I am a huge fan of Fred Van Lente (Archer & Armstrong, Ivan The Timewalker) and Valiant Comics. So, when I read that he was writing a new Valiant Comics series starring characters who debuted in Harbinger Wars, I was overjoyed. His run on Archer & Armstrong was one of the best written and most fun to read Valiant Comics' series ever. If Generation Zero shines as brightly as Archer & Armstrong did, then the future of Valiant will be very bright indeed.
Chronos, Telik, Animalia, Cloud, and the Zygos Twins are all psiots who used to be under the command of Project Rising Spirit, but broke free from their masters during the events of Harbinger Wars. Now on their own as Generation Zero, and "inspired by the heroism of their fellow psiots, The Harbinger Renegades," they are determined to help others in trouble, be they a psiot or not. These budding superheroes walk a line between urban legend and heroes for hire and respond to only the most serious, and just, requests for help via social media and vlog. Generation Zero are young heroes dedicated to making not just your world, but all of our world "a better place."
This book has a great set up and premise. Van Lente does an excellent job developing Keisha, the outsider teen protagonist of "We Are The Future, Part One." It's the story surrounding of the death of her boyfriend, under strange circumstances, that drives most of the action of this first issue, not superpowered heroics. When Generation Zero shows up near the end of the issue, after Keisha reaches out to them for help, psiot superpowered action does ensue, but the story's strength remains Van Lente's plot and characters. On the visual side of things, Francis Portela's phenomenal artwork is perfect for Van Lente's storytelling style. Portela's art is highly detailed, as well as highly realistic, which gives the whole book the kind of real world feel that rivals the look and feel of the groundbreaking (and trendsetting) work of Bryan Hitch on The Ultimates some years ago.
Readers expecting the rip roaring, laugh out loud hilarity of Van Lente's Archer & Armstrong will be slightly disappointed, but only at first. Van Lente's sharply brilliant satire and wit shines through in spots here in Generation Zero #1, but it does not cut as sharply, or obviously, as it did in Archer & Armstrong. The tone here is different though, as Generation Zero appears to be taking on more serious issues (for a superhero comic book), whereas Archer & Armstrong was a hilarious buddy comedy roast of modern day Wall Street corruption and radical Christian evangelicalism run rampant. Van Lente's signature humor and commentary are definitely discernible here, albeit much more subdued in nature. Regardless, there are still instances in Generation Zero that funny as hell.
With Van Lente and Protela's Generation Zero, Valiant has yet another hit on their hands. It's wonderful to see the Valiant Universe 2.0 continue to expand and introduce new series based on new characters. Valiant is firing on all cylinders right now with both old characters like Eternal Warrior and new ones like Generation Zero and Divinity. The Future of Valiant is here, and based upon Generation Zero's first issue alone, it appears to be a bright one indeed.