Synopsis: Keisha Thomas is a high school student with a world of problems. Her boyfriend, Stephen, has died under murky circumstances, and no one in the town things otherwise, including her sheriff father. When Keisha’s autistic brother, Kwame, warns her of “The Cornermen”, she calls in help. Generation Zero, a group of psychic teenagers, arrive to assist Keisha in unraveling the mystery of surrounding the death of her boyfriend, the mysterious corporation that runs the town, and what threat do The Cornermen pose.
Review: Generation Zero #2 is an issue that attempts to bring the reader up to speed in the Valiant Universe. [If you haven’t read anything from this publisher, please do. Valiant has been putting out consistently fantastic stories since it’s return.] A great deal has happened, and there is a lot of ground to cover. Keisha Thomas is a high school girl and our protagonist. She lives in the town of Rook, Michigan; a town that brought itself back from the brink, and now it is booming. However, things seem to be amiss. The town’s authority, aka adults, continue to cover up their dealings with shadow government organizations and corporations. Therefore, Keisha looks towards Generation Zero for help because you apparently can’t trust anyone over 20 years old.
Though much of the story seems to center on the mystery of what is happening, the real fun comes from the exploration of these small town characters picked right from a John Hughes film. All of our favorites our there: the teen queen, the aggressive jock, the geeks, the misfits, the non-understanding parental unit. Fred Van Lente allows the reader to fill in much of the gaps about this high school, and uses what we already know about teenage dramas to play with the genre. The introduction of the Zygos twins sends us on a tour through the halls of the school, so we get an insightful and entertaining look into the daily life of Keisha. The first meeting of Keisha’s father and Chronus creates an interesting altercation.
This issue covers a lot of topics, but one of the most interesting topics is that of power. Characters in this story are either powerful or powerless. The teen queen has social clout, and the football player has physical strength. The psiots have incredible psychic abilities, but the sheriff has the power of the system. A power that he abuses through police brutality. This is a moment that is highlighted because the law officer is a man of color. It was here that the story really drove home a critical idea. Whatever has happened in this town has probably occurred because of people and their quest for power. Power has corrupted this man; it is elusive and pervasive. The interesting part is that Keisha’s problem solvers use their powers with some restriction but not much. Only time will tell whether or not these beings will correct the situation, or will they cause one on their own. (My money is on the latter.)
The art for Generation Zero fits nicely into the Valiant house style, yet what makes issue #2 really stand out is the almost cinematic layout. This was not so much a comic book but an indie movie experience. Francis Portela does a really great job with making the characters seem so expressive. The panels with Gamete are hilariously creepy. In an issue with little to no action sequences, making these sort of moments stick is critical.
Generation Zero has a lot going on, and even more going for it. There are a large amount of peculiar characters to introduce, and the story has a lot of set up to do for subsequent issues. Despite the obstacles, issue #2 remains strong and cohesive. The depiction of power in its many forms is interesting and timely, lending credence to a theme. The theme of rising up against your persecutors, and standing strong in your convictions.