Review: Generation Gone #1
Material and Zero writer Ales Kot is back after a bit of a hiatus and has the superhero genre set squarely in his sights in Generation Gone #1, which is about three young hackers: Elena, Baldwin, and Nick, who get superpowers via computer code. But Kot, artist Andre Araujo, and colorist Chris O’Halloran stick the special abilities in the background for now and focus on showing their protagonists as people as well as crafting a not-so-distant future consumed by technocapitalism in the interactions between the brilliant scientist Akio and his military industrial complex superiors. There are some nice metaphors drifting around and the (Possibly longshot.) possibility that Generation Gone is a big allegory for what happens when you work in corporate comics
My favorite parts of Generation Gone #1 was an interweaving, dialogue free montage where Araujo and O’Halloran’s visuals truly show what kind of people Nick, Baldwin, and Elena are. Nick is a deconstruction and exposes the hollow core of the slacker/punk/nerd hero showing that having these interests or characteristics doesn’t make one a good person. He spends the whole day relaxing, doesn’t pick up after himself, and stares sullenly at his parents, who he lives with. The montage flows into the rest of the story where he gaslights and behaves passively aggressively towards Elena throughout Generation Gone. From his little speech about gratefulness to saying she should quit her two jobs when she has to provide for her sick mother and threatening to break up with her when she falls asleep during a movie, Nick isn’t a great boyfriend. Unlike Baldwin, who wants to dismantle the prison industrial complex, or Elena, who wants to provide for her mom and pay off her mortgage and student loans, Nick hacks for the glory of it. He’s a wannabe Neo/whatever the hell Johnny Lee Miller’s character’s name was in Hackers/pre-Uncle Ben dying Peter Parker and toxic presence in the story, which in the hand of a creator other than Kot may have been yet another white nerd power fantasy aka Max Landis’ wet dream.
Elena is a beacon of empathy, and Andre Araujo draws her with genuine smiles and laughs when she interacts with her sick mom while Chris O’Halloran uses a twilight color palette to show how damn early she wakes up to go to her first job at a nearby diner. Elena and her mom banter about how she’s going to steal some hair from a friend to give her a bob and hints that she’s doing something really cool with Baldwin and Nick.
Teenage rebellion is an overplayed, almost always melodramatic trope, and Ales Kot gives Elena a solid relationship with her mother. Her relationship with Nick isn’t so great, and Araujo drops a gutter like a burial shroud in the two panels where she gives her mom a monosyllabic answer about him. With the exception of an exhausted cuddle panel, Araujo positions Elena either in conflict or separate from Nick. There’s nothing wrong with being carefree and wanting to have a good time, but Nick never really considers what Elena is going through.But, if I had to bet on anyone from the trio becoming a real time superhero, it would be Baldwin. He has a nice workout routine, keeps the team on task, and also is in touch with what’s going on in the outside the world with a sad panel of him reading about more racial violence in the United States. However, Baldwin has time for jokes to go with his justice, which makes him an even more likable fellow.
Even though the superpower part doesn’t actively (and horrifically) come into play until the end of Generation Gone #1, Ales Kot and Andre Araujo use this first issue to ably establish the distinct personalities of Nick, Elena, and Baldwin plus Akio. He’s a scientist who makes weapons for the government, yet believes in utopian ideals and in the potential of young people unlike his bosses, who are the target audience for “millennials are destroying…’ thinkpieces. And, in a sunny colored flashback from Araujo and O’Halloran, Akio even had his life changed through fiction. But he’s pretty ruthless too as the jarring ending of the issue claws its way into your eyeballs. (In a good way.)
Instead of using its superhero and science fiction elements for navel gazing, Ales Kot, Andre Araujo, and Chris O’Halloran make Generation Gone #1 a heightened version of a day in the life in three very different young people, who are friends because of their shared interest in hacking. Araujo’s art straddles the boundaries between clean and sterile and sometimes disgustingly human in a nearly perfect fusion of his work on Avengers A.I. and WicDiv 455 Special while O’Halloran’s colors can capture the beauty of a sunset, the mundane nature of most of our lives, or the frightening way the not so golden trio get their powers with a burst of black and red.
Generation Gone #1 is a beautiful marriage of character study and ideas with just a pinch of techno-horror and is a pleasing comeback for Ales Kot.
Story: Ales Kot Art: Andre Araujo Colors: Chris O’Halloran
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review