By: Kieron Gillen (story), Jamie McKelvie & Mike Norton (art), Matthew Wilson (colors)

The Story: The Young Avengers decide to give their best Runaways impression.

The Review: As a title, Young Avengers has a lot in common with its featured cast: while relatively new to the masses, it comes with some noteworthy experience and a great deal of potential.  Although it’s made a good first impression, there’s a lot of room for the title to improve before it really becomes the classic it wants to be.  Like most teens, it has work to do in terms of character development and finding a prosperous direction.

Weirdly enough, it’s the character work that really has a ways to go in this series, particularly where Billy, Teddy, and America are concerned.  Billy’s self-loathing has finally gotten to an indulgent point (“If I could cast one last spell, I know what it’d be…  IwishIwassomeonebetter [sic]”), America keeps hitting the same short and surly note (“I’m watching you, chico.”), and Teddy has mostly been reactionary, asserting little personality except his commitment to Billy—which supports Loki’s claim that Teddy’s nothing more than a byproduct of Billy’s desire.

Although Loki wasn’t technically responsible for this “interdimensional parasite” mess, he is nonetheless the team’s orchestrator, so it’s not surprising that Gillen establishes him as a central figure in this book.  The question of his moral alignment will keep us intrigued for many issues to come, I suspect, as we see him struggling between his nature and his better instincts—possibly literally, or at least in a most literally figurative way.  I have only one big problem with this situation of a guilty conscience plaguing a villain who has taken over a hero’s body: doesn’t it sound vaguely familiar?  Doesn’t it sound like, oh, I don’t know, the exact same premise of Superior Spider-Man?

The two characters who provide baggage-free entertainment are Kate and Noh-Varr.  Last time, I half-jokingly commented that if the series really wants to stay lively, it should just keep the couple involved at all times, and that’s proving quite true here.  Between them, they deliver not only the issue’s funniest lines, but its cleverest as well.  After Billy presumably manages to get the Kirby Engines on Noh-Varr’s ship working again, Kate remarks ominously, “This machine is powered by teenage delusions.  Great!  Metaphor!

“Stop saying that, Hawkeye.”

“Seriously, Noh-Varr, it—”

“I mean it, Kate.  You’ll make us crash.”

For a five-issue first arc, this story really does just devolve into an action fest, the ultimate one because our heroes can smash people apart over and over without much concern about the consequences.*  Loki’s long, involved explanation as to what happened doesn’t exactly make the plot any smarter, but it’s relatively coherent and logical, and it does have the value of justifying the existence of the team.  “A group of kids tied together by some half-assed spell?  So now we all have to stick together,” America complains.

McKelvie-Norton seem quite content with drawing the issue as simply and effectively as possible, except for the occasional bit of fanciness.  This time, it’s a two-page, circular series of panels depicting the team taking down both Noh-Varr and America’s parents, with Kid Loki channeling his spell at the center.  It’s not only creative, but functional as well, but even without these showy kind of pages, McKelvie-Norton’s art is so clean and strong that the art would get high marks anyway.

Conclusion: Aside from a bit of copycat material, this issue provides a solid finish to a most promising series.  Already it’s learning to provide as much substance as it does style. [Update: as you can see by the comments below, WCBR readers have informed that the Kid Loki conscience may predate any of the Spider-Ock plot and thus can’t be legitimately considered an imitation.  The grade has been adjusted to reflect this point.]

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * I’ve made my peace with the idea that the “Mother” parasite has changed the very fabric of all these folks so that they’re not just doppelgangers, but the real deal, only gooier.



  • Tyler

    The only problem with the claim that this is copying Superior Spider-Man, is that original “evil” Loki took over the body of Kid Loki at the end of Gillen’s Journey into Mystery run; which was months before the Superior change-up.

    • Minhquan Nguyen

      Did the Kid Loki figment exist at that tie, too? ‘Cause that’s really more what I was talking about.

      • Mary Jo

        No. “kid” Loki was real. You should track down Gillen’s Journey into Mystery run: quite well written, and, as mentioned above, not copying Superior Spidy’s idea. The last issue of that run is emotionally devastating….

        • Minhquan Nguyen

          I’m talking about the idea of Kid Loki as a figment in Loki’s mind, serving as a kind of conscience. Was that established back then as well?

          • Tyler

            It’s kind of hard to explain without spoiling story elements, so fair warning to those who haven’t read Gillen’s run on JiM.

            Without spoiling too much; In JiM Kid Loki was followed around by a raven named Ikol who possessed the conscience of the original Loki. Eventually Ikol plotted it’s way into possession of Kid Loki’s body. So in YA the presence of Kid Loki as a conscience is more a direct link to the plot from JiM than it is anything happening in Spider-man. I can see how this wouldn’t be noticed unless you had read Gillen’s run on JiM, so I just wanted to explain a bit so that you didn’t think negatively of YA due to this coincidence.

            You still seem to enjoy this just fine though, and I agree that this is a great book. Also I agree with Mary Jo, you should check out Gillen’s JiM run, it’s pretty fantastic.

            • Minhquan Nguyen

              I see. That makes more sense. I was under the impression that the Kid Loki’s conscience disappeared once the original Loki took over his body, but this makes more sense. I’m now inclined to give the issue a better grade.