With the number of anthology mini-series that Marvel has published over the past few years every time there’s a change in the status quo over in X-Men, it would be a reasonable assumption that “Age of Heroes” is a group of short stories about the new company-wide branding at Marvel Comics. And while that’s true, it’s also not entirely correct. This issue of “Age of Heroes,” at least, is more like a group of teasers for other projects.
Sean McKeever and Dave Baldeon open the book with the strongest story of the bunch, starring Gravity (who is now also appearing in the “Young Allies” title by McKeever and Baldeon). It’s a fun story about his encounter with one of the new Bastards of Evil villain group, while trying to fly back to school in New York. The fight between Gravity and Warhead is perfectly fine, but it’s actually all of the little details that make this story work. Gravity trying to figure out his navigation towards New York from Ohio is a fun (and logical) moment, and his taking the time to first stop and call 911 when encountering an explosion. Gravity really is the modern day “if you were a superhero” character, and written and drawn well, to boot. It’s a complete story that still makes you want to read “Young Allies,” and that’s exactly how it should work.
Conversely, Brian Reed and Chad Hardin’s story about American Son felt like the first eight pages of a story that doesn’t so much come to a conclusion as it does a resting place. Following up on an armored hero that appears to have debuted in the Spider-Man family of titles, the story is told through the eyes of a reporter trying to get a scoop. The problem is, Reed fails to engage the reader in the mystery of who the current American Son is, or in the form of reporter Norah Winters. She’s not as bad of a cliche as, say, Sally Floyd in “Civil War: Front Line,” but she’s not interesting either. Nothing has her stand out as someone I want to read about, and the American Son character feels a little boring as well. In terms of a lead-in to “American Son” #1, all this unfortunately did was ensure that I won’t give it a try.
The book closes out with two vignettes; a two-page Young Masters story by Paul Cornell and Mark Brooks, and then a one-page piece by Dan Slott and Ty Templeton. Cornell and Brooks’ piece seems to exist solely to remind us that these teen semi-villains exist, and while Slott and Templeton’s story has its heart in the right place, it feels a tad bit trite in its salute to “the real heroes.” Neither of these are bad (although Brooks’ colors come across a little washed out), but neither are stories you’ll remember in a month’s time.
“Age of Heroes” #2 is a little disappointing. I’d expected a lot more bang for my buck, and while the Gravity story was entertaining, the rest is easy to miss. I wish we’d had more complete stories in this issue, because I think that might’ve turned the tide. “Young Allies” fans should definitely check out this issue, but otherwise, there’s not too much to entice one in.