Generation Gone #1
Storytellers: Aleš Kot, André Lima Araújo
Writer: Aleš Kot
Artist: André Lima Araújo
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller
Editor: Lizzie Kaye
A review by Christoph Staffl
Sometimes you read a story and think it is really good. Intriguing characters, the story builds up its tension from page to page, and the setting is quite good too. Then you go on to the next one. But then there are stories like Generation Gone. A story that makes you think. Not just about the things that happen in it, but about life itself.
Before I start to write a review, I ask myself each time what the most important plot points were, the ideas behind it and if characters are relatable. If I don’t know how to talk about something in a review, it is either a bad sign or, like in the case of Generation Gone, a very good one. Because, how do you talk about a comic with such a variety of topics and themes. Symbolism you know is there, but you don’t quite understand the meaning behind it. Conversations you could analyse on so many different levels – all this and so much more, without giving anything away. So let’s start at the beginning: What is it about?
We are presented with four protagonists. On the one side we have Elena, Nick and Baldwin. Three young American hackers, I guess they are in their early twenties, with all kinds of problems in their lives – real problems. But all those problems have one thing in common, at least they think so: money. If they just had enough money, everything would be easier. So, what do you do if you are talented and with seemingly nothing to loose? Right, you’re going to hack a bank.
On the other side, we have Mr. Akio. As well a very capable hacker and engineer, who is working for the government on different, top secret projects. We meet him first as he gives a stunning presentation about a privat project he is working on, which could revolutionise not only the military, but human life itself. I have to point out that the presentation he is giving at the beginning can only be described as awesome. The storytellers may have convinced me to learn how to code. On six pages he convinces me, how powerful a program can be and how important it is to understand at least the basics of it. And that is just my interpretation of the subtext.
Yes, that’s right, six pages on just one presentation. The first issue is 54 pages long – including the cover page which contains the first panel of the story and is just further evidence for the fresh storytelling. The creators don’t rush things. Every step the characters take, every bit of information we get, it all feels real and like a logical development. Even if there is a lot of dialogue, it seamlessly pushes the story forward. You learn about them, what are their goals, how does their relationship work, what do they want with the money. But you will learn most about them, when there is no dialogue whatsoever. In the middle of the issue Elena, Nick and Baldwin each get two silent pages. You see them in their everyday life, how they interact with their families and what they do, once they are home. On these six pages, you learn more about them, their emotional states and why they are doing what they are about to do, than in the whole issue. It’s just amazing.
Let’s talk about the art. I am always struggling how to talk properly about this vital part of comics. I feel like I need a whole new vocabulary to do the marvellous artwork justice, we get to see in almost every single issue – no matter which publisher. So I will try it this way: Remember the dialogue-heavy-scenes I mentioned? Sometimes the artwork is in danger of being completely sidelined, when there is a lot going on. That’s when the silent pages come in and remind you just how powerful the artwork can be. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.
The last point I want to make is a funny coincidence: The day I read the comic, I also read the eleventh chapter of Robert McKees book Story. Among other things, he talks about text and subtext. About how to imply information in the things your characters do and say. Because “nothing is what is seem”. A conversation between Mr. Akio and his Boss, General West, is the perfect example for that. They talk about a specific topic, but there is a lot of subtext as well. It’s really great if you think of it from that point of view. Ask yourself: What do they really want? As Robert McKee writes: “The author must veil the truth with a living mask, the actual thoughts and feelings of characters behind their saying and doing.”
Read it! Subscribe to! Get your hands on this book. Generation Gone is comic worth your time. It tells an intriguing story, because you not only root for the supposedly good guys, but for the “bad” ones as well. Everyone has his or her own agenda, desires, and dreams. But the best part is, how all this information is presented to us. It is not boring exposition, instead you get to discover it on your own, if you are willing to listen and to watch.
PS: I didn’t even get to mention the movie, Elena and Nick are watching in the cinema and what it could possibly mean for the upcoming events and plot points. I think you could write an essay just about that scene. Great stuff.