Everyone Should Try It

Apr 14


FT2 comments • 1,637 views

I have finally compiled Hazel and my posts about Young Avengers (and matters related) into a series – you should be able to see it there at the side when you open this post.

This post – which I’m writing weeks after Hazel put her final essay up – will end up being the intro to the whole thing. So here’s the intro-ish bit.


Oct 12

The House Always Wins

FT4 comments • 6,046 views

This essay contains enormous spoilers for the 2010s run of the Marvel comic Journey Into Mystery. If you haven’t read it – the Kieron Gillen run, at least – and you have any interest in doing so, don’t read this first. Seriously.


A theme of Sean Howe’s Marvel: The Untold Story – unavoidably, since it’s a theme of most superhero comics storytelling over the last 30-40 years – is “the illusion of change”. This is Stan Lee’s formula for what readers want – dramatic developments which are always reversible, and it’s what Marvel has always been so very good at.

But it gets harder and harder to do. The readers are wise to it, after all. Certainly death doesn’t work any more – so how about defeat? Marvel’s most recent kink is to have its heroes turn on one another – if the outcome of a hero versus villain battle is predestined, then the only battles its heroes can really lose are against other characters with their own books and fans.

Even here the arc of Marvel comics storytelling bends towards the status quo. And their emotional arcs reflect that too. In the House Of Ideas, change first brings disruption, excitement, thrilling uncertainty. Then a second act of steepening peril, and then – crescendo! – the return of the familiar once again. But renewed, cleansed through ordeal: there’s something almost mythic about it, isn’t there? Or “iconic”, to use a word comics writers began to lay claim to in the 90s, when the transparency of this cycle started to become apparent. The iconic Captain America has returned. The iconic Thor.


Oct 12

Kid Loki and the Braek Haerts

FT + The Brown Wedge1 comment • 1,532 views

This is just a coda to Tom’s brilliant (but spoiler-y! Very spoiler-y!) piece on Journey into Mystery. This is less spoiler-y and much more ramble-y and nothing like as in-depth but Tom asked me to write it, so you have him to blame.

I am not a Western comics reader. I have read some and indeed, enjoyed them a lot but in a hobbyist way that didn’t make me feel like a fan, per se. Even for someone much enthused by enormous run of things, the unassailably enormous back history of Marvel or DC characters always felt like too much work in comparison to the apparent safety of manga, where I had done the groundwork to know where my incestuous reincarnated celestial beings were at. Or more accurately to the present day, CSI, in front of which I had found my adult self lounging and wondering if anything in the geek culture that raised me would ever interest me again.

‘So far so nylons and lipsticks,’ you might think; however, this doesn’t explain why I ended up in the pub last Friday, cursing at the Marvel app for its dysfunctional purchase downloading and burbling ‘Kid Loki is THE BEST why did no one TELL me that comics were GREAT?’ Tom enthused about how heartening it was that young people were reading Marvel again- ‘I’m twenty five!’ I protested, ‘that’s REALLY OLD’ and then proceeded to have some kind of showdown altercation with a table. Or maybe a door. Or a fellow patron. A grown up showdown, no doubt.

I was and still am absolutely livid that no one told me how great Journey into Mystery is before- my emotional core has been utterly destroyed by it but I want to curl around it and clutch it to myself as though it were my child. Finally, I totally get why people care so much about Marvel and superheroes- I’m reading the whole of Thor, as though this can somehow provide attrition for my years of ignorance but honestly, it’s the gateway drug that’s the masterwork.


Jan 13

Young and vengeful

FT26 comments • 1,294 views


Exactly a week from now, Tumblr is going to have a sort of collective aneurysm. Well, bits of Tumblr, anyway. The reason? Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s new series of Young Avengers starts. Eight years since the start of the first Young Avengers volume (although time hasn’t passed so fast for the characters) and in the wake of a Marvel explosion, it’s time to bring back everyone’s favourite teenage sort-of-good-at-saving-the-world, only-slightly-Dr-Doom-enabling, probably-no-longer-dicking-around-in-the-timestream-at-least teenage heroes!

Does Billy and Teddy having an argument in some of the preview panels mean they’re breaking up? (probably not)
Is Loki evil again now? (statistically, yes)
Does Miss America know? (possibly, she might just like kicking him)
Has Kate Bishop totally forgotten Eli in favour of banging Marvel Boy? (well, she is the Tony Stark of the equation)
Where the fuck is Speed? (TOO FAST TO SEE!)
What’s Thor going to do when he finds out his (these days) much littler brother is horsing around between dimensions putting together a superhero team? (tell their mums) (or well, Captain America; same thing)

Tom Ewing will be bringing the reasoned analysis, Pete Baran the puns and I the emotional mental breakdown when I remember that The Vision and Cassie are dead (‘FUUUUUUUUU-‘ Feels Editor) as we bring you some sort of coverage of each issue as it happens. In the meantime and if you’re just joining us, why not catch up quickly with my comprehensive and not-at-all biased summary below?

WARNING: spoilers for Journey into Mystery 622-645, some of The Mighty Thor, everything that’s gone before in Young Avengers.


Jan 13

Modally young ancient vengeance

FT15 comments • 1,705 views

Hel Helity Hel Hel HelYoung Avengers #1 is here and with it, duly, coverage. Of some sort. Don’t say we’re not up-to-the-minute. This is one of two ENORMOUS CLUNKING WORD-VOMITS I’m going to retch up about specific panels from Issue #1. And you’re in luck, because if the metaphor hasn’t already become wholly unpalatable, this bellyful has mystic sausages.

By now you may well know some of the facts about the reaction to Young Avengers #1: it’s got words and pictures in and the words and the pictures and the way that the words go with the pictures has been widely and rightly praised. It’s witty, it’s dramatic, it’s a little bit sad in places and it’s romantic in others. It’s done good, is what I’m saying. Really good.

And the Young Avengers? They’re a nice bunch of kids. Apart from, of course, the maggot in the orchard. Who might be on one of his less berserkedly, cacklingly, taking-over-the-world-with-fire-and-brimstone, bringing-about-Ragnarok, more reservedly scheming swings but neverless, is neither nice nor, appearances aside, a kid.

I speak, of course, of Loki.

Loki! He does what he wants!

Serrure! Except when he doesn’t.

LOKI!!! That fucker destroyed Asgard

THIS GUY! He’s not always a guy.

FOR ALL THE GODS’ SAKES! He destroyed Asgard AGAIN!

It’s a bird! No, literally.

Hel-with-one-‘l’! He’s had his name written out of every debtor’s book. And when he found one he couldn’t, he ate himself.

…Wait, what? Yes, it is time to delve into the pits of NORSE CRISIS ANALYSIS, of GUESS WHICH FUCKER DESTROYED ASGARD NO REALLY GUESS YOU HAVE ONE GUESS AND IT’S RIGHT, of why everyone, even and especially Asgard’s golden son can’t resist the trickster because without Loki life isn’t quiet but there’s a risk that when the pain comes, it might be blunter but also never as funny, of what the hel-with-one-‘l’ this ten-thousand-year-old dude is doing in a kid’s body, of, most crucially, LOKICEPTION.

WARNING: This will be the last time I do a big discussion of this in the Young Avengers write ups but this is COVERED IN SPOILERS for how Loki came to be where he is in #1, so Thor by J Michael Straczynski, The Mighty Thor by Matt Fraction, Siege by absolutely everyone (including Gillen and McKelvie) and Journey into Mystery 622-645. You don’t need to know all this to think about Young Avengers, in fact, I would be super excited to hear the thoughts of someone who doesn’t and is reading it. But this follows some threads of my own thoughts. And by that I mean ‘three and a half thousand words about Loki.’


Jan 13

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today Sgt Loki Taught The Band To Play

FT/13 comments • 2,489 views

Avengers-1 Another in our series of posts on Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers comic.

The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” came out in August 1963, started building radio play, then hit the Billboard Top 10 by the end of September. A kid hearing it on the radio that month, walking around Ronnie Spector’s New York City with the drums in their head, passing a newsstand, might have pushed aside the Uncle Scrooge and Superman and found something different – one of those new mags Marvel Comics were putting out, and good value too. Three of their blocky, dynamic, aggressively weird heroes – plus two ant-size ones – against some guy in a horned helmet. “The Avengers”.

It’s a coincidence, maybe, that the song Noh-Varr dances to in space is a voice from the very time and place the idea of “Avengers” was born. But coincidences are there to have fun with. 1963 is the year Marvel Comics really started to motor. Going into that summer they were still just about bet-hedging, running romance and Western comics and squeezing new heroes into two-for-one books still called stuff like Tales To Astonish. By the end of the year they had Spider-Man, they had the Avengers, they had a universe taking some kind of shape, and maybe – maybe – they had the first inkling that their comics weren’t being bought by kids. They’d broken through into teens, and college-age readers. Their comics were part of something far vaster, something pop.


Mar 13


FT//9 comments • 1,190 views

Young Avengers 2, by Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen (post will contain SPOILERS)

Let’s think about pop and parents for a moment.

Pop from the 50s on may have been about the generation gap, but it was rarely about the generation gap. Parents showed up occasionally as a force of denial, a brick wall, an elemental “no”, but from the start – “Yakety Yak”, say – they’re a figure of fun, too. Gradually they fade from the picture entirely – the dramas and crises, the lusts and dreams of pop are played out in a world emptied of parents. Parents become ever less threatening, more petty, more ludicrous. As the generations turn, they also become the people who failed – and were failed by – pop, fans themselves in some laughable old time, long gone. But now? Aw Mom you’re just jealous it’s the BEAS-TIE-BOYS.


And yet some trace element remains of real struggles, a genuine gap in which the Midwich Cuckoo boomers – hip to pop – faced a parental force whose own shaping experiences (wartime, the depression) were utterly alien. The unbending parental authority of the American 50s and 60s quickly passed into pop culture myth, so much so that it’s impossible for someone like me, born to post-hippie parents, to truly comprehend how real it might have been. But as a myth it lingers, pop’s chthonic enemy from pre-Beatles deep time, remembered in certain phrases or ritual gestures.


May 13

How to be Awesome, by Diplomatic Ensign Noh-Varr age 23 1/3 (possibly)

The Brown Wedge/8 comments • 1,856 views

prv16181_pg2When the previews for Young Avengers #4 came out, there was quite a lot of hand-wringing from the Tumblr zone about Noh-Varr’s line in this panel.

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.


May 13

Let’s talk about Kate

FT + The Brown Wedge/3 comments • 3,031 views

Screenshot_2013-05-30-20-12-09-1I 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.


May 13

The Jackpot

FT + The Brown Wedge//8 comments • 3,021 views

A Brief History Of Teen Superhero Comics, Part 4

It’s probably the most famous panel in 60s Marvel history. A gag, a cliffhanger, a revolution. A young woman standing in a doorway, smiling, in total amused confidence, at the boggle-eyed kid she’s just been introduced to. “Face it, Tiger… you just hit the JACKPOT!”

It’s Amazing Spider-Man #42, a half-dozen issues into John Romita’s run on art. It’s the debut of Mary-Jane Watson, and a defining moment for the teen superhero comic. For the first three years of Spider-Man – under Steve Ditko – he’s been an awkward, put-upon nerd: teen frustration sometimes pushed into farcical territory. Then Romita replaced Ditko, long-running plot threads were put to rest, and Peter Parker could suddenly get a life. A love life. A complicated love life.