I have to admit that I wasn't looking forward to JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST #6. After several weeks of reading terrible superhero books for the Review Group, I'd had just about enough of these overpriced, disposable stories. But, to my astonishment, GENRATION LOST #6 is not only a fun book and a worthwhile read, it is also a surprisingly intelligent time-travel story. Kudos to Judd Winick. He’s written a very good issue and has sparked my interest in a series that I’d previously dismissed.
Initially, the story for this issue appears to be rather straightforward and conventional. Captain Atom absorbs the full blast from a "special" nuclear device and then rushes into space where he can release the energy safely. He's blasted back to Earth in the process, and somehow ends up in the nineteenth century. Two farm kids, barefoot and dressed in Amish-like clothing, find him knocked out and lying on the edge of a forest. At first, they mistake him for a "big doll," but they run in terror when he wakes up from the explosion. Afraid that he could disturb "the world -- the universe -- reality" if he remains too long in the past, Captain Atom tries to return to his proper time and place. But somehow, as a consequence of absorbing the blast, he has lost his powers for the next nineteen hours or so. Stranded, he pretends to be a circus freak and tries to do as little as possible to interfere with the course of history.
Now, while the first half of the book reads like a forgettable superhero story, the second half is filled with several major surprises. First, Winick plays a clever little trick on both Captain Atom and the reader and, in turn, pushes the story in a completely new and unexpected direction. I won't spoil the main plot twist here because I want to encourage everyone, even people who know nothing about this series, to check out GENERATION LOST. But let's just say that Winick manipulates the tired conventions of the time-travel subgenre and very expertly upends the reader's -- or at least my -- expectations. Second, Winick follows this plot twist with a very surprising guest appearance. And by surprising, I don't mean simply unannounced. Again, I won't say more for fear of spoiling a really good book. Just trust me that it’s a disturbing surprise.
Third, and perhaps most important, Winick fills his story with unusual and at times surreal images. This is a story that demands cool, imaginative artwork. Winick is not simply writing an entertaining comic, but a visually engaging one. He shows here that he really understands that superhero stories are more than just a bunch of fight scenes, interrupted by the occasional sequence of talking heads -- that they are, rather, an opportunity to borrow imagery from sci fi, horror, and fantasy and to combine them wildly in a single page. If I were an artist at DC, I would be clamoring to illustrate this book. It would be a hell of a lot of fun.
And the art team for this book, headed by Keith Giffen, does a good job of realizing Winick's vision. Giffen and company are able to capture the mood of the story as it changes from superhero tale to nightmarish vision. They add all the right details to make Winick's plot twists and deceptions more surprising and believable. Giffen and his team aren't flashy artists, but they are damn good storytellers. And I just love the way they draw the guest star.
Overall, this is what superhero books are supposed to be: fun, fast, and unpredictable. Winick deserves high praise for this issue and this series. If you aren't reading GENERATION LOST, then you're definitely -- ahem -- losing out.
Last edited by Eli Katz
on Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.