Generation X #4. Oh, Generation X. The book that holds a special place in my heart. At least, the original run. We were promised that the return of Generation X as part of ResurrXion would give readers the nostalgia for fond memories of comics past when they fell in love with the world of X. As someone who missed Generation X, the feel of the series and the characters.
Sadly, it has not worked out that way for me (and many other Generation X fans I have spoken to). The current Generation X series has felt much more like the worst kind of nostalgia grab – using titles, names, characters to make you think of something you remember fondly, but ultimately doesn't actually represent the connection much at all.
After all, it's all quite superficial. We have a group of teen mutants. We have some teen drama and emotions. And we have Jubilee and Chamber (and in this issue even M. Uh, Emplate. Um, M-Plate, I guess).
However, it doesn't overall capture the feel of the original series. In my previous article on Generation X I discussed some serious misgivings about the premise of this new series, and I'd have to say they still stand.
I will say, though, Generation X #4 did have some elements that did make me a feel a little hope. The teen drama element surrounding Bling! brought that pang of familiarity, but ultimately not for 100% the better. After all, the ultimate reasons for the characters upset turn out to be a fairly old trope of mutants that has been done before much better, most notably with Chamber whom she confides in, but also, it feels like a dramatic change for a character that hasn't really ever been shown to express these issues before.
Also, Jubilee sounds a bit more like Jubilee here. I like the fact that the character has grown, and in fact I enjoy her as a young, single mother. But there is still an element of Jubilee's current status I absolutely loathe: her vampirism. Honest to god, I hate Jubilee as a vampire, and I still think this story beat for the character is one of the worst pieces of story-telling and character hobbling I have ever seen. Vampirism does not make Jubilee interesting, especially when most of the time writers across the line seem to handle it differently. We've seen Jubilee at times not bothered by sunlight and at others always avoiding it. We've seen her pretty much normal, and pretty much like a junkie.
The most ridiculous thing that seems to come up, and is fairly noticeable in this series, is Jubilee is almost always either already carrying blood to drink or mixing some kind of weird concoction involving blood to drink. It's kinda silly to see her in a perpetual and constant state of either drinking or making drinks. Show, don't tell they say, but maybe don't show quite so much. If showing Jubilee with a flask of blood in her hands is your only way to show her vampirism, then maybe the vampirism is a problem that needs to be resolved.
Also, this issue features another classic Gen X kid guest star, in the issues villain of M, currently possessed by her brother and classic Gen X villain Emplate. However, it says something that is in fact another comic featuring a classic Gen X cameo (X-Men: Blue #7 features Mondo, who I was pretty certain was dead, right?) that actually causes more excitement from the part of my heart that holds Generation X so very dear, and not the new Generation X book itself.
I get the concept, I do. But if it's not going to be Generation X, and focus on a different group of mutants, perhaps a different title would have been more apt. Maybe a new one, or one which doesn't hold such a definitive idea in peoples minds.
Christina Strain, as I say, does have a few slight elements and shining moments in here that appeal to that classic Generation X fan in me, but they still aren't enough for me to make me feel I am getting that book back, in character or theme or feeling. Perhaps it will build to it, but I feel this shouldn't be something we're still waiting for.
Personally, I feel it may in part be the premise, which is more problematic than I had initially thought. This whole idea of a class to educate the kids, get them in control of their powers and then just turf them out into the human world because they don't fit into some set of ideas of what makes a good X-Man feels like such a weird and wrong notion for the school. Sure, the school has often been more than just a training ground for X-Men, but they have always given the students the choice. This group are having the choice taken away from them, and I find that really weird.
And, again, it's hobbled by other elements I just hate, like Jubilee's vampirism.
Also, I'm still sad to say, but Amilcar Pinna's art just is not for me. Considering the original Generation X series featured some really incredible artists, it's weird seeing the art in this series which seems so rushed and stilted in the characters figures. And everyone seems to have really weirdly wide mouths. Weirdly, the backgrounds and landscapes are hugely detailed and look great, it's just the people that don't. But maybe the art just isn't for me and it's just my tastes. Perhaps the same could in fact be said for the issues I have had with the overall story.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that half this issue is drawn by another artist, namely Martín Morazzo, who actually does a job I appreciate a lot more. It's still not quite what I'd think of when thinking Generation X of old, but it works well here. Characters all look different and unique, a moment with Jubilee, Chamber and Pixie looks heroic and awesome, and the expressions and characterisations look interesting and genuine. If I'm brutally honest, I would love to see Generation X move forward with Morazzo on the art duties full time.
Ultimately, yes, this is not the Generation X I remember and that I hold so dear, and maybe that is part of the issues I have with it, but it does feel like it has tried to sell itself based on an older series that it hasn't so far illustrated much connection to outside of some superficial similarities and shared characters. However, this latest issue does give a few small pieces of hope that it could become more than that. Eventually.