Tag Archives: Marvel comics

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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Reading Comic Books Out of Order #4 — “Thor and the Warriors Four”

thor warriors 4This entry is slightly momentous in two ways—it’s the first time I’m writing about a Marvel comic in my Comic Books Out of Order collection, and it’s also the first time I’ve read an “all-ages adventure.”

When my comic-book-guru friend handed me this to read, I at first raised my eyebrows after looking at the cover. I stared at the four kids, who look like, well…kids. Superhero kids? Wouldn’t that be super annoying? And then I stared at Thor, looking somewhat like a manga character (not that I have anything against manga-inspired looks).

I quicky learned (via the handy intro) who the four kids I was about to get acquainted with were. They’re called the Power Pack, and each has a superpower. They’re also a family, and the opening scene shows their grandmother in a hospital, announcing that she’s dying and doesn’t have much time left. To console Julie (the redhead on the cover), a nurse gives her a tale of Norse myths. Julie quickly learns about the Golden Apples of Idunn, and then decides the Power Pack are going to try and retrieve them with the help of Thor.

The rest of the mini-series sees cameos by the Pet Avengers (something I didn’t realize was a thing), Loki turning all of Asgard into babies (a plot that somehow doesn’t reduce the series to juvenile crap) and a near-coming of Ragnarok. To add to the insanity, there’s a backup story which has Hercules, arriving as a babysitter for the Power Pack, retelling in short form the story of his Twelve Labours.

The story that surprised me in how good it is. The “all-ages” tag shouldn’t be looked at as a reason not to delve into it. There’s plenty of stuff that will fly over kids’ heads, like the scene where Thor and Beta Ray Bill come in, semi-quoting “I Will Survive” (something I didn’t notice until comic-book-guru-friend pointed it out to me). Or the simple visual gag when the Power Pack meet an old man at the gates of Asgard; Julie shows him the book called “Myths of the Norse” while the man shows her the book “Facts of the Norse.”

The various Power Pack team-ups (others include Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man and more) also allow a close-up, sometimes nearly fourth-wall-breaking, into what superheroes are and why the look the way they do. When Katie (the young blonde girl on the cover) first sees Beta Ray Bill, she immediately asks him if he’s Thor’s pet horse and then asks him if he wants a carrot. Because they’re kids, they have fewer filters, and will therefore question the hell out of something as strange as an alien dressed like Thor. I’ve learned that in other books, one of the members of the Power Pack asks a sea monster what it’s like being a sea monster.

Besides being able to see Beta Ray Bill as a tiny little kid, the art is enjoyable, and is always clean-looking even during scenes when something particularly huge is happening (a particular scene involving someone who isn’t Thor wielding Mjolnir is pretty incredible).

Despite its kid-friendliness, the humour and action are really enjoyable, certainly enjoyable enough for any body to pick up and enjoy.