Sep 1, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 189: Generation Next #3, May 1995


I've spent a lot of time in my Generation Next reviews heaping praise upon Chris Bachalo (and this issue is no exception. He's brilliant), and not looking too closely at the scripting and dialoguing of the comic. I find this to be one of the difficulties of writing critically about comics, especially those that are composed by two or more creators. There seems (or maybe it's just me) to be a propensity for focussing on one creator, often the one deemed the most talented. Which, I suppose, is fair in some ways. Today, though, I want to mention Scott Lobdell.

Lobdell has had a tough time in comics writing. His era of the X-Men is categorized as hyperbolic in the extreme, a symptom of having to try to keep up with the over the top antics of the Image Comics creators. I think I can safely say that I've only passably enjoyed most of the comics of his that I've read. He's got a decent grasp of superheroics, of dialogue and of plot, but, really, it's all pretty mediocre.

Except for Generation X.

I've run into this problem before. After finishing James Robinson's utterly, utterly brilliant Starman, I decided I should read anything else he's written. And, sadly, for the most part it was mediocre. We've even discussed this in the comics class I took last year, considering Art Spiegelman. Maus was a big hit for him, but has anything else that he's written come even remotely close to being as good? No. I think Lobdell falls into this categoy. His work, with Chris Bachalo, is a confluence of perfect conditions to create one of the most original titles in the X-stable. As I've noted with Bachalo, it's like looking at the X-Men through a Vertigo lens. Lobdell's scripts take all of the best elements of the wonderful early New Mutants stuff (and, actually, the art owes a lot to Bill Sienkiewicz's amazing run on that title), updates it for the nineties, and then heads off full tilt into amazing-ness. How's that for hyperbolic? I'm looking forward to getting to the regular Generation X comic at some point in the future. When I discovered it, around the time that the reigns were briefly passed over to Warren Ellis, it was the first time I'd actively pursued an X-title in almost 2 decades. I loved the characters, I loved the setting, I loved the art. Like all ongoing series, it goes through its down phases, but all of the writers on the title managed to maintain the integrity of the characters, if not the plot, which kept me interested. It's a shame the "Counter-X" stuff at the end didn't get a chance to flourish. It might have been great.

But that's getting ahead of myself. This brief foray into the Age of Apocalypse also highlights a character who gets very little play in the main title: Mondo. I'm not really sure what happened with him in Generation X. He gets introduced and then, seemingly, forgotten. At least, that's how I remember it. In Generation Next, however, he's fundamental to the rescue plan and, in this issue, is the one who ultimately carries it off. His role in the regular title is tangential, and I think he's ultimately taken over by a villain and killed. Again, this seems to be bringing some Vertigo sensibility to the X-universe. In a lot of ways the early Gen X is a precursor to the direction the Marvel Knights imprint would eventually take. Perhaps it just happened too early to be successful in that endeavour.

Continuing on on the morrow! See you then.

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