YOUNG AVENGERS #9
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie, Mike Norton
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: August 28, 2013
Being a teenager in today’s America can be hard. Being a teenager in today’s all-across-the-multiverse, chased by all manner of bizarre-ness and danger, including a gooey parasitic imitation of your dead mother or a creepy brother-kidnapping thingy dressed like one of your former teammates, can be even harder. Especially if your boyfriend is an alien with a funky beard or a questionably codenamed witch, you’re a pint-sized god of mischief with a downright aggressive but fashionable dimension-hopper on your heels, or if your head is full of all kinds of awesome and really not so awesome facts that can be useful but also worthless and rather traumatic. What are the statistics for teenagers struggling with coming to terms with their sexuality when they have intimate knowledge of how mutant terrorist Scott Summers likes his world rocked?
The Young Avengers creative team continues to produce a great book with issue #9, hefty with character development, conflict of both the emotional and physical sort, and a whirlwind of action and suspense that intentionally bubbles over and leaves nothing but questions in its wake. Gillen pays naysayers no mind with another addition to Marvel’s LGBTQ community, and while doing so he continues to explore the effects of superpowers on normal life occurrences, as he has throughout the book.
McKelvie and Norton catch a bit of a backgrounds break in this issue, as the majority of it takes place in dimensions lacking a substantial amount of detail. The absence of detailed backdrops does little to detract from the visuals, McKelvie keeping readers’ eyes moving with his usual delivery of vivid character expressions and clear, communicatory body language. As has been done in the past, McKelvie makes clever use of white space and minimal details to literally stretch and shatter panels. He also has some fun imagining new designs for alternate reality versions of the team. The only drawback is the inking occasionally lines too thin and seems to wobble, and McKelvie’s art seems best enhanced by thick, consistent inks.
From moody spills of sunset light in the background to just the right amount of shadow to help deepen Parasite Mom’s age lines, Wilson keeps pace with McKelvie’s art and Gillen’s intended mood. His work is particularly helpful in building the atmosphere in the farewell scene towards the end of the issue. The sweepingly defined style of his shadowing is an excellent companion to McKelvie’s straight-forward pencils and inks, giving the art a very clean look and life that keeps it from feeling tethered to the page.
Gillen is not shy when it comes to the story he’s crafted, setting up readers for suspense, frustration, and tears as he leads the team through both the adventure of being a superhero and the woes of being a teenager, never once forgetting the book title’s implications. He builds tension throughout the issue before abruptly pushing the book into stagnation, taking a few pages to rehash what the cast has endured, what they’re uncertain of, and what must be done now. It’s not until Billy is used to pull the issue onto a more positive note before Gillen delivers an emotional blow, following it up with narration that runs as cold and miserable as the rain that frames the scene. But rather than leave readers on that note, he forges ahead while his audience is still struggling to process, setting the foundation for the book’s next move.
Now that it’s been thrown out into the open, Gillen doesn’t let Loki escape from his past any more than he lets readers forget about it. Additionally, he’s placed the young Hawkeye in a precarious position with her own approaching adulthood, a thread that will hopefully unravel to give the archer more screentime after several issues of being in the backseat. But wherever Gillen takes the Young Avengers, one hopes the journey includes someone who can talk sense into Noh-Varr regarding his truly questionable choice in facial hair.