Warning: The following article contains spoilers for the Marvel Comics #1000 story, "The Celebration Dinner," by Allen Heinberg, Jim Cheung, Frank Martin and VC's Joe Sabino, on sale now.
To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the original Marvel Comics #1, Marvel recruited about 80 creative teams to create 80 one-page stories for the mammoth Marvel Comics #1000. While some of those stories revolve around the mysterious Eternity Mask or highlight the timeless spirit of iconic Marvel characters, some stories are firmly grounded in the modern Marvel Universe.
In one of those stories, the Young Avengers reassemble as the team's classic line-up reunites for the first time in years.
While gathered together for a celebratory dinner in their civilian identities, the group welcomes Eli Bradley, who formerly led the team as Patriot, back to New York and urges him to come out of superhero retirement. After initially refusing, he suits up and leads Kate Bishop's Hawkeye, Stature, Hulking, Wiccan and Speed into an unseen battle against Terminus, the Ravager of Worlds.
While this isn't the full roster of Young Avengers, it's arguably the most famous incarnation of the team, especially as presented in stories by co-creators Heinberg and Cheung.
Debuting in the wake of the seminal "Avengers Disassembled" crossover that tore the adult Avengers apart, the Young Avengers were formed in 2005 by a reincarnated version of the Vision and the time-traveling Nathaniel Richards, a younger, heroic version of Kang the Conqueror.
In the same way that Richards operated as the Iron Man-inspired hero Iron Lad, each one of the young heroes was seemingly an analogue for an adult Avenger.
Patriot carried on the mantle of his super-soldier grandfather, Isaiah Bradley. Due to his green skin and super-strength, the alien shape-shifter Teddy Altman was dubbed Hulkling, and his mystical partner Billy Kaplan became the Asgardian, then Wiccan, in nods to Thor and Scarlet Witch.
Expert marksman Kate Bishop took Hawkeye's name since he was dead at the time, and Cassie Lang, the daughter of Scott Lang's Ant-Man, became the giant-size Stature. The original team's final recruit, the speedster Tommy Shepherd, was Billy's long-lost twin and became the Quicksilver-esque Speed.
Throughout the 2000s, the team participated in major Marvel events like Civil War, Secret Invasion and Dark Reign. After untangling the complex nature of Billy and Tommy's connection to the Scarlet Witch and watching a crazed Iron Lad kill Vision, the original team disbanded in 2012.
Although Patriot retired and Speed briefly went into the private sector, the rest of the Young Avengers continued to operate as superheroes across the Marvel Universe. In 2013, Hawkeye, Wiccan and Hulking formed a new, short-lived incarnation of the Young Avengers with Kid Loki, Marvel Boy and America Chavez. While Hulking and Wiccan moved on to the New Avengers, Stature worked as a hero with her dad, and Hawkeye partnered up with the male Hawkeye before forming a new West Coast Avengers.
While the Young Avengers' reunion in Marvel Comics #1000 is understandably brief, it probably won't be the only time the team makes an appearance in the foreseeable future. Both in comics and the real world, Marvel has teased the return of the team, and their reunion seemingly sets up the team for an ongoing role in the Marvel Universe.
While it's not clear where that will take place, it could happen in the recently-unveiled event Incoming. The teaser for the upcoming storyline features a silhouetted, sword-wielding figure with the text, "One will unite them!" This figure bares a striking resembelance to Hulking, the son of the Kree Captain Mar-Vell and the Skrull Princess Anelle who is destined to unite and rule those two warring empires with the sword Excesior.
Although there's no guarantee that Hulking or the other Young Avengers will have a role in that event, their presence in Marvel Comics #1000 acknowledges their place in Marvel history and sets them up to have a role that's just as important in Marvel's future.