It’s been about two years since we have seen the Generation Zero kids over at Valiant. Sure, Animalia has popped up every now and then, but what about Cronus, Telic, Ramsey, Titan, et. al.? Last we all saw, Joshua Dysart had them helping Faith and Torque fight the Armor Hunters, and giant imaginary dragons, in Mexico City. Weren’t they headed to South America? Wasn’t Cloud crippled by the insect plague from Gin-GR? And I think there was something about a psiot fetus that protected his mother from the explosion that leveled the city. Well, wonder no longer because writer Fred Van Lente, line artist Francis Portela, color artist Andrew Dalhouse, and letterer Dave Sharpe are on the case. And let me tell you, they did not disappoint.
To get a better grasp of what this book is, I should do a minor, SPOILER-FREE, recap. Maybe recap isn’t the right word, let’s call it a description. Anyways, this story is told from the perspective of a “normal” high-school girl, Keisha. She lives in, what I assume to be, the fictional, utopia, city of Rook, Michigan. Here she has friends, a family, and even finds love, but the funny thing about utopia, it’s almost always build on a rocky foundation. After a harrowing experience, Keisha begins to search for the wizard behind the curtain. In her desperation she turns to the internet for help, and finds out the she has bitten off more than she can chew. Cool, right? I think so.
I also think that Fred did a stellar job with this script as a whole. His major strength, that he brings to any franchise, is his ability to create fresh stories while respecting, even referencing, continuity. This allows him to make a book fun for both the new readers and veterans alike. I mean, c’mon all you old Valiant fans, even mentioning Gamete must make you a little happy. Besides all of that, Fred is also great at finding the real focus of a book. Telling this story from the perspective of Keisha was a brilliant idea because it puts Generation Zero in a light of power and mystery. Something that is not done often in the industry. Another aspect from his script that I loved is the setting. Rook, MI is such a cool idea, and it perfectly matches the theme of the helplessness we all feel sometimes. Very akin to the setting of The Truman Show. The only place that I think Fred fell short was some of the dialogue in the middle. I understand the Keisha was dealing with some profound pain, and that she is a teenager, but harping on an on about it felt… redundant. Thankfully this was eliminated quickly when she ventured to the kegger in the woods.
Which, coincidentally, is also when I thought Francis’ work picked up as well. The first four of his opening pages were amazing, but after that I felt like the book began to stagnate. But not in the way you’d imagine. I mean, his pacing was wonderful, his movement was fluid, but I guess it felt like I had seen it all before. There was nothing new to really jump out at me, save for the creepy drawings from Keisha’s little brother. That was until, as stated prior, the kegger started. From here things began to get exciting again, like the first few pages. I am not going to explain why, though. You will have to get the book for yourself.
What I will say is that Francis’ work was made even better with Andrew’s colors. Those first four pages mentioned above? He absolutely stunned me with the color palette that he chose. Things felt vibrant, bubbly, and electric. As the story moved forward, I think that he did very well pushing and pulling characters, and objects, between artistic dimensions. I am still looking at all of the night scenes at the end of the book as I write this, and I have to say that these pages from Andrew might be cataloged as reference images for my own work.
One last note about the art is how Francis and Andrew brought the issue full circle. Starting off with bright, shiny, cold blues and deep blacks, representing Generation Zero, and ending it just the same. Wow. Good job guys.
In fact, good job team. When I first heard that this was going to be a new title, I was a little nervous. Joshua Dysart and Duane Swierczynski did such an amazing job creating and cultivating these character, and I didn’t want to see them ruined. That was until I realized that Fred Van Lente was on the docket. I could not have chosen a better writer to pick up after those two creators, and, like I said, the new creative team did not disappoint. This on-going title is super promising. If you love sci-fi, goth chicks, female leads, young superheroes, or Valiant, then you have to get this book. I give it a 4 out of 5 stars.
GENERATION ZERO #1 (“THE FUTURE OF VALIANT”)
Written by FRED VAN LENTE
Art by FRANCIS PORTELA