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Marvel’s Young Avengers continues to re-establish itself as an ongoing series, with Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Mike Norton at the helm. Issue #2 wastes no time immersing us in the exciting world of teenage superheroes, beginning with a light-hearted parody of popular website Tumblr. But are internet jokes and meme references enough to keep this book afloat?
Picking up from last month’s cliffhanger, this issue focuses almost entirely on Billy and Teddy. Realizing Billy accidentally unleashed a twisted version of Teddy’s once-deceased mother, the two turn to the Avengers. Unfortunately, their adult counterparts are also impacted by Billy’s spell, returning the kids to creepy new parents despite their protests. After a rescue by Kid Loki, the three leave for Asgardia, where they find themselves facing another surprise parent-child reunion.
Young Avengers #2 is filled with the two things that made the original series so captivating: the joys of being a young superhero and the trials of being a teenager. Author Gillen frequently reminds us that, as Kate Bishop stated in the first issue, “Being a superhero is amazing.” Tying this youthful enthusiasm together with the universal problem of teen-parent relationships allows the series to stand out from some other youth-led comics on the market today. Young Avengers shows that it’s fun saving the day, but the ability to kick supervillain butt doesn’t automatically grant you a good relationship with the adults in your lives. Oh yeah, and you might unintentionally let loose an evil version of your boyfriend's dead mom.
McKelvie and Norton’s art remains strong, with bright colors, clearly defined faces, and fun backdrops. The middle of the issue sports particularly inventive panel work, with two pages involving trap boxes twisting the conventional comic book format on its head. As the characters run through the pages’ gutters, it becomes increasingly clear that something is very wrong in this world, something that defies normal so much that even the book itself is contaminated by it.
Despite its strengths, Young Avengers #2 moves at a relatively slow pace. Much of the story is dialogue as Billy and Teddy try to understand why every adult in their lives is suddenly creepy and evil. Loki’s arrival ushers in panel after panel of banter, all of which is witty, but not particularly thrilling. Additionally, some elements of the plot remain tough to follow: it isn’t entirely clear why Billy and Teddy decide to take Loki to Asgardia, or just how Loki feels about the trip. These are unfortunately the same problems that plagued the first installment of Young Avengers.
Still, this issue poises us for what could be an exciting ride, accompanied by humor and heart. It is clear that the creators want the Young Avengers to be relatable, relevant, and fun, and so far they are succeeding. However, whether the series ultimately lives up to these aspirations remains to be seen.