William Rosenthal ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
As it says on the last page of issue #5, the first arc of Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie comes to an end and left a very good first impression as a first time reader. Yes, there was a previous Young Avengers run, and some of these characters have seen popularity before Marvel Now, but that isn’t the point. Reading Young Avengers 2013 as an entirely new reader, my opinion on the story might differ from involved readers, but this comic was at the top of my stack almost immediately.
The biggest draw of this series is the roster. Young Avengers’ characters and relationships are major strengths of the book.
The most controversial character added to the Young Avengers is Loki. It’s cringe worthy when comics try to reform villains. Certain villain might be lovable and sympathetic, but sometimes companies think they should work for the good guys, because sometimes, ironically, the villain is more popular than the hero. Since his cinematic appearance, Loki has gained that interest, but he doesn’t fail in the hero role. He’s a brat at best and morally questionable, but his reason for his involvement with the Avengers doesn’t feel weak and artificial like a company’s ploy. Instead, his character seems to genuinely want reformation, and Loki kept my interest throughout, maybe half-hoping for a relapse.
Another controversial aspect is the Wiccan and Hulkling relationship. Their relationship polarized the community for merely being included. Although, it’s nothing that isn’t handled maturely and accurately. We see this couple as privately as we need to and can sympathize with them from issue one. Hulkling’s identity crisis and Wiccan’s love for him take center stage, giving the couple a reliable and sympathetic foundation. It’s played out just as well as any heterosexual relationship because instead of knowing them as a couple, we’re introduced to them as individuals. We understand their motivation and insecurities from the beginning. Gillen didn’t write a same-sex couple. Instead, he wrote two people who happen to be in a relationship, and for that, they feel genuine and not a selling point or an attempt to be edgy.
While the arc did introduces us to Wiccan, Hulkling, and Loki in depth, it left me with a lot of questions about the others: Miss America, Hawkeye, and Marvel Boy. While Miss Marvel does get the most page time out of the three, and we are introduced to her parents via a handy plot device, Marvel Boy and Hawkeye just barely squeeze into the latter half of the arc, starting in issue four, which is a shame, seeing as the two of them had some great moments. Hawkeye starts out the series with a hilarious internal monologue about her life with Marvel Boy and Marvel Boy really kicks interdimensional parasite butt and delivers the fantastic line, “Follow me if you want to be awesome.” But I’m still trying to figure out who these characters are. Sure, they’re cool, but to what degree are they actual relatable people? It was a bit too much style and not enough substance in this case.
Moving onto the art, McKelvie does some excellent work on the page. He makes characters who act as believable as they look. Loki, for instance, has this impermeable regality in the scene at the diner where he barely pays attention to the waiter and shoes him away when he’s done. As well, McKelvie uses muscle mass sparingly. Not every character is a fully developed superhero. Wiccan, even though he’s fit, still looks like a teenage since he’s not ripped like some more recognizable heroes like Thor. Miss America still commands her super-strength, but she doesn’t have to be the size of her male counterpart, Captain America, because of how McKelvie moves and poses her while she’s fighting. The characters are real in appearance, but McKelvie’s art adds the super powers and even personality.
McKelvie also experiments with direction of the panels by adding a refreshing style. This is evident in memorable scenes such as the dimensional prison Wiccan is thrown into. The page is completely white and black squares acted as cells. The removal of ink and color from this page adds to the magic the team encounters. Instead of adding effects or details to the page, the choice to withhold color ends up adding to the atmosphere since it goes against most comic book norms giving it an empty, sterile feel. Another great scene is Marvel Boy’s heroic entrance into a nightclub full of enemies. Across two pages, there’s an overview of Marvel Boy’s path of destruction, along with a number at each kick or laser blast. There numbers correspond to a key which listes a play-by-play of his moves and his personal thoughts. That attention to style is so bold and impressively unique that it can’t be ignored. Best of all, it’s incredibly fun to read some new like this and definitely something to look forward to seeing more.
I give the first arc an 8 out of 10, as it took risks and came out stronger for it, but still needs room to grow. This one earned its place at the top of my stack and I recommend it as next month, arc 2 begins.
In the words of Marvel Boy, “Follow me if you want to be awesome.”