It’s only the second issue of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton’s re-launch of “Young Avengers,” but I’m already willing to call it a rousing success. For a book that has been so strongly associated with original writer Allan Heinberg, it’s actually a relief to see that Gillen (unlike many other writers who’ve tried to handle the characters in different comics) and McKelvie have picked up the proverbial baton so well.
I appreciate that Gillen writes “Young Avengers” in his own style rather than trying to ape Heinberg’s here. This is, after all, a series where Miss America said that she left her old team because of “musical differences.” Gillen’s sly sense of humor, love of pop culture and running jokes about food are all on display in a strange sort of amalgamation that works quite well. Under Gillen, the characters here have a relaxed sort of patter; watching Wiccan and Loki banter back and forth is a lot of fun, to the point that it’s hard to even care about any actual plot development. You want to read Loki complain about Wiccan’s name and keep ordering food everywhere he goes, or continue to get the sense that Wiccan and Hulkling really are boyfriends because of how much they care for each other by the way they speak to one another. And with the latter, it’s not so much using terms of affection, but rather affectionate language. There’s a distinct difference, and Gillen’s got it.
The reason why I bring up way the characters talk to one another is because that’s what had set “Young Avengers” apart from other comics back when it was first introduced. These weren’t just characters that talked like real people, but rather characters that had real relationships with one another. Not just romantic ones, but friendship, admiration, trust, apprehension, fear — you name it. They’d come alive on the page and grabbed people’s attention as a result, and Gillen is able to also bring those qualities to life here. In short, it’s great.
McKelvie and Norton also have fun with “Young Avengers” #2. Most of the comic is just solid, handsome art. The sorrow and caring for Hulkling on Wiccan’s face in that opening scene is crushingly beautiful, and the startled looks on both of their faces when Ms. Altman starts to reveal her true nature are fun reaction moments. One of my favorite parts of the comic, though, is how McKelvie and Norton bring the prison scene to life. The idea of a series of cells looking like comic panels is clever in its own right, but I think here it’s thanks to how well it’s executed that gives it that extra punch. Watching Wiccan and Loki crawl between them is a riot, and that first kick that shatters one of the panel borders is both surprising and satisfying. It’s a fun little trick that doesn’t overstay its welcome, even as it brings to life the strangeness going on with Ms. Altman that much more.
My one complaint — and it’s a minor one — is that occasionally it feels like there’s been a slight leap of logic between panels, especially in the second half. I’m still not 100% convinced on why exactly the trio travels to Asgardia, but despite the occasional little rough patch like that, “Young Avengers” #2 is still a lot of fun. And you know what? Fun isn’t a good thing, it’s a great thing. After all, this is a comic where the recap page is styled like a Tumblr dashboard; everyone involved is in on the entertainment of it all. So long as this book stays as stylish and upbeat as this, I know I’ll be sticking around. I’m betting I’m not the only one, either.