When Kieron Gillen was announced as the writer of the new Young Avengers series, I was a little bit apprehensive about reading it. I quite liked his work on Uncanny X-men. Although it was hardly my favourite run, it was quite an interesting take on the team. Yet the Young Avengers comics had never been able to keep me interested, my attempts to get into them in the past having been futile.
The characters were never able to grab me as a team, except for the young gay couple who I found very sweet. I could take or leave the others. Just having finished reading the fifth issue of the new series, I can now say I am officially hooked. Gillen has done a very impressive job with the series, working with Jamie McKelvie to create an interesting new team book, that has a totally different look and feel.
Recognising that the cast wasn’t very popular, Gillen only kept three of the original members, the previously mentioned gay couple, the magic wielding Billy (Wiccan) and shape-shifting Ted (Hulkling), and Hawkeye (the girl version). Alongside these mainstays, he adds Loki, now a teenager but still just as untrustworthy. His motives cannot be trusted but the team are forced to work with him. He also brings back Marvel Boy, sometimes friend, sometimes enemy to the Avengers with enhanced strength and speed. A new character to the series is Miss America who can fly, is bullet proof, and insanely strong.
The first story-arc sees them all thrust together when Wiccan casts a spell that inadvertently releases an incredibly powerful creature, Mother. This creature seems to be capable of controlling parents – even bringing dead ones back to life. This leaves the young heroes in a terrible situation, without being able to turn to anyone else for help. This is really hammered home in the second issue, when the kids go to the Avengers for help and they just believe they have run away from home, sending them straight back to the evil creature. By the end of the storyline, the team have to face off against all their parents, many of whom are super powered. They come to realise that for Mother’s powers to work they need to be close to their parents (or where they died), forcing them to go on the run.
In the space of five issues, I have become attached to these characters. I really want to see how the gay romance progresses, especially with some of the revelations that Loki dropped to Ted. Were they another one of his tricks or has Billy been unintentionally screwing with the universe for years? I quite like the sarcastic attitude of Kate and want to see how her romance with Marvel Boy develops, who I have to say is one of the sexiest characters I’ve ever seen in a comic. There’s a lot to learn about Miss America, as her origins and motivations are still fairly mysterious. And then of course there’s Loki, the self-styled Tyrion of the group. Can anyone really trust him?
The artwork from McKelvie really makes the series stand out. His work is constantly pushing the boundaries of what can be done in comics, giving the book a refreshingly experimental approach. One scene features Wiccan and Hulkling trapped in a prison by Mother, that takes on the form of boxes in a white space. When Loki breaks them out he kicks through the wall of the panel each character sits in, they then escape by climbing around the white space in between each panel. It’s a simple look yet it works incredibly well.
The fourth issue sees him break up a fight scene into a isometric diagram across a double page spread, outlining each part of the fight on the page with a key describing each aspect and the best action shots broken out so they’re highlighted. It gives the scene a real kinetic edge in a way I’ve never seen in comics before. That’s what works so well about the collaboration. From their past work Gillen is able to trust McKelvie enough to know that he can make these bizarre ideas work incredibly well, giving a ground breaking new look to the comic in the process.
I’m really looking forward to where Young Avengers goes from here, although I can already tell it will be one of my favourite comics of the year!