Thursday, 11 November 2010

Avengers: Children's Crusade #1 review

In April 2005, Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung's Young Avengers hit the comic scene like an atom bomb. Fresh, exciting and energetic, it introduced the world to a new team of teen superheroes desperate for a chance to prove they had what it takes to stand beside Captain America, Iron Man and Thor in the pantheon of Marvel greats.

When writing his invented (gasp: new characters!) team, Heinberg employed pitch-perfect characterization, snappy witty dialogue and daring, young voices. Cheung's clean, crisp but hyper-detailed artwork was a perfect match for the story. These elements all helped propel Young Avengers into the A*list.
Another element that probably generated interest - for good or ill - was the controversy sparked by featuring a gay pairing in the roster. Interesting and thought provoking, the letters column at the end of the comic was as enjoyable as the story itself (a rare thing in comics.) For me, the joy of Young Avengers was that it came out of nowhere and punched us all in the gut with a teenage smile plastered on its face.

Unfortuately, Avengers: Children's Crusade comes saddled with the weight of unfair expectations. You can almost hear the fanboys holding their breath. Chronicling the hunt for the Scarlet Witch - Wiccan and Speed's long-lost biological mother - the scope of Children's Crusade is exponentially widened. This is a blessing and a curse. Thankfully, Heinberg's characterization and spunky dialogue is present and correct; Cheung's artwork still as refreshing as ever. On the surface, Children's Crusade is as exciting as its predecessor. In my opinion, however, Children's Crusade is too self-aware of it's earlier endeavors to fully take off. This is most clearly exposed by the pushing of Teddy and Billy's relationship; originally just a part of their characters and mainly conveyed through hinted, quiet moments, it is less obvious this time around (Teddy kisses a homophobic criminal to provoke him as early as page three). What was once a charming and unique foot-note is now a selling-point of the series.

It's not that Avengers: Children's Crusade is a bad comic - I enjoyed it a great deal, but I do feel what it has gained in grandness it has lost in intimacy.

For fans of: Perez Teen Titans, Young Avengers, Blue Beetle


  1. All fair comments Owen. Getting the balance right between character development and action is always the biggest challenge, the tightrope we walk. Nobody does Noire like Mr. Bloor.

  2. It's a really tough one, I have the same problem all the time. I really appreciate that the themes of revenge and retaliation became apparent after i'd finished...too many writers hit you over the head with their themes instead of telling a good story, which you guys did.