“Each human being has 23 chromosome pairs. That is approximately 8.3 million combinations. But in a planet with 7.3 billion people on it, that means 1-in-800 people are basically the same…”
― The Zygos Twins, Generation Zero
Writer Fred Van Lente’s early work on Archer & Armstrong (2012 to 2014), and later Ivar, Timewalker (2014 to 2015), were perhaps some of the most consistently strong stories written since Valiant Entertainment’s 2012 re-launch. Whether Lente repeats that same magic with Generation Zero remains to be seen.
Generation Zero is part of the Harbinger mythos, and first appeared in the pages of the critically acclaimed 2013 crossover event Harbinger Wars, which was masterfully written by writer Joshua Dysart. The following year as part of the 2014 crossover event Armor Hunters, Dysart again was afforded the opportunity to write the three issue side-story Armor Hunters: Harbinger which featured Generation Zero.
Part of how Dysart made the Generation Zero members interesting was their contrasting personalities and disciplined behavior in stark contrast to Pete Stanchek and the Renegades. While the Renegades made both strategic and tactical mistakes, in addition to demonstrating undisciplined routine action, Generation Zero was highly trained, disciplined, and focused. While they were clearly younger than the Renegades, they were far more experienced and developed in battle and more adult in behavior. Generation Zero did not demonstrate a rebellious like the Renegades, but in contrast were highly militant, structured, and organized. They were ready and willing to follow orders immediately and without hesitation. These traits are typically associated with very specific Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and/or Enneagram Personality types that behavioral psychologists use to indicate psychological preferences insomuch as how a given character/individual perceives the world around them, processes that information, and then makes decisions.
While there are infinite variations and potential actions that exist for each person, the reality is that human behavior is somewhat predictable based on an individuals biological hard-wiring that they are born with, coupled with the experiences they have had throughout his/her lifetime. What this means is that people do not change that much.
Generation Zero is being marketed as “edgy” with a *NEW* mindset and a rebellious “attitude”. How this move plays out over the next few months/years will determine if it was the correct move.
A major problem that writers face with characters is how to make them believable and relatable, while also consistent in thought and action (yet also fresh and interesting for readers). For example, a writer may chose to draw from his/her own past experiences and “cherry-pick” different personality traits and actions from different people they have encountered or observed during the course of his/her lifetime, and incorporate them into a single character which they are writing about.
This creates a complex issue with believability and reliability, since multiple people (to include their own unique personalities) do not tend to exist inside of any single real individual. This problem is evident throughout fiction when attempting to make a character “more interesting” than he/she might otherwise be from the perspective of a creative team. This is part of why “Emo Peter Parker” in Spider-Man 3 failed with audiences: it simply was out of the established character of Peter Parker and people rejected it. Again, time will tell if the characters of Generation Zero will evolve into something visibly different from what was seen in Harbinger Wars and Armor Hunters: Harbinger, but it should again be said that while change can and does often occur, for the most part, the core of a character and will remain recognizable.
Lente’s Generation Zero #2 is (as expected) somewhat different in concept and in tone than what was observed in Harbinger Wars and Armor Hunters: Harbinger. It is far more lighthearted, and appears to be written for a young adult audience that relates to high school experience complete with stereotypical social cliques and teenage drama (e.g. an overbearing, over protective father; the “popular” crowd, cyber geeks, and roid ragers – see also: “jocks”). Generation Zero does not “feel” like a Harbinger book, but rather is something very different and unique unto itself. There are a number of characters that are being explored and expanded, and the story potential that exists is quite strong for future plot developments.
Artist Francis Portela is highly talented, and employs a noticeably European comic art style. In creating the setting of a high school environment, Portela uses easily identifiable indicators of that setting such as lockers, lettermen jackets, and the cafeteria. Faculty members are drawn to appear (rightly so) older than students, and clothing styles reflect as much. Colorist Andrew Dalhouse can do no wrong, and does a fantastic job in complimenting Portela’s artwork. From vehicle headlights, to color gradient skin tones, to the best example of a paisley pattern shirt in the history of comics, Dalhouse again demonstrates his mastery of his craft.
Generation Zero #2 is an enjoyable story that explores and expands its mythos with a unique direction. There is unlimited potential with this title, which will no doubt create its own place in the Valiant Universe.