Current Reviews


Young Allies 70th Anniversary Special #1

Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2009
By: Matthew J. Brady

Roger Stern
Paolo Rivera
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Young Allies 70th Anniversary Special #1 arrives in stores tomorrow, June 17.

"You Must Remember This…"

This comic takes an odd departure from the previous 70th anniversary specials that Marvel has been doing. While the others have all presented stories about the various Golden Age heroes that take place within that era, Roger Stern writes this one as a flashback (and, at one point, a flashback with a flashback) prompted by the current Captain America and former Bucky's visit to Arlington National Cemetery. He gets all mopey about his pals, the Young Allies (himself, Toro, and four young boys who teamed together to fight the Nazis), and recalls their formation, then visits the surviving ones and reminisces with them about their adventures. It's an odd shift in mood; where other books have been fairly light-hearted, this one is full of grief and regret, mixed with remembrances of heroics. Not that it's a bad story or anything, but don't we get enough over-seriousness in comics these days? The best parts of the issue are the flashbacks to WWII adventures, and those get cut short in order to have the old guys say things like "We were all so young" and do some crying.

But those flashbacks are pretty good stuff, with Paulo Rivera delivering some nice bits of action, including one especially memorable panel in which Captain America swings in to save the day, kicking two goons in the face while the Red Skull flees toward the reader with a hilariously frightened expression, gouging another thug's eye out in his panic. It's too bad that Stern doesn't give Rivera more material like this; most of the issue seems to consist of people talking. Even that looks nice though; Rivera gives things a nice moody atmosphere, reminiscent of John Paul Leon.

And Stern does make it enjoyable for what it is, lending good characterization to the various Allies in their brief appearances. He also adds a bit of apologia for the silly comics that originally featured them, letting us know that those were actually comics produced in the stories themselves, so they were much sillier than their "actual" adventures, and the boys were all given broad, goofy personalities that didn't really resemble them in real life at all. This makes the backup material slightly more palatable, but only just. In addition to a reprint of a silly comic featuring Terry Vance, the School Boy Sleuth (which does sport some decent art by Bob Oksner), there are two very poorly-written prose stories by a young Stan Lee, with the most memorable moment probably coming when the African-American Ally, Whitewash Jones, distracts a bad guy by throwing a piece of watermelon at him. Yikes.

Overall, it's probably one of the weaker of the 70th anniversary specials, but it's not a bad read. There has got to be better materials to throw in the reprint section though. At least Marvel is doing something somewhat interesting with these, and by telling stories removed from whatever ongoing mega-plot they've blanketed the rest of their comics with at the moment, the specials are some of the more enjoyable comics they're currently publishing. Let's hope they can bring that energy to some other books at some point.

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