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Monday, September 02, 2013 

New Statesman fawns over Kieron Gillen's Young Avengers

The New Statesman wrote a sugary review of first 9 issues of Kieron Gillen's Young Avengers series, calling it "glitter-fantastic", but it sounds more like a lot of flash with no substance. It also sounds overly sex-obsessed:
In the very first page of Young Avengers, Kate Bishop wakes up in a hot alien guy’s bed, and feels like P Diddy. She grabs her clothes, runs out the door, and commences participating in a neon space battle;

[...] of primary concern is the fact that all of them are far more into making out with each other and eating Korean barbecue than solving the problem, which this time is that Billy (superhero moniker Wiccan - and he is not even a pagan) has summoned up evil dimension-hopping impostors of each of the Young Avengers’ parents by accident. Much of the book is, characteristic of the creators, preoccupied with the sexy: every issue is populated by semi-naked Avengers dancing, kissing, or otherwise lamenting the fact that they are not naked and kissing. In between there are some fight scenes.
If this is supposed to pass for drama, it sounds nowhere near as good as The New Mutants, which covered plenty of ground with character drama mixed with adventure/romance and did it all in much better taste than today's writers can convey. There may have been suggested nudity in past comics tales too, but it was nothing like the sleaze this sounds crowded with.
...my emphasis on pop music and kissing in the previous paragraphs might give the impression that this series is “Style > Substance”, just as the comic boldly states in the very first issue. This couldn’t be further from the truth: just as Joss Whedon somehow manages to craft his characters into believable, complex adults with juvenile senses of humour, Gillen weaves pop culture jokes through the angst and concern of his teen idols, addressing sensitively the issues of gay teenage romance, latent queer desire, love triangles, heartache and loss. Kate’s momentary contemplation on whether she should feel shame at a one night stand in the very first page of the series is an important fuck you to conservative social mores: of course she shouldn’t be ashamed of her own desires. Her young heart: it runs free. And the young man she has bedded respects that, and has the cutest ass I’ve ever seen. The only line I winced at was Noh Varr’s quip ‘COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO BE AWESOME’.
But the reviewer did go with them [Gillen & artist Jamie McKelvie], believing it would make her sound awesome that she's gushing over such politically correct sleaze. I'm not sure how having a juvie sense of humor makes an adult totally cool; certainly not if it involves toilet gags. And if homosexuality is presented solely in a positive light with no arguments allowed on whether it's an unhealthy influence, then the only "sensitivity" they're addressing here is of the "cultural" variety.

And what a vulgarian the reviewer is being. She actually thinks conservatives wouldn't agree with her belief that one night stands aren't the worst thing that can happen? Yeesh. Allow me to dampen her glee by saying that as a rightie, I don't consider them a big deal either. Besides, it's not like Kate committed adultery, and even that wouldn't be the worst offense that could take place. There's much worse problems and emergencies to worry about than some silly one night stand, like murder and robberies. Problems that, as the reviewer suggests, the Young Avengers aren't especially keen on solving.

In that case, I don't see what the point of this book is. If the "heroes" are more concerned about childish sexuality, and do little to combat baddies, or even "plainclothes" villains, then it sounds like just an excuse for the kind of juvenile nonsense that's not even suitable for children, sends the wrong message, and is aimed squarely at mentally adolescent grownups. If this were back in the 80s, I'm sure Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz could've handled some of the issues seen here like sexual relations a lot better than what Gillen turned out. But we're no longer in that era, and the people now in charge have no comprehension of what makes for good drama and comedy.

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Yeesh is right. This YA comic just sounds awful. It just sounds like politically correct trash being made for the sake of PC. This is what passes as a young superhero team comic these days? No thanks. Gimme New Teen Titans, New Mutants, New Warriors, etc.

"Kate’s momentary contemplation on whether she should feel shame at a one night stand in the very first page of the series is an important fuck you to conservative social mores: of course she shouldn’t be ashamed of her own desires. Her young heart: it runs free. And the young man she has bedded respects that, and has the cutest ass I’ve ever seen."

That all reads like a sleazier version of Love Story's insipid "Love means you never have to say you're sorry."

As for her posterior, um, I haven't read the title, but gee, what motivation to read..., I guess?

On a more serious question -- for the sake of argument, put aside the sleazy fanservice art for the sake of horny, sexually frustrated males for a second -- with all the queer/gay/homosexual subtext that is becoming rampant in modern comics, would a readership that is mainly male would honestly be that enthused with, say, similar gay male fanservice art or such deep exploration of "latent queer desire"? (And, yes, they'd be perfectly happy with a lesbian one, as it would be two women, so that's an interesting double standard.) They'd probably tolerate it for social justice cred, but privately, that may be another story.

If I posed my question wrong, I'll re-word it later.

Remember back when every superhero comic wasn't trying to be am even worse ripoff of Millar's AUTHORITY?

You'd think after almost a decade and a half, they'd try something new. Like actual heroes.

I agree, Drizzt. I want to see actual heroes again, although unless Marvel and DC were to come under new leadership, I don't see that happening in the near future, unfortunately.

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