Grim_Noir Counts Down VALIANT’s new Generation Zero #1

Generation Zero #1

Title: Generation Zero #1

Writer: Fred Van Lente

Covers: Stephen Mooney, Tomm Muller, Pere Perez & Andrew Dalhouse, Andres Guinaldo, Clayton Henry & Brian Reber

Art: Francis Portela

Color Art: Andrew Dalhouse

Letterer: Dave Sharpe

Published by Valiant Entertainment

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

Even in a world where DC and Marvel have spread their footprints across movies, TV and novels, for the last five years it is has been Valiant’s comic books which consistently put a sloppy grin on my face. Valiant’s brand new series Generation Zero is clearly for me. Unfortunately, even though this is a #1, it is not a jumping-on point for those who are not the Valiant Faithful (pun intended).

Part of the problem is simply the way single issue floppies are written these days. Everything is geared toward the trade paperback, which binds together a four- to six-issue story arc into a single graphic novel that is meant to be devoured all at once. The first issue of a series like Generation Zero becomes the first chapter of a novel and, in that position, it doesn’t really need to do much on its own except establish mood and foreshadow the coming story.

HOWEVER, if you’re like me and still purchase single issues because you just can’t wait that long to see what happens next, then purchasing the first or second issue of a brand new title requires a supreme act of trust because they will generally tell you little to nothing until the plot actually kicks in. Back in the day, a new title would start in media res, with the new hero’s powers on full display, transitioning into an introduction of supporting characters and ending with a mysterious character plotting from the shadows. All in a nice compact 24 pages.

Generation Zero may be the biggest offender of this new style of “Chapter One”-ing that I have ever seen. Our heroes only appear in three random pages out of 22 and only to trade bon mots around a literal campfire. Most of this blame lays directly at the feet of writer Fred Van Lente, who has a knack for creating memorable, flesh-and-blood characterizations, but is nowhere near as funny nor socially relevant as he clearly thinks he is. Every time the action starts flowing or characters have a genuine moment, Van Lente makes a joke that falls flat or clubs us over the head with a social “message.”

Generation Zero #1-page 3

The majority of this issue focuses on the client Generation Zero will be rescuing. While Keisha Sherman is an interesting individual with some big problems, Van Lente has completely lost focus of his primary duty: To introduce the titular characters. Imagine if you watched The A-Team movie and the A-Team didn’t appear until the last four minutes of the first hour.

If you are already one of the Valiant initiates, none of this will make a lick of difference: You will have already read all the prerequisite stories from Harbinger and Bloodshot and already know all about the “psiots” who escaped from Project Rising Spirit. And that those psiots will emerge as the real heroes of this book. And you will know what a psiot is. And you already know all about Project Rising Spirit.

Generation Zero #1-page 6

On the plus side, the artwork by Francis Portela and Andrew Dalhouse is gorgeous and highly detailed in ways that reward multiple re-reads. Motion is portrayed with fluidity, faces are extremely expressive and the level of detail in the individual panels borders on obsessive (I especially enjoyed the NOFX and Rancid bumper stickers laying in the background shadows of Keisha’s room).

So, sadly, for the third time this year, I find myself counseling readers to wait until the trade paperback to come out before deciding if they wish to follow¬†a title or not. Even as I write this, I worry we are witnessing a death spiral for originality in the industry: If no one buys issues until the trade paperbacks, but no company will publish trades for titles when their floppies don’t sell…where will that leave us?

…Well, until some crazy renegade comic creators come up with the bold “new” idea of a self-contained introductory first issue…maybe it’ll even be in a book about renegade psiots…

Generation Zero #1-Variant

Ol' Grim Hisself

* GRIM_NOIR is convinced that the internet is a figment of his imagination. Please comment below and/or follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter or Friend on Good Reads or Facebook to end his self-delusions.

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