[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.
Two days before I originally started writing this post, so about six months ago now and with little fanfare, My Chemical Romance decided to disassemble. “Oh, shove off, Mog- we get it, this little diversion, this is a comic about angry young people, you used to be an angry young person and it’s something to do with emo bands yadda yadda” -no, right. You don’t understand. No one grown up at the time understands anything.
You see, the Young Avengers are very not-grown-up. Something readers might almost be annoyed about, in Volume #2, is that as 17-18 year olds they’re even less grown up than when they were 15-16 year olds. They are idiots. They’ve had, you see, two more years to become absolutely stupid as all get-out, which is an important part of acquiring some sort of sense of maturity and of an equally balancing lack of responsibility with regards to one’s superpowers.
Early teenagers, like Ultimate Spider Man’s Miles Morales, are Freaked The Fuck Out by discovering they are massively powerful. Mid-teenagers have got to grips with some of these things, riding the ecstatic wave of pubescent discovery but by 17/18 you are required to pretend that you know what you’re doing with your hideous world-bending powers. You’ve really got to fill out your Kree/Skrull Higher Than The Stratosphere Learning UCAS form, work out how these powers are going to fit into The Rest Of Your Life. However long that’s going to be, which if you have reality-warping powers or a boyfriend who does, might not be that much longer.
My Chemical Romance were a band with a short life expectancy- from the footnotes on I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love which thanked everyone who’d taken Gerard (Way, the singer, now a comic book artist/writer in his own right) to the hospital, to interviews citing their lack of hope for reaching 30, they were a band filled with urgent doom, a messy howl so intense it presumed it would be allowed silence to follow.
I was a teenager when MCR first appeared. An angry, messed up teenager who spent a lot of time in my bedroom feeling depressed and doomed and helpless and for better or worse had decided it was very important I went and saved the world. This led to establishing some largely misguided Amazing Ideas about how to do this; I can’t drag things out of other dimensions but it was on a level with Billy’s logic for Really Good Life Choices.
It’s easy, when you’re young and things feel out of control, when adults are useless and uncomprehending, to find a weird sense of honour in doom. Like whatever the mess is, especially if you’ve made it, you’re going to go down with it or go down as a protest to it. It’s very easy for young people to treat life with a curious casualness that’s distressing to people older- it’s because when you’re young you’re on the brink of so much that brinkmanship becomes a natural-feeling state.
Which is what Billy was very much trying to avoid, break the cycle on. Except depressed youth turn doomed so fast and with such a razorlike incisiveness. Not everyone decides to re-apply their powers by breaking the whole of reality but there are some snap decisions made that can remake your world more locally. Not necessarily for the worst, at all, of course but these are the things that are the making of us. They’re the things that are at the core of a band like MCR’s truly romantic moments (where romance isn’t necessarily about snogging but a sensation of swooning overwhelming surety) and they’re the ‘meaningful emotional beats’ of the Young Avengers solicitations.
Back in the days of famed livejournal community MusicSecret (a sort of cocktail of two parts ebullient teenage righteousness, one part heartfelt bombast and a few drops of Ageing Metal Bitters) there was the frequently meme’d concept of ‘BEING A REAL FAN’ -always all caps, always accusatory. Were you there for the the early funny stuff? Did you lose your virginity to this song? Did you buy all their albums and go to all their gigs and wear all their shirts and hate all their enemies? Did you swear allegiance and tattoo your arms and invest all your hopes and futures in a rock’n’roll dream?
Billy and Teddy are fanboys. Real fanboys. They are fanboys of superheroes in the same way that Faiza Hussain is a fangirl of superheroes. Teddy leaves it there but Billy’s a, you know, Norse geek. They watch and/or read Game of Thrones. Fanboys.
But the thing they were there from the start of was the Young Avengers- the thing that they’re the real, true ALL CAPS fans of is the Young Avengers themselves. To Billy and Teddy as superheroes, to their high-octane alien romance, their fingers curling together as they dash into the latest void, hearts too full for fear.
The same was true of My Chemical Romance- maybe any band but I’m talking about MCR- the early funny stuff was all about nearly dying. Vampires and hellspawn and gunfights and hundreds of angry men trying to kill you and snuff out the enormous depth-charge of your heart. How could anything last long with that much inside its ribcage?
Thing is, though. My Chemical Romance aren’t dead. They’re dads. They’re married and they’re working on new projects and they’re older and wiser and somehow, somewhere in all the screaming, they not just survived but thrived. In directions and dimensions that they didn’t expect, maybe but productively and with artistic integrity and all the full feeling that you assume gets strangled off if you let yourself get past 30.
Which leads me somewhat to the last part of this trio- the acute angle, the screamiest and most Hel-bound god in all the realms, the firestarter who forged himself out of himself against stolen flames. The bacon fiend. Ah, Loki; you rotten little apple. But he does seem to be trying- at what, it’s hard to say but something and not something wholly unpleasant. He got them out of jail, for only the price of breakfast and whatever his own doom-laden plans, there’s no reason that he might not actually help, in an offhand and twisted way.
Then again, he is Loki. He’s the rock’n’roll to these drugs, the ambulance ride to this bender. He’s a mess and a mystery even unto himself and if he’s having teenage epiphanies they’re almost chemically faked- and if you’ve still got romance left, inside that cave you call a chest (and after seeing what we saw, can we still reclaim our innocence?)
Just in case you’re one of the four people on Earth who haven’t heard My Chemical Romance (or a travelling alien envoy with a limited vinyl collection) I made a short Spotify playlist of what I thought were the pertinent tracks.