Monday, 16 December 2013

Young Avengers, Volume 2: Alternative Cultures Review (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie)

Young Avengers Volume 2 is more of the same from the first volume, which is a great thing as the first volume (album?) was so good. The YA have been chased away from Earth by Mother, and are pursuing Patriot (who’s not really Patriot) who’s leading them on a merry chase between dimensions after taking their friend. I pointed it out in my review of the first volume but I love that the story of this series is basically teens fighting with parents and then running away from home, a fairly universal and humdrum story, but blown up – or Marvel-ised – here because the teens are superheroes. 

The art team of Jamie McKelvie, Mike Norton and Matthew Wilson, the band to Kieron Gillen’s vocals, continue their amazing work in this book and even step aside for the one issue drawn by Kate Brown. Multiverse travel is represented as characters crashing through one panel, cascading down like shards of glass featuring the characters, before re-emerging whole in the panel at the bottom of the page. This sequence continues the way they treated panels in the first volume where they were literally cages for the characters. Things get even more meta when Mother begins eating the dialogue boxes during her sections of the comic! And the title cards are awesome, alternately presented as report cards, menus, passports, and whatever’s relevant to that issue. 

Gillen represents young people perfectly in this comic, superpowers or no. Prodigy (the mutant who absorbed everyone’s powers, then in the fallout of AVX, lost that power but retained all the knowledge) is working in a call centre, the quintessential 21st century young person’s job, while Gillen uses social media formats like Tumblr to represent and summarise the YA’s escapades. Then there’s all that relationship drama about whether Hulking really loves Wiccan and Noh-Varr’s evil exes show up to fight (yup, there’s a Scott Pilgrim-esque flavour to this volume)! There’s also a lot of communal eating like you would see in a dorm – notice how nearly every issue features the YA’s sat down in some awesome restaurant chowing down, whether it’s Korean bbq, or noodles, or a fried breakfast (how I wish I had some Korean bbq right now!), this series celebrates excellent cuisine like no other. Most importantly though is the way he’s written the characters whose interactions make this series such a joy to read and which almost make plot seem a secondary consideration in comparison. 

If you loved the first volume as much as I did, you’ll love the second volume equally – the awkward second album curse certainly doesn’t apply here! And while it’s undeniably one of the coolest Marvel titles, it really is a shame that it’s ending too soon. Burning out rather than fading away was never really cool and I would’ve preferred the series to keep going rather than end after three volumes (or 15 issues), but there we go. The good news is that great bands always reform after they break up so maybe a few years down the line, Gillen and co. will return to resurrect the series once more. For now though we’ve got this awesome book and it’s all killer, no filler.

Young Avengers Volume 2: Alternative Cultures

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