Monday, October 15, 2012

The Young Avengers

A while back, I wrote about the impossibility of diving into comic books. Despite the seeming impossibility of it all, I haven't truly given up hope. Sure I hadn't read a comic in months, but I was still keeping my ears open for "Where to Start" advice. Just some way to get into the comic universe.

So one day, I was laughing my head off while reading the archives of Memos From Fury and came across a post, when someone asked the question I've been asking. "I liked the movies. Tell me where to go into the comics that's not too hard." 

The first answer was The Ultimates, if you're looking for something close to the movie, since the movie took a lot of it's inspiration from that comic. But I'd read the Ultimates, and they had done nothing for me. I didn't like the characters. And the Ultimates are not in the main Marvel continuity, which just made it all seem useless.. For breaking into that continuity, the blogger (tumbler?) suggested The Young Avengers, because it required no previous knowledge of characters or story line with the exception of Iron Man and Captain America are awesome and Avengers. Which if you've watched the movies, you of course know.

So I figured I would give it a shot.

I wasn't overly optimistic. My foray into comics/graphic novels has not been the best. It's a weird medium for me, one that makes it hard for me to connect to the characters, generally. I'm used to books, where I'm privy to a character's innermost thoughts. I'm used to movies, where emotional connection is the name of the game. The graphic novel medium just seemed so shallow in comparison.

So basically, I didn't have much hope that I would connect with the Young Avengers, that I would care about these characters who I knew nothing about. 

I opened the comic with hesitation. I closed that first issue and immediately purchased the second one. (For the record, I use the ComiXology app, which means I can instantly download the second issues.)

Finally, in my hands, I had a comic where the plot required no for knowledge. Sure it might be more meaningful for someone who actually knows who Kang the Conquerer is in Marvel continuity, but even being me and not having that knowledge, I still got the emotional impact. What if you were a kid and you discovered you were going to grow up to be Hilter? Wouldn't you try to change your life? But what if by doing so you ruined the world as it was known, and not for the better, essentially discovering that Hitler needed to be a live and do his evil deeds are else the entire world would be destroyed. What would you do? That's a question I don't need to have continuity to understand the depth of.

Finally in my hands I had a comic where there was no character foreknowledge required. This was the Young Avenger's first comic. And it wasn't some ridiculous thing written in 1965. It was written in 2006, which means impressive artwork and a real storyline.

However, it's also a story about teenagers, which gives us a coming of age, dealing with authority story that anyone who has been young can relate to. Also, one of the things that has annoyed me in comics generally is the ridiculous proportions the characters are drawn with. Every man is an Arnold Schwarzenegger. Every woman is an over exaggerate hour glass. I actually kind of find this disturbing to look at. But when it comes to teenage heroes, artists tone down the over-exaggerated build (for the most part...I'm looking at you, Kate Bishop), giving me characters I actually don't find it disturbing to look at.

And somehow, I actually connected with these characters. Their motives are relate-able and real. They just want to be heroes, like their heroes. They want to be more than they are and yet completely themselves.  And one wants to change his fate. 

I fell in love with them all. Patriot. Iron Lad. Hulking. Asgardian/Wiccan. Stature. Kate. Even Speed and Vision, who were in the group the shortest. I loved them all! (Maybe Wiccan a little more than the others if I'm honest, which is a combination of his awesome powers, his general adorableness, and the fact that he's one of the least angst-y in the far). 

After a summer of searching, I found my answer to the comic book conundrum. The Young Avengers should me I could read a superhero comic with understanding. And it showed me that I could read a story in the comic medium and feel the same level of connection I do to a character in a book or a movie.

I found my gateway drug.

So I just thought I would share it with you guys. Read The Young Avengers. It's great. 

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