Comics : Young Avengers #7

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This story is part of an Arc: "Secret Identities"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This review was first published on: 2006.

Background...

The Young avengers are comprised of "junior" versions of Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man, Giant Man, and Hawkeye. While this may sound, well, okay, silly, it turns out that there really are connections to the actual Avenger characters (as this site is dedicated to Spider-Man, you'll have to go elsewhere to the in-depth history of these characters. Here, what you'll get is the Readers' Digest version; so live with it).

Needless to say, this is what is currently known about the young heroes that make up the Media-dubbed "Young Avengers." The group includes the following heroes: Patriot (Elijah Bradley) who is the grandson of Isaiah Bradley, who was the sole survivor of an early American Super-Soldier program, which experimented on African-Americans in the 1940s (as chronicled in the Marvel comic Truth). The younger Bradley received his super-powers after receiving a blood transfusion from his grandfather. Asgardian (William "Billy" Kaplan), is a mage with the ability to project waves of energy; while Hulkling (Teddy Altman), has the ability to shape-shift into a green-skinned powerhouse with a healing factor. Stature is Cassie Lang, daughter of the deceased Avenger Ant- Man. Iron Lad is actually a teenaged Kang the Conquer who has traveled back into the past to save the past from his adult self.

As we join the so-called "Jr. Avengers" Squad, Captain America has just pressured them to stand down as a team, only they've determined to continue, and re-appear, only in new costumes.

In Detail...

"The New Young Avengers"
Young Avengers #7
Oct 2005 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man, The New Avengers Appear
Arc: Part 1 of "Secret Identities"
Editor:  Tom Brevoort
Writer:  Allan Heinberg
Pencils:  Andrea DiVito
Inker:  Drew Hennessey
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Articles: Young Avengers

As this episode opens up, Captain America, Luke Cage, and Spider- Man are sitting around in Stark Towers reading The Daily Bugle which features a front-page story on the Young Avengers team apprehending The Shocker, and watching a TV news broadcast about the same. The three of them are debating the relative merits of allowing the kids to continue to operate as a team. Cap wants to shut them down, Spider-Man (who points out that he wasn't much older than them when he started out) lands on the side of allowing them to continue to operate, while Cage feels that the Avengers could train them. Cap, however, is adamant about contacting their parents.

Across town, on the Upper West Side, Billy Kaplan is home watching the same TV report. His mom is trying to get him to eat breakfast before heading out to school, when Teddy shows up and the two boys discuss Cap's ultimatum of shutting them down if they put their uniforms on again, only Billy's parents show up and the two head out for school as Billy confesses that he hasn't told his parents yet that he has superpowers. Needless to say, his parents walk in on the two of them and just as he is about to tell them he has superpowers and has been running around New York City capturing criminals and fighting terrorists from the future, only his parents jump to the wrong conclusion that their son is gay, and (much to both boys dismay) welcome Teddy with open arms. On the Upper East Side, Cassie Lang is also preparing for school and her mom and Step-dad are also watching the news report. Unaware that Cassie is watching from the kitchen, her mom musses that "The giant girl" looks awfully familiar, only to have her step-dad quickly shoot the idea down as not only were Scott's (Cassie's dad) powers chemically-induced, not genetic in nature, but that being a superhero just isn't in Cassie's nature, as (he feels) that she can barely focus on completing her homework that she just doesn't have what it takes to become a superhero. Besides, he opines, she knows what her father being a superhero did to her mother, and would simply not put her mother through that again. All of which appears to weigh heavy on the young girl.

In the Bronx, Eli is also preparing for school, and is being sent off by his grandmother, who tells him to talk to his grandfather before he goes off. It is very apparent that he too is torn over being to talk about his powers and superheroing. As he looks in on his grandfather, Eli sees that his grandfather is reading the paper, and it is open up to the front page. Eli knows that his grandfather knows what his recent transfusion has done for his grandson, and is proud of him.

Back at Avengers mansion Cap, Tony Stark, and Jessica Drew are looking over the (or rather a) motionless body of the Vision, attempting to determine its (his?) perigee. Cap and Jessica are chilled by Tony's pronouncement that the android on the table in front of them is, in fact, the Vision, just not the one that the Avengers knew (and was "killed" during Avengers Disassembled storyline in Avengers 501, Avengers 502, Avengers 503, etc. (these are the only issues of this storyline in which Spidey appeared, and thus are the only ones in SpiderFan's database).

Stark has determined that what Iron Lad has done was to download all of the Vision's physical abilities and emotional status into the shell of a new physical android, creating a being with all of the former Visions powers and abilities, but with none of his experience; thus creating, what in essence is a "Kid Vision." Cap is still adamant about shutting down the Young Avengers team while Jessica is still advising a measure of caution. Cap concedes the point and decides to talk to Isaiah and Faith (Eli's grandparents), and delegates Jessica to talk to Peggy Burdick, Cassie's mom.

After school, Cassie and Kate Bishop are walking through the meat-packing district and run into Billy and Teddy. The four of them discuss their predicament and all of them acknowledge that none of them have yet told their parents about their powers as of yet. They also wonder where Eli is, as he was also supposed to be meeting with them. As it turns out, he is across town near the West Side Highway casing a warehouse where some criminal types seem to be set up. Only they discover him, and gun him down, causing him to fall through a skylight. Still worried about Eli, Billy casts a Locating Spell and finds Eli, and that he is in trouble.

Eli recovers from his fall, and realizes (much to his consternation) that he is now face-to-face with Dr. Zarbo, or as he is otherwise known, Mister Hyde. Simultaneous with this event, Both Cap and Jessica are at the respective doors of Faith and Peggy. Just as Hyde is about to put a powerful hurt on Eli, the Young Avengers show up to take him down and protect their teammate. As the kids set up to go mano-a-mano with Hyde, Eli runs off to inject himself with a serum and is followed (and observed by) Asguardian. The story is continued next issue.

In General...

What we have here is not so much of a junior-grade knock-off of a long- standing Marvel comic, but an innovative way to turn a classic concept into a workable series in the modern world with an old-fashion twist. In the past, (okay, when I was a kid, during a previous century) comics were replete with kid sidekicks and kid teams sporting the junior members of "dynamic duos." The rationale for these teen sidekicks was always that since kids read comics they would need to have a kid element to the story to make them interesting to kids (faulty logic, to be sure, but the paramount thinking of the day).

Here, with Young Avengers, there is a more rational reasoning for the existence of each of the principals in the team. All of them have "reasonable" connections to their adult counterparts (above and beyond merely being a sidekick, which none of them truly are). Thus giving the team a better hook on which to hang their collective cowls. I didn't think I was going to like this series, but I find it growing on me as I read each issue.

Overall Rating...

This turns out to be an interesting comic, full of teen heroes, great action, human dynamic and pathos, as well as the legacy of old Marvel. While it may (or may not) have begun it's publishing life as a marketing ploy, it is well written and well-drawn, and well worth a look. Perhaps it is for this reason that the current storyline tying into the New Avengers has been cast, so that fans of that series (as well as old-time Avengers' fans) would take the shot at picking up the title up and giving it the once-over.

Needless to say it worked with this fan. Not only am I recommending it, but also I just might have to continue to pick the series up (and hunt up the back issues as well).

Footnote...

This comic contains the four-page preview of the new on-going Nick Fury's Howling Commandos "monster" title that is due out from Marvel. The preview appeared in virtually all Marvel comics during comics cover-dated October 2005.