By: Kieron Gillen (story), Jamie McKelvie (art), Matthew Wilson (colors)
The Story: Nothing hits the spot after an intergalactic night out than breakfast food.
The Review: Lest you get the mistaken impression that each generation of Americans only seems to get worse, I’ll just put it out there that kids nowadays seem less driven by fads than we were. In middle school, I helplessly joined the tide of Tamagotchis, dry bagged noodles as a snack, Pokémon, and spiked haircuts, and all I got was a virtual creature that died in two days, a salty mouth, cards no one wanted to trade, and hair that, ungelled, looked like a blush brush.
From that I learned that trying to fit into someone else’s standard of cool not only sucked as a process, but never got you the intended result anyway. That’s the essential difference between the Young Avengers and their raucous harassers. In terms of motivation, the shapeshifting Skifflefuffles aren’t so different from their Earth counterparts; they just want to live the high life, and their dialogue is peppered with words of status: “badass,” “cool,” “awesome.” But unlike the Y.A., the Skiffefuffles always speak in relation to others: the Skrulls are “badass”; “They have such cool heads”; “Their empire was awesome.”
In contrast, the Y.A. care to emulate no one. As Loki’s newsfeed shows, they have lives far beyond simply imitating their predecessors. I’m sure the Avengers never thought of surfing behind a Cadillac in outer space, or crashed a Dazzler concert, or smooched on the site of the moon landing, among other activities. Here, Gillen gives us the kind of youthful energy, impulses, and abandon that so many teen titles lack, and although the sequence’s importance to the plot at large is minimal, it’s just fun to see the Y.A. making some noise in the world.
That’s not to say that the Y.A. don’t have serious concerns in the background of all the pancakes and pop music references.* We get a few moments to remind us that the Mother parasite is still out there, shutting down any efforts for the kids to go home. It’s clear also that Teddy’s more affected by Loki’s suggestion that Billy’s gone the way of his spiritual mother where reality-warping is concerned. And once Prodigy shows up with the news about Speed, our heroes are off on yet another interdimensional adventure, courtesy of Miss America, proof that as far as Gillen is concerned, the whole “multiverse” is the title’s playground.
The addition of Prodigy also lends a tenser note to the group dynamic, not only because he’s such a focused character in himself, but also because of his immediate friction with Kid Loki. Despite the team’s universal irritation with the godling, even America’s dislike of him has mellowed to the point where her threats of violence are more slapstick than serious. In short, they have gotten complacent about the most manipulative person among them, leaving only Prodigy to keep us alert for the other shoe to drop.
But even with the vaguely creepy figure of not-Patriot looming within the story, this title moves on a steady surge of humor, now more revealing of character than ever. It’s stuff like Noh-Varr’s obsession with Earth music which makes normally unfunny lines funny; attempting to assuage Teddy’s worries, he draws upon Motown for wisdom: “It is like the Supremes say…” Whether it’s Billy and Teddy encouraging Kate’s silly side (“Smooooooooch.”) or America’s own wry sense of humor, we have plenty to make us laugh while the plot finds itself.
McKelvie does have some dreamy art, so clean and pristine and perfectly posed, almost every image good enough to serve as a cover. As exotic as the team’s adventures are, there’s such credible simplicity to McKelvie’s design and figure work that it all looks completely believable. The only moment that may startle you out of reality—at least, it did me—is when the Y.A. make the Skifflefuffles crash their ride into an asteroid and it explodes with the aliens on board—yet they all survive completely unscathed. Otherwise, McKelvie and Wilson are certainly displaying how much impact they can get from relatively uncomplicated, simple work.
Conclusion: It’s not exactly the most revealing or productive issue, but it’s well on its way to being both, and it has more than enough entertainment to keep you occupied.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: * There are better constructed jokes in the issue, but the one that made me laugh the most was Prodigy asking Loki incredulously, “You’re a Norse god who knows Nina Simone?”
Noh-Varr can’t contain himself: “I’m an alien who loves Nina Simone!”
– And as long as every issue has one good Noh-Varr/Kate scene, Gillen will be fine. “Have I mentioned I have mind control saliva?” the alien lad says.
“It’s okay. Many parts of my body are mind control.”
“This is true.”