What makes a villain? Is it anger? Frustration? Is it, perhaps, a simple tick on the moral spectrum? In Generation Gone #5, we see the culmination of what creators Ales Kot and André Lima Araújo call Act One of their superpowered saga. Here, the unwitting protagonists move inevitably towards their new roles in this world, changed forever by their very existence.
When we last left Alice, Brandon, and Nick, they had come apart as whatever semblance of a unit they had ever been. Nick was on a personal rampage against the government he blamed for his brother’s death and the nuclear reactor where he died. Alice was unconscious, thanks to Nick’s violent turn. Brandon had just been friend-zoned hard. Oh, and the mad scientist who had infected them all with DNA-changing computer code had just been literally torn in half by Nick.
As I’ve said from the beginning of this series, the key is the disaffected nature of the protagonists and the seemingly purposeful neglect shown by the supposed “big bad” government. What keeps it from being another voice screaming at millennials is the relationship growing and changing between these three friends. The further the story goes, the more we see that their relationship was not based on real affection, but more of entropy and inevitability. They were friends because they always were friends. Brandon expected to eventually be with Alice because that’s how the circle of life works. Inevitable. What they lacked at the onset of the series was agency, an active choice in what happens to them. They were each locked into their lives by something and the advent of their powers burst that dam.
While Nick destroys the reactor, threatening every living person in range, Alice tries to do right. She tries to reason with the unreasonable. Nick has already shown his true self, she just has yet to believe him. Meanwhile, Brandon finds his own superpower. He can see “everything.” He can visualize all the options available to him in an instant. Not as cool as flight or super strength, but hang on.
With an homage to the second issue, we reach a point of no return for the trio. By their own, active choice, they are set on their paths, one way or another. In the end, we find out what makes a hero and what makes a villain. Just smashing things in anger doesn’t make one a villain. Hulk does that and he’s an Avenger. Nick isn’t evil, he’s lost. The General isn’t evil, he is dealing with things as he can. Alice isn’t necessarily good. She acts out of need, but still wants to repair relationships for her own reasons. The end of Act One sees our main characters make their choices. Where they are taken next remains to be seen, but the genie is well and truly out of the bottle.