Young Avengers #1
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie, Mike Norton, and Matthew Wilson
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by George Marston
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and crew, have some massive shoes to fill with Young Avengers. The original series, by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung was both wildly popular and critically successful, and the long periods of absence between their runs with the characters have done little but build anticipation and excitement around the return of Marvel's erstwhile teen champions. Fortunately, Gillen and Co. rarely try to capture the lightning in the same bottle as the well-loved original team, instead opting to find the same emotional material through new perspectives.
There's an edge to this version of Young Avengers; something in the dialogue, and in the situations in which these young heroes now find themselves that has more in common with the BBC's "Skins" than Teen Titans, and the book works all the better for it. There's an energy to youth, particularly right around that monumental age of 18, where everything from the silly clothes you wear, to your outlandish extra-curricular activities, to the drama, both internal and external that you and your friends go through all seem so important, and so profound, and so serious. Gillen captures those feelings, channeling them perfectly into the superhero format, which relies on exactly those same notions, that all of these silly things are so important, and so real, making his teen superheroes seem like the most natural, obvious characters in the world.
Young Avengers is also painfully stylish, with one particular sequence early in the issue using panels to frame individual captions that appear more like title cards really standing out. The art team of Jamie McKelvie, Mike Norton, and Matthew Wilson are no strangers to each other, having worked together on various projects over the last few years, and the familiarity of their relationship comes through in the best of ways, with McKelvie and Norton's clean, energetic line art bolstered by colorist Matthew Wilson, who may have the most expressive, engaging palette in mainstream comics right now. McKelvie's ability to capture young adults that actually look like young adults is uncanny, down to the clothing, hairstyles, and facial expressions, adding another layer of authenticity to a concept that, like the best teen dramas, needs all the veneer of sincerity it can muster.
Teenagers and superheroics go hand in hand, because the energy and pretense of youth so perfectly echo those of costumed crimefighting, and Gillen, McKelvie, Norton, and Wilson have truly captured something about that feeling without sacrificing either side of the coin. Make no mistake, this isn't Young Avengers a la Heinberg and Cheung, but it also shouldn't be. Teenagers grow and change, and like the rest of us, these ones are struggling to live up to the potential and trust that they earned when they were younger. There are almost too many parallels between that concept and Young Avengers, but let's just say it's a match made in heaven.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!