Monday, January 21, 2008

Young Avengers Presents #1

As the first of what I can only presume will be several issues to delve deeper into the individual stories of the team of Young Avengers, this premiere is a very solid introduction. Eli Bradley (Patriot), the team’s leader, is the first to enjoy the spotlight, and allows a telling glimpse into his psyche. As a standalone chapter of Young Avengers, I don’t think this would’ve worked – it’s far too individually focused, with the rest of the team appearing as accessories at best. In the format of a specialty title, though, it does the job nicely.

Ed Brubaker takes the opportunity to elaborate upon the character and runs with it, as would be expected. In his hands, Patriot is an interesting individual, much more so than I’d given him credit for in the past. His grandfather, Isaiah Bradley, was the “Black Captain America” from the series Truth: Red, White & Black. Isaiah’s treatment as an unknown, overlooked, un-credited cult figure has shaped the boy’s personality. He overcompensates in an attempt to right the wrongs committed against his bloodline, and he’s extremely hot-blooded and emotional when questioned. He sees conspiracy in everything, sometimes with good reason, others not so much, and he comes off as a guy who’s paranoid and constantly spoiling for a new cause to fight for.

Paco Medina’s artwork in this issue is beautiful, like a blend between Chris Bachalo and Steve McNiven. It’s crisp, dynamic and energetic, whether he’s flashing back to Isaiah’s battle against the Nazis in World War II or relating Eli’s speech to his high school English class. His artwork has depth and substance, he brings atmosphere when it’s needed and focus when it isn’t. While his characters all seem to be fairly short and stocky, it’s easy to tell them apart and his visuals are never lacking in texture or appeal. He also knows how to visually separate a teen from an adult, which is crucial in a story that focuses on an adolescent character. Eli and his classmates look like kids in high school, (although one of them has a goatee… and I don’t think I saw even an inkling of facial hair throughout my schooling) but they don’t lose any credibility for it. They aren’t adults, but they aren’t little kids, either… and that’s something that’s easier said than sketched.

This issue provides a fine introduction for readers who may not be familiar with the character, and a nice elaboration for those who are. It’s not a theme that I could see lasting an incredibly long time, but as an infrequent opportunity to explore the individuals that make up the team, it’s a nice break. It’s nothing overly groundbreaking, and the story is largely internal monologues, but it’s well crafted and entertaining. If the following issues are as solid as this one, Young Avengers might get a mild influx of new readers. Fine writing, quality artwork, good characterization… it all leads me to want to explore the YA mythos a bit more thoroughly. And that, ultimately, should be the goal here. Borrow it from a friend if you can, it’s a good book but I can’t imagine myself reading it over and over again.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 7

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