By Brian Martin | Graphic/Novels Editor Published: 12/20/2013 1:00 pm EST
Every Wednesday, there is one comic at the top of Graphic/Novels editor Brian Martin’s “pull list.” Whether it’s because the comic is consistently brilliant, it’s the beginning of a new series or run, or it’s purely a whimsical choice, one book must be read before all others. In this weekly column, Brian examines the book he’s anticipating most, why he’s looking forward to it, and, after reading it, whether or not the issue met his expectations. Expect mild spoilers!
The Book:Young Avengers #14 (Marvel Comics, $2.99)
Why is it at the top? This “season” of Young Avengers is coming to an end, and so is the Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie run. With the last month’s conclusion of the nearly year-long Mother Parasite plotline, Gillen proved that he’s certainly willing to leave a mark on these characters; some are getting relatively happy resolutions, while others are left disillusioned, heartbroken, and questioning who they are. If it sounds like the teenage experience, that’s because Gillen has managed to capture that spirit with sharpness and sincerity. This particular issue, beginning the two-part “Resolution” arc that will end the series (for now), made it to the Top of the Pull List on solicitation summary alone.
So how was it? Comic issues featuring multiple artists can be a gamble. Sometimes, the variation in style from page to page can completely derail an otherwise decent narrative. This comic has four artist teams contributing to interiors, and Gillen thankfully uses this to the story’s benefit. Each artist handles a short vignette about specific members of the team, and the shifting styles work in tandem with the raucous party atmosphere.
The opening scene, which is perhaps the only quiet one in the book, features a welcome and overdue one-on-one between Kate and America. America’s personality is, at best, bristly, and it’s nice to see a genuine moment between the team’s resident females. Kate comes from an affluent family, and a degree of resentment from America seems understandable; but it’s clear that these two girls have found a stronger familial bond with each other despite their different backgrounds. It’s a moment that really resonates.
Billy and Teddy, Young Avengers’ power couple, complete their reconciliation in this issue. More importantly, Billy is given a moment to address the elephant in the room, as he confronts Prodigy about that impulsive kiss from a few months back. This resolution and the dialogue that accompanies it is a tad predictable, but I’m not sure it could have necessarily been handled better.
Annie Wu, current artist of the Kate Bishop issues of Hawkeye, handles the character here in the issue’s final moments (and its best scene). This series started with the spontaneous romance between Kate and Noh-Varr—appropriate then, that Gillen seems to be ending this relationship with the close of the series. Wu’s art adds some consistency between Kate’s main titles, and she charges the scene with a perfect amount of muted emotion. Kate and Noh-Varr don’t share many words here; because of Wu’s art, they don’t need to.
The stylistic differences between the artists are generally not too jarring, although Christian Ward’s Miss America sequence contrasts a tad too sharply with the stories on either side of it. Taken as its own small story, it’s visually engaging and appropriate for the character; however, it’s a bit abrasive visually when sandwiched between the less visually frenetic styles of Emma Vieceli and Annie Wu.
The only other complaint I can hurl at this issue is that, yes, I miss Loki. But I miss him because Gillen wants me to miss him. Mission accomplished, you monster.
The cliffhanger of this issue feels exactly like the sort of moment you’d expect from a teen series like Dawson’s Creek (or whatever the kids are watching these days)—as a jilted girl finds comfort in the arms of a rebound guy at the stroke of midnight. As for the identity of this rebound guy…well, suffice to say that we the readers will need a bit more of an explanation than Kate seems to care about getting. It’s sad to know this creative team is leaving these characters, but it looks like they’re giving them (and the title) a nice send-off. Happy New Year, you crazy kids!
Brian L. Martin is an educator, writer, and amateur curmudgeon. An avid fan of novels, movies, and beer, he would much rather spend his time reading comics, a lifelong love since receiving a copy of The Amazing Spider-Man # 242 from Spider-Man himself in 1983. His favorite books include The Grapes of Wrath, Siddhartha, and The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, which is heavy enough to be considered the only real defense weapon he has in his home. He currently lives with his wife in Uppsala, Sweden.