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The Superhero Blues Part Four: The Young Avengers Pitch

The Challenge: How would I build on Gillen’s run?

To be honest, The Young Avengers is actually far tougher to plot than Teen Titans. The series has never really been continuous. Rather, the series has been broken down, roughly, into “seasons” that hammer home the fact that, at times, Young Avengers reads more like a teen drama masquerading as a superhero comic. This isn’t a bad thing if done right. The question, of course, is how to do it right?

The answer comes, I think, from finding the right inspiration and not watering it down. Early in the latest series, Gillen’s Young Avengers were favorably compared to Skins. I’m not sure I buy that comparison. Not nearly enough sex and drugs, even if the superhero lifestyle can be equated to what the kids on Skins engage in. Personally, I’d want to say that the latest series comes off more as Gleeesque. And yes, Wiccan and Hulkling are part of the reason why. Also all the references to music.

Anyway, how would I tackle Young Avengers?

The Team:

I would start with team as Gillen left it. Gradually, I would replace some members with characters from Avengers Academy and The Runaways who don’t have anything to do. Who, don’t know.

The Narrative:

If the Scarlet Witch is Wiccan’s mother, who is his father? Vision or Mephisto? And what about the Kaplans? What about Speed’s “parents”? They don’t exist. They are illusions cast by Agatha Harkness when she sent the souls of Thomas and William into the past to protect them from their “father,” Mephisto. Harkness recognized the potential in Wiccan to become the Demiurge, and she knew that Mephisto must never come into possession of young William as an infant. However, with Harkness’s death at the hands of the Scarlet Witch, her spells are failing and the Kaplans cease to exist. Desiring to use his “children” for his own ends, Mephisto sends his son, Blackheart, to capture the twins. Only Blackheart plans to kill his potential rivals. Blackheart attacks the team only to be defeated, but Mephisto brings Billy to his realm. Only Mephisto did not count on Billy’s powers being so advanced. Billy destroys his father and remakes his realm.

Following that arc, I’ll shift focus to Hawkeye. Madam Masque has been humiliated by Kate Bishop twice. One of the premier villains bested by a teenager? Unacceptable. Masque has placed a bounty on Bishop’s head. And every contract killer in the Marvel Universe seeks to collect. Will Kate survive? Can the Young Avengers protect their comrade?

Meanwhile, in space, the Skrull Empire is making a comeback under Kl’rt. But he has no heirs. And there are many who wish to see the restoration of the previous dynasty, whose only living member is Dorek VIII, better known as Hulkling. While calling Hulkling home might seem like the politically expedient thing to do, the young man is half Kree, and the Kree consider him theirs. Can Hulkling escape his destiny, again?

That’s all I have for Young Avengers. I’ll have to think a little more to add more stories. Next time, I’ll return to my own superhero project.

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Final Take on Young Avengers

I hate having to say this. It hurts because I wanted to love this series so much. But, in the end, the most recent run of the chronically stalled Young Avengers series (written by Kieron Gillen) has been bitterly disappointing. To the point that any new revivals of the series will be met with a much needed suspicion.

My biggest problem with the series has been Billy Kaplan. His characterization has been atrocious throughout this series (though there are some arguments to be made that this trend started with Children’s Crusade). Though his character is not absolutely dependent on his romantic relationship with Teddy Altman, his characterization revolves around that relationship. This point is best illustrated in the climatic final confrontation with Mother. On his own, Billy cannot defeat her. It is only when Teddy comes to him and redeclares his love that Billy is able to become the Demiurge. 

On one hand, this is a wonderful moment for LGBT representation in comics (as is the later revelation that all on the team save for, maybe, Kate Bishop are shades of LGB). But on the other, when is it a good idea to limit a character’s growth to their romantic partners? 

Furthermore, it doesn’t seem that Billy exactly grows as a character during this series. Except, of course, he does come back to the superhero life. 

Teddy Altman is problematic in a lot of ways. Personally, I feel his personality darkens considerably. While unintentional, I feel that there is a manipulative element in his interactions with Billy. Maybe when Loki intimates that Billy created Teddy to be his ideal boyfriend, he hit closer to home, but still missed the mark? 

The new Young Avengers series is the story, ultimately, of Loki’s redemption after killing his genuinely heroic reincarnation. His confessional breakdown is, perhaps, the best written scene in the entire run. The emotional impact is undeniable. Gillen gets Loki. Pity the other characters don’t get nearly that level of understanding. 

America Chavez comes close to getting that level of understanding, if only on a more subtle level. She depicts herself as a hard, experienced, no nonsense superhero. But behind that tough exterior is a young woman meeting her god (Billy) and learning that he is not what she thought he was. This is great characterization. 

I’ve gone on about my dislike for the overall plot of the series. Mother is a rather ridiculous antagonist. That her menace lasts so long is frustrating. What happens to the team during their months long exile from Earth? Aren’t there stories to be told here? 

At points, Young Avengers does hit a level of coolness that goes beyond the average comic book. But too often that potential is hampered by a bitterly uninteresting plot. Rather than one long (fifteen issue) story arc, the series should have been composed of shorter and more frenetic, action packed arcs. 

In the end, it is hard to say that Marvel has handled Young Avengers well. It may well be years before a return to Young Avengers as an actual ongoing. But this time, I’m going to be far more cautious in my enthusiasm. 

 

Teen Titans (New 52) Vs. Young Avengers (Marvel Now)

This post indicates either A) I’m a complete DC fanboy or B) many comic book reviewers are morons. 

The Teen Titans are a group of young superheroes who have come together to protect themselves and other young metahumans from a nefarious (and mysterious) organization. The Young Avengers are a group of (mostly legacy) young superheroes who have reunited to defeat an interdimensional parasite with a mother complex. Both works are the latest iteration of popular franchises. Both works have seen controversy. And both works have (or will) end(ed) recently. I have read both series. I have read all of the Teen Titans available at my local library (Our Right to Fight and The Culling, plus I’ve read Rise of the Ravagers). I have also read the first volume of Young Avengers (Style > Substance). All that considered, I have to say that I actually like Teen Titans more than the Young Avengers.

What?

I will not deny that Scott Lobdell’s writing leaves a lot to be desired. Especially when it comes to Teen Titans. The plotting is haphazard at best and the dialogue is (at times) reminiscent of really bad teen dramas. But the core plot driving the series is a good on. A strong one, actually. In contrast Kieron Gillen’s writing is stronger with more coherence and better dialogue. But the core plot driving the series is, in my opinion, a stupid one. 

I just don’t like it. Seriously does Wiccan making a mistake have to be the cause of every Young Avengers series going forward? Wasn’t that what caused the last series? 

Wiccan is my favorite character from Young Avengers and I hate how he is characterized in the first issue and in subsequent issues. And the more I think about it, the less interested I become in the series as a whole. 

I’m talking about the confrontation between Billy and Teddy after Teddy’s down low superheroics. Teddy’s dialogue makes no sense. And it makes less sense the more times I read it. How does Teddy not having his adoptive mother (while Billy has his foster parents and the Scarlet Witch) excuse his breaking his promise to his boyfriend? It comes off, in text, as nothing more than a deliberate guilt trip. And to serve the plot as a means to get Billy to perform his, increasingly requisite, misuse of his powers to generate the plot. 

Clearly, I loathe this scene and how it initiates the story.

Now before I get accused of giving Teen Titans a pass, I’m not particularly fond of Red Robin’s character in the New 52. He is certainly a downgrade from the Tim Drake pre New 52. And don’t get me started on N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Could there be another nebulously nefarious organization with as convoluted a history? And, to be honest, Harvest should have been more of a salesman. He should have been more of a tempter. 

In the end, though, I find Teen Titans, though not as artistically original, to be the better read. Young Avengers, though artistically original, doesn’t really achieve its promise. I want to read more Teen Titans. I’m not looking forward to Young Avengers.

Young Avengers ended with issue 15 of Gillen’s run. It is a shame that there doesn’t seem to be any moves for a third creative team (so far). 

Joining Young Avengers in cancellation is Teen Titans with next months issue. I wonder what the next Teen Titans series looks like. 

Hopefully it isn’t a rehash of previous runs. Same goes for Young Avengers.

I just hope Bunker and Solstice don’t end up forgotten in limbo. 

 

 

R.I.P. Young Avengers (Until Next Time)

What is wrong with Young Avengers? The latest series is ending in January after fifteen issues and a full year in publication. Apparently, the current creative team had a set story they wished to tell, and now that it is told, they have nothing else to add. Seriously? That was all?

Prepare for a rant in three, two, one . . .

Don’t get me wrong. I like Kieron Gillen’s writing. I love Jamie McKelvie’s art. But a fifteen issue single arc dealing with a transdimensional parasite with a kyoiku mama complex is all they had? Cue eye roll.

I’ve bitched about Young Avengers before. I despised Children’s Crusade and disliked Young Avengers: Dark Reign quite strongly. And I cannot say I’ve been too fond of this present, soon to be ended series. After reading the first two issues, I cannot say that kyoiku mama parasite interested me. Even if the whole point is to try and find new ways of engaging with and writing about younger superheroes.

Perhaps I have the same relationship with Young Avengers that I have with Naruto: a strongly love/ hate relationship. I want to love the series, but the foibles the series commits makes that impossible.

In a way nothing about the plot of this series has really pleased me.

My favorite character is Wiccan (not a shock, I know), but I detest how his character has been written lately. It is great that he is, arguably, the main protagonist of the series (and of Children’s Crusade). But seriously, is writing him as a Shinji Ikari expy the best direction?

Let’s be clear, the plots of the last two Young Avengers arcs have featured Wiccan initiating the story by fantastically fucking up. The first time, in his pursuit to find and redeem his mother, a teammate died at Doom’s hands and saw the birth of Kang. This time? I haven’t been keeping up, but it seems to be a clusterfuck, all because he wanted to do something nice for his boyfriend.

After all of this, Wiccan had the right idea when he gave up superheroics. In universe, at least, why the fuck is he not at Avengers Academy or Jean Grey? The boy needs freaking training, regardless of whether or not he going to remain a hero or not.

Personally, an arc that drives Wiccan back into superheroics rather than reinforcing his choice to quit would have been better. One that Wiccan himself did not generate. What that could have been, I do not know. I’m not writing it.

The only good point about this whole thing is, perhaps, the relationship troubles it is giving Wiccan and Hulkling. Not that it will go anywhere in the end. . .

Part of the problem with Young Avengers as a series is that it has to deferentiate itself from other teen superhero books. Especially Teen Titans. I’ve been thinking of the two series together for a while. Now, Marvel itself is not limited to Young Avengers when it comes to teen superhero books. It has/ had Avengers AcademyAvengers ArenaWolverine and the X-Men, etc. And each takes a different track in how it approaches being a teen superhero.

For the Young Avengers, that track is reminiscent of a bunch of fanboys (and girls) cosplaying their favorite Avenger. The only problems are that these kids have super powers and face life and death situations without any sort of training. (Not that Spider-man was ever actually trained, either. . . ).

In addition to the elements of cosplay, the direction of idea separation, of difference, is to make Young Avengers feel more like a teen drama like 90210 or Glee (it has explicitly been compared to Skins). Whether the attempt is successful or not depends on the eye of the reader.

Compare Young Avengers (vol. 2) to Teen Titans (New 52). Teen Titans is a far more traditional superhero comic book. And it is very successful, despite the lambasting of the writing from many fans. While Young Avengers started strong with the first few issues, it dropped precipitously. Currently, it hovers in the early hundreds. Compare to Teen Titans that routinely beats it by at least twenty points on the sale charts and for a good portion of its existence, rested in the thirties (it was in the seventies for last month’s issue).

What is an observer to make of this? Gillen is by far the better writer, but Lobdell is beating him on the numbers. Is this just habit buying or is there something else going on?

I want to root for Young Avengers. I want to love it. I was so psyched for the possibilities teased by Gillen, but now I’m wallowing in the bitterness of lost opportunities. Maybe whoever is going to write Young Avengers volume 3 will avoid these pitfalls. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. After all, this seems to be endemic to Young Avengers. But how can the series be successful if this continues?

“Skins Meets Superheroes,” What Was I Thinking When I Agreed with This?

Before I begin, I must admit the possibility that I am a DC fanboy. Therefore, it is possible that my criticism of Marvel Comics, and Young Avengers from Marvel Now! in particular, is rooted in my fanboy state. But I don’t think so. I am perfectly willing to criticize DC’s Teen Titanstoo (especially given that while I love the concept, I hate the writing).

But this post is aimed at Young Avengers as written by Kieron Gillen. When I first read the initial issue in January, I reviewed it very positively. Perhaps, in hindsight, I was too generous. I have since then read the second issue (and am, so far, passing on the third).

The reason for my growing dissatisfaction with the series is partially rooted in genre but also, as will become clear, in narrative. I still love the art, it is the writing that is bugging me.

Let’s first begin by looking at the comparison of the British teen series Skins with Young Avengers. Why is this comparison even made? I think the clear answer lies in that terrific opening scene from issue one. Where Kate Bishop wakes up in bed with Noh-Varr. But, honestly, that is the only scene that is reminiscent of Skins (okay, maybe Loki in the dinner could count in a pinch). But that is it.

The majority of the first issue, and the whole of the second, is rather traditional superhero fare. With a heavy dose of idiot plot (as carried by pretty much every character).

What has really troubled me, on a second reading of the first issue, is the interaction between Billy and Teddy. Given the nature of the genre (superhero comics), Billy is at fault because he does not want to be a superhero any more. Guess what? Two of his friends died the last time he played hero (and though Doom and Iron Lad committed the murders of Stature and Vision, Billy’s idiocy started it all). Given the extent of Billy’s powers, would it not actually be better if he never cosplayed hero again?

The more I think about it, the less sympathetic I am to Teddy, to be honest. Yes, in the grand scheme of things  Teddy has lot everything save his boyfriend. But how does that translate to cosplaying hero on the down low? And really, “I fell in love with a superhero,”? What the fuck! So, did Teddy fall in love with Billy Kaplan or with Asgardian/Wiccan? The person or the character? Personally, the narrative might have been more interesting if Billy broke up with Teddy for that comment.

Of course, Billy being Billy, he then proceeds to perform an idiotic action. That is compounded by Loki and America Chavez performing idiotic actions. Yeah, they’re teenagers, but seriously. Couldn’t Loki have just told Ms. America that he was trying to prevent Wiccan from bringing a transdimensional parasite to their reality? And what the hell with the Not-Ms. Altman acting like Stepford Mom? Wouldn’t the plot be better served with her being less immediately antagonistic? I know I haven’t read issue three (with four and five still to drop). But again, I am bitterly let down by this initial arc.

Is it possible that I want a stronger sense of rebellion or independence in my young superhero team comics? As I said in the introduction, I love the concept of the Teen Titans in the New 52, but I don’t like the writing. And from what I’ve heard about the upcoming The Movement from Gail Simone, I suspect that I do prefer a more rebellious/ independent take. (I am, actually, looking forward to The Movement).

Has part of my problem with Young Avengers always been my annoyance at the characters cosplaying as heroes rather than struggling to do the right thing, whatever that is, with powers they don’t quite understand? Is it, perhaps, the fact that, despite the promise of these kids standing alone, they are very much still looking up to/ dependent on their role models? Perhaps.

Regardless of whether or not my issue with Young Avengers is rooted in any sense of fanboydom for the opposition, disappointment with the narrative, or general dislike for the kind of superheroics espoused,  I am leaning towards dropping this series (if I haven’t already). I just don’t feel where this series is going. Perhaps if there is more Skins and less Heinberg, the series would be more enjoyable.

Valentine’s Day Special: On Gay Relationships in Comics and Television

Oh, Valentine’s Day. A day of love. Or at least spending a ridiculous amount of money on boyfriends, girlfriends, friends in general, family, classmates, etc. Personally, I hate that Valentine’s Day has become so damn commercialized. Like most other holidays. But this is not a ranting post opposing the commercialization of our holidays. Rather, I want to write about the depiction of gay relationships in comics and television. With maybe some ranting thrown in.

I’ve written about gay romantic relationships in fiction before. But I want to do a little more. I want to interrogate this issue. I want to figure out what my own stance is. And I want to do something about it. 

Taking Characters Out of the Dating Pool

The great thing about DC’s New 52 is the continuing commitment to include increased levels of character diversity. Among their number are the reimagined Green Lantern of Earth 2 (Alan Scott) and new creation Miguel Jose Barragan (Bunker) of Teen Titans. I’ve gone on record repeatedly extolling my love of James D. Robinson’s work on Earth 2 and of his treatment of Alan Scott in particular. I’m not as up to date on Teen Titans, but I have seen Bunker’s coming out scene to Wonder Girl. And it was awesomely funny, in my opinion. But, I do have some issues with them, too.

Alan Scott’s boyfriend, Sam, is killed in his first appearance. This, unfortunately, classic superhero origin archetype pushes Green Lantern to become a superhero. Like Batman honoring his parents and Spider-Man honoring Uncle Ben, Green Lantern honors his love for Sam through his heroism. This is an awesome development (and similar to Mikaal Tomas’s Starman during Robinson’s run on Justice League). But this does prevent any hints of romance coming Green Lantern’s way for a good while yet. The man needs to properly mourn the loss of the love of his life, after all! Unless he, too, pulls a Mikaal Tomas at some point. . . 

Bunker is in a similar situation to Green Lantern. At least I think he is. I don’t know for sure, though, if this has been mentioned in canon yet. There has been numerous reports that Bunker has a boyfriend. He’s just in a coma. How convenient. Personally, I think a better approach would either be that Miguel is, honestly, far too busy trying to survive to spend any time dating. Or, he could just be, you know, single. Anyway, Bunker hasn’t really been explored in depth as of yet. He hasn’t gotten an arc of his own. So we’re in the waiting game with him for now. 

The Curse of the One True Paring

Wiccan and Hulkling, Apollo and Midnighter, and Kurt and Blaine are all core (or at least major) pairings in their respective series. Each relationship has, for good or ill, captured the imagination and devotion of the fandom. So, what’s my beef with these couples?

Let’s take a quick break from comic books and deal with Klaine first. If you’ve read my previous posts on Glee, you will know that I have major issues with how Kurt’s storyline has gone. For the purposes of this post, I’ll limit my ranting to one thing: until recently, Kurt has never, really, had a counter suitor competing with Blaine for Kurt’s heart. It was (and is) Blaine or nothing (though originally Sam). And for me, I’ve always had issues with this relationship. I don’t really see it as healthy. And I suspect there is a large amount of settling going on here. 

Now, I think part of the problem lies with the writers. They’ve done a terrible job with Kurt, in my opinion, and they’ve done an even worse job with Blaine. But the lion’s share of the blame goes to an unwillingness to introduce more LGBT characters to complement, contrast, and support the major preexisting LGBT characters on the show. 

Why is Blaine the only out guy that Kurt meets before his senior year? And if the original plan with Sam came to fruition, would Blaine have been only a one off? Ugh. Lima, Ohio isn’t in the middle of nowhere. It is a large town within a few hours drive of three large cities: Toledo, Dayton, and Columbus (the largest city in the state and home to OSU). And there are no other out youth in the region? What about Dalton? Wouldn’t it have a (hypothetical) GSA? Why does Kurt never (to my knowledge) express a desire to seek out people who get him in ways that no one else ever could?

Now, back to comics. The argument can be made that Wiccan and Hulkling have been romantically involved before the first series even begins. And, under the argument that Wiccan has gradually become the main protagonist of the entire Young Avengers saga, their romance is the central romance of the series. I love that. But I’m torn, too. I love the fact that Billy and Teddy have such a strong, central relationship. But I have problems with them, too. 

In my review of Young Avengers #1 (Gillen and McKelvie), I mention that I love the fact that Billy and Teddy are passionate. Remember, that is only their second on panel kiss. But I must ask a follow up question: In the same issue, Kate Bishop wakes up after sleeping with Noh-Varr. So, will future issues depict Billy and Teddy in a similar fashion? I hope so. 

As far as their relationship itself? I like it. I like that they are “sickening” in a romantic and sappy way. But, they could use some drama. Eventually. 

Moving on to Apollo and Midnighter, I love how Paul Cornell handled the hesitant flirting the two engage in before they fully join the team. And I love how Apollo rages against being in the “superhero closet” as it reminds him oh so painfully of being in the closet when he was younger. 

I dropped the series with issue 10, so I don’t know exactly what has gone on since. And it does look as if the current Stormwatch team is imploding for a second reboot. Or something. Not really looking forward to it. 

The Problem Explained

So, why doesn’t Kurt have another romantic option during his rather torturous courtship with Blaine? Simple, there is a pressure to keep the numbers of LGBT characters low so that the property doesn’t become “too gay” and lose “mainstream” audience (or readers). If Kurt were to join Dalton’s (hypothetical) GSA, started his own at McKinley, or got involved in some form of LGBT youth group in Columbus, Glee becomes too openly political and activist. But if only a few recurring characters are added (Blaine, Sebastian, Dave, and Adam) with a few more one offs (Jeremiah, Chandler, etc.) then Glee doesn’t have to deal with “too much gay.” 

A similar occurrence exists in the DC Universe. I don’t know if this is apocryphal or not, but I remember reading that an editor on Teen Titans didn’t want Bunker to be “too gay.” Whatever that means. Of course, given the nature of superhero comics, dropping in on the local Gotham City LGBT community center might be a bit of a problem if one has to save the world on a regular basis. But it would be a nice character moment.

What has gone unstated is that while it is okay to depict a (limited) number of LGBT characters, it is not okay to explore those characters in a more aggressively sexual way. Just look at Kurt and Blaine with their anemic first time and lackluster passion. And how long did it take for Wiccan and Hulkling to finally kiss (on panel)? We can, I think, do better.

Doing Something About It

Ranting and bitching solves nothing. Except maybe bullying the creators of Glee (if a large enough number of fans are involved). But, honestly, that doesn’t satisfy me. I want to do something. 

I want to create and write the LGBT characters that I want to read and watch. But I also want to make the work (in whatever form it is) as appealing to everyone as I can. The question, I guess, is if I can have my cake and eat it, too. Can I have a large audience/ readership and not sacrifice my vision for the work, especially when it comes to matters of diversity? I think so. 

What More Can Be Said? Young Avengers #1 is. . . Amazing!

Less than a week ago, Young Avengers #1 was released by Marvel as part of Marvel Now!. Written by Kieron Gillen with art by Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton, colorist Matthew Wilson, and letterer Clayton Cowles, this opening issue is simply great. I loved every minute of it. But, what can I say in this review that hasn’t already been said in other reviews? I mean, every review I’ve read have been extremely positive with some very high ratings. 

I really can’t, to be honest. I love the writing. I love the fact that Billy and Teddy are depicted as a sickeningly in love couple (though I do wish we’ll see them get as much action as Kate and Noh-Varr, if not, I may change my tune). I love that opening sequence, hot damn! And Kid Loki is going to be a favorite of mine. He is a trip, no matter what. 

And the art work? Wow. I love it. I especially love the work of Mattew Wison. His colors are just freaking amazing. It is, honestly, a perfect complement to the amazing pencils and inks. Just, wow. What a great art team! 

I can only hope guest artists will be used in a manner similar to what DC is doing with Earth 2 and Batman (letting the art team have “filler” or standalone issues off in between the big arcs). 

So, what can I say about this series? Well, I can interrogate how Gillen answers my concerns about teens with aspirations of becoming superheroes. And I think he does a splendid job.

The kids who make up the team are doing the job because they want to do it. During the fight with the Skrulls, Kate Bishop wonderfully explains why “everyone should try it.” “Being a superhero is amazing,” which indicates the excitement of the lifestyle. There is, perhaps, something addictive to a superheroic lifestyle. 

And maybe, that is a metaphor for certain elements of the teen experience? I don’t remember which review compared Young Avengers to Skins, but I think that is a very excellent comparison. Isn’t the superhero lifestyle not comparable to a heavy party scene? 

In that metaphor, I think I find the answer to my earlier question about teen superheroes. Though, to be honest, I really do prefer them to be more “outlaw” than the groomed “next generation.” Perhaps it is a difference between rebellion and falling in line with one’s parents. 

So, while there is some elements of “cosplay” culture at work here, I don’t think that sense of emulation is all there is to it in this “new” Young Avengers team. Rather, these young heroes are standing on their own, not trying to be their parents or their role models. And that is, I think, a very good thing. 

Now, damn, I have to wait another month to see what happens! I can’t wait to see how the team comes together. For now, I think the team will be pulled together through three different storylines: A: Wiccan and Hulkling’s mistake (yes Wiccan does it, but Hulkling subtly guilt trips him into doing it). B: Loki and America Chavez’s violent game to figure out how to deal with Wiccan. And C: the sexy space adventures of Kate and Marvel Boy (’nuff said). I can see how A and B come together, but C may be a little tricky. Again, I can’t freaking wait. How will they get out of this one?

I want issue 2 now, damn it all!

 

I’m a Teenager with Super Powers. I Want to be a Hero (or Villain)!

Why is it that people with super powers inevitably become heroes or villains? Only a few are “civilians” (and usually not for long). This has frustrated me lately. Especially when it comes to teen heroes and villains. 

Okay, this is superhero fantasy, so characters becoming superheroes are par for the course. It is a genre thing. But, so often it seems as if being a hero (or a villain) is the only career choice. 

Now, I get why the Teen Titans are heroes. They have usually been brought together to face threats that older, more experienced heroes have ignored. Like Trigon and N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Should Red Robin’s team have gone up against an organization kidnapping and torturing metahuman teens? Hell no. But was anyone else doing a damn thing about it? Again, hell no. So, what choice did Red Robin and the others have? None. They had to fight. 

What about the Young Avengers? I like them. And I love Gillen’s take on them (expect a review this weekend). But what is their reason to fight, to be heroes? None, really save that many of them are related to previous Avengers. However, they come off as more akin to super powered cosplayers than anything else. Although, to be fair to the Young Avengers, it is not like the adult Avengers do much good either. Seriously, has anyone done anything about actually training Billy? Seriously, he’s far more powerful than Wanda was at that age. Anyway, moving on to more of Marvel’s merry teenaged heroes. . . 

The impetus for this post is my strong dislike for the first volume of Avengers Academy. I mean there is a lot of potential there. But at the end of the day, the really interesting story arc is negated for more traditional heroics (with a good side helping of angst). And, to be honest, none of those characters are very compelling. 

But, what is interesting, is that for the Avengers themselves it seems perfectly logical to begin training the next generation of Avengers (excluding the prexisting Young Avengers). Of course, the actual goal is to prevent them from becoming villains. Though I wonder if later additions to the book have the same potentiality. 

An interesting take on this whole debate comes from early issues of Wolverine and the X-Men as well as X-Men: Legacy. How much educating outside of superheroics actually occurs? How well prepared are the students for the outside world should they choose not to become future X-Men (or whatever)? Or is the expectation that all of them will be superheroes? And is that really what Xavier dreamed of?

At the end of the day, this is superhero fantasy. So, it is to be expected that the goal of young people with super powers is to become heroes (or villains). Again, though, it would be really interesting to explore such a world from the perspective to those who don’t want that life. Or who are forced into it. 

Next time, do I really have to talk about that?

I… I Just. . . I Can’t. . .

I know I’ve promised for like two weeks now a review of Avengers: The Children’s Crusade. Well, I can’t keep that promise. Why? Because I couldn’t even make it through the first damn issue. It was just so bad. Really bad.

Let’s be clear. I still love the Young Avengers (or maybe just Wiccan and Hulkling). But Alan Heinberg is a bad comic book writer. He freaking telegraphs what he’s doing in the first issue. Like a damn neon sign saying – “Doom did it! He did it all! Blame him!”.

And please, don’t get me started on the dialogue. Or the plot for that matter. Ugh.

The more I think about it, I really haven’t liked any Young Avengers related material that I’ve read. Young Avengers volume one was okay, but not spectacular. Dark Young Avengers was, well, idiotic in the extreme. And now this.

Do I really not like the Young Avengers? Or is it I like them as characters, as a team, but I just don’t like the stories that they have been featured in? I’m hoping, really hoping, that it is the later. But to answer that question, I’ll have to trust in Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (and the rest of the new Young Avengers team). Hopefully, this will be a new starting out point. And the start of something even better than what came before.

I do have issues with some aspects of the team, though.

I really hate the fact that they are presented as a bunch of Avengers fans who take up the mantle to fight crime. Really, there are a million other ways of getting a team of super hero teenagers together. Especially given that a good number of classic super heroes and teams started out as teenagers (Spider-man; the X-Men).

And why, oh why, did Wiccan (and Speed) have to be the reincarnated sons of the Scarlet Witch? That doesn’t even make sense with reality warping thrown in! The two (Wiccan and Speed) have to be at least ten years older than the children they used to be. Couldn’t he have been some kind of Asgardian? Or why did he have to even have a legacy?

To be honest, I think I would have preferred something more original rather than a group of teenage cosplayers with super powers. Why couldn’t they have been original?

Now that I’ve calmed down some, this does bring into consideration a past post on buying and collecting comics as well as a recent IGN post on habit buying comics.

I agree that one should not buy comics out of habit. If you, the reader, don’t like the writing or the art, then please, don’t keep purchasing the title. If you buy out of habit, the publisher won’t take the initiative to try and fix the problem. The problem will only fester.

The question I have for myself right now is, is the first on panel kiss between Wiccan and Hulkling worth the price of The Children’s Crusade

No.

Here’s hoping the new Young Avengers will be far better than what has come before.

Comics: Buying and Collecting, with a Dose of Fickleness

Right now, I’m listening to the Comic Vine PodcastSo far, I’m enjoying it greatly. Especially since it marks the return of James Robinson. Hell, even if the podcast is nearly three hours long!

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about comics lately. For this post, I want to forgo writing about writing comics. Rather, I want to focus on buying and collecting comics.

I’m fickle. It is a flaw I’m deeply familiar with.

A few months ago, I pointedly “dropped” Stormwatch and Teen Titans. And now, I’m kicking myself in the butt for it. Mind you, I haven’t read either of them in months. And I want to hop back on them. Of course I’ll have to scramble at some point to pick them back up. Especially Teen Titans (of which I only have two issues)!

This got me to thinking about what I like and don’t like in superhero comics.

I have a strong fondness for teen/ youth heroes. Even if I’ve dropped off of the Teen Titans bandwagon recently, I haven’t stopped being interested in what goes on in the series. And everyone knows I’m salivating about the relaunch of Young Avengers. Though I’m not so sure if I want to check out Avengers Arena. I’m not really feeling that one.

I’m also kicking myself for not focusing on Wonder WomanLike Teen Titans, I have only two issues of Wonder Woman (11 and 12). Damn it! I need more!

I’ve also dropped off of Captain Marvel. Although I don’t know if I really want to keep following that series. I loved the first two issues, so . . .

But, I really can’t afford to follow every comic I would love to. Especially when they cost $3.99 and come out biweekly. That explains why I’m not really following X-Men Legacy. The idea sounds interesting, but I don’t know. There are other books I want to pick up.

Let’s move away from superheroes and play a little with creator owned comics. I’m upset with myself that I still haven’t started picking up creator owned series (baring volume one of Morning Glories). I really need to make myself pick some up. But superhero comics are so damned addictive!

 

That’s it for today. I may have a post on writing up tomorrow. Until then. . .