Panelology is a weekly podcast about comics. We talk about current books, what we're looking forward to, and how to get into reading comics in the first place.

Young Avengers: Style > Substance (Marvel Comics, 2013; #1-5)

After talking about America on this week’s episode of Panelology, I figure now’s a good time to talk about Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson’s Young Avengers run.

This has nothing to do with, after being unable to find the second trade for months, finding the entire series on Sunday and buying it all. No, it was an editorial choice. For sure.

When Wiccan tries to save Hulkling’s mother, he accidentally unleashes an evil parasite on Earth. This parasite infects and controls parents, turning them in to Leave It to Beaver-esque pod people. And it resurrects orphaned teenage heroes’ dead parents. That’s also a problem. To undo the damage, the unintentionally re-formed Young Avengers have to put their trust in Loki.

It seems fair to say that this team is good at taking damaged characters, imbuing them with snark and style, and making them relatable (if not always likable per se). That’s as effective here as it is in The Wicked + The Divine. To keep things lively, though, they throw in some light body horror, more mainstream cultural references, and some Runaways influence. It’s a fun read, but it also has a bittersweet edge of regret and lost innocence.

All this ennui lurks behind the clean lines and rich colors of McKelvie, Norton, and Wilson’s art. It’s a playful, expressive style. And from time to time, McKelvie plays with layouts, including a cool two-page spread that breaks the fourth wall.

I read the first issue of this book when it debuted, but I didn’t have room on my pull list for it at the time. I regretted that, and I’m glad to finally get around to reading it. It’s a fun, stylish book (with substance, despite the arc’s title). The Runaways influence is clear, but this book is its own creature, not simply an attempt to recreate the other title’s success. It is character- and relationship-driven, from a team that puts dysfunctional relationships on the page as well as anyone.

Collected in

  • Young Avengers, Vol. 1: Style > Substance (#1-5)
  • Young Avengers by Gillen and McKelvie Omnibus (#1-15)


Writer: Kieren Gillen | Artist: Jamie McKelvie with Mike Norton | Colorist: Matthew Wilson | Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles | Covers: Jamie McKelvie & Matthew Wilson | Assistant Editor: Jacob Thomas | Editor: Lauren Sankovitch


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