The strengths and weaknesses of this series’ first volume are preserved quite well here. Kieron Gillen continues to write very clever and snappy dialogue while throwing plenty of interesting complications into the cast’s personal and romantic lives. Jamie McKelvie is joined by Kate Brown for an issue and she proves to be up to the task of equaling him in portraying expressive characters and inventive panel layouts. That said, if all of this struck you as being “too clever” or even “trying too hard” the first time around, there’s nothing here that will change your mind. I did like this volume a bit more than the first mainly because the plot actually develops some real hooks to get your attention with the mystery of “Evil Patriot,” the “trial separation” of Wiccan and Hulkling, and the return of Leah.
Ah yes, Leah. Her story appeared to be wrapped up pretty conclusively at the end of “Everything Burns,” with my main concern after that being what would become of Kid Loki in this title. To see her show up here was a great surprise and the highlight of the volume for me. This may seem like a spoiler but in this case A) you liked the first volume and have already read the second one or B) haven’t picked it up because you’re looking for a good reason to. Well, if you’re a fan of Gillen’s “Journey Into Mystery” that hasn’t jumped on “Young Avengers” yet, then here’s your reason.
That being said, only people who have read that title will really get the significance of the character’s appearance here. While the writer did a (mostly) good job of essaying the basic history and characterizations of the cast in the first volume, he kind of drops the ball with Leah here. Though the explanation given in the volume that she’s “Loki’s Ex” is appropriate, it’s also like saying Wolverine and Sabretooth “don’t get along.” You get the basic idea, but it fails to communicate the real depth of the relationship.
Of course, for those of us who have read “Journey Into Mystery” we can pride ourselves on knowing the real score here. Given that Gillen and McKelvie’s signature series, “Phonogram,” is about the personal connections we forge with our music, I’m not surprised that he’s trying to create a kind of clique with the readers here. In fact, given the overall tone of the series so far, he might as well be saying, “All the cool kids read ‘Journey Into Mystery’ so why haven’t you?” I loved that title and have no problem with its writer trying to enhance its legacy with a wider audience.
That’s just me, though. If you read all that and thought that he sounds like a real dick for trying something like this, then I can emphatically say that “Young Avengers” is not for you.