Generation Gone #1,
Aleš Kot, André Lima Araújo,
Another New Comic Book Day and the start of another new series from Image. Over the last two or three years in particular Image has been hitting a seriously good batting average on the new series, so much so that when Wednesday comes around I keep an eye out for any first issues from them hitting the racks. And Kot and Araújo’s Generation Gone certainly caught my eye, with the unusual technique of actually starting off right on the cover – the cover is, in effect, the first panel of the comic, complete with speech bubbles.
Opening the pages of this oversized first issue (I must admit I quite enjoy when we get a bit of extra length in opening issues, allows a bit more room to introduce a new concept, characters and setting more naturally), and that opening cover dialogue continues, a young woman and man lying on the grass, staring up at the stars, and talking about their lives and relationship. And pretty quickly it is obvious that the man, Nick, is a bit of an arse, telling his girlfriend Elena that he is “like here for you, you know?” when she is having an emotional time, but then ruins it all by adding that there’s a limit and she should consider how him comforting her when she cries endlessly makes him feel. Yes, he is that much of a jerk. And Elena apologises to him when really we want her to slap him across his selfish face. He accepts this apology with a graceless comment that she should “just be grateful.” The phrase “utter wanker” springs to mind…
We know nothing else of their lives at this point but already we’re thinking why the heck is Elena putting up with such a selfish arse of a boyfriend? It’s a nice, realistic touch – how many times has one of us wondered why one of our friends continues to go out with a partner who clearly wants everything on their terms and is totally selfish and controlling in the relationship, and thought why are they putting up with this. It’s an interesting way to introduce some lead characters, and in a manner many of us will empathise with. Elena seems to be an especially put-upon characters – this guy for a boyfriend, working two jobs to make ends meet (not that he seems to care) and an ill mother she is trying to look after. But on the side she and Nick meet another friend, Baldwin, for some heavy duty hacking. How heavy duty? How about America’s advanced, spooky science and tech development body DARPA?
In a second strand we meet Akio, an Asian-American scientist working at DARPA. He’s currently involved in a project with the ominous Orwellian name of Airstrip One, but is trying to persuade the military brass that he has a project he has been working on in his own time which deserves proper time and funding. And it is a remarkable idea – everything is code, he points out, not just on our computers, phones, tablets and other tech, but even living organisms, our DNA is a code. And code can be hacked, altered, changed, upgraded… He thinks he can introduce a form of code, a trinary form, three pieces that individually do nothing but viewed together will alter the DNA on a human being, making them faster, stronger, more intelligent. Superhuman, basically. The Six Million Dollar Man but done with code rather than bionic enhancements. The general tells him no.
Over the course of this expanded first issue we start to see how these two groups are going to collide. Quite what Akio’s aim is here is unclear at this point – is he doing this just because he can, or to prove a point, or perhaps he has higher motives, perhaps he wants to elevate humans to a new potential level? What about our trio of hackers? Akio is aware of their intrusion and monitoring them. In fact he thinks they could be his perfect subjects for trials, potentially. Clever, driven, millennials, exactly, he tells the general, the sort of children “men like you have taken their future away from.” Does he have sympathies outside the military-industrial complex, or is he just thinking he could perhaps use them as guinea pigs for his pet theory?
Araújo’s art is nice – to my eyes it had something of the Luna Brothers crossed with Steve Dillon about it, which I enjoyed. And he nails the expressions on his characters extremely well, the resigned, swallowing her anger surrender on the face of Elena when Nick is being an insensitive eejit, or the look on Akio’s face when the general tells him DARPA doesn’t just own his work, they own him. Well, they’ve done their work right, this has done exactly what a first issue should, it’s caught my eye among all the other new releases, then introduced me to just enough of the characters and set up to intrigue me further so I will have to see where it goes next.
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