The storyline that changed the Young Avengers forever is collected with additional bonus material in a new trade paperback edition. Is it good?
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Artist: Jim Cheung, Alan Davis, Olivier Coipel
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I started reading comics fairly late in my life, and got heavily into Marvel even later, right around the beginning of Marvel Now!. So I missed a lot of the iconic events that defined the modern era of Marvel, like Civil War, Secret Invasion, and House of M. I fell in love with Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers, but never went back and read any of their origins, so when this trade became available, I jumped at the chance to get to read this defining story.
If I was looking for more insight into the Young Avengers as characters, this wasn’t a great place to find it. The Children’s Crusade storyline, while hugely important to the Marvel Universe as a whole, feels like an extension of the House of M storyline, even though several years and big events fall between the two. Most of the issues are jam-packed with various groups of Avengers and X-Men yelling at and fighting each other. There are some quiet moments, and Billy and Teddy get a few cute couple moments (I especially like Teddy’s repeated references to his “idiot boyfriend”), but overall, it’s a series of mini-cliffhangers and high drama.
I think my biggest complaint is that so much of the action involves various characters doing things impulsively, mostly just to move the story forward. Over and over again, a character thinks they know the right thing to do, and they do it whether or not it makes sense for them as a character or without talking to or ignoring the advice of their friends and teammates. There is almost no one to root for, because almost every character does something completely boneheaded with devastating results.
Each action gets rushed through to the next story element so quickly that you don’t get a lot of time to see the characters reacting to those results. For example, one of the biggest effects of Children’s Crusade is the death of Cassie Lang. I obviously knew about this ahead of time, so I was expecting to see a team completely torn apart. Instead, there’s barely a reaction from her teammates, just one panel of Scarlet Witch embracing a crying Scott Lang. Even the end of the book barely addresses her loss, and it’s mostly in reference to restoring Vision.
It’s also kind of jarring that a whole storyline revolving around Scarlet Witch has so little to do with her own agency. Almost the entire story arc involves other people fighting over her and debating her past and future actions. The one time she gets to act is to try to repair the damage she’s done, and it’s disrupted and made even worse by Patriot’s impulsive and stupid action. As a whole, this story feels very dated.
Previously collected in an edition that’s now out of print, this trade adds an additional story, “Rebuilding” from Uncanny X-Men. It’s just a short story showing how Magneto got involved in the main story, but doesn’t add much to the whole.
Prices on collected trades has been steadily increasing. The first collection of this story had everything but the Rebuilding story, and will run you $17.99 as a digital collection on Comixology. This new version will run you a whooping $34.99. It’s pretty commiserate pricing for what these are going for now, and you do get the complete story for the money, but man, that’s a reality check for collectors.