It’s Generation Hope versus the X-Men… well, in a training exercise anyway.  Having lost Oya and added Pixie to her team, Hope wants to help the them become more comfortable as a fighting unit, so they hone their skills against the best the X-Men have to offer. They face off with Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magneto, Namor, Storm, Psylocke, Colossus, Magik and… er, Boom Boom.  Hope’s team, consisting of the fast flying Transonic, the time twisting speedster Velocidad, the beast-like Primal, organic shape-shifter Zero, and magical Pixie, surprisingly hold their own against the powerhouses until the confrontation between Zero and Magneto goes horribly awry!

Afterward, Primal has an awkward encounter with the Stepford Cuckoos leading to Hope’s discovery of a new mutant.  Transonic attempts to warm up to Zero who rebuffs her, in favor of Martha, a mutant that is basically a brain  in a jar.  He even invites Martha along on their mission to locate this newly discovered mutant, which understandably irritates Transonic and appears to gross out some of the other team members.  Pixie teleports the team to Pakistan, which Transonic is outraged by, seeing as they were completely unprepared to wind up in such a volatile location.  Hope responds saying they will always find themselves in harsh situations, but their mission is to locate and save any new mutants that they discover.

They split up to search.  Pixie is teamed with Velocidad, whom she was caught kissing, even though he was involved with Hope at the time.  Their verbal sparring is interrupted by some guys with high tech ray guns.  It’s Zero and Martha that discover their quarry and summon the others, only to find a disguised American who… apparently blows them all up in a suicide bombing!  To be continued!

Well… I’m sure they get out of it somehow.  Pixie probably teleports them out or Velocidad’s time-based powers factor in or something.

This issue has everything the X-Men franchise is known for, super hero action mixed with lots of interpersonal melodrama.  The X-Men are possibly the most soap opera-like super heroes out there and that’s what keeps readers coming back.  The characters are all nicely developed.  Primal is almost like a puppy in human form, wanting to mate with Phoebe of the Stepford Cuckoos.  Zero is off-kilter to say the least.  He’s even vaguely creepy with his grotesque appearance and disturbing powers.  Velocidad is an unapologetic rake, exclaiming “I’m a teenage boy!  This is exactly when I’m supposed to be an idiot!”  Also, the fact that his super powers shorten his life and prematurely age him is a brilliant twist on super speed and just the tragic touch that makes being a mutant rough rather than liberating.

It’s funny that I consider Pixie a new, young character, but alongside this team, she’s the seasoned pro!  She’s been one of the breakout new X-Men over the past couple of years, along with Armor.  (Geez, if I’m counting correctly, I think we’re up to the SIXTH generation of X-Men!)  She shines here!  Hope takes her mission extremely seriously and she lives up to the Summers legacy just fine, serving as the consummate leader.

The artwork is gorgeous!  Ibraim Roberson’s style is simply beautiful and is wonderfully complimented by Jim Charalampidis’ coloring!  It has a lovely water colored look.  Roberson’s angles, poses and storytelling are all excellent and dynamic.  The fight at the beginning is powerful and smooth.  The facial expressions and body language are also superb!  The Stepford Cuckoos are the spitting image of Diana Agron, from ‘Glee,’ so if these character are ever cast in the X-Men movie franchise, that’s who should play them times three!  Velocidad has the most animated reactions to various things and he’s excellently rendered.  And the telepathic effect is also very nice and unique.

This book is basically doing everything right!  It is hampered by not having any big names on the team (alleviated somewhat by the guest appearances at the beginning).  It also doesn’t have long-running fan favorite characters like ‘New Mutants.’  But it’s got everything a reader looks for in an X-Book, action and loads of drama.  And of course the artwork is fantastic!  It might be the biggest sleeper among the X-Books, but I can’t find a single thing to fault it for, so…

Verdict: Buy

Written by James Asmus
Art by Ibraim Roberson
Cover by Ibraim Roberson and Jim Charalampidis