“Young Avengers #1”

"Young Avengers #1" Bryan Lee O'Malley Variant
(w) Kieron Gillen(a) Jamie McKelvie, Mike Norton, Matthew Wilson
Marvel Comics
$2.99 

Out of all of the new Marvel NOW! titles, Young Avengers may be the one I was most curious about. The original Young Avengers by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung holds a dear place in my heart. This is the first attempt at an ongoing since that original run, and I was hesitant to accept a new writer. I loved Kieron Gillen’s Phonogram a few years back, but his recent Marvel output has been a mixed bag. I kind of hated his Uncanny X-Men, and I never got into Journey into Mystery (though I hear it was fantastic if you did). Good news came when I discovered he was bringing the art team from Phonogram (Jamie McKelvie with colors from Matthew Wilson), along with some additional work from Revival‘s Mike Norton.

What really sold me, however, was the fact that they got Bryan Lee O’Malley to do a variant cover. I normally don’t give a fart about variant covers, but I adore O’Malley and I honestly don’t know if he’s done anything since Scott Pilgrim. That’s the cover I used for the image. Look at it. Isn’t it pretty? It says something when a variant cover is enough to make a series a “must buy” for me.

My comic shop didn’t have that cover. I’m very salty about it.

But it all turned out okay, because I really liked the book itself. Only half of the cast are returning team members, but the ones they keep (Kate Bishop, Hulkling, and Wiccan) were the most interesting anyway. The new additions seem like they’ll fit right in, particularly Noh-Varr. Marvel has been hunting for a good way to use the character for some time, and this book seems like they finally found a good home for him.

Gillen does a great job with all of these characters, too. His time with Loki has paid off, because he gets some of the best dialogue in the issue. Also worth noting is how well he does Kate Bishop, who’s perfectly consistent with her characterization in Hawkeye while showing her acting more her age. I like that he doesn’t shy away from subjects like teen sex and homosexuality, and it’s all handled quite gracefully. Gillen also manages to balance set-up with getting the story rolling. I was pleasantly impressed.

I don’t actually know who handled what on art chores, but it’s still a good looking book. The art is crisp and sharp, highlighted by a lot of bright, solid colors. It also employed a lot of creative and dynamic panel layouts that just increased the overall fun of the book. It all looks very high-end stylish and chic.

At the end of the issue, Gillen includes a page that (passionately) outlines his concept for the book, and it’s well thought out and solid. This book is Phonogram with super powers, right down to a song getting inspiration credit on the title page. To me, that sounds like a great concept for this book. If you’re looking for a good teen superhero book, this is the one I’d throw my vote behind.