Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Catching Up: Young Avengers

This covers Young Avengers 1-5, a new series that sprung from the literal and figurative wreckage of Avengers: Disassembled. Though I didn't care for Disassembled, I can't hold a grudge against it if Young Avengers is one of the results. Though the idea of a writer from The O.C. writing a Avengers spinoff featuring what appeared to be all-new teen sidekick versions of the classic Marvel heroes seemed eminently avoidable, the buzz on this book convinced me to give it a try. I'm now "Caught Up" on the book, and here are some thoughts:

  • I love the character designs, especially Patriot. I really didn't think you could do much more with the "patriotic hero" look, but they managed something that was classic without feeling like I'd seen it all before. Hulkling's a blast: a thoroughly derivative design that actually manages to look cool - he's a big, green Boy Band kid. Teen People would be all over him.

  • I'm not familiar with Jim Cheung's work, but I already will be keeping an eye out for everything he does. The fight and action sequences are staged well, and he handles the quite soap opera stuff just as well. He conveys a lot of character and emotion, and it particularly good at showing that these are kids. It's something that a lot of artists miss when doing teen books, but the Young Avengers have the right build and softness. They're not just short adults.

  • I suppose it's his background in primetime soaps, but Heinberg knocks the characterization out of the park. Though the first arc still feels built-for-trade, it manages to feel compressed. It's not heavy on plat, but the characterization is rich and dense, and is revealed through actions. Only 5 issues in, and I have a real sense of who these kids are, and it's not because they stopped and told me. They had actions (including dialogue) that revealed their personalities without having to resort to tons of exposition. That's not an easy feat when you're starting off with four new characters all at once, and finding them in media res.

  • Kang usually makes my head hurt. Heck, whole miniseries have been written about Kang's head-hurting abilities. Ancient Egypt, the far future, multiple timeline-jumping selves ... it all makes me dread seeing him pop up. But Heinberg handles it all skillfully, and while he plays with all the time-hopping conventions of the character, it never gets bogged down. I think that Kang has trouble in modern comics because now everything needs to be consistent and explained. Kang works best if you don't connect all the dots, because it's all the dot-connecting that has me reaching for the Excedrin. He also writes a Kang with some character: arrogant and haughty, but utterly competent and firm in the conviction he's right. I don't know if Kang will become a fixture in the series .... but I hope to see Heinberg write him again.

  • Reading this, I was reminded most of all of the great Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans of the 80's. Unlike the angst of the X-Men, this is soap opera that's also a fun superhero read. It's clean and snappy, but still weaves great relationships. I feel like he's managing the secrets well, unlike the usual Marvel Way. Heinberg's letting a few cats out of the bag as we go along, not content to hint indefinitely (see Claremont, Chris). There are still plenty of mysteries, but I don't have the feeling I'm getting a carrot-and-stick routine.

  • Looks like I missed a good deal of controversy on the matter of the Asgardian/Hulkling relationship. It was interesting watching it play out in the letters page, and I give Marvel a lot of credit for publishing those letters and Heinberg for handling the situation with class.. If they are an "item", Heinberg's handling it the right way. It's not shocking or controversial, at least not to the characters involved. It's simply a fact of their lives, like the color of their hair or eyes. I'm really interested to see this relationship develop, as well as the equally intriguing developments between Kate and Patriot.


1 comment:

Shane Bailey said...

Chueng did a ton of great work on Crossgen's Scion series until right before it ended and Luke Ross took over. Before that I believe he was on X-force for a while.