It’s the 13th issue of Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie’s run on Young Avengers tomorrow. Aside from a foreboding moment for triskaidekaphobic fans, it’s the start of the end of this season. A season I have miserably failed to live up to the initial commitment of writing about every issue of. For largely boring adult reasons like ‘needing to do the washing,’ ‘never seeming to get a minute to think,’ ‘being very stressed and tired’ and worst of all ‘not really being able to get away with writing at work.’ All of the responsibility and none of the capacity.
If I saw myself as a grown up, from the vantage point of some reality-trashing portal back to youth, I’d be thoroughly appalled. Where did all my conviction go? “No, shut up,” my older self would plead, “it’s incredibly complicated trying to remember to function like a normal human being” while my sullen, accusatory teenage self glared at me with all the anger and disappointment of discovering that ‘normal human being’ becomes the peak of her existential ambition.
Marvel comics exist as part of a very extensive meta-verse, a plethora of multiplicities which, in canon, play out many scenarios and worlds. It’s extensive, pervasive mechanic to the way things work in the comics, affecting technologist and magic-using superheroes alike,
I know it’s by no means unique to Marvel but there is something fantastic about a fictional multiverse that embraces its own multiplicity, which throws itself wholesale upon the principle that every event is a branching, that there must be thousands of variants on every element of minutiae. It’s partly interesting to me because it makes fanfiction meta-canon and partly interesting because it gives creatives an excuse to go apeshit fucking ball-crazy.
Warning: some little spoilers for Young Avengers #8 ahead
[IMPORTANT TIMESTREAM INSTABILITY NOTE: This is not about the current issue of Young Avengers. This is an old thing about issue #2 that I'm just slipping in here because my chronal transporter has stopped being able to go into the past. I mostly wrote it slightly drunk, at about 2am, just before Young Avengers #3 came out in some desperate attempt to pretend to be current even at the time. As you can see, I've since entirely abandoned that particular timey-wimey ambition but I still quite liked it when I read back through the draft while trying to write an up to date thing so here you go. Also, as a nice touch, it's now super-painful to think about since #8!]
The good news is there’s not much left to spoiler about Young Avengers #2, now. And even better, I haven’t followed through on the elaborate and disturbing Kid Loki-as-brunch-fiend-Carrie-Bradshaw angle I was originally planning, so it’s all turned out for the best, really. Better horribly late than with alarming photoshop.
One of the things you develop, over your lifespan, is control over your impulsive disclosure urge. Some people are naturally inclined to never tell anyone anything about what’s going on with them, some people can’t stop themselves; the middle ground is roughly what you move closer to, as you learn various, frequently incredibly painful lessons.
There’s massive connotation to either end of the spectrum; people who are too private are considered at best mysterious or shy and at worst suspicious, people who share too much are considered stupid, brash, outrageous or at best, naiive. ‘Trustworthy’ is a hard thing to learn to be, sometimes, especially with different standards in different contexts (trustworthy with your BFFs is a lot more detail than trustworthy at work) and getting a balance as well as a personality is something that takes time. And the aforementioned painful lessons.
Reading Charlotte Geater’s excellent piece on the diner motif and Grease in Young Avengers, especially in issue #7, I was earwormed by the Tell me more tell me more refrain from Summer Lovin’. Which was kind of the theme of this issue, in a way, being packed full of exposition and catch-up. The terrific Not-stagram page (more on this story later) showcases the full gamut of exaggeration, stolen stories, personal landmark documentation and social currency bank account statements and dodgy selfies that you’d expect from any healthy extrovert’s online presence- no need to ask Loki. Or more accurately, no point. But he appears to be so open and he’s sharing all his (and Kate’s) photos! Ah, lying by admission.
It’s come to my attention that FT made a post about loathing Andy Murray awhile ago. Now, not to completely blow apart my role as FreakyTrigger’s resident hate-filled, bile-spewing attack dog but I feel I have to dispute this.
Having only traumatic memories of being expected to ‘hit’ a small moving, spherical object with a ‘racquet’ on a judgemental arena that could only be called a ‘court’ by the most draconian of 2000AD’s creations, I am not much interested in tennis. Apparently it’s supposed to be fun or something- I am deeply unsure about this, what with the way you had to apparently ‘volley’ ‘shots’ at people. Surely that’s the sort of thing you’re meant to get out of your system a normal way, like Call of Duty or Saints Row 3?
But (and to gleefully and without regret peel another layer off the supposed geezaesthetics here) I am someone who has lived in London whilst the not-exactly-offensive-to-the-eye posters of Roger Federer in his undercrackers have been on buses. Sure, there have been times when I’ve felt like I should leap in front of children and shield their eyes with my hands upon seeing the number 23 approaching but as someone easily old enough to appreciate all that; gosh, yes. 10 of whatever he’s selling- the Jungfrau or Toblerone or something, right?
Home-grown tennis totty, though, has not exactly been in abundance.
She says, as though she knows anything about it. But allowing me an amateur’s enthusiasm: I kind of love Flash games, as a …well, not as a concept, as a collective of things, a catalogue of tiny universes. Each game, however basic or cynical, needs some skeletal concept of its internal mechanics- they might be illogical or unsatisfying or outright exploitative but there has to be that little spark of world-building to it. And Flash is so simple, as a platform, so devoid of eg: high-end 3D rendering expectations that world building can be driven entirely by whimsy.
Whimsy works really well with resourcing games- what works even better is when someone’s actually thought it through, though and the easily adaptable medium just gives them the comfort to add lots of layers of curiousness, a really complete and sometimes very elegantly complex world. Regardless of how much sense Flash games make, though, there they all are as part of the myriad catalogue of the format; a multiverse of many variants on frequently similar themes, using the same basic tools to create millions of variant mechanics. This is enormously pleasing to me.
This was actually supposed to be a post about Marvel’s What If? series, since there’s a new one out and I added it to my pull list when their website erroneously suggested it was written by Kieron Gillen. And then didn’t take it off my pull list because I am an enormous ho for Marvel’s gloriously enthusiastic, totally matter-of-fact (whilst baffling and sometimes distressing in a pleasingly realistic way) embracing of the Many Worlds theory.
Then I went on Twitter because I am a responsible writer and only check social media 937294 times before starting the first sentence. And because I follow the fantastic Kew GIS for details about the most awesomely extreme botanical missions on the planet, they happened to pique my interest with this. Seems on topic-
“Last night I was on a podium, waving my shirt around my head and a sudden thought came to me”; youth underemployment today
1.02 million 16-24 year olds are unemployed and not in full-time education in Britain currently. 17.35 million are unemployed in the US, slightly over a quarter of the potentially employed in that age group. And it’s getting worse, not better.
And all this time, the message you’re told as young person, much too young to make choices like ‘what piece-of-shit thing do you want to do for the rest of your life?’ you have to make the decision as to what you want to specialise in. You might do it age 14, you might do it age 16, you might (if you’re super lucky) get through to 18 or even 21 before you really narrow your options.
If at any of those points you give employment a try and it doesn’t work, you’re told that the answer is another qualification- whether it’s sneering at your lack of whatever high school completion certificate(s) or the view that if you just converted your degree to law, that’ll work this time.
You’ll never fulfil your potential (whatever some varied but predetermined social expectations and maybe, hopefully, your own particular talents and interests make that) unless you get back to school and really hone your specialism, this particular ability you’ve bargained your future on and which everyone either told you wouldn’t amount to a real thing or was hopelessly second-hand ambitious for you to become a world leader in.
Or you stop that. You stop that and you try and work out what you’re actually doing because you can’t take on any more mortgage-sized debts against unsecured futures and you need a minute to work out what’s going on here. Except then you have to pay the rent.
I’m the same age as Laurie Penny, so was plagued by the same cultural stuff as her- I don’t know if it’s just egocentrism for my own timeline but I feel like the 90s marked a real rise of the manic pixie. Britpop had a fair chunk of them, they appeared as outsider girls in offbeat, dry comedies. How quirky! Wow! A lady with a guitar and a fringe perhaps she is supah speshul and liking her will be a meaningful growth experience for me. Level up!
And that’s reductive of ladies with guitars and fringes, of course. Because they’re real, awesome people. But that’s not my reductivism, it’s the eighty millionth interview with Brody Dalle when in 2012 people are still fascinated by the idea of a woman in a rock band as something unusual or somehow defiantly implausible. Jesus wept.
One of the things I intensely dislike about some sorts of indie music is the way it creates this easy vision of crush-girl. Somethingsomething about her hair and how she probably won’t look at you but somethingsomething thought maybe she was deeper and more meaningful than the other girls [nb: that's because that's how a crush works, boys with guitars] and the worst thing about these basic, rolled-up character tropes is that they come with some implication that because manic pixie dream girls are special, all other girls, all these other people with their real people things are less. All those annoying real things are faded into a muddy background blur against the special, shiny limitedness of the trope.
I love Miss America. She’s really fucking angry, she likes punching things and she’ll tolerate a great number of things for barbecued pork belly. She’s also sensible and intuitive and curious and has a fierce not-just-survivalist instinct that enjoys scraping through things but doesn’t want that to be the end achievement. She’s not out for fame and you couldn’t pay her to join the Avengers (according to Vengeance) and she likes dragging small chaos-oriented types around by their feet. She’s great; I love her, indeed, so much it briefly warped my brain into cosplaying her at ComiCon last week.
But she’s not Kate Bishop. And I love-love Kate Bishop. I love Kate Bishop to such a terrifying degree that the idea of attempting to cosplay her makes my palms go sweaty, not just because of the idea of all that lycra in a humid convention centre but because I would be panicking about attempting to both do her justice and convey all of my feelings about Kate Bishop As A Thing. Because I really truly relate to Miss America and I think she is the coolest but Kate is my favourite.
WARNING: There are some BIG SPOILERY SPOILERS in this for Young Avengers volume 1 and volume 2 through to #5.
I guess there was probably a lot of hand-wringing about his butt. But I probably glazed over during anything that followed the phrase ‘Noh-Varr’s butt.’ Just to get this out of the way: Jamie McKelvie is doing an extremely fine job of supplying some slightly-older-than-young-and-thus-ok-for-your-correspondent-to-goggle-at totty, here. Who knew the whole part-cockroach thing was attractive?
The question that appears to be being raised by the young people is: is Young Avengers cool enough? And indeed, if it is cool enough, is it also geeky enough? Are Billy and Teddy’s hairstyles preventing them being colossal dorks?
I don’t even want to get into the last question of that (although no, no of course they are not; they’re just vaguely dealing with being super greasy teenage boys for goodness’ sakes) but whether Young Avengers is too cool is a good question.
Y’see, Noh-Varr looks pretty cool. He’s a silver-haired alien boy for ladies in their twenties to mentally high-five Kate Bishop over. He’s got a spaceship and nega-bands and he’s been in the grown up Avengers and he’s totally done it, probably several times.