‘Young Avengers’ boasts realismWritten by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Marvel Comics, presently the comic book industry leader, is arguably the company that brought realism to superhero stories, endowing them with street smarts and a grittier sense of drama. ”Young Avengers” follows in this tradition.
Formed in the wake of Marvel’s shake-up of their Mount Olympus-like team of heroes, the Avengers, ”YA” has gained notoriety and drawn controversy for introducing two gay teenage superheroes to its cast. This aspect of the book is a quiet, thoughtful thing, never in-your-face or preachy, yet has caused a healthy stir.
The dynamics of its teenage characters lie in their portrayal as ”real kids” (as much as possible on the printed page) regardless of race, gender or orientation. The Young Avengers are desperate to become heroes in spite of the protestations of their parents, and most importantly, the strict commands of the Avengers themselves. There are action and fistfights and bright explosions, yes, but there’s also a delicious tension between adults and teens in this book that makes you turn the pages and ponder which side of the great divide is in the right.
Despite colorful costumes and overblown codenames such as Stature, Wiccan and Patriot, you may recognize in these characters your friends, your kids, maybe even yourself, thanks to ”YA’s” writer Allan Heinberg of TV’s ”The OC” and ”Sex and the City.”
Jim Cheung’s art is slick and likable and his teenagers look like teenagers, not an easy feat in comics. The latest issue is a ”Young Avengers Special” that steps away from the ongoing series and gives us the most background on our heroes to date while also providing a separate artist for each kid’s story.
The first six issues of ”Young Avengers” have been collected in a trade paperback.
Jim Beard has written comic books published by DC Comics and Dark Horse and provides writing for Marvel Comics.