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As I delve deeper into the wonderfully weird world of comics, I find that some of the best concepts, stories, and characters lie in the smaller, lesser known titles like The Runaways or Ms. Marvel. I mean, a team of teen superheroes who are all the kids of supervillians? The fangirl who can now follow in the footsteps of her idol? Those are great concepts with loads of potential and get better when you throw in vampires, half bird clones of Thomas Edison, and gaint robots. Which brings me to Young Avengers, the story of a group of teenaged superheroes featuring: Billy Kaplan a.k.a. Wiccan, the reality warping grandson of Magneto who also happens to be gay; Teddy Altman a.k.a. Hulkling, the also gay shapeshifting lost prince of an evil alien empire; America Chavez a.k.a. Miss America, the universe hopping superhuman who can “toss a tank to the moon”; Kate Bishop a.k.a. Hawkeye 2, the rich girl with a bow and arrow; Noh-Varr a.k.a. Marvel Boy, the alien with a spaceship powered by imagination and laser guns; and Kid Loki who’s Loki, but as a kid, fighting an interdimensional parasite that takes the form of an overbearing parent. Yes, it is exactly as awesome and weird as it sounds, and really that’s Young Avengers’ greatest strength. It’s just a straight up fun adventure story that is expertly written and wonderfully drawn, which is what I want to talk about so let’s get to it.

*YAR BE SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT*

First off, the art is absolutely fantastic. Jamie McKelive is, apparently, a new talent to the world of comics, but I already love him want to see what else he does. He has a much more realistic style, so to speak. The characters look like they could step out of the pages and the laws of physics wouldn’t need to be bent to accommodate them, unlike with lots of other animated characters. The thing that really drew me in, and where at least 45-51% of my enjoyment comes from, however, is how McKelive plays around with the medium, like where the villain imprisons Billy and Teddy in what is basically a blank comic book panel, and then Kid Loki breaks Billy out allowing them to interact outside the panels themselves. There’s also the big rescue of the gang by Marvel Boy, but it’s shown in a step by step way on a floor plan and describing it really isn’t helping, and the links don’t do any of it justice, and there’s just so much more I want to show, and I’ve done enough butchery of grammar with this run on so please by all means, check this out, if nothing else for the art.

As far as the writing goes, the plot is your standard “unite super team to battle larger threat” plot ,but it actually does something kind of ingenious. The book opens with our heroes scattered and supposed to be done with superheroing. However, some find it hard to let the life go. Specifically Hulkling, who gets caught by his boyfriend Billy; they fight, Teddy points out how good Billy has it while Teddy has lost pretty much everything, so Billy does what any rational teenage boy who can warp reality does: he scans all possible realities to find a moment just before Teddy’s mom dies to pull her out and bring her to his universe. And you think roses AND chocolates are going all out on Valentine’s Day! Unfortunately, Teddy’s mother is actually an interdimensional parasite that can take over other parents. She is also your typical overbearing mother who doesn’t want you to date until you’re 30, focus on your studies and also probably kill you if she’s not putting you in some featureless white box in a pocket dimension of some sort. See? A “sorry I forgot about valentine’s” dinner at Olive Garden doesn’t seem so bad, now does it? So this naturally kicks off the rest of the plot, alongside the discovery that Mother, as the villian is so named, has the power to make every single adult forget what the kids told them and think that they’re lying. So our young heroes are on their own, fighting a villain that frequently uses or takes the form of their own parents and with no hope of help from the adults in their lives.

I love this so much. It’s every bit of teen angst and wish fulfillment distilled into a single plot without any of the usual “chosen one” malarkey. It’s completely free of a school environment, and ditches the “because…… reasons” rational of the Hunger Games. It is direct, simple, and not weighed down by any other metaphor than the cathartic “young vs. old”. Simple? Yes, but that’s its greatest strength. Young Avengers isn’t exactly super intellectual. It’s fun and dramatic and does exactly what it wants to do with such confidence and style that I can’t help but love it. Also, the dialogue is great, fantastic even. Kieron Gillen does a great job all around.

In conclusion Young Avengers is great because it knows what it is and tries to be the best of that thing it can be, which it definitely comes close to. Fun yet dramatic, Serious yet silly, Young Avengers is well worth anybody’s time, even more so if you like Young Adult fiction or superheroes. Comics are a weirdly wonderful medium and Young Avengers is a weirdly wonderful comic.

 

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4 thoughts on “The Last Panel: Young Avengers vol. 1 Style > Substance: A Review

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