It’s the third issue in, and we’re picking up with our team like it ain’t no thang. Everyone’s super casual, hanging out in different parts of Avengers Island, talking about code names, failed relationships, and making sandwhiches. Well, the “kids” are. The grown-ups are figuring out there might be a spy among them. Well, another one, I mean. The domestic nature of the first part is quite in contrast to the cosmic stuff going on. There’s a group of young hybrids determined to save their respective empires, something about prophecy, and a giant magical space alien monster. With tentacles.
Talk about hybrid stuff. The kids/veterans, the heroes/the ground crew, the Skrull/Kree… Even Sunspot, the leader of the Avengers, has appropriated “super villain” tropes for his own purposes. Something about balance or coming together as the only solution? I think I’m on board with that. It makes sense for this group and the stakes are appropriately high. We have a new kind of comicbook and a new kind of concept. This is all here to show us how it works.
Because those old concepts aren’t going to work for this group. Cliches of prophecy? Some old guy keeping secrets for his own agenda. A shining light that would be a test for our hero? Yeah, he grabs it in the space between panels, so what?
A lot the story will depend, I imagine, on your familiarity with the characters. I really don’t know the central characters too well, having only read the first Young Avengers series and some scattered appearances. So a lot of the backstory is fresh for me, but also a bit distracting since it really doesn’t have anything to do with being Avengers, per se, and more like continuing a personal story from another series. None of the other main characters get a continuation of his/her own stories, so maybe there isn’t really a balance after all. (Yes, POD does get some story treatment, but as it/she appeared in the Avengers, it feels more like a subplot than a side plot.)
Another fault, and one that I feared would rear its head before too long, was the way the writer can spend too much time on only certain characters. Squirrel Girl, for example, gets a funny line, but White Tiger doesn’t have even that to do. Yes, the Avengers have a sprawling cast, but why bother with the token line or on-panel appearance if it really doesn’t matter.
The art feels a bit more toned down from the way-out-there exaggeration that was on display in the first two issues, perhaps largely because there aren’t any true fight scenes. The character designs are okay, if a bit busy, and it’s difficult to parse the design elements of the costumes and figures, especially of our new characters and villains, from the artist’s signature style from the actual design elements. Some parts are wonderfully expressive, and there’s a nice sense of scale, especially with the giant space ship. I wish the opening scene wasn’t quite so dark, though. The predominance of shadow is meant to convey tone, but it made it difficult to establish some things that were new to me.
It feels in some ways like an Avengers team that’s been around for a long time, with comaraderie and workaday business among our characters and striking a familiar tone. Since I’m not so familiar with the characters, and indeed, we are all not familiar with this iteration of the team, I’m wondering if we’re meant to be missing out on something. It also feels werid that we can’t look at villains and threats on Earth, when it’s still only the third issue of the series, and we’re already pursuing personal stakes off on other worlds.