With the universe saved from the threat of Mother, it’s time for the Young Avengers and the other teenage superheroes of the Marvel Universe to celebrate with a New Year’s Party that, for me at least, was a step up from recent issues, apart from one segment.
Throughout this run, the saving grace of it all has been Jamie McKelvie’s amazing artwork, so whilst it’s a shame that he’s only drawing 5 pages here, the other artists who contribute are all great too, and they provide a bit of freshness. The opening, McKelvie drawn pages feature Kate Bishop getting ready to go to the party, putting on her make-up and mask, etc, etc. Miss America comes to teleport her, and they have a fairly interesting, but pretty awkward conversation, about Kate not wanting to be called Princess.
The next segment focuses on Wiccan and Hulkling, and apart from a fun bit poking fun at how a teen superhero comic can’t really show the characters drinking, when they obviously are, it was basically a soppy mess. I keep coming back to this, but I still really think it was a mistake for Gillen to not really go through with the idea of Billy manipulating Teddy into loving him. Just handwaving it all away as being ‘true love’ really doesn’t work, because true love is kinda bullshit. Call me cynical, but I really see this is as a missed opportunity to make both of these characters actually interesting, rather than the bland cut-outs they are now. It’s clear that most Young Avengers fans (and Gillen himself) view Wiccan in a far different light than I do, and probably do believe in the power of true love, and I accept that, but to me, his role as the ‘demiurge’ and saviour of the world is just too fucking much, and everyone just deferring to his greatness, from Prodigy to Miss America, rubs me the wrong way. The story ends with Wiccan and Hulkling having an embrace to ‘their song’, and it’s just so sickly and awful, I hate it. Gillen, you should have turned Wiccan into a reality-altering villain when you had the chance. The art from Emma Vieceli was good though.
The next part focuses on Miss America, and a bit of focus on her is a long time coming, as I’ve said before, throughout this whole series, she has been nothing but cool outfits and attitude, which is not enough. Here, after buffing off an advance from Rockslide, she has a flashback about her past, and we discover that she comes from a Universe that was controlled by a version of Billy Kaplan who became a full-on Demiurge, and how her parents and the Demiurge stopped the universe from ending, but at the cost of her parent’s lives. Angry at this, she leaps through a dimensional hole, and into our universe. Also, she is literally a princess, which puts a cool spin on her constantly referring to Hawkeye as that. There’s a lot of cool stuff introduced here, especially with regards to America’s reactions to the ‘real’ Wiccan, and how she met her God, and he was an idiot, but really, it’s all too little, too late. If this wasn’t the penultimate issue of this run, I’d be excited for a future arc exploring more of America’s past, but we aren’t going to get that. Much like with Wiccan, Miss America really feels like a missed opportunity. But again, the art, from Christian Ward, was great, I loved his work on The Infinite Vacation, and he was a great fit for such a weird little vignette involving alternate worlds.
The final segment is more Hawkeye, and is drawn by Annie Wu, which is cool, considering she’s drawing the Kate Bishop issues of Hawkeye, although it does highlight that Gillen and Fraction’s takes on the character really don’t mesh well at all. Kate is chatting with Transonic and Kid Gladiator (who is hilarious as always), when a shirtless Noh Varr shows up for a very awkward chat, which does a good job at filling in what was only told last issue through facial expressions, about how Noh Varr fucked things up by wanting to get back with one of his evil exes. Kate walks away, all mopey, only to be dragged onto the dance floor by… Speed? Yep, Tommy is somehow not dead, and he’s dancing the night away. Gillen doesn’t explain how he’s back just yet, but Kate doesn’t care, and the issue ends with Kate and Speed kissing as 2014 begins.
This was a better issue than most of the series, probably because it’s structure remind me of Phonogram 2, but also because there were whole segments only focusing on characters I like. It’s knocked down a peg by the crappiness and treacliness of the Wiccan/Hulkling stuff, but that’s a problem throughout the entire run, their drama is dragging everything else down. But even though I enjoyed the Miss America and Hawkeye scenes, it is still, as a whole, too little too late. It’s hard to care about them, or Noh Varr, when they’ve been little more than ciphers for the previous 13 issues. At least Tommy is back and there were some funny cameos, but once again, this title is a big disappointment. It just wasn’t for me in the end, it’s not a crime, but I really wanted to like it, a shame.