By Matt Powell
For the Marvel Universe, the children really might be the future.
Factoring in the mutant population decimation, the Civil War, the death of Captain America, and now the Secret Invasion of Skrulls on Earth, it seems the current era of the Marvel Universe as we know it might be drawing to a premature close.
Marvel's old guard has done its best to ensure the sun would rise over a free world with each battle won, however, with bigger and more dangerous threats lurking around every corner it would be unwise to believe these giants will walk among us forever. Just as champions like the Avengers and X-Men have chosen to fight the good fight in the name of heroes who have inspired them, a new generation stands at the edge of greatness.
Over five weeks, Marvel.com will take an in-depth look at the forerunners of this next wave of heroes to determine what the future holds for them and for the Marvel Universe. Today, we look at Earth's Mightiest Teens, the Young Avengers.
WHO THEY ARE:
The result of a failsafe protocol programmed into android Avenger, the Vision, the Young Avengers represent the next wave of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Each member has ties to the Avengers of the past, be it through blood relation, codename or a kindred fighting spirit with zero tolerance for injustice. What these young heroes lack in experience they make up for in heart and determination to take down the foes no one hero can withstand.
WHY THEY COULD BE THE FUTURE:
"The closest parallel would probably be the New Mutants/New X-Men, in that these are kids whose desire is to follow in the footsteps and traditions of the classic Avengers," explains Marvel Executive Editor, Tom Brevoort.
The initial roster of the team consisted of youngsters modeling their codenames, costumes, and fighting style after the core group of early Avengers. The team's leader, Patriot—modeled after both Steve Rogers as well as his grandfather, Isaiah Bradley—has Super-Soldier serum running through his veins and possesses abilities and strategic cunning similar to Rogers. The magic-wielder, Wiccan, could be considered an amalgam of his possible mother, the Scarlet Witch, and Thor, while
shape-changing alien powerhouse, Hulking took his name as an homage to the Incredible Hulk but also calls the original Captain Marvel his father. The boy who organized the group, Iron Lad—obviously modeled after Iron Man—stood revealed as a younger version of longtime Avengers arch foe, Kang the Conqueror.
With more members joining and embodying traits of older Avengers, the team has their roots set in the past while updating their image for the future. However, in addition to the similar names and costumes, the Young Avengers have thrust themselves into some heated brawls worthy of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
The team faced their inaugural threat in the form of a near-fatal battle with the adult Kang, whose time-travel knowledge and advanced weaponry made him nearly impossible to defeat. Following that, the team found themselves stuck in the middle of a Kree-Skrull War for the fate of one of their own. Once Civil War was declared, the group split apart with the majority becoming anti-registration revolutionaries, while Statues joined the Initiative.
Despite what side of the line the Young Avengers fell, their dedication to fight for what they believe in has gained them the respect of many of the Avengers they've modeled themselves after.
"I don't know that any of the kids is really ready to graduate to the main team just yet," confesses Brevoort about the possibility of a member of the young team joining the adult Avengers at this time. "The safest choice would probably be the Vision, but as we see a bit more of him in his YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS issue, this Vision isn't really the same individual as the previous Vision, and he's just as much an adolescent as the other Young Avengers."
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS TO DATE:
The defeat of Kang and diffusion of a Kree/Skrull skirmish both rank high in the win column for the Young Avengers. In addition, their loyalty and unwavering commitment to Captain America during Civil War speaks volumes of their character.
Perhaps one the most poignant moments for the teens came in the pages of FALLEN SON: THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN AMERICA, where Kate Bishop aka Hawkeye gives some stern advice to the original Hawkeye aka Clint Barton during his crisis of conscience in taking up the mantle of Captain America. At that moment, it became clear being a hero isn't a joyride or a phase for the Young Avengers—it's who they are inside.
BIGGEST LESSONS TO BE LEARNED:
"They've got good intentions but not a whole lot of practical experience in dealing with their powers and the world in general," explains Brevoort. "With that lack of experience comes the possibility of screwing up—we've already seen Patriot use [the superhuman steroid] MGH in order to try to become a better hero. So I think we've got some growing up ahead for these kids before they're ready to be full-fledged Avengers full time."
Looking beyond veteran experience, Brevoort offers some insight into personal growth needed for the teen team: "I think they each individually need to deal with the fact that it's easy to talk the talk, but much more difficult to walk the walk and not become compromised by the journey. They've all got the fire of youth going for them, but it's the sort of emotion not yet tempered by experience that leads some kids into thinking they've got all the answers, that they know better than their elders who've walked this path before them."
BEST TRAITS TO HOLD ON TO:
Beside that avenging spirit, Brevoort notes another trait the team has in spades that begins with 'A' and offers a little advice for the future:
"They need to maintain that altruistic spirit, and their never-say-die attitude," affirms the Executive Editor. "They need to find ways to get the job done without compromising their moral center, which is entirely too easy to do."
There's still a long road to hoe before these kids get a free pass into Avengers' Tower, but if their current successes serve as any indication of what's to come, don't be surprised if the Young Avengers sound the battle cry, 'Avengers Assemble' one day.
"Only time will tell where they all end up in a decade's time, and when they inevitably find themselves having to make the same kinds of difficult choices the Avengers contend with on a typical day," concludes Brevoort. "It's easy to be idealistic in the abstract, much more difficult in reality. But my hope would be that, overall, these kids would be up to the challenge."
"The Future Is Now" concludes next week as we examine what comes next for the team once called the New X-Men. YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS #2 ships on February 27. In the mean time, check out the original YOUNG AVENGERS series onMarvel Digital Comics Unlimited.