Young Avengers is new territory for this reader of Marvel Comics. Characters like Wiccan, Hulkling, Marvel Boy, and Miss America are entirely unfamiliar while Kid Loki and the second Hawkeye (Kate Bishop) are only remotely familiar because I've read Matt Fraction's The Mighty Thor and Hawkeye. The storytelling method is something I'm familiar with: several young characters are introduced (re-introduced) with the expectation that despite their differences they will learn to work together. These characters simply look and sound a lot like your favorite Avengers, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, you know their names by now, only these characters are younger.
Despite a lack of zeal for this new title, I found myself drawn into the stories of some of the characters. Though Hulkling and Wiccan sometimes feel like a forced back-up gay relationship (because we all know that Northstar and Kyle Jinadu are the news-breaking first gay marriage in comic books), I found myself drawn to these two. There is something to be said for Wiccan's attempts to reunite Hulkling with his Skrull mother, and I'll admit that this story alone is my reason for deciding to keep reading this title. While I'm loosely interested in many of the characters and who exactly they are, I find very little to care about in the story of the team's central figure, Kid Loki.
Writer Kieron Gillen has gathered some all-star status over the last few years. It was he who developed Kid Loki into the character we all know and (sometimes) love in Journey Into Mystery. He also wrote the Uncanny X-Men during its short stint between the conclusion of Marvel's longest running title (such a bad decision) and the beginning of the Marvel Now Bendis run (such a good decision). Friends of mine said that Gillen was writing the definitive X-Book, one in which Mister Sinister is realized as the character behind all those years of great stories since 1963. The book fizzled, partially because everything at Marvel has to fit into the big event calendar and certainly partially because Gillen's vision wasn't as good as Jason Aaron's vision for Wolverine and the X-Men, one of the few X-books not to get a reboot during Marvel Now. As for Kid Loki, I found him much more interesting from Thor's perspective in Fraction's The Mighty Thor than in Gillen's Journey Into Mystery.
Seeing Gillen as the writer for Young Avengers is something of a turn off. He has the power to pull some great artists to his side, and Michael S. Norton is no exception. His work reminds me of Fraction's partner on Hawkeye and The Immortal Iron Fist, David Aja. Unfortunately, the title of this first issue "Style > Substance" reflects Gillen's work much too accurately. The title pages look great, like Venture Bros. meets Hawkeye, and the characters all look fantastic. There is love and sexuality and all the other things young people are concerned with, but it feels a little too superficial.
I mentioned earlier that the Skrull situation (coupled with the art, of course, which is great) will keep me reading for another issue, but come issue two Gillen has to bring something more substantial. His ideas for the development of the Uncanny X-Men with Mister Sinister were brilliant, but they were also poorly delivered. Without any such great plans for Young Avengers, will Gillen be able to deliver some really good content from here on out? I'm not very optimistic, but I'm willing to give him one more try.