Pancakes

18 Jul

By Ayo

“Break-Fast Meet”
Young Avengers, no. 7
Marvel Comics, July 2013
Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles

When I was a little dude, twenty years ago, there lived a comic book called “X-Force” (by Fabian Nicieza and Greg Capullo) that I liked a lot. It wasn’t a perfect comic book but it was as close to perfect as I had personally seen at the time and thus, functionally perfect. The point in time when this comic existed as pure joy was in the brief period of its 20th through 24th issues. During this period, the teenaged cast of the comic had their own adventures, made their own decisions with absolutely no adult supervision, broke things, blew things up and ran from the law. They argued with each other and loved each other and beat opponents into submission to protect each other. Persuasion through muscle and victory through hardheadedness. It was 1993 and this was the best comic book in the world. It was everything that eleven-year-old Darryl wanted to see. More than wanted, it was everything that I needed to see.

Twenty years later, we have Young Avengers. It’s the same concept but put together a lot more adeptly.

1. Kirby Engine versus IPAC Unit.

Flying around the world (or galaxy) in a super-jet, beating up bad guys and having a good time with your friends–the only people who you can hold to since you’re on the run from authorities and wanton property damage is the X-Force way. The teen superhero team way. It’s the Darryl Ayo way. If you make a comic like this, you’re talking my language.

2. Through the eyes part 1

Jamie McKelvie is pulling a large portion of this story along on facial expressions, mostly. Body language, next. The conversation between Noh-Varr and Hulkling is conducted over two pages of both characters sitting down. Yet throughout, we see not only the subtle shifts in mood and emotion on both characters’ faces but we also see a consistent difference in personal disposition between the two.

The same thing happens between the unspoken disdain between Prodigy and Loki. Their dialogue says one thing but their eyes and facial moods say all of that and then some.

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3. These stories are long.

My initial complaint with this Young Avengers series seems harsh because it isn’t unique to Young Avengers but the first story arc was long. I didn’t have a problem with the pacing of the storytelling itself, I found the storytelling pitch-perfect. My difficulty was in the length of the overt-objective narrative. Five issues of the first story felt overly long to me.

Since then (issue six and the current issue, number seven), I feel that there has been a bit more containment of narrative beats in an issue which limits that sense of sprawl which I felt in the first arc.

I think that we’re seeing a return to polyrhythmic storytelling, where the overt objective brings the structure for an individual issue but the underlying emotional arcs keep readers coming back for more.

4. Miss America & Prodigy.

Two brown folks in the Young Avengers and they are pretty terrific to see on the page. Both are highly competent and casually cool (not “cool” meaning “likable,” but “cool” as in one’s demeanor).

Miss America is kind of a “you never asked” type of character which gets aggravating but it takes all types to run a successful ensemble cast. She’s mysterious and magical and likes to punch things, so therefore perfect for the role. Prodigy, on the other hand, is a new spin on the know-it-all character type. A genius with people-skills. He knows everything but has enough empathy not to lord it over people.

5. Through the eyes, part 2.

Prodigy’s point of view of tracking the Young Avengers is a lot of fun to read. Every issue of this series seems to have some sort of design trickery to it or some panel-border-breaking magic to it. This issue has both design trickery and panel-manipulation to denote magic. This comic is just a lot of fun to look at.

6. The review of “Break-Fast Meet,” Young Avengers # 7.

Good. Better. Best!

Young Avengers has been a high-quality superhero series since the first issue but the quality has just taken a dramatic upturn. Pop culture references in this series are sharp and trading on pop culture familiarity is dangerous ground for any storyteller. Most readers of this series seem devoted to the characters themselves and therefore this issue ratchets up the interpersonal antics.

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@darrylayo

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3 Responses to “Pancakes”

  1. jameswheeler July 18, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    This is great. At the time, I didn’t agree with your assessment that the first issue or two were slow, but I definitely got that feeling once or twice as the opening story progressed (it was the Moments – often the design trickery – that kept me coming back).

    The other way this issue (and to some extent #5) suggests polyrhythmic storytelling is that we realise the opening arc’s villain is a long-term problem – the high concept for this volume of the series, really – not to be conquered there.

    Over on 4thletter.net I wrote:

    “I’ve noticed on Hawkeye and Young Avengers that the fill-in issues seem to be written as deliberately non-essential to the wider/longer story. (The in-story recaps are elegant and somehow more evocative than the issues themselves.)”

    I very much enjoyed #6, and the quality of the art is not under question, but I think it could easily be omitted without harming this series as a whole, and possibly enhancing it, by increasing the drama of Prodigy’s introduction this issue. (Not that individual issues need be solely judged by the amount of plot-development – obviously my feelings on art-team changes factor heavily, here.) Just wondered if you had any thoughts on that.

    Speaking of devotion to characters, interpersonal antics and your man in the shot, there – I thought the metafictional slant to Noh-Varr’s lines about “doing things, but being aware that it’s *not you*” was bold – I can’t claim to be a devotee of the original miniseries, but despite the references I don’t feel like Noh-Varr’s characterisation in Young Avengers is all that much closer to Morrison’s than it was under Bendis’s much-maligned stewardship. (He only directly refers to his appearances as a villain in previous Young Avengers comics, but the invocation of Bendis is unavoidable). Just wondered if you had any thoughts on THAT, too.

    This went long. Thanks for the writing, Darryl!

    • darrylayo July 18, 2013 at 10:52 am #

      Hi

      I really have not read the old Young Avengers with much depth. I read one collection about Kang and I have Children’s Crusade on my phone waiting to be read.

      I don’t have many thoughts about the previous issue (#6, the “day job issue”). It was good, it was fine. I think that modern comic book readers need more hand-holding than older audiences needed. So issue 6 was a set up for issue 7 which is a good issue (7, that is) but still remains a set up for issue 8. I’m not sure. I try to take it as it comes.

      I’m not sure that it’s a “bad” thing but I think that the creators assume a level of habit among the readers that I’m not comfortable with assuming. It could be handled another way, as per my comments here and in the X-Force review. Anyway that comic is over and today’s a brighter day, as far as I can tell.

      Anyway, I think my copy of issue 6 was destroyed when my air conditioner vomited all over my floor so I’m winging it.

      • jameswheeler July 18, 2013 at 10:59 am #

        Yeah, I really didn’t have a problem with #6 as an issue, and if Jamie McKelvie had drawn it I likely wouldn’t have anything to say. But Kate Brown pinch-hitting (here comes a Marvel editor to tell me it was ALWAYS SCHEDULED THIS WAY) made the down-timeyness feel more like cheating than a natural choice for an episode (maybe).

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