Saturday, December 7, 2013

I Got Two Things Way Wrong About Young Avengers

A little more than a week ago, I did a Dirty Dozen post on Young Avengers. Since then, issue #13 has come out and totally blown up two of the twelve things I said about it. Luckily, they were both good things to have been wrong about.

First, there's this longish complaint about Ultimate Nullifier's characterization in the series:

I hate this book's treatment of Ultimate Nullifier. He was the best character in Vengeance, which is one of my favorite Joe Casey superhero comics ever. In that title, UN was a ballsy young warrior and a bit of a visionary, leading a team of idealistic teen heroes who operated under the radar, more interested in saving the universe than getting any glory or even recognition for their do-gooding. Here, he's demoted to the role of whiny ex-boyfriend, so upset at having been rejected that he becomes a petty supervillain helping Mother attempt to destroy the universe. He completely reverses his entire worldview and overturns all of his priorities because the girl he likes doesn't like him back. It's a total misfire, so I choose to believe Gillen's UN is a different characters entirely than Casey's, since that's how they read.

Turns out, they ARE different characters entirely. Ultimate Nullifier is one small part of a massive lie Loki has been telling for the entire series. I suppose I should've given Gillen & McKelvie more credit, but there were a bunch of ex-lovers of the Young Avengers who all showed up at once, and Nullifier was the only one I had any previous experience with, so I had no real reason not to accept the others at face value. And Nullifier is a new and minor enough character that making huge changes to him would certainly be within the normal bounds of the genre. Still, this is a book where Loki is the main-est character, so if someone seemed to be acting strangely, it would've been a safe bet on my part to guess it was some sort of deception. Anyway, very glad to know the real Nullifier is still untainted and awesome.

Secondly, we have this bold prediction:

Wiccan's probably not going to make it out alive. That's been apparent from the get-go, and has only grown more likely with each new chapter.

This was me assuming that Wiccan was going to have to sacrifice himself, or at least some part of himself, in order to access the amount of power he'd need to finally defeat Mother. Turns out, the real solution was more logical and probably even more foreseeable: love. Hulking accepting his love for Wiccan and fully letting go of his fears and doubts is what defeats the villain in the end. Cornier, but more fitting than another "meaningful" superhero death like I anticipated. Again, I was under-appreciating the thought and care Gillen & McKelvie put into this title.

Back when it was a relatively new series, I was slower to warm on Young Avengers than many others. And now, even as a totally converted fan, I still find myself expecting less of it than it actually delivers. Young Avengers #13 wasn't the best issue of the series, and on the whole it was a pretty unthrilling climax to the enormous mega-arc that it's taken all thirteen of these issues to tell. The good guys win, everyone's happy, the day is's hardly the most groundbreaking conclusion to this kind of story. Still, it surprised me in a couple nice ways, so here's a tip of the hat for that and a brief but sincere apology for my previous underestimation.

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