Avengers: The Children's Crusade #1

Story by
Art by
Mark Morales, Jim Cheung
Colors by
Justin Ponsor
Letters by
Cory Petit
Cover by
Marvel Comics

It's been a long time since the original 12-issue run of "Young Avengers" by Allan Heinberg, Jim Cheung, and Mark Morales came to a close. But here's the great thing: reading "Avengers: The Children's Crusade" #1, it feels like it's been no time at all.

I was worried that in the intervening years that Heinberg might've lost sight of the characters that he made so popular, but that's not the case. He uses the first few pages to reintroduce the characters for those who might've been away, but from there the book starts moving into its new storyline. A search for the Scarlet Witch makes perfect sense, and it's something that got touched upon briefly in the "Young Avengers Presents" mini-series from a few years ago. Heinberg makes it work in part, though, because he shows us why this is an important mission for the team, after Wiccan's always nebulous power set scares even the main Avengers. Once Heinberg has given the readers (and characters) a reason for why the search needs to start now, the set-up is complete and we're ready for full steam ahead.

At CrossGen, a lot of artists finally got the attention they deserved,(Butch Guice, Steve Epting, Brandon Peterson) and to that category I'ddefinitely add Cheung. There's a lot to enjoy in Cheung's art; the way that he makes Wiccan and Speed look like brothers through facial features, the way he uses body language to show concern radiating from Hulkling, or the radiating circles of power arcing out of Wiccan when he takes down the bad guys. (Justin Ponsor's coloring on that last example really helps sell the scene.) There's energy in every one of Cheung's pages.

The one downside to this first issue is that while the set-up is complete at the end of the issue, it's hard to ignore that this is almost all set-up. Sure, the characters are great and it's fun seeing them all again, but after a several year absence of Heinberg and Cheung working on "Young Avengers," it would've been nice to see a bit more happen in this first issue. I think I'd have been willing to wait an extra two months in exchange for a double-sized first issue.

It's also hard to ignore that this series has been in the works long enough that it no longer quite "fits" in the present; there's even a disclaimer on the credits page explaining as much, and noting that by the end of the mini-series it will become clear where exactly it falls into continuity. For continuity hounds this will be upsetting, but I suspect for most readers it will just feel like a slightly strange blip. (Although I'm sure those obsessed with continuity will have some fun adding in the appearance of the guest star on the last page.)

Still, it's great to see the characters back, and hopefully starting next month we'll see some of the characters that fell into the background here (Patriot, Hawkeye, and the Vision in particular). All in all? It's great to be home again.

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