Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s “Young Avengers” #8 continues its hunt for the false Patriot and Billy’s twin brother Tommy, and its wonderfully addictive frenetic pace and whip-smart sense of humor. While this issue, like those previous, is high on style and jokes, the cliffhanger endings suggest a whole lot of substance to come.
Gillen’s “Young Avengers” has a rapid, almost frantic pace that is certainly not for everyone, but feels like pure youth injected straight into the pages. The series continues to make evolutionary leaps and readers that can’t keep up will just have to stay fish. It won’t wait for readers slow on the uptake and it makes no apologies. There’s not a lot of plot beyond world-hopping in this issue. Though the peeks at those others worlds — from an adorable apparently “Wiccan ruled” world to another terrifying Kree Captial — are delightfully fleshed out and innovative. “Sliders” wishes it had been a fraction this creative (or good).
Gillen does a good job with the entire cast, but he has his clear favorites, the obvious being Kid Loki with Noh-Varr as a distant second. Between them, they get all the best lines, but that feels right. If life were fiction, wouldn’t those particularly funny or smart friends you have get all the “best lines?” Life is not equal, or we’d all be rock stars. The downside is that, as a fledgling book, there may be fairly new readers still trying to connect to all these characters. It’s not a huge loss as there’s little risk of anyone leaving the book, but it would be nice to connect more to some of the “non-rock stars.”
The cliffhangers in this issue are the best plot point yet in the series as they work in both highly emotional and physical ways. Perhaps because the book has such a freewheeling sense of self, I didn’t see either plot point coming, which made it all the more exciting to fall into.
McKelvie has visual surprises up his sleeve in every issue of this series and this one is no exception. How deep are this man’s sleeves? His incredibly clever peek at one world after another (not to mention how our heroes get there) would be more than enough to keep any comic fan salivating, but where McKelvie really takes the visuals to edge is when he begins playing with panel borders, white space and storytelling construction in the second-to-last world. I wouldn’t have thought it possible for McKelvie to level up the visuals on “Young Avengers” but the last pages of this issue prove me devastatingly and delightfully wrong.
This isn’t a book willing to call it a day at stunning visuals and crisp energetic writing. No, that would not be enough. Instead, it continues to present itself as an exceptionally designed fully functioning package. From the Tumblr-like opening that gives readers a recap, and cheat sheet for characters, locations, and in-jokes, to the brilliantly designed credits pages (this time made up as Loki’s passport complete with logo stamps for all his alternate worlds visited), every inch of this book has been smartly considered and perfectly designed.
Pound for pound, “Young Avengers” remains, one of the strongest books of the Marvel NOW! launch. It sits on the short list with titles like “Hawkeye” and “X-Men” because the book feels like exactly what it is: the best creators in the superhero business doing something they love without a lot of red tape and crossover nonsense getting in their way. “Young Avengers” is the future of superhero comics, and it’s good to see a future so bright.