Of course everyone is going to get Avengers Prime and the new New Avengers titles because they feature characters that are well-known. But what about the slew of new titles featuring less or unknown characters?
I’m going to review three of those titles, Avengers Academy #1, Secret Avengers #1 (and the related story in Vengeance of Moon Knight #9), and Young Allies #1.
Avengers Academy #1 by Christos Gage and Mike McKone
The book is mostly told from Veil’s point of view as she discovers that the damage Osborn did to her ability to turn into different forms of gas has resulted in her body beginning a process of losing cohesion. Along the way, Veil is introduced to Hazmat, a girl so damaged she has to be fully contained in a suit at all times or risk accidentally killing someone, Finesse, Mettle, Striker, and Reptil. Overseeing this group is founding Avenger, Hank Pym, Tigra, Quicksilver, and Justice.
What I like about this book is the premise: Norman Osborn’s most damaged subjects relearning how to control their power. One of their first lessons is with Speedball (no longer known as Penance and wearing a costume more like his original). While Striker reminds the team that he was “the guy who killed half the city of Stamford,” Mettle insists that Speedball’s lessons will be valuable because, “One wrong move and any one of us could be a murderer.”
I also like that the adults overseeing the group all have histories that none of them are completely proud of (with the exception of Tigra) and know the price for their mistakes and may be best equipped to handle this group.
Speedball is my favorite Marvel character from back in the New Warriors days. Even he gets a moment when Hazmat takes off her glove during a practice and Speedball freaks out about it, “You want to…accidentally incinerate a bus full of kids.” This is obviously a flashback to the incident in Stamford that resulted in Civil War because that explosion was right next to a school.
As for the surprise ending – it’s not Thunderbolts big but it’s interesting enough to bring me back for #2.
Oh, and in the back of this book is a roster of these new characters and their abilities.
Vengeance of Moon Knight #9 by Gregg Hurwitz and Juan Jose Ryp
The end of the book shows Steve Rogers approaching Moon Knight for membership on the Secret Avengers roster which leads into…
Secret Avengers #1 by Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato
This first issue is a little rough in introducing the team. It starts with Black Widow and Valkyrie on a botched (and boring) undercover job when Steve Rogers busts in and cleans house. Then we’re introduced to Beast. Then we get to see a mission with just a few of the members, then they go off to join Nova in space who hasn’t interacted with any of the team yet.
The premise of the book is simple: Secret Avengers is a covert team that goes after emerging threats, hunting down villains before they attack heroes, cities, governments, etc. It’s a familiar premise but one that might have been better served by having a rotating cast of characters from all over the Marvel Universe, recruited depending on the mission.
With a team book like this, I understand that some missions can only have a few of the members on them (because members like War Machine aren’t built for stealth) but the book should have started with the entire team doing something, whether being introduced to one another or bringing down something like a Hydra cell. It’s more interesting to see this new group together than to introduce them a piece at a time. The flashbacks to Steve Roger’s talks with some of the members was interesting and I wish Brubaker had shown his talk with Beast (who was so disappointed by what was going on in the X-Men books that he quit). The Nova conversation would have been the most interesting considering the last time he visited Earth he found out that his old team was mostly dead, Speedball was fundamentally changed, The Thunderbolts tried to arrest him for being unregistered, and his father criticized him until he decided to leave and not come back.
Still, a bad start is still a beginning and I’m really interested in seeing these characters bond and interact – I just hope this first ‘Serpent Crown’ story-line isn’t dragged out for 5 or 6 issues or I might not stick around.
Young Allies #1 by Sean McKeever and David Baldeon
Firestar, Nomad, Araña, Gravity, and Toro are featured going toe-to-toe with The Bastards of Evil who are – apparently – the kids of villains. Their only motivation is destruction to gain notoriety and the five heroes find themselves coming together to fight them. There’s a lot of great setup to introduce the readers to each team member. While Toro’s situation is a bit of a mystery that’s foreshadowed at the beginning of the book, McKeever does a great job of introducing the rest of the team. He shows Nomad and Araña fighting crime together and letting us know that they’re good friends, introduces Gravity via a conversation he’s having with his college friends, and introduces Firestar rushing to make a college class on time.
It’s a great start, well-written and drawn and I’ll be back for Young Allies #2 to see if this roster’s reason for staying a team is good enough to carry the series forward. As a bonus, in the back there’s a short write up on each team member to catch the reader up on who they are and give a list of trade paperbacks that each character has appeared in.