Young Avengers #4: Marvelous Boy

 

There’s a fine line between clever and “clever,” and Young Avengers #4 seems to ride right up against it, but it never crosses over.

The story thus far is that Billy Kaplan, aka Wiccan – son of Scarlet Witch – cast a dumb spell to bring his boyfriend Hulkling’s mother back to life, which only succeeded in bringing an alternate-dimension version of her that is some kind of creepy alien parasite trying to imprison and feed off of Billy and his friends. It seems the spell’s effect is also bringing back all of the dead parents of Young Avengers as jerks trying to beat them into submission as well. Thus, Wiccan, Hulkling, Miss America and Kid Loki are trying to figure out a way to put a stop to it all, since it seems going to the Old Avengers for help is a no-go thanks to weird spell stuff. Adults can’t even see what’s going on.

Enter Hawkeye and The Protector. Or, rather, Kate Bishop and Marvel Boy, who doesn’t like that name (and apparently everyone forgot that he was in the Avengers as The Protector, which is fine, because let Bendis feel what it’s like when people ignore HIS continuity for a change) and insists you call him Noh-Varr. There’s a funky and unique “Family Circus” style action sequence that’s just a wide shot of the space where goons are, and it charts Noh-Varr’s progress through the fight with a series of numbers correlating with positioning, describing the events of each point in the fight. It’s clever enough, it’scute, but it’s almost “Not Me.” The point being that apparently Marvel Boy is a comple superstar badass, although maybe it just seems that way because he’s an Avenger doing time with the Young Avengers.

The crux of the issue comes with Kid Loki. His motivations are suspect – thus far, he’s been playing on everyone’s innate distrust of The God of Mischief with a lot of reverse psychology stuff to try and get them to work together. In this issue, though, we start to wonder where his head’s at. There’s a point where he starts casually convincing Hulkling that, since he’s in love with a reality manipulator like Wiccan, there’s a chance Hulklking was just conjured up as an accidental daydream of Billy’s and might not have actually existed. There’s a kicker for you. The only solution to the big problem seems to be to go along with Loki’s insistence that Billy lend him his powers for ten minutes, which everyone naturally refuses. Of coruse, with everybody’s powerful evil parents and brainwashed adults bearing down on them, he finally acquiesces, and Loki immediately vanishes. Ostensibly to save his own skin and leave the rest of them in the lurch. Of course, it’s likely not all it seems.

Writer Kieron Gillen is doing fun things with these personal interplays, as it’s fun watching Loki do his thing without knowing whether not he’s really “doing his thing.” He’s made Miss America a very appealing bruiser, and he’s making good hay of Billy’s tendency to whine and beat himself up for his mistakes. Noh-Varr is solid fun, and a double shot of this and Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye have made me kind of a fan of Kate Bishop. Artist Jamie McKelvie has a great, clean, smooth and shiny style that is wonderfully expressive and bright. It’s a pleasure to behold.

Young Avengers is a pretty fun and funky book so far, even when it threatens to get a little too hip for its own room. Then again, it’s a tough call sometimes to tell the difference between something seeming a bit “clever” and my own responses tending towards the jaded and disdainful. Despite that occasional question, this series is good stuff.

 

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