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Thursday, January 24, 2013

DAMN Good Comics -- YOUNG AVENGERS #1

At last, a Marvel NOW! title that actually feels like Marvel...now.

This first issue by writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie may be titled "Style > Substance," but proves you can have both style and substance.  As a book featuring the next generation of Avengers, you expect it to have a younger, looser feel and so far, it certainly does.  It's a fun and promising series with character moments that remind me of the glory days of Wolfman and Pérez's The New Teen Titans or Levitz and Giffen's Legion of Super-Heroes.

Gillen isn't very big on backstory here, choosing instead to dive right in and let the readers fill in the blanks as they go along.  Hawkeye's protégé/future replacement Kate Bishop is now sleeping with the alien Noh-Varr, the former Marvel Boy and The Protector.  Hulkling tells his boyfriend Wiccan that he's tired of living "in the phone booth" and wants to return to being a superhero.  The new latina Miss America is gunning for Kid Loki, informing the young Asgardian, "You've got a head you don't need."

The dialogue is sharp and fresh, without trying to be overly hipster, complemented by McKelvie's clean artwork and some solid coloring by Matthew Wilson.  McKelvie's style (which, yes, also has substance) suits the book's tone nicely, with visually interesting panels and a slightly animated look that adds to the characters' youth.  The spread on pages four and five is particularly innovative, working what could otherwise be a house ad showcasing the series' premise into the story.

Since this issue is really just a prologue of what's to come, it remains to be seen how all six of these characters will play off one another after they're brought together.  If you're one of those comics fans frustrated by how Teen Titans and Legion have forgotten what it means to be young and relatable, or miss books like New Mutants and New Warriors even though you're not sure why, you may want to consider checking out Young Avengers.  As this first issue says, after all, everyone should try it.

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