Last issue saw the mysterious return of both the series’ most iconic villain as well as one of its founding members, in an encounter the Generation X team barely survived. This month? It’s an Eye-boy one-off. Yep, hold onto your butts.
In my review of issue 3, I claimed that the modus operandi for the new Generation X series would be “Interesting characters in relatively mundane situations (for the lifestyle they find themselves in at least) learning to find their place in the world.” That’s precisely what we get in issue 5…it just happens to be with the two worst characters in the series. Yep, issue 5 is a focussed one shot of Eye Boy and Nature Girl as they fend off an attack from the Rat King. No, not the awesome Rat King who used to fight the Ninja Turtles, just some douchebag with a magic flute.
The interesting development of the issue is the growth in Eye Boy’s powers. Though his powers up until now have consisted of “has a lot of eyes,” it looks like Trevor’s growing up. While participating in a simple surveillance exercise Trev pushes himself to new heights and gains the ability to see through people’s clothes, even catching sight of a thigh tattoo of The Smiths’ lyrics on Chamber’s thigh (I’m assuming it’s from “How Soon is Now?” Jono seems like a fan of The Craft). That’s not all, though, as his powers keep going deeper and deeper, allowing him to see people’s skeletons (why does Rockslide have a skeleton? He’s a sentient energy being in a rock monster body?), their body heat (ala the Predator), and (somehow) whether or not a living thing is being mentally controlled. It harkens back to that one issue in Wolverine and the X-Men where we got to see Eye Boy turn into Eye Man and actually be a competent hero. I mean, he’s still a nerd at this point, but he’s developing.
This ability lets him spy a raccoon stealing Rockslide’s wallet and what unfolds is a web of deceit and indentured servitude wherein the villainous Rat King (again, not the cool one) has been hypnotizing small animals to steal crap for him. Yes really. At one point, Trevor even breaks into the rousing freedom speech from Braveheart to get the woodland creatures on his side. Obviously, this is all facilitated by the participation of Nature Girl, who really doesn’t get much in the way of development short of her willingness to keep Trevor’s viewing of Chamber’s meat and two veg a secret.
The two make quick work of the Rat King and…that’s kind of it. There’s not a lot to go on here. Strain does a decent job of making Eye Boy more likable in this issue, as he believably comes off as a dweeby outsider on a team of more active and attractive outsiders. If there’s a fault here (besides Santo for some reason refusing to believe that the kid with literally 50 eyes may have seen a raccoon take his wallet) it’s the missed attempt to humanize Nature Girl; I get that she’s meant to be like that super vegan friend who is more into her causes than her contemporaries, but there’s a reason most of us avoid these people, and it’s not because they don’t eat bacon (mostly). This could be the chance to give her a more endearing quality than “really likes animals,” but she remains a one-note joke instead. It doesn’t sink the book or anything, it’s just a missed opportunity.
This is a quick issue, but not a bad one. There are a few choice jokes peppered in there, and I rather prefer the art stylings of Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque to series regular Amilcar Pinna. It’s still not ideal, admittedly, but given that the issue is more whimsical in tone that previous outings, Alburquerque’s cartoonish pencils work well with the subject matter. I particularly like that Eye Boy manages to take out the Rat King (STILL not the cool one, stop asking!) by pelting him in the face with a rat. It’s the simple pleasures.