With its strong focus on characters over action, Generation X tends to be the most fun of the X-team books. Gold is steeped in nostalgia, Blue reads like a mutant-heavy Avengers book, Astonishing is a mindless action flick – but Generation X works by truly understanding its characters’ drives and desires and using that to inform the story. Naturally, then, the story works best when it focuses on the characters we truly care about. So while last month proved that there may be more to Eye Boy (and not enough in Nature Girl), this month’s focus on Quentin Quire is a welcome change of pace.
Maintaining his cred as the bad boy of the special class, Quentin has been leading a pretty crazy nightlife – and bringing poor Ben Deeds along for the ride. Deeds, a total doormat from concept to execution, can’t say no to Quire – whose ideas of a night on the town include petty vandalism, criminal trespassing, drunken karaoke (naturally) and -gasp- drunkenly pouring his heart out about his unreturned affections for a seldom seen character whom he shared a brief relationship with years ago. Wait, what? Reverence to established canon? Using past events to inform growth in your characters? What am I reading here? Yes, Christina Strain is actually using a dropped plotline from the Wolverine and the X-Men series to enrich her own story, and it works! Quentin is often written as a walking quip machine, but this little bit (and his actual interaction with Idie later in the book) does so much more to humanize him than all of his acting out “Millennial Dennis the Menace” shenanigans.
Anyway we learn all of this when Nathaniel uses his hindsight powers on Quire to learn why Benji is so tired in class. Better yet, the book adheres to its own established canon by having Quentin bring up Nathan’s past reticence to use his abilities on others because of the emotional toll it can take on him. While Nate downplays the impact on him, he definitely displays more Quire-like tendencies in the aftermath. To take some of the stress off of Benji, Nathaniel agrees to hang out with the duo tonight to keep things somewhat sane – at least as sane as a swanky supervillain auction can be! This scene is brilliant! The c-list supervillains in the background, Quentin and Nathaniel’s running commentary, the return of Kade Kilgore (another bit of Wolverine and the X-Men continuity) and the setup of a fun heist for the next issue or two! I even enjoyed Quentin’s ruse of claiming Ben was his boyfriend to disgust suspected homophobe Kilgore into leaving them alone. The blooming relationship between these three characters is maybe the highlight of the series thus far.
Elsewhere, our B-story sees Jubilee and Jono roaming through central park in search of the missing Monet. Back in issue 4 we learned that Ms. St. Croix had been merged with her vampiric brother Marius to reform the villainous M-Plate, so her friends are on the lookout for her. Jubilee is somewhat disheartened to learn that Chamber says that he wouldn’t hesitate to attack his former teammate if he saw her, given that she worries about her own ability to fight her vampirism should her safeguards fail. Still, the duo takes down a mugger in a fun little scene that keeps both of these characters (the only two holdovers from the original Generation X book) front and center.
If there is a complaint to be had in this issue it’s going to have to be the art. Eric Koda’s cartoonish style isn’t my favorite choice for a serious book. Yes, this book’s seriousness is debatable, but this wonky line work and inconsistency from sequence to sequence does tamper my enthusiasm in some of the sequences. I did enjoy his rendition of Idie (particularly her haircut was a cool touch) and the emotion on Quentin’s face as she walks away is great storytelling. I guess the duality between the good and the bad is most evident at the supervillain auction. The little background tiffs with Typhoid Mary and the Exterminatrix were funny little asides that helped build the scene, but the character model for Kade Kilgore is awful. He looks like Stormy Waters from SeaLab 2021 combined with Pete Rose, which is not a great look for a 12-year old. On the cover art he looks an awful lot like Arcade, which makes me think the mad ginger may have been the original intention and Koda was forced to make a last minute change to accommodate Kilgore.
Still this is an overall fun book, and one that has me looking forward to next month’s issue. I love the usage and understanding of the characters and how they interact with the world because it makes lesser known characters like Nathaniel or Ben feel more realized and part of the mutant world. Honestly, it’s something I wish the writers on the bigger X-Books could get a handle on.