Thursday, September 07, 2006

Young Avengers

(Volume 1): Sidekicks
Allan Heinberg & Jim Cheung

With the Young Avengers teaming up with the Runaways in their own Civil War special, I thought that it was about time to get caught up on the former team that I hadn't been following, but have been meaning to check out. Their first adventure "Sidekicks" has been collected into a paperback edition that includes Young Avengers issues #1-6, and is basically the team's origin. These young superheroes have appeared out of nowhere to demonstrate acts of heroism, and harbor an uncanny resemblance to prominent members of the Avengers proper. But what is their connection with Earth's Mightiest Heroes, if any? And what is their mission? Those answers and more are revealed in this storyline, with a lineup that initially includes Iron Lad, Hulkling, Patriot and Asgardian (later renamed Wiccan), but whose membership shifts by the end of the sixth issue.

There's a vaguely complicated story behind why these heroes have banded together, and how these six issues leave them, but let's just say that it involves Kang the Conquerer, time travel and the Vision, and has guest appearances by Jessica Jones, Captain America and Iron Man (the latter two of which are still friends at this point in time). The banter between the members of the group, and their stances on issues, make for a really cool dynamic. It's a fun book that has echoes of other stories with teenage protagonists, like Runaways and even Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where the characters are just as worried about getting home before their parents discover them missing from their bedrooms as they are about reality shifting as a result of an enemy's actions.

Jim Cheung's art is, of course, stellar. I've been a fan of Cheung's since his Crossgen days on Scion, and he has only improved with time. His modern designs on old costumes are really just impressive when it comes down to it.

The stand-out characters of the book are really Kate, who doesn't have a codename by the end of the book, having been unimpressed by any names she heard in regards to her predecesser Hawkeye, and the Thor-inspired Wiccan, but really all of the characters make for interesting additions to the team. By the end of the series, I cared as much for these crazy kids as I do for the Runaways, whom I've been following for years. All-in-all, these Young Avengers make for welcome additions to Marvel's universe. A

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