Or – “I’ve Always Been A Sucker For A Good Teenage Heroes Book…”

When Young Avengers #1 came out, I was struck by how much more I liked it than the previous volume of the series (which, to be honest, I liked quite a lot.)  Going all the way back to the Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans of my youth, I have enjoyed me some teenage Degrassi superhero melodrama, and this book seems like the one to replace New Warriors in my heart.  (Weeeellll, to be honest, it’s replacing Dynamo 5, which replaced Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans which replaced New Warriors, but still…)  Will my love affair with Gillen and McKelvie continue?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

YoungAvengersCoverYOUNG AVENGERS #4
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler: Jamie McKelvie
Artist: Paul Neary
Colorist: Norton
Letterer: Wilson
Editor: I Cannot Find The Credits For The Life Of Me
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Young Avengers: When their old superhero peer group dissolved, Teddy “Hulkling” Altman, Billy “Wiccan” Kaplan and Kate Bishop’s lives continued, and the romance between Teddy and Billy got more serious.  When a spell gone wrong resurrected his boyfriend’s dead mother, Wiccan was horrified to find himself in a ‘Mickey Mouse surrounded by brooms’ situation, as his spell spun out of control.  With the help of Loki and the new Miss America, they managed to find a safe haven in a local nightclub, but things got worse when Mommy and her horde of Stepford parents arrived.  Who will save the day?


How’sabout a little Captain Marvel action?  Or, to be fair, one of the dozens and dozens of FORMER Captain Marvel’s in the Marvel Universe, in the form of Noh-Varr of the Kree.  I have to say, the first few pages of this issue immediately hooked me, from the Tumblr-style recap page (called Yamblr, for obvious reasons) to the interplay between Kate and Noh-Varr, I was having fun.  And then, I hit the double-page spread.

Jamie McKelvie is a $&@&^ genius, folks.  Noh-Varr leaps into action to save Loki, Wiccan, Miss A and Hulkling, in a gorgeous schematic that mere explanation cannot do justice, enjoying the single most heroic moment of his superhero career, and immediately endearing himself to me.  It’s that good, and the dialogue is just incredibly awesome throughout, including Noh’s ruminations on the OTHER Hawkeye (“We didn’t make love…”) and leading to the promised-in-the-solicits “shameless retcon” of Marvel Boy’s backstory:  The introduction of HIS parents.  In a lovely visual touch, his father looks like a traditional Mar-Vell-era Kree warrior in green-and-white, but Mom resembles the nouveau Kree of Grant Morrison’s Marvel Boy mini, a lovely continuity touch that made me smile yet again.


There’s a seamless integration of words and pictures throughout this issue, with wonderful character moments (Noh-Varr plays innocent, Hulkling thinks he’s adorable, Loki undermines everyone, Miss America can’t believe any of this lunacy) to be had for all.  There’s even the truly inspired moment where Noh reveals that his ship is powered by “Kirby engines,” and worries that their epiphanies-per-second will drop low enough to crash.  As the team finally unites for the first time, Loki has a revelation (one that’s kept from the readers and his teammates), Wiccan takes a leap of faith, and Miss America…  Man, she’s just super-hot.  McKelvie’s art is just so wonderful, a style that is clean and yet incredibly vivid, with great expressions and subtle body language for all involved.  We end on a cliffhanger moment that is tense, well-crafted, and dramatically perfect for the story being told…


Marvel NOW! has been quite successful for me, and even the misses are books that are creatively stretching for something exciting and unique, but this issue puts a solid cap on Young Avengers as my favorite book of the relaunch.  (Hawkeye predates the NOW!, or else I’d have a fight in my cerebral cortex for that crown.)  It’s impossible to tell where the writer and the artist begin and end, and the story is not only exciting, it feels like a natural extension of things that have come before in various other books.  (Amazingly, no one on this team is a new creation.)  Young Avengers #4 hits the right notes, with amazing art, cultural reference that feel spot-on, historical comics references that work, and a nice ensemble of characters with just a hint of bastardry, earning a dead-solid 5 out of 5 stars overall.  You should definitely be reading this book if you like your comics fun, frenetic and oh-so-very-pretty, folks…

Rating: ★★★★★


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About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


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