Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt #1(of 6) - 'Youth In Revolt Part One' - McKeever, Norton & Gandini
Story - Marvel really missed a trick with the title of this mini-series, yes, Youth In Revolt is a cool title, and a catchy phrase, but this book is more than anything, more than even Avengers Academy a sequel to the recent Avengers: The Initiative title, and considering that book's small but committed fanbase, you'd think Marvel would have used their initiative (I am so funny) and made the links between the two books more explicit, as until I actually read it I had no idea they would be so closely linked.
This book is basically the return of the Initiative, in a radically altered format, no more registration, just Prodigy leading a bunch of guys to fight the rise of Fear across the USA.
And yes, you did hear me right when I said Prodigy. That's Prodigy from the Slingers. Those guys. Perhaps the biggest surface appeal of this book is that it's using so many interesting minor characters. Prodigy, all the guys from the Initiative, the Young Allies... it's good to see so many D-List (are they even D-List? E-List maybe? Is that a thing, or does it go straight to Z-List?) characters get the spotlight. The Initiative introduced so many cool new characters that have seemed to be forgotten, which was a shame, so I'm pleased that Marvel hasn't given up on characters who haven't been around since the 60s. When the oldest character in your book is Firestar, you know you've got something fresh.
And it's clear that Sean McKeever has a lot of affection for these characters (not least because he created some of them, like Gravity) and knows how to write younger superheroes. McKeever has often been typecast as a teen superhero guy, what with Gravity and Teen Titans and Sentinel, but the characters here are a bit older and edgier than that, but they still make mistakes.
Another thing I liked about this book is how it expanded upon one of the elements of the main Fear Itself mini that I felt had been lacking. Matt Fraction's aims with the main book (which I am enjoying a lot) seem to be to marry a traditional comic book threat like big ass dudes with big ass hammers with real world threats like the economy or the rise in violence. I don't feel that Fraction has been as successful as he could be with that real world element, so it was good to see McKeever pick up on that and show how it's actually working. The people of the Marvel Universe think the end times have come and are rioting. It's that fear which the Initiative have to fight, not Nazis and Hammers. It's done what all tie-ins to event books should do, add to the main story and make it feel bigger.
But the book is not without it's flaws, the characterisation of Hardball is a bit off from how he was in Avengers: The Initiative, portraying him as a massive jerk and a perv, whereas Dan Slott and Christos Gage made him more complex than that. Of course there could be more development coming in #2-6 which will make me look like a conclusion-jumping idiot. I also felt the final scene with Thor Girl was a little similar to a lot of scenes we've seen where heroes inadvertently hurt innocent people, particularly some scenes with Speedball from Civil War: Front Line. I certainly don't want to see Thor Girl donning a spiky self-harm suit. It was a good idea though to use Thor Girl in a story like this, which pretty much revolves around Hammers. I'm surprised Fraction didn't use her in the main book.
Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt is a solid book, a tie-in that does what a tie-in should do, and highlights characters in need of some focus. It's not perfect, but I enjoyed it, both for selfish nostalgic reasons (Can one be nostalgic for a series that's only been gone a year?) but also because it was a well-told story. If you've been enjoying Fear Itself, this looks like one tie-in that's worth your money, and if you're a fan of the Initiative or the Order or the Slingers or the Young Allies or Gravity or any small-fry hero, this is where all your favourites have gone.
Art - Mike Norton is a solid superhero artist who always gets the job done. While of course he's not as good as Immonen's work on the main FI book, he's does great work here and it was really cool to see him work with McKeever and to draw Gravity again, that character should have been the new Spider-Man.
Best Line - Any use of the word "Knucklehead"