Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Low Blows 01.10.06

"Generation M" #2 (of 5)
Marvel Comics
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Ramon Bachs

I thought that Paul Jenkins' first "Sentry" miniseries was a little overrated, and couldn't have been more disappointed by his "Wolverine: The End" mini. That said, I absolutely loved his "Inhumans" maxiseries, and I'm real happy with what's going on in the second, more recent "Sentry" miniseries, now in progress.

Taking into consideration how I tend to run hot and cold on this writer, then, it was no surprise to me that I decided to skip the "Generation M" mini.

What not many people, including myself, knew about "Generation M" when it was solicited was that it serves as the prelude to a wholesale creative changeover for Marvel's longsuffering "The Pulse" series, which has seemed like Brian Michael Bendis' wholly enjoyable but sporadically-published afterthought for so long. And as its main character Jessica Jones packs her bags and heads off to "New Avengers," (or wherever,) "Generation M"'s Sally Floyd will be moving in, along with the new creative team of Jenkins and Bachs.

Once I learned the above, I decided to give the mini a shot after all, and I'm glad I did. It seems as if Jenkins (and perhaps his editor as well) has been able to intuit where his strengths are -- that is, in one-off stories that feed towards a larger plot -- and it shows in his recent work.

Sally Floyd is a journalist, an alcoholic, an abandoned wife and a bereaved mother. She works for "The Alternative," a New York street paper, and over the course of the miniseries so far, she's stumbled into telling the stories of mutants who have lost their powers through the aftereffects of the "House of M" miniseries. The story is as much about her as it is the mutants, and meanwhile, everything seems to be heading towards the culmination of the larger plot of a serial killer preying on the ex-mutants, who has apparently chosen Sally as his unwilling media outlet.

"Generation M" also seems to be checking in with at least one well-known depowered mutant per issue. Last month, it was Chamber, in a particularly shocking scene which also served to more or less sell me on the book. The current issue features Wolverine's ex-sidekick Jubilee in her new life as a left-wing political lobbyist, which doesn't necessarily jive with some other recent interpretations, but definitely makes sense in the long run towards the purpose of character growth. Up until now, she's been more or less the eternal teenager. It's nice to see her in a little bit of a grown-up role.

Ramon Bachs' rumpled, expressive art is well-suited for this kind of story. I hear he did a great job illustrating David Lapham's "Detective Comics" arc over the last year or so, and he has demonstrated in the two issues of this mini so far that he can handle anything from a two-page spread of a dragon-like mutant destroying an entire New York City block to a grieving mother dwelling over a picture of the child she has lost.

I'm interested in the murder mystery of "Generation M," but even more so, I'd like to find out more about Sally Floyd, and I'm even thinking of her future in "The Pulse" now -- will she come to work at the "Daily Bugle," just like her predecessor? I'd love to see how she interacts with Kat, Ben, and especially Jonah. It's hard to say, with only two issues of story under her belt, but I'm definitely along for the ride.

8 out of a possible 10.

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