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We made the funny pages! The 1998 WIZARD X-MEN SPECIAL to be exact. It's a long 'un!

GENERATION GAP

Let the X-Men save the world. The Generation X kids are too busy conquering acne and their own weird powers.


High school is difficult enough without mutant powers. For most kids, the problems center on fitting in or owning the right clothes, not to mention pimples and raging hormones that make them fell freakish. Just imagine, then having to deal with your jaw and chest being blown off and replaced by psionic energy, or having six extra feet of gray skin hangin' off your body.

Welcome to Generation X's world. This group of young mutants knows all about teen and mutant angst, from jeans to genes. They're the latest round of genetically enhanced students to attend the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters (previously the Massachussetts Academy), now located in Snow Valley, Mass. These mutants are tutored in their powers by headmasters Emma Frost, the former White Queen of of the Hellfire Club, and Sean Cassidy, the X-Man called Banshee.

While the main X-books often focus on the grim reality of mutant oppression, Generation X concentrates on teenagers whose mutant powers serve as a metaphor for trying to fit in. Whether one's face is acne-riddles or crackling with psionic energy, surviving adolescence is tough any way you cut it. But while zits eventually fade away, the Gen X kids have their powers for life, making their search for acceptance an ongoing struggle...and an adventure

COMING OF AGE

While Generation X is, on one level, about superpowered kids (Chamber, Husk, Jubilee, M, Penance, Skin, Synch), writer Larry Hama, who just finished a long stint on Wolverine, wants to explore coming-of-age stories. "Wolverine had a lot of contradictory baggage with it," says Hama. "In Generation X, there's an absence of baggage. The basic setp for group dynamic is very good. This should be a book about young people coming to terms with these extraordinary powers, and discovering things about themselves, their sexuality, their honor, their integrity and stuff that happens on a personal level."

Although the New Mutants and the original X-Men were books about teens who set out to be superheroes, the Gen X kids aren't so certain they want to end up saving the world. They have mutan powers, which makes them different. But how they handle having mutated genes is essentially no different from how "normal" kids handle everyday problems.

"None of the kids know how to use their powers," says artist Terry Dodson. "they haven't done any training. Everything theat happens to the X-Men is universally threatening. Things that happne to Generation X threaten them as a team, but don't have any greater ramifications."

The absence of universally threatening X-Men themes has allowed Generation X to explore more character-driven stories, such as Skin's past in East Los Angeles; Chamber's former love, who was crippled when his mutant poweres manifested; or the dysfunctional family of M, whose brother is the gene-sucking vampire, Emplate, and whose twin sisters, Nichole and Claudette, are trapped in the form of the enigmatic Penance.

Hama believes The New Mutants and the original X-Men were more about Professor Xavier's dream of mutants and humans living together than kids who have mutant powers. He also finds Xavier's dream a little troubling with its mutant-centered approach.

"There's no stated aim that in helping themselves, they're helping mankind," says Hama about Gen X. "The school is trying to teach how to deal with yourself and what makes you different. It should go beyond that. When martial arts were taught in Shao Lin temples, the reason for gaining skill in these arts was not its own end. There's a saying about karate: 'To conquer fear is to conquer death. To conquer death is to conquer life.' Gen X kids should be more enlightened with a moral center, without being preachy. They should be carrying Xavier's torch, but it should be more defined."

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