Avengers: The Children's Crusade: Young Avengers Special Review
- Published on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:05
- Written by Andrenn
- Hits: 2298
Avengers: The Children's Crusade has reached the half-way point and with it Iron Lad has mysteriously returned from the future to save Wiccan and the Scarlet Witch. This issue spotlights how Iron Lad got there as well as introduced us to the Future Young Avengers. All that while promising a big revelation about the Young Avengers. With amazing Avengers veteran artist Alan Davis onboard, is this one-shot a great interlude or is this a story best left in the past? Let's find out.
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Artist: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Colorist: Javier Rodriguez
Story Rating: 7 Future Avengers out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Future Avengers out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Future Avengers out of 10
Synopsis: Iron Lad is smacking around Kang in the far future. When he decides to kill his future self (which is kind of impossible when you think about it) the Future Young Avengers show up. Threatening him to put the gun down now. We get some introductions, Stature is now Stinger and she's dating Kang, she disses Vision (I never liked that little size changing witch anyway, you're too good for her, Vision! There's more fish in the sea. Fish that don't leave you for a psycho time traveling nutcase. Screw her! Me and you can go out to a club sometime and find you a nice non-stupid gal. Maybe one that doesn't change size and shape.)
Basically Vision turned his emotions of (*cough cough* bullshit *cough) Quicksilver and Hawkeye got it on and she's pregnant. Patriot became Captain America and his wife is the Falcon and they have a kid who is Bucky (having his wife become Falcon is the creepiest thing I have heard of in a long time.) and Captain Marvel is now Teddy. Apparently the world got all messed up somehow and Iron Lad remembers back to why they became Young Avengers, to stop Kang.
Iron Lad makes simulations of the Sinister Six for training and the original team of Iron Lad, Patriot, Wiccan (then Asgardian) and Hulkling face off with the fake six. Billy and Teddy appreciate that its the original Sinister Six and then talk about how they're going on a date night instead of patrol. They soon defeat the five of the Six. Mysteri impersonates Kang who kills Iron Lad in the simulation and then Hulkling knocks out the simulation Mysterio.
The 4 go out for the date night (Oh man, your 2 bro's coming along with you and your boyfriend on a date. That's about as weird as it gets. Unless Electro were to show up. That would just be freaky) they talk for a bit about how there's still dating and comics in the 30th century. Eli spots Kate (this is before they met) and they joke about her being the girl of his dream and that he should go and ask her out (Oh the irony!)
A black out suddenly occurs and they spot Electro in an alley stealing electricity (which I didn't even know could be stolen) and they soon decide to go in and fight him. He knocks them around a bit and though Iron Lad is terrified he runs in with an attempt at stopping him with his 30th century tech. A small explosion occurs when the 2 clash and it knocks out Electro and has weakened Iron Lad.
Electro soon gets up and tries absorbing all of Iron Lad's energy, knocking the others back. He tosses Iron Lad aside though he's okay. Wiccan gives Iron Lad mouth to mouth to revive him but when the team is faced with stopping Electro or saving a building from a fire they go off into the building to save the people and Electro gets away.
This reveals that the YA could have stopped Electro and the break-out but didn't. Iron Lad thinks this is good since it got the Avengers back together but Kang says this was bad as it lead to them killing Billy. He says they killed him and the Scarlet Witch and Iron Lad immediately goes off to save him. Kang is happy about this as he says this will put him on the path to becoming Kang. We see Billy is alive and well as the new Dr. Strange and Kang says this will destroy the Avengers forever.
The Good: Avengers: The Children's Crusade Young Avengers Special is (a mouthful) a great read. Heinberg's use of the characters he created is great and he gives us a very fun read and a really cool concept with the Future Young Avengers. Its only complaint is that it's 2/3rds a great story and 1/3rd filler. It just doesn't feel like it needed to exist at this point. Still even with that complaint I was happy with it.
The Young Avengers Special is 2 stories in one. First being Iron Lad after Kang and the 2nd being a recap of the YA's early days. Now to be perfectly honest this would normally be a very average “just okay” to “meh” kind of read. There really is no reason for me to enjoy it as much as I did. My enjoyment comes solely from the fact that Heinberg writes these characters so well.
Some writers are just blessed with the ability to take what would normally be a boring read and make it fascinating and a lot of fun. Ron Marz is an example I usually bring up but Heinberg's writing of the YA special is perfect proof of that. This issue's story is really nothing special. Iron Lad smacks Kang around, we get some teasing of the future events and then we get what would normally be a bland story about the YA fighting Electro.
Its mostly because of Heinberg's love of the Young Avengers and how well he created the team that makes it work. Heinberg pours all of his love and hard work on making these characters so great into this issue and its half the reason I enjoyed it so much. I love the YA, of all the characters Marvel has created in the last decade I'd easily say my favorite have been the YA. Something about these character sticks out and makes me interested in them.
Though even as I say this I admit the main story of the flashback isn't the most interesting part of the issue. That would be the Future Young Avengers that work alongside Kang. There's a couple of fun little nods to Marvel history in their look (White Vision, Stature becoming her MC2 self) and by the end of the issue I found myself wanting to learn more about them. We really don't get to know these future Young Avengers even though they are on the cover.
We know the gist of what they are. After the Scarlet Witch incident the YA and Kang went on a trip through time and everything sucks now. They're on the run and lead by a man who is so crazy he thought that meeting up with his younger self in the past was a good idea (it wasn't) and I was fascinated by them. Of course we don't really get to know the Future Young Avengers (more on that in a bit) but still it was really cool seeing them.
The Flashback, as I've said a few times now, is nothing special when you really think about it. If it weren't for the characters being so much fun to read I'd probably be tearing into it but because I love the characters so much and Heinberg writes them so well its a solid fun read. Heinberg's snappy fun dialogue is just a real treat and its the kind of fast and fun wit that writers like Bendis and Fraction desperately want to be able to write but fail at doing so.
It feels effortless in how the characters talk. All the jokes and nudges at each other feel real and how they would talk. Its not fun snappy sarcasm for the sake of being funny. Its how the characters would react to each other and that makes it a really fun read. I remain incredibly impressed with how I just enjoyed every single word balloon and great character moment.
To get into more detail, I love the chemistry the 4 guys have going. Its just a lot of fun to read. Heinberg acknowledging the date night gag made it funny but he didn't go for any uncomfortable or obvious jokes with it. We didn't really get this kind of dialogue in the first YA arc because it was so busy establishing the team along with their big battle with Kang.
So what makes the story work is the dialogue, the characters, the funny moments like the date night joke, Eli spotting Kate as “the girl of this dreams” and just about every word between Teddy and Billy. But what about the action? Electro and the revelation that if they'd stopped him they could have stopped the outbreak?
It is decent action. Kind of cool seeing Iron Lad take on Electro the way he did. But honestly the fight with Electro was probably the most boring part of the issue. Its not bad though which is why I'm not aloting it in the bad section. Just kind of basic. It doesn't have any real page time to feel important or exciting so by the end of it Electro just sort of came and went.
While the revelation that they could have stopped Electro was interesting, at the same time its increidbly pointless. Its like revealing Dumbeldore was gay after the Harry Potter books ended. Sure, that's an important detail, but we're so far past it having any impact anymore its hard to really care. Plus we can't really go anywhere with this revelation. What now? Whats the point of introducing it? Nothing, it affects no one now. Maybe if you revealed it in the 2nd arc when the New Avengers were, you know, actually NEW it could be semi-important but its old news now.
I did enjoy the twist that this is all some big scheme by Kang to make Iron Lad turn into Kang. That Billy is still alive, as Dr. Strange of all people and that this will somehow destroy the Avengers. How? Well...that's where I have a problem with it. Still Heinberg does a good job of reminding us that Kang is still the bad guy and that Iron Lad shouldn't trust him.
Okay this is totally random and I really shouldn't mention it but Iron Lad has won a point in my book for sticking up for the Vision. Stature leaves him for that Time Traveling Jackass Kang and Iron Lad is all like “Vision gots feelings, yo” and I was all like “hellz yeah he does!” and thats how I came to like Iron Lad a bit more.
Jim Cheung drawing Children's Crusade has been one of the highlights of the series. Cheung is my favorite artist currently and if you're going to get someone to fill in for him there's a very short list of artists I would accept to take his place for an issue. Next to Mark Brooks, George Perez and Jesus, Alan Davis is a perfect choice.
Davis is a veteran for the Avengers so having him draw the Young Avengers is great. Though this isn't his first time drawing the team. He also teamed up with Matt Fraction for the great 6th issue of Young Avengers Presents to spotlight Hawkeye and seeing him finally return to the team was a real treat. I'm hopeful this isn't his last time drawing the YA as this artwork, like all his other great stuff, was excellent.
The Bad: the Young Avengers Special has one glaring problem and that's that it feels very unimportant. It feels a lot like filler. Well Cheung fell behind by a couple weeks, lets throw in a random one-shot to pacify them for a month. I was worried this may feel like filler or pointless and no matter how much I enjoyed the dialogue and character work I can't shake the feeling that this was all so very pointless.
Sure it does a good job of establishing why Iron Lad is there, why he showed up at the end of the last issue and what his mission is. But other than that? Filler. Nothing about it feels like it needed to exist. This might as well have been a brief page on the first issue of #5 to explain why Iron Lad is here. It would have been a hell of a lot easier and quicker.
Normally I despise filler comics. When there's an issue that just drags things out and wastes time. If it wasn't written so well with such great characters I'd probably hate this issue. But even with all that is good about it there's that annoying feeling like it might as well not exist and that just bugs me. By the end of it I put this issue down and thought to myself “was that necessary” and in the end I don't think it was.
What makes it even worse is what a huge missed opportunity it was with the Future Young Avengers. I'm guessing this is first and only time we will see that team and what do they do? Show up, talk for a minute and then we move on. Heinberg hinted at some really interesting points. What lead Stature to leaving Vision? When did Speed and Hawkeye hook up, let alone have a kid? Who the hell is the new Falcon? All really interesting points I would have absolutely loved to see play out through this issue.
They're on the cover for crying out loud! You put them on the cover and that's all we get? You're a tease, Marvel. A damn tease and you know it!
I was also left wondering what do Kang and the Future Young Avengers add to Children's Crusade. Will they make a return as the overall villains of the story? That would be pretty cool. Is this all Kang's doing down to the very decision of making the Scarlet Witch resurface? As of now these characters add nothing to Children's Crusade and I'm hopeful that won't be the final case come the end of the series but for now they just feel out of place.
I have a very strict rule that any comic that disses My Boy the Vision gets a -15 rating from me. However its an alternate reality/possible future version so I'll cut Heinberg some slack. But next time someone disses the Vision, -15. No excuses for making fun of the best Avenger, Marvel.
Overall: I wanted to love this issue, and for the most part I enjoyed it. Despite being filler it's that rare kind of filler that's actually still really good. We don't get that too often. Its still a great read and Heinberg writes these characters well as always. Hell any Avengers fan should pick it up for Davis on art really. But even with how much I enjoyed it I still think you could skip it. Unless you're reading Children's Crusade or want to get into it or are a big fan of the Young Avengers I wouldn't worry about this issue. Its still good but not a must read.