REVIEW: Avengers – The Children’s Crusade #4 (of 9)

by

Or – “I Kind Of Forgot This Thing Existed…”

Young Avengers was notable for a number of things:  Beautiful Jim Cheung art, a well-handled gay couple at the center of the team, treating Iron Man like a complete jerk months before all the other Marvel titles followed suit…  But mostly, it was known for lateness.  We’re not talking Ms. Mystic-seven-years-between-issues late, but scribe Allan Heinberg’s day job (he’s a screenwriter for Grey’s Anatomy, among other things) kept the issues sporadic.  Issue #1 of this book came out in July-ish, and we sold out of #2, causing me to figure I could just wait for a collection rather than fight it.  When #4 came in last week, I was surprised, thinking that the series should already be over, but Cheung’s cover drew me in.  Since they’re the only lasting thing to come out of Avengers: Disassembled, we get to check in on the kids and see if they’re really alright…

AVENGERS – THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE #4
Written by Allan Heinberg
Pencils by Jim Cheung
Inks by Mark Morales/Jim Cheung
Colors by Justin Ponsor
Letters by VC’s Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
$3.99

Previously, on Avengers – The Children’s Crusade:  The Scarlet Witch’s flip-out led to the end of the Avengers as we knew them, killing Jack Of Hearts, Ant-Man II, Hawkeye, The Vision and blowing Avengers Mansion to Kingdom Come.  In the wake of that decision, a group of young men and women with powers came together as the Young Avengers.  Stature, the daughter of Ant-Man, has her own Pym-particle size-changing powers.  Patriot is the grandson of Isaiah Bradley, the Captain America from “Truth: Red, White & Black.”  The Vision is a newly built android with part of the programming of the original.  Wiccan is a magician who believes himself to be the son of the Scarlet Witch.  Speed is his twin brother, raised by a foster family with the powers of Quicksilver, sort of.  Hulkling is the son of the Kree Captain Mar-Vell, with Skrullian shape-shifting powers inherited from his biological mother.  Hawkeye is a hero groupie whose lack of powers don’t stop her from being a driven hero and team leader.  Iron Lad is dead, so I don’t have to remember exactly what it is that he did.  Together they are The New Teen Titans The Young Avengers, fearless young orphans, protecting Earth’s entire galaxy. Always five, acting as one.  Dedicated!  Inseparable!  Invincible!  No, wait… That’s G-Force.  Either way, it’s still a good story.

In the wake of the ‘House of M’ debacle, Wanda Maximoff was last seen as an amnesiac woman living on Wundagore Mountain, with only Hawkeye (Clint Barton, not this team’s version) fully aware of her location and status.  Joining with Magneto, Wanda’s father, the Young Avengers traveled halfway around the world to track her down.  Quicksilver gets involved, still harboring ill will for his pater familias, and eventually Wiccan discovers the woman he thinks is his mommy in Latveria.  Problem one:  She has no idea who he is.  Problem two:  She’s in love, engaged to be married to a lovely man she met…  A man named Victor Von Doom.  This issue opens with full-scale fireworks as Wiccan pits his abilities against the mystic might of Doom himself, trying to remind Wanda of who she really is, while Doom fights to keep her in the dark.  Cheung’s art in this opening sequence is phenomenal, with a simply gorgeous Wanda angrily trying to keep her fiance from blasting a random teenager into atoms, and Doom’s armor looking more realistic than the movie rendition.  (I suppose that might be damning with faint praise, though…)

Things get really wacky, as Magneto, Quicksilver and the Y.A. invade Castle Doomstadt, Wonder Man comes looking for Wanda, the Avengers follow Wonder Man (and probably create an international incident) and Wanda realizes that things really aren’t quite what they seem.  Trapped in Doom’s dungeon, his powers blocked by greater magic, Wiccan is busted out by Wanda, who wants the full story on her supposed past.  There are a few bits of pretty wonderful dialogue, but I’m troubled by the fact that our cast list numbers in the dozens and it’s hard to remember where you are without a scorecard.  The Avengers get involved, and Wanda & Wiccan are waylaid by an Avengers with a grudge.  (Here’s a hint:  He’s also a mutant, he has no compunctions about killing, and if you don’t love him unconditionally, you’re probably tired of him.  No, not Will Ferell.)  The issue ends with a founding Young Avenger returning to the fold (seemingly) to defend the mutant mother and child reunion, but since his presence is pretty much impossible, the last-second save opens more questions than it answers…

I’ll say this:  This is a good read.  There are a few minor problems with details (notably Quicksilver not being fast enough to “vibrate through doors” ala the Flash) and the presence of Doom, Magneto AND the entire roster of Avengers seems like overkill, but this issue reminds me why Young Avengers was the magical title find of 2005.  Of course, 5 years in comic time is practically a lifetime, so it’s hard to tell what sort of built-in fanbase this book still has, but lovely Jim Cheung art is worth the wait.  The Young Avengers have been trapped in a cycle of big-event crossover madness since about 2007, with Marvel seemingly willing to wait as long as it takes for Heinberg and Cheung regardless of the wait between series (or, indeed, between issues.)  In this case, though, I agree with the decision, as the team works terribly well under the creators and less so under other pens.  Avengers – The Children’s Crusade #4 is a fine comic with wonderful art, and earns a delayed but still quality 4 out of 5 stars overall

Rating: ★★★★☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Are you willing to wait longer between issues for a quality book from creators who obviously love their work?