Young Avengers Vol. 2: Alternative Cultureby Kieron Gillen
Collects Young Avengers (2013) #6-10. Ever wonder what the super hero equivalent of a terrible soul-sucking, talent-wasting temp job is? Wonder what Tommy (aka Speed) has been up to? Wonder why mutant David Alleyne (aka Prodigy) hasn't been even in the background in any one of the eight thousand X-books? Discover answers herein! Then: existential horror turns cosmic horror as something emerges from the shadows of the past...and it seems that the Young Avengers have one more thing to worry about. The team races desperately across the multi verse in pursuit of their missing friend, but their road trip goes crazy as it reaches its desti nati on. Because its desti nati on is mainly excitement and heartbreak. Several Young Avengers decide what to do next. The question is, whether they stay Young Avengers! Plus: Are you ready for Mother's Day?
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Well, I guess this is a lesson in "be careful what you wish for." After the graphic novel collecting the Young Avengers storyline called The Children's Crusade, I said I hoped the powers-that-be at Marvel would lighten up on a bit of the Legacy aspect of the core characters and just let them have adventures that didn't hinge on who their parents/mentors were. The previous collection (Style/Substance) and this one have given me that ... and I find that I'm just not enjoying the story being told. There's something about the pacing that just feels off. In an industry where a monthly comic can be cancelled with no notice, where creative teams are dropped halfway through the multi-arc vision they have for a title, it seems to me that Kieron Gillen threw too much into the pot for this set of issues, and then forgot to stir. Instead of a direct follow-up to the cliffhanger of the previous storyline (as the back cover copy says, "The Young Avengers can't go home again or their parents will kill them. Literally."), we get a meandering story that introduces not one but two more potential Master Villains to the story (one at the very beginning, a wraith-like creature wearing the costume of former team member Patriot, and one at the end, the reveal of which I will not spoil here) on top of the two already established (The Mother Parasite and Kid Loki, who, let's face it, isn't fooling any readers with his "but I'm a good-guy now, sorta" facade). It feels a bit too much for a series only in the second half of the first year of a run ... not to mention a series that is trying to balance the personal history of characters who come from disparate backgrounds. The only original Young Avengers left on the team are Wiccan and Hulking; even Kate Bishop/Hawkeye was a later addition. The rest of the team is now comprised of Kid Loki (who we all knew wasn't destined to stay a kid forever, beholden as he is to the Thor creative team), Marvel Boy (a direct tie to the Dark Avengers series), Prodigy (a cast-off from the X-books) and a dimension-hopping Miss America (I'll be honest, I have no idea where she's appeared before, but she clearly has a history). That's a lot to juggle in and around three major villains with overlapping agendas. I'd have liked the pace to slow down a little bit and to see a bit more character development. Because here's the thing -- characterization is where Gillen excels. I've been picking up these trade collections because the characters of Kate Bishop, Speed, Wiccan and Hulking matter to me. Even though they've moved through a plethora of creative teams since Allan Heinberg first introduced the team, these four characters have grown, and Gillen "gets" who they are and what they're struggling with. Not just living up to your parents' expectations/legends, but being comfortable with who you are. Teddy and Billy (Hulking and Wiccan) are one of the most realistic gay couples in comics, teen or not, and Gillen throws a logical monkey-wrench into their relationship based not on the introduction of an outside element (like a flirty guy) but on developing the fact that Billy is a reality-warper and what that means for Teddy's feelings about Billy. And even when Gillen does introduce a potential other guy, it's done in a way that doesn't smell of SOAP OPERA TWIST! I also appreciate Gillen's deft handling of Kate's involvement with Marvel Boy in the context of both characters' romantic (or womanizing, in MB's case) histories.
Love the cover. Anyway, another fun read. Been in a comic superhero book mood lately. Like the different characters and the story was good as well. Recognize some of the characters and others not much. Still made this a fun read.