There’s a new superhero comic book coming out today. It looks like this.
It could also look like this.
Seriously, I’d buy it for the cover(s) alone. But that’s me.
Should YOU buy it? See if the following categories apply to you:
- Are you a fan of the original Young Avengers saga that began in 2005 and culminated in Avengers: The Childrens’ Crusade this past year?
- Are you a fan of creative team Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, most famous for their creator-owned, critically acclaimed series Phonogram back in 2006, or any of the comics they’ve done individually since then?
- Are you either looking for a satisfying Young Adults tale and/or had your superhero appetite whet from last year’s billion-dollar movie Marvel’s The Avengers and now want more?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of the above questions, Young Avengers should definitely be in your pull-list. Read on to find out why.
First, the million dollar question. Can anyone pick up Young Avengers #1 without having read the original Young Avengers saga, mentioned above, or the recently-concluded Journey into Mystery, or the Vengeance miniseries, or any other comic where these characters have appeared before?
On Gillen’s tumblr, he answers this succintly:
If you can’t pick up a #1 and read it cold, we’ve failed entirely.
Issue 1 is densely loaded in terms of bringing you up to speed with all the necessary information. That’s what it’s for. Stuff you don’t grasp is almost certainly mysteries, and we’ll get to it in time.
But why should you care about this book enough to pick it up? As with all good stories, the answer is: the cast. The six initial members of the Young Avengers promise to be more than enough fodder for many, many stories to come.
Previews of the first issue have been going around the Net, so we know that the story opens with Kate Bishop and Noh-Varr, two of the six main cast. The first three pages provide some background into both characters amid the serenity of space, along with the throbbing of Noh-Varr’s… music on the third page:
Writer Gillen is rather prolific on tumblr and in the lead up to the book’s launch, he’s written mini-essays for each member of the team. You should definitely read each one, but here’s the gist.
Marvel Boy (Noh-Varr) | One banished Kree warrior who’s lost everything except his vintage vinyl collection. And his spaceship.
He’s instinctively a hero – his hedonism is almost impossible to separate from a hero. Everything has been taken from him, and he acts like a hero anyway, because being a hero is the only thing that has ever meant anything to him.
Hawkeye (Kate Bishop) | One rich girl with no powers whatsoever. And a bow. The bow is important.
Kate having come to terms with stuff is a big part of her, for me. She’s got a level head on her shoulders. She weighs her feelings and decides what she’s going to do about them. She doesn’t have an inferiority complex. She’s worked past that. She’s a little more worldly, and you can tell.
Miss America (America Chavez) | One mysterious interdimensional super hero with mysterious background and mysterious anger issues.
What Miss America allows is showing someone who is as much a hero as anyone the cast has ever met, but is only a little older. And if she’s doing this, by herself, and has been for years… why not you? Generally speaking, she’s pretty cool. Mainly I think she pulls it off because she knows that being cool is bullshit.
Loki | One mischevious and lovable godling who is not at all evil and definitely not manipulating everyone.
A new reader will see Loki and see someone who looks a lot like the villain in the third-biggest movie of all time and is famed for manipulating, lying and generally being a charming shit. They will be suspicious about his motivations, and understand why the cast are suspicious. A reader of Journey Into Mystery will know the truth. They will be suspicious about his motivations, and understand why the cast are suspicious. But even more so. Possibly to screaming THERE IS A SERIAL KILLER IN YOUR HOUSE at the book, or the local equivalent. Both should be wondering what the hell Loki is really up to, which is exactly how I want it.
Wiccan (Billy Kaplan) | One chaos-magic quasi-messiah/antichrist who thinks he’s lost everything in the world except for the love of his life.
We join the book after he’s recovered from his depression – however he’s still haunted by exactly how bad it went bad last time. He thinks any return to heroing is a terrible idea, and responds vehemently at the very hint of it. He’s a powerhouse a little afraid of his own talents and potential.
Hulkling (Teddy Altman) | One shape-changing heir to the Skrull Empire who actually has lost everything in the world except for the love of his life.
He’s lost more than anyone on the team, and knows what life and love is worth, and he holds on to it with both hands, with everything he’s got. In a way, love is all he’s got left and it’s worth fighting for. And it is, isn’t it? What could be wrong with that? I do worry about him. I worry about what he worries about.
Now, back to issue one. The last caption of page 3 above reads “At which point the Skrulls attack” (apologies for the small resolution – just take my word for it). You flip the page, and THIS happens.
Which brings me to point three: the creative team of Gillen and McKelvie. Utilising the page above to help define their relationship is obviously limiting, but it does give you a hint at the kind of synergy their collaboration relies on. Not only does McKelvie’s art never seem static, but his attention to detail gives amazing depth to an already frenetically paced sequence. The panel designs are far from random, and create a sense of asymmetric simultaneity. Yet, you also realise that Gillen is not slacking off, that this splash page doesn’t detract from the story at all, instead giving the reader further insight into the personality of Kate Bishop, making the most of the few words on the page.
At this point I also want to mention that these two are perfect gentlemen and extremely brilliant to follow on Tumblr and Twitter. In fact, we shot them each a quick tweet to say something we could include in this post and they responded generously:
@herebegeeks I AM LOVING YOU WITH KISS RAYS.
— Kieron Gillen (@kierongillen) January 22, 2013
— Jamie McKelvie (@McKelvie) January 22, 2013
Young Avengers #1 is out on sale today at US$2.99! Go bug your friendly comic book store for a copy or, better still, at it to your pull list!