Reading Comic Books Out of Order #5 — “Young Avengers: Sidekicks”

young avengersSince entry #3 of this series I’ve been fortunate enough to be reading first issues of numerous series, so for a short while I had been wondering if continuing to call the series “Reading Comic Books Out of Order” was an accurate reflection of what I was writing about. Young Avengers: Sidekick is an origin story of four new superheroes, but it takes place at some point later in the Marvel continuity. So I’m still reading things out of order.

The story takes place directly after the Avengers disband. A cursory Internet search has revealed that trying to understand the intricacies of that storyline wouldn’t be in my best interest unless I actually read the thing. Anyways, we find out fairly early on, via our favourite lovable grouch Jonah Jameson, that a group the paper has dubbed “the Young Avengers” has appeared. The guys even resemble the original four; there are Thor, Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America look-alikes. Their powers are even the same, to some degree, with the “Iron Man” possessing even more powerful tech than Iron Man himself.

Jessica Jones, apparently an employee of the paper, as well as the civilian identity of Knightress and Jewel, is tasked with finding out more about them, since she’s also apparently Luke Cage’s girlfriend and has some connection to the Avengers themselves.

It doesn’t take too long for Captain America and Iron Man to find Jessica, and it takes even less time for them to meet up with the “Young Avengers” after the “super fanboys” help to stop a robbery. Steve Rogers and Tony Stark soon get a hold of Iron Lad, who reveals that he is none other than a past version of Kang the Conqueror. I understood quickly from the reactions of Jones, Rogers and Stark that he’s a pretty bad dude, and a lot of his shenanigans seem to revolve around time travel.

“Is this a time travel thing? ‘Cause I hate time travel things,” Jones says.

“With Kang, it’s always a time travel thing,” Stark responds.

“See, that’s why I hate Kang,” Jones says, in a rare moment of humour followed not too much later by the unraveling of time and history. It turns out all the Young Avengers have some kind of history with the Avengers, including Cassie Lang, the daughter of Hank Pym (Ant-Man), who later ends up joining the group. Patriot is the grandson of the Isaiah Bradley, the Black Captain America.

The main threat the Young Avengers face is the arrival of villainous Kang, because good Kang (Iron Lad) escaped to the present to avoid becoming the villain he was destined to be. Predictably, by avoiding that fate, things start to change; Jones loses her pregnancy and her Jewel outfit changes, other members start disappearing.

This book has plenty of twists along the way, and while the ending is probably pretty predictable, it’s an excellent origin story, and the end of the book paves the way for the current (?) Young Avengers lineup with some redesigned costumes.

Despite an influx of new characters, plenty get their time to shine. The relationship between Patriot and Kate Bishop (the first female Hawkeye) is pretty funny, since the two are both so strong-willed that they inevitably (and continually) butt heads. Kate also seems to treat Cassie like a sister, particularly when Cassie discovers her powers she didn’t know she had.

Some of the art is a little weird, in particular some later panels when villain Kang is attacking or is attacked. Facial expressions suddenly become a little blocky and emotionless. But it’s mostly fun to look at.

When I first glanced at the cover I thought “Oh no, not a story about the Avengers when they were teenagers!” but it’s not that at all, and ends up working really well as a self-supporting series.

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