The success of “Stranger Things” have proven that the masses cannot get enough of supernaturally powered youngsters. If done well. Take your average teenager in your average location and give them powers then set them loose. In the universe that Valiant comics has set up, there is no convenient safe haven school overlooked by a powerful psychic in a wheelchair. There is just a powerful corporation led by unscrupulous supernaturally powered people who lure those “gifted” with a carrot and a deadly stick.
This was the shtick that had me originally hooked on the Harbinger series from Valiant. I admit, I did not finish the initial series because it became so engrossing that I wanted to collect it all at once. It was with Harbinger where I fell in love with the lovable, flying plus size super hero, Faith (which has spawned her own spin-off series written by Jody Houser!). This book appealed in part because it dug into a realistic element of having teenagers with supernatural abilities. Since so many of these youngsters have shaky childhoods, questionable ethics, and a lack of experiences, they are not just quirky but actual dangerous characters to society. It is this shift in perspective that means the looming corporation may not just be an “evil” corporation but a group of hardened and experienced people ready to protect society. Ok, not really. That corporation did some horrible stuff, and I greedily wanted to seem them taken down.
After the conclusion of the Harbinger series is the launch of Generation Zero which takes place afterwards. So just like most readers who decided to pick Generation Zero the first Valiant issue they read, I had no clue what happened to the end of the Harbinger series. Fear not, dear readers! Valiant is fantastic about bringing the reader up to speed. It’s enough to follow the story along and enjoy the current issue, though also good enough to make one yearn to read the previous story.
Although Harbinger concluded, the ripples it created is still going. For Generation Zero , the story continues with Keisha Thomas, a teenager in Rook, Michigan. She is rocking an awesome look, is the daughter of the town sheriff, and has an autistic brother that warns of the “Cornermen”. As odd as that may be, the siblings are attacked indeed by strange people that have become….cornered dividers. It is perplexing to everyone. The characters, the reader, and the psions (the term established in Harbinger for those with supernatural powers) themselves. Everyone is perplexed.
Then a strange and awkward scene happens where the sheriff father shows up, slams one of the Psions onto a car, warns them, and drives off with a bewildered and embarrassed Keisha. In light of recent events on the news, this is a bit alarming and quickly subdued any feeling that this was going to be a light-hearted story. The next panels show how creepy these Psions can be which gives more weight to the fathers explanation of his fear and gut feeling that something was not right about them.
Yet in a few panels, we are reminded how comic stories, no matter how fantastical they may be, can easily reflect the current times. Stories with supernatural characters is a great way to showcase stories of prejudice, fear, societal perceptions, and the mentality of how people treat those who are “different.” One of the most universally well known series that use this is the X-men series dealing with segregation and discrimination with Professor X and Magneto representing two major schools of thought.
Generation Zero seems to be leading towards the fear angle. In those awkward panels, the sheriff is abusing his authority as a public officer to showcase his strength to stand up to these teenagers. Granted they did not do anything except show typical teenage lip. However, this is a small town and the sheriff is immediately suspicious of these newcomers and his gut feeling. From his perspective, he is reacting purely on instinct to protect his daughter (who is way too close to the threat) and the town. From the other side of the interaction, the sheriff’s action is violent and his action is not equivalent to the threat. Does this sound familiar to what has been debated on the news?
Moving forward from this scene, we learn that Keisha herself has invited the Psions to help solve the mysterious death of her boyfriend and to now deal with the new threat of “The Cornerman.” I have no idea what happened to those dividers. The next chunk of the comic is about the way the mental shady havoc the Psions have begun to spread across the high school. On one hand, it’s almost a comical eighties teen movie with the mental manipulations. then once again, that realism begins to trickle in. These Psions have no ethical qualms whatsoever. Although my heart is not exactly breaking for a certain blonde haired shrill character, what they did is a pretty big crime.
Other than the bursts of realism into the story, the story seems to be just coming along in chunks. It escalated pretty quickly there but I’m not sure of the reason why at the moment. Generation Zero #2 does not contain any huge revelations or any bits that deepen the story. It does establish several things however. These Psions are definitely a motley bunch. Those twins should become lawyers and make me uncomfortable. Cloud reminds me of Aria from the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. Overall, I am pretty sure these Psions are going to break alot of rules, mess with a lot of minds, and cause general mayhem to solve the mystery of the boyfriend’s death. This is beginning to sound like a demented Scooby Doo episode.
As a bonus, that scene with the Principal and “Mrs. Aguilar”tickled me much and really makes me question my own humor.
To catch up with the story, fulfill your dose of superpower teens, or fulfill the void while waiting for the next season of Stranger Things, check out Generation Zero #2 at your local comic book retail store.