Young Avengers #1
“Style > Substance”
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Jamie McKelvie with Mike Norton
In 2006, Allan Heinberg created a little book called “Young Avengers”, an admittedly brief, limited series that sounded like it should have sucked right off the bat. Surprisingly, it didn’t. “Young Avengers” introduced an endearing cast of youngsters following in the footsteps of The Avengers, whether they wanted them to or not. Sadly, after it’s initial run, there was never much else done with the Young Avengers. They’d pop up every now and then, or get a special with the Runaways during a big event, but there was never really a second volume of Young Avengers. Heinberg would finally return to the franchise in 2010 with the acclaimed “Avengers: The Children’s Crusade”, the story which returned The Scarlet Witch and Scott Lang to the Marvel Universe, though Young Avenger Cassie Lang (Sature) died in the process.
It’s now 2013, and in the aftermath of “The Children’s Crusade”, the Young Avengers have disbanded, only Kate Bishop (Hawkeye II) keeping up with affairs as an adventurer, though she’s currently partying in space with Marvel Boy (last seen betraying the Earth in the pages of “New Avengers”). Billy Kaplan (Wiccan) and Teddy Altman (Hulkling) have both retired and moved in with Billy’s parents. All while Loki has his sights set on Wiccan, as he’s pursued by newcomer Miss America Chavez.
It’s a weighty first issue from Kieron Gillen, the acclaimed writer who turned the kid Loki into a tragic figure in “Journey Into Mystery” and has presently sent “Iron Man” into space, as well as artists Jamie McKelvie (“Cable”) and Mike Norton (“Runaways”). There’s a blow by blow of each character that goes by so fast that you find yourself overwhelmed almost, but you learn right off the bat that “Young Avengers” is full of tension. What will the bullheaded Hawkeye do when she realizes Noh-Varr is a wanted man on Earth? Will Billy and Teddy find a middle ground between a normal life together and a life as adventurers? The brief moments we spend with these characters feel real and tell us everything we need to know about them, instantly hooking us and investing us in what happens to them.
It’s unfortunate that in all these thrown in moments, the book feels too much like it’s ill-fated predecessor, the similarly themed “Young Allies”, which started off to promising reviews and a stellar cast, but quickly fizzled out and was canceled. Indeed, it feels as if Gillen may cram too much at once into this book. However, that’s not to say it’s final pages don’t carry a twist with far reaching implications that few will see coming.
Ultimately a solid book, “Young Avengers” is a great introduction to heroes who are bound to be the next generation of Marvel’s elite, characters who should already be fan favorites that just haven’t gotten the spotlight they deserve. Though it may feel overwhelming, Gillen’s past work and the presence of these characters indicate that “Young Avengers” is definitely a book to keep your eye on in the Marvel NOW! relaunch.