What a weird number to start looking at this book. You might be wondering if this issue sets up a new story or is in any way a good starting point for this series. No, it is not. This particular issue seems to come very much in the middle of things, with characters constantly referencing what happened in the last issue. I really do not know how indicative of the series this single book is. Even so, it is the most recent one and we at Player Affinity are nothing if not topical.
The X-Men franchise as a whole has become scattered and spread between so many teams and books that it really is hard to keep track. Most recently, the books have been further split between two factions: Team Cyclops and Team Wolverine. I will let you make your own Twilight parallels. Besides the allocation of characters, the differences between the books seem to be how these books are structured thematically. Team Cyclops is reminiscent of the plot heavy world building sagas that predicated the late eighties and early nineties. Team Wolverine seems more in line with showing off action and adventure with these characters that readers have come to know really well. Basically, Cyclops is convoluted plot developments and Wolverine is fun. Will these two ever escape being cast as Oscar and Felix?
All that being said, Generation Hope falls squarely into Team Cyclops. It might even be the most Cyclopean book in the set, if that is a thing. Hope, the Mutant Messiah, is the one who is going to restore the massively diluted post-M-day mutant population. This is a sizeable task, to be sure, and makes a decent case as to why it possibly should be the core of the X-Men franchise right now. Unfortunately, shouldering this burden means that there is not going to be time for much else; a fact that Generation Hope #16 seems completely unaware of.
Hope is trying to revive the mutant race. Great. However, she is also creating her own X-Team of young new mutants. If Teen Titans has taught us anything it’s that putting enough teenagers together in a small space results in just as much infighting as it does villain fighting. This is the problem as Tetsuo from the movie Akira is pissed at Hope for some mind control she did on him in a previous issue. Apparently, Hope has a link to every mutant that she empowers, allowing her to potentially have not only a new army of mutants, but sovereign control over them all, as well. Most everyone spends the issue debating this topic, conflict arises, and we end on the climax.
To be fair, the writer has done a decent job of working the teen angst into the larger issue of Hope’s messiah-ship. Honestly, I do not know if Anime Kid is really wrong. Maybe Hope does need to be stopped. She is only one walking around in spandex and armor, while everyone else is wearing street clothes. Girl definitely has a bit of complex. But then we also have a weird scene with the Stepford Cuckoos. I didn’t even know they were allowed to talk. There are a couple pages devoted to a teen romance between two characters who do not show up for the rest of the issue. There is even a subplot surrounding the rehabilitation of an amnesiac Sebastian Shaw. At a certain point, one book simply cannot handle this many things going on, especially not without all the Team Wolverine characters who know how to make convolution fun.
The art in this book is decent. Characters look a little soft and background look a little bland, but it does what it needs to do. Unfortunately, this book is pretty much all talking, so there are no big action scenes to show off. I would say the one exception is Tetsuo. It is obvious that the artist has a decent time playing with what this guy can create with his powers. The way he looks is terrifying, which actually serves to reaffirm how upset he is at his situation and why he is fighting so hard against Hope.
I don’t normally talk about cover art, but I wanted to make special mention this time for it. My understanding is that this is supposed to be Anime Kid on the front, looking nothing like he does inside, showing his plans for Hope as only an artist can. It is mentioned he is an artist in the book, but never shown, so this is a nice reinforcement for that. Mostly though, I really like how he has this claw that has paint brushes incorporated into it. I am really reminded of the Nightmare on Elm Street films and how Freddy Krueger would change his claw into different weapons, like syringes. Since Anime Kid can actually wire himself into the minds of others and create dream worlds, the parallel is even stronger. It also starts to seem a little hypocritical that he is so angry with Hope for taking away her free will when he is essentially doing the same thing with this ability, but that is perhaps a discussion for another issue.
Generation Hope #16 seems very relevant to the X-Men mythos and that, in and of itself, garners it a recommendation for X-Fans. However, if you do not really care about the inner workings of the mutant crisis, then this is certainly not the book to start with. In the end, it doesn’t do the teen thing well enough nor the epic story well enough to recommend to most.