“They don’t help everybody. In fact, they help almost nobody. All you can do? Make your case.”
The house of Valiant has been steadily growing for the past few years. Beginning with a revived XO-Manowar, the resurrected publisher has released a diverse lineup of progressive stories that have brought many talented writers and artists into the mainstream. Generation Zero is yet another interesting title by a veteran Valiant team. Archer and Armstrong writer Fred Van Lente and Faith artist Francis Portela team for an intriguing look into a story that began in Joshua Dysart’s “Harbinger Wars.” The premise: what if the A-Team were teenagers with a wide variety of psychic powers? Simple yet shockingly effective thanks to the slow burn of this debut. Though he takes his time in revealing our team to better introduce the mystery behind their first mission, Van Lente has crafted yet another success for Valiant’s already impressive catalogue.
The lives of Keisha and Stephen are like a fairy tale. The two are young lovers intended on revealing the mysteries that surround their lives. Stephen takes the conspiracy to the next level, completely sure of the false nature of the world they live in. When his convenient death halts their investigation, Keisha looks to a legendary team of misfits that help those in need. Unfortunately, the team didn’t quite make it into their own debut. A peculiar choice for a relatively unknown title. While our first glimpse of Generation Zero is saved for the final pages, the introduction manages to work as both a first mission and an expository device.
Within the first few pages of Generation Zero #1 it becomes clear it’s aimed at a certain demographic. Young love hidden from the world; adults and authority being more than what they seem. It’s the kind of story, with the innocence of youth against greater odds, that occupies every YA novel on the shelves.
Teenagers are very much the stars, supporting cast, and target audience for Valiant’s latest. It’s a book about gifted kids helping downtrodden kids in need. It’s the kind of escapist storytelling that instills the hope that there’s always someone out there willing to help. A refreshingly optimistic message on increasingly brooding and sulky comic shelves.
While the ideas aren’t new the end result makes for a fun read thanks to Fred Van Lente’s great dialogue and execution. Keisha and Stephen’s lives resemble a classic love story accompanied by inevitable tragedy. An old structure that’s revitalized here with an existential mystery and a futuristic setting. Thanks to the relatability of the protagonist, Keisha, the reader’s interest is easily piqued within the first few pages.
The one drawback is the absent team. Van Lente spends barely any time introducing us to the heroes focusing solely on their first client Clearly, there’s some grand scheme at work in Keisha’s life. Though she seems to be the daughter of a humble Sheriff, her and Stephen’s lives could be little more than an illusion waiting to be revealed. The story might have benefitted from more than just a cameo by the titular team, but their first customer and case is more than enough to keep the you invested for the next issue.
Francis Portela is a great fit for the book. He’s equally deft at basic character designs as well as thrilling action and fantastic visuals. It’s no surprise the colorist here is Andrew Dalhouse. The story and art bare a mild resemblance to DC’s Titans book, where he is also the colorist. Both are team books geared at solving existential mysteries, just with very different characters and settings within their pages. This stems from Valiant’s more grounded superhero elements, as most of the “metahumans” in their universe come from a science fiction background. From glowing, floating heads to faceless, trenchcoat-wearing baddies Portela makes every panel more engaging than the last.
Generation Zero #1 may be geared towards teenagers, but it should easily please any comic reader. Fred Van Lente and Francis Portela have each helped make Valiant a success over the last couple of years. Both continue to show just how integral they are with this 1st issue. While the book could do with shedding more light on its title character’s, saving their reveal for the final pages is an interesting choice that should keep readers invested in the coming story. Valiant is making some progressive comics by featuring unique protagonists not often seen in mainstream art. In a growing market, this once-dead publisher continues to distinguish itself thanks to the ideas and talents of artists like Fred Van Lente and Francis Portela.
- Interesting Premise
- Gripping Mystery
- Stellar Art
- Absent Heroes