Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Young Avengers

Thanks to you and you, I've found myself reading Young Avengers and really really liking it.

This probably isn't a shock to anyone who's already read the series. It's cute, witty and the characters are fun. It's also got a very Marvel take on a theme that I'd considered previously to be almost solely DC related: legacy.

It's not like "Captain America", "Thor", "Hulk" or "Iron Man" are really inheritable roles even in the sense that "Superman", "Batman" or "Wonder Woman" are (in theory at least), and it's not like the YA members are actually sidekicks. But there's a lot of emphasis on the inspirational roles that the superheroes have and a lot of interesting familial ties that make things fun.

Not to mention that unlike most of Marvel's franchises, there's a real sense of fun here. Not that Spiderman, Avengers and X-Men aren't fun. They're lots of fun to read, but it rarely seems like the characters are having fun doing it. Here, it definitely seems like they're having fun.

These themes are part of the reason I'm 85-90% a DC reader, so I'm thrilled to see them in a Marvel setting.

But really I love this comic for one bit, from YA #1:

Now. They've probably mentioned this before. I don't know. There are many decades I haven't seen of Marvel comics. I'm not a huge Spiderman fan anyway.

But when I read this page, with J.Jonah Jameson's memories of idolizing Bucky. It was like...YES. This one page turned a guy I'd been considering a one-note sputtering cartoon character for years into a human being for me. It made so much sense.

As a child, J. Jonah Jameson idolized Bucky. And then Bucky died. And that, while probably not new information to anyone but me, gives so much more depth to the way I perceive Jameson.

How much might the memory of a dead child-hero really play into the man's very vocal hatred of Spiderman...who'd started as a teenaged hero. How much of his bluster did he actually mean, and how much was masking something else entirely.

It actually makes me almost want to hunt down old Spiderman issues and read him again. See how this new information makes me read him differently. Maybe later. But it's still pretty damn cool...

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  • At September 25, 2006 9:30 AM, Anonymous AnthonyF said…

    Like you, I mostly read DC. The main exception is The Avengers, a team I've always loved. YA seemed like just one more part of the crappy New Avengerizing of the team. But that's a good page. And I hadn't thought about it being a DC-style legacy thing. I might have to check it out.

  • At September 25, 2006 10:22 AM, Anonymous Mark Engblom said…

    Some good points on Jonah, though I prefer my J. Jonah Jameson to be 100% jerk, with no poignant reason for why he hates Spider-Man so much. It tends to give him the semblance of intelligence and wisdom, something my ideal Jonah really shouldn't have. Comics need their noble characters, just as they need their Eternal Flaming Idiots, and I like Jonah as part of the latter category.

    As for Jonah's WWII connection, like Ben Grimm and Reed Richards before him, it's getting tougher and tougher to believe he wasn't anything more than a child during WWII (if that). Yeah, 10 years ago the MARVELS project depicted Jonah as a young reporter covering the war, but even then it was tricky getting the chronology to line up, while still maintaining Jonah's eternal "late 50's, early 60's" age.

    All that said, the Young Avengers sequence was pretty neat.

  • At September 25, 2006 11:02 AM, Blogger Flidget Jerome said…

    Man, I forgot about that sequence, possibly because Marvel's been trying hard, in light of the success of YA and Runaways, to sweep 30 years of anti-kid sidekick policies under the rug.*

    * Ask me about my Scout obsession!

  • At September 25, 2006 11:07 AM, Blogger TheMadThinker said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At September 25, 2006 1:31 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I must confess that I've always had a small sneaking fondness for J. Jonah.Jameson, and please don't ask me to explain it. I like Perry White too. But Young Avengers is actually pretty good, although it would be nice if it came out more often. *sigh*

  • At September 25, 2006 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Young Avengers starts out in the Best possible plot device Marvel does.

    Time Travel.

    Like it or not Marvel does awesome Time Travel stories.

    The Fantastic Four vs. Doom and back in ancient egypt.

    The Avengers and Kang.

    The only good X-men stories besides Pheonix

    The fact Time Travel stories brought us Cable who would then one day star in Cable/Deadpool.

    The Spider-man story where he has to live all of his past moments with Dr. Strange.

    Even Deadpool himself had a nifty story where he went back in time and impersonated Spider-Man. And he time traveled because of a GLA screw-up even!

    I loves me some Time Travel.

  • At September 25, 2006 1:59 PM, Anonymous Loren said…

    I'm like you, although I probably read a little bit more Marvel. But, I find that I'm always reaching toward the DC Comics first before getting into the Marvel ones. And, I think it's because there's this sense of joy that I get from DC Comics while Marvel tends to be darker and, like you say, not having fun while doing their superheroing.

    In fact, the Marvel Comics that I tend to enjoy are the ones that don't get stuck in the "internal conflict" or even "external conflict" trap. Young Avengers is one of them. Yes, there's drama as this new team tried to get adjusted to working together. But, there's also a lot of joy. I feel that these characters would stick up for each other in good times and bad. Not start beating each other once somebody's ideology differed from the other (cough - Civil War - cough).

    Interesting point about J. Jonah. I'd never really thought of it in that way, but that does seem to make sense. Even a person who's a jerk gets it from somewhere.

  • At September 25, 2006 5:24 PM, Blogger TheMadThinker said…

    Actually, MARVELS seems to be set in real time; Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, etc. are depicted as starting their careers when they appeared in comics (1960s-early 1970s). I could see Spider-Girl running around in the MARVELS universe present-day.

    I'd say Iron Man is possibly inheritable and I could see Eli (Patriot) Bradley becoming Captain America one day-but Hulk and Thor would be harder to reproduce.

    Re: JJJ's reminiscing of Bucky. I'd say it shows some glimpse of his feelings towards Spider-Man but I wonder if there's still a large degree of anger regardless.

    Glad to hear you're enjoying Young Avengers. It's definitely one of my two favorites (along with Moon Knight) Marvel is doing right now. Shame that it's on hiatus (well, there's the YA/Runaways special, at least) and looking forward to its relaunch.

  • At September 25, 2006 8:55 PM, Blogger Dr. Flem said…

    It's interesting that three of the four non-inheritable characters you mention have been handed off in the past, but only one of them had the right tone of carrying on a tradition that needs to continue. Wally steps up to being the Flash because he knows there needs to be a Flash, not because his boss asked him to (in Iron Man's case) or because the government chose him (in Captain America's case). Really, only Beta Ray Bill picked up being Thor and (largely due to the inherent worthiness aspects of Mjolnir (very much like a GL ring) being a sort of automatic voucher for a character) sort of felt like a legitimate replacement for Thor.

    This is now my second comment this week in which I've discussed the Simonson run on Thor, which seems to be a clear sign that it's due for a re-reading (and maybe I'll give Young Avengers a shot while I'm at it)

  • At September 25, 2006 9:34 PM, Anonymous chuck said…

    I'm glad you're liking Young Avengers...I can see how the 'legacy' theme would appeal to you, being a JSA fan...maybe that's part of the reason I like it, too.

    I think you've got a good point about the 'fun' aspect...I wasn't interested in anything Avengers after "Disassembled", then I read a preview of the first issue and was hooked.

    The scene with Jonah was part of it, Jessica Jones being in it was part of it, but the way the members of YA spoke had me sold. There was a lighthearted, almost tongue-in-cheek conversational style...such a change from titles that just took themselves WAY TOO SERIOUSLY. Even when YA covered a serious topic(coming out to your parents)there was always a bit of humour to leaven the situation.

    The only complaint I have with YA is that another strong, confident woman(Kate) has rape as the defining moment in her life...again! This was especially annoying because around the same time, the same thing had been added to Black Cat's backstory and, in both cases, it seemed like it was unnecessary and lazy writing.

    To end on an upbeat note, I recommend picking up the mini with the Runaways...the teams match up well and the writing has a light touch...something that's missing from most of the Civil War storyline.

  • At September 26, 2006 1:21 AM, Blogger RAB said…

    My favorite moment by far in the first Spider-Man movie is the scene where the Green Goblin demands of Jameson the identity of the photographer who takes the Spider-Man photos. Parker is right there in the room, and Jameson unhesitatingly lies to the Goblin to protect Peter -- even though the villain might kill Jameson on the spot. And that's the real Jonah.

    And really, the idea of Jonah as a good guy -- who happens to be on the opposite side from the reader's presumed sympathies, as far as superheroes are concerned -- has been part of Jameson for years. This goes back at least to 1967, when Robbie Robertson arrives as an editor at the Daily Bugle: in that era, this was no accident but a very specific authorial statement that readers were meant to see Jameson as a civil rights supporter.

    Jameson has also repeatedly been shown in the comics as standing up for unions, against organized crime, being patriotic but not intimidated by government pressure. Apparently Civil War has mangled this as badly as it has everything else it touches, but overall he's been the populist "muckraking journalist" who wants to see ordinary people treated with admiration and respect...and deplores the lionization of a masked criminal vigilante or whatever Spidey is. Frankly, I'd be on his side if we lived in the MU.

  • At September 26, 2006 2:01 AM, Anonymous ben said…

    One of the cool aspects of Young Avengers is that the "legacy" component is subverted as much as it is played up - Patriot isn't directly related to the Steve Rogers Captain, but Isaiah Bradley. Iron Lad isn't connected to Iron Man but certainly twists the "self-made man" vibe that Tony gives off. Billy isn't really a mini-Thor and Teddy has nothing to do with the Hulk.

    Kate...sigh. That was a frustrating moment, reading that scene where she reveals that to Jessica. I almost want to read it as being this attempt to undermine the...DCness of Kate. She's a wealthy girl who idolizes the Avengers and therefore puts her money toward being like them and also wants to change things while she does it. She always reads more like a less grumpy Green Arrow than a Hawkeye. They wanted to add a little angst, a little tragedy, but they picked the standard tragic trope for heroines. Sigh.

    At least Cassie seems to have (a) a present mother figure and (b) non-sexual tragedy driving her on in her desire to be a heroine. Plus, you know, she likes robots.

    I've kind of given up on Young Avengers/Runaways, the crossover series, because I'm not big on the art, but I want to keep following both groups. They're good stuff, and they subvert or distort the legacy elements that it seems like the Titans are drowning in right now (does the Atom need a teen counterpart? When did Barda have time to have a kid by this point, even if she and Scott are probably far older than we may think?).

  • At September 26, 2006 5:22 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    anthonyf: Well. It is and it isn't. It's a very Marvelian take on it I think.

    Still it's pretty cool.

    mark: I get what you're saying, for me though, after decades, a one-note joke tends to get a bit old. I prefer Jonah as a jerk with just a hint of depth.

    flidget: About damn time if you ask me!

    [/sidekick fan]

    sallyp: I like him too. He's funny.

    Yeah. It's annoying because Heinburg is really good! I want him to focus on writing comics!

    mallet: Marvel is pretty good with time travel, I have to admit.

    loren: Me too. Heh, actually, my favorites tend to be the more DC-esque titles. Young Avengers fits that definition to me. :-)

    themadthinker: Oh I don't doubt Jameson's primary motive is just anger and outrage. But it's interesting to wonder if a little sliver isn't something else.

    flem: That IS really interesting. I'd be really interested in looking at the few Marvel legacies...I suppose the Phoenix counts. Maybe the Hellfire club...

    chuck: Yep. The fun element is a big thing for me.

    I also loved how they kept making a point of describing Hulkling as polite. :-)

    RAB: I totally forgot about that scene! Now I want to see the movie.

    And honestly I'd probably agree with Jameson. Spiderman really needs a PR person. :-)

    ben: The subversion is very Marvel. In a weird way YA really seems like a lovely blend between them.

    And the real legacies: Bradley, Richards/Kang (sorta), Wanda, Mar-Vell, they're all pretty neat as well.

    Honestly in this instance, Kate's experience didn't bother me. I think perhaps because it was relatively subtle. One panel really. Obvious. Clearly still affecting her life but something she'd moved past.

    This is one of the times when I think the rape itself wouldn't be an issue if the idea of rape wasn't so overused in comics. :-(

  • At September 26, 2006 11:10 AM, Anonymous Dan Coyle said…

    JJJ isn't as good a character as he used to be- the muckraker has been overtaken by the superhero-hating yellow journalist that looks less and less endearing in the age of media bias- his recent appearance in New Avengers where he essentially lied to them just so he could stab them in the back didn't come off as funny but sad.

    That said, Zeb Wells wrote a very good JJJ solo story that's in the Spider-Man's Tangled Web Vol. 4 trade about his relationship with his first wife and his father, and how that affects how he feels about Spider-Man.

    My favorite JJJ moment is Daredevil: Born Again, where he chews out Ben Urich for being a coward in the face of threats by the Kingpin.

  • At September 28, 2006 2:41 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    *nod* He's caricatured. I like when they do let him show a little depth

    I mean, he's still hateful and a jerk, but even jerks have layers.


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