amilcar Pinna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
While there’s no denying the appeal of the action packed issues of X-Men, fraught with peril and life-or-death moments, I’ve always appreciated the quiet issues where the members of the team just hang out and relax. That one issue after the Onslaught saga where the remaining X-Men (including noseless Wolverine) sit around and eat pancakes? I remember that issue more than the entire Blood Ties crossover with the Avengers. This issue of Generation X falls into that latter category, though not to the same degree as the previously mentioned book.
The issue begins with Nature Girl, Hindsight and Eye-Boy (man I hate that name) spending a day of leisure at the zoo. First and foremost, we learn that Nature Girl can actually speak – and, unfortunately, she’s insufferable. I’m as eco-minded and liberal as the next guy, but having a character that complains about the trees that were shot in the Purifiers attack in the previous issue is one way to turn readers off of a character with swiftness. Oddly enough, this issue also did a bit to rehab the image of Hindsight, whom I’ve found fairly insufferable to this point, but provided a few redeeming moments in this book both in the explanation of his powers and the reasons he used them.
Anyway, the story begins when Nature Girl’s arboreal amigos find a seldom-seen mutant NPC called Face unconscious in the zoo. Elsewhere Roxy makes a play to join a class that has an X-Men track, Quentin cheats at video games and we learn more than we thought we ever would about the X-Men’s janitorial staff. This is clearly going to be a book about fleshing out characters that other series’ didn’t know what to do with, so learning about Andre’s history (and to a certain extent Face’s) only feeds the book’s seeming mission statement and expands the emotional tapestry of the series’ cast.
As Face is unable to speak or see, Hindsight is in a unique position to get to the bottom of this situation, as he can experience a person’s memories in a third-person perspective. Of course, something we should be used to considering with characters like this given the decades of reading Rogue stories, Hindsight is reticent to use his powers because of the emotional toll experiencing someone’s memories can take on him and the person he touches. Given the cordial relationship he seems to maintain with the people he interacts with on this level, and his willingness to put himself through the ordeal to ensure that no one else gets attacked, maybe he’s not the foppish d-bag he’s seemed like the past few issues.
Art-wise, this issue is a step in the right direction too. Pinna’s issues with mouths continue, but are considerably better covered up in this outing. I think the true impact that he’ll have on this piece, however, is in character design. Okay, yes, Morph is the most nondescript looking character in the world (possibly a side-effect of his powers) and the only real distinction between Quentin and Nathaniel is the color of their uber-hip undercuts, but the wardrobe and aesthetic of each character in the book feels unique and fully matured. Whether it’s Eye-Boy’s convincingly pedestrian duds, Jubilee’s unending supply of cool mom clothes or Roxy’s sporty ensemble that seems appropriate for a young active woman finally starting to feel confident about who she is, everyone’s look is on point. It’s clear that most of the design efforts are given to the aforementioned haircut twins, whose fashionable ensembles seek similar, but opposed aesthetics – signaling that these two characters may prove each other’s foil. It’s kinda neat. There’s also a really cool panel on the last page where our team heads out to search out the mysterious attacker wearing bits and pieces of uniforms that harken back to different eras of X-teams. Try and pick them all out, it’s a cool shot.
This issue lays the ground for what will seemingly be the book’s modus operandi: Interesting characters in relatively mundane situations (for the lifestyle they find themselves in at least) learning to find their place in the world. Hopefully as the action picks up, the series can maintain a fun character focus.