Page 45 Review by Stephen
This is a book about breakfasts. It really is.
These Avengers are young and they are hungry. For adventure, yes, but also breakfast. And lunch. And supper. Led there by Loki, Norse God of Mischief, they spend so long in that diner it's virtually their secret HQ. They'll be voting in new members there next - new members like Prodigy. He knows stuff like where to find them: in the diner.
It's also a book about love: about current boyfriends and rejected, dejected ex-girlfriends: "Hel hath no fury" etc. You'll be meeting an awful lot of them, because the awful lot are in a meeting and Hulkling's been invited. He's in therapy, see.
He loves his boyfriend Billy very much indeed, but Billy is a reality warper. Such is his power that Billy/Wiccan brought Teddy/Hulkling's mother back from the dead. More precisely, he swiped a version of Teddy's mum from another dimension in which she hadn't died. Or at least he thought he had but it proved a mistake and now they're in a great deal of trouble. My point, however, is that Teddy's got the idea into his head that Billy could be warping reality to make Teddy love him. I wonder who could have put it there?
There are revelations galore in this second of three books, including who is manipulating whom and it's not as obvious as it looks, I assure you. You'll have to read carefully, though; this is a series which demands and rewards it.
One revelation you'll have to wait for is the identity and purpose of the new Patriot (the first Patriot used to lead this team), discovered by Prodigy in a warehouse where he works alongside Wiccan's brother Speed. This ghostly manifestation appears hobbled and hunched like a zombie, yet he/she/it abducts lightning-fast Speed as if he were a tortoise in treacle. He leaves little more behind him than a puff of white smoke and a bunch of cryptic proclamations.
Which brings us full circle to Prodigy waiting for our friends in the diner. It's also what propels the second volume: the search for Speed. It's all connected, but how?
The art for that first chapter comes courtesy of FISH + CHOCOLATE's Kate Brown. Her gleeful body language is a hoot and she plays the dour and doubtful Prodigy off against the hyperactive, shouty-shouty, up-for-anything Speed to perfection. Her line is much softer than McKelvie's, the resulting forms more malleable yet I couldn't imagine a more in-synch substitute, at least until Emma Vieceli's oh-so sexy pages in volume three. The teenage proportions complement Jamie's to perfection.
As to McKelvie himself, there are yet more innovative page layouts, a lot of glass shards, and Mother's own alien dimension is, as in YOUNG AVENGERS VOL 1, a feast of thrilling new special effects while Matthew Wilson contrasts the brightly coloured characters with the crisp, white vacuum of their surroundings. This suggests infinite space (up and down too), into which McKelvie has inserted artfully arranged, geometrical wonders which play with empty panels and some tentacles of doom. All still using white space. You'll see, but basically this: you're not in Kansas anymore.
The visual star of the show, however, remains young Loki's face. His expressions are to die for: gutted by a misordered plate of pancakes, furious at being proved right and "whoops" when it all goes wrong:
"You probably shouldn't have seen that."
Just like Jamie's fashion sense, Gillen's wit is thoroughly contemporary, whether it's the language or the circumstances in which that language is employed. One of the funniest pages is a one-page, nine-panel pastiche of a Facebook/Twitter hybrid which I cannot quote here for it requires a certain degree of context, but it involves the cast members taking time out (and thereby indicating the passage of time) to communicate through online social media. There is a great deal of pic-tweeting, unfriending and reporting each other for spam. Specifically there is smooching, and Loki dislikes that a lot. Like any seeming 9-year-old, he doesn't like anything icky, body fluids in particular.
"Conversations about saliva are henceforth out of bounds until I have breakfast before me! Can't this spaceship go any faster? Breakfast! Give me breakfast! The Norse God of Mischief craves the congress of breakfast meat!"
Vegetarians will cry.