"Sidekicks: Part Six"
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Artists: Jim Cheung (p), John Dell (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: After witnessing long-time Avengers' foe Kang the Conqueror murder Captain America, Iron Man and Jessica Lang, the Young Avengers struggle to repair the damaged time stream. But with their very existence on the line, the teenaged heroes’ only option is to sacrifice a member of the team…
Comments: If someone had told me six months ago that Young Avengers was going to be one of the most innovative and entertaining new titles from Marvel comics, I probably would have wondered how much gas they’d been huffing. The truth is when word of the series first hit fandom, readers still mopping over Bendis’ ground-breaking "Avengers Disassembled" story-arc were already decrying its existence. After all, how good could a series be when it featured a bunch of unknown teenage Avengers wannabes? Now Young Avengers has completed its very first story-arc with issue #6, and not only is it NOT the disaster many fans had anticipated, but it is consistently one of the most thoughtful, engaging and entertaining new series in comics period. Writer Allan Heinberg has taken a concept that seemed almost doomed to fail and spun it into something that is wholly original and just plain fun.
Issue #6 itself picks up after the previous cliff-hanger ending in which a teenaged Kang the Conqueror (a.k.a Iron Lad) has driven a sword through the back of himself (that is to say, the older version of Kang). The result is that the time-stream quickly begins to unravel in that Kang never battled the original Avengers and essentially never became a despotic time-traveling overlord. As the team struggles to come to grips with this fact, they realize that the only way to preserve the time-line is to send young Kang back to his own era. Using Kang’s advanced armored-suit to reboot the Vision, the heroes open a portal back to the future. As the young Kang vanishes, the heroes are left picking up the pieces. The result is a surprisingly emotional and character driven issue, neatly tying up a complex and highly-satisfying first story-arc.
Young Avengers #6 is really a classic example of the true potential of comic books, in that for a series filled with over the top superhero action, the author is willing to take the time to show the emotional outcome and build real character development. Indeed, in a mere six issues writer Allan Heinberg and co-creator Jim Cheung have managed to cram an incredible amount of detail, developing a series with depth, humor, action and character. Heinberg’s layered scripts instantly bring to mind the work of current DC scribe Geoff Johns who also manages to balance both character development and action all while capturing the nostalgic overtones of superhero comics. But it is Heinberg’s subtleties and understanding of his characters that propel his work above the rank and file writers of comicdom. Heinberg, for example, presents a hopeful Cassie Lang standing in a grave yard and wondering if, even in a splintered time-line, she can have the opportunity to see her dead father one last time. These little touches present the heroes as truly human and make the series so accessible and intelligent. Fortunately, as always, Cheung’s artwork is also inspired. The panels pop with an almost cinematic intensity, particularly in some of Cheung’s splash pages which can convey all-out action and subtle emotional moments with equal clarity.
To sum up, Young Avengers #6 is a brilliant end to one of the most promising new series to hit the shelves in years. Heinberg and Cheung have a hit on their hands, and I for one plan to stick it out with them for the long haul.
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