Today, Ethan and Shelby are discussing Young Avengers 10, originally released September 25th , 2013.
Ethan: Who do you trust? What does it mean to trust someone? I trust the people close to me to listen to me when I speak, to take care of me when I’m hurting. I trust the people I work with to give me sound advice, and I trust them to be polite when we’re talking at the water cooler; on the other hand, I DON’T trust them to leave an unlabeled lunch in the communal fridge intact (seriously, two instances of lunch-jacking this week, who does that). Enemies are in some ways easier to trust than loved ones or colleagues, as long as you’re trusting them to do bad things and put you in harm’s way. In Young Avengers #10, writer Kieron Gillen examines why we count on other people to help or hurt us, and what happens when our trust is betrayed. Specifically, how these questions apply to A) gods/goddesses of mischief, B) reality-warping demiurges, and C) all-consuming pan-dimensional suburban parasites.
While you’d think the Mother parasite wouldn’t receive many visitors In her creepy, whitewashed pseudo-dimension, you’d be wrong. First she plays host to the 4th-wall breaking narrator, whom she eats. Next, she plays a game of Three Questions with an astrally projected Loki, during the course of which we learn that Loki is the one who led Mother to the Young Avengers in the first place (while also rescuing them from her, it’s complicated). The next guest who comes to tea is the seriously weird Not-Patriot (Un-Patriot?), who offers to let Mother snack on him. As scary as Mother is, it’s clear that Un-Patriot is even scarier, and Mother passes. Finally, Leah of Hel (also of the Everyone Who Hates Loki Fan-Club) shows up to explain that her goals of generally being not-nice towards Loki align with Mother’s goals of doing the same. Back on Earth, Teddy accompanies Leah to a vague “meeting” that’s supposed to help him figure out where he is and what he wants. Turns out the meeting is just a group of people who all hate the Young Avengers, including Un-Patriot, a jilted ex of Miss America, and three jilted exes of Noh-Varr. Teddy calls it like he sees it (“You’re crazy stalkers”) and flees… only to find himself back in New York, where all adults are minions of the Mother, and where Mother herself awaits to embrace him with with goopy arms.
Let’s just get it out of the way up front: this was a Talking Heads issue if there ever was one. The most action we saw in it was Teddy colliding with the floor in the last panel. Personally, I don’t have any problem with that whatsoever — Gillen throws in many bizarre and wonderful face-to-face meetings, with all of the crazy subtext and in-your-face-text (it’s a word) I could ask for. From Loki’s meet-up with Mother, we learn that Loki is a terrible person, but also maybe a decent person, all of which we knew, yet it’s always a little jarring to learn it all over again. Bottom-line, we cement the fact that no matter how baby-faced he gets, Loki will never be a team player.
Making a deal with Loki is kind of like promising yourself you’ll start losing weight while you wheel a cart of ice cream and booze towards the check-out line. It’s just words. Loki is inherently, innately, inextricably, inexorably the God of Do Whatever the Hell I Feel Like. On the one hand, it amazes me that anyone would give him the time of day, much less make a deal with him. On the other hand, he’s become such a central, sympathetic part of the YA team that his inevitable betrayal (admission of past betrayal, rather) still made me blink.
Next on the list of Mother’s house-guests was The Un-Patriot. Well past the introduction of this character, I still do not have any clue as to who or what it/he is. I remember good ol’ Young Avengers Patriot – descendent of the first and only black super-soldier, leader of the team, made up for his lack of superpowers through a massive inferiority complex, generally fun guy. The thing that is wearing his image and/or skin now, though, is pretty terrifying.
Mother – whose appetite is infamous — can’t even bring herself to take a little bite of this thing that shows up in her flypaper world completely of its own will. It’s like a spider turning up its nose at a fly that’s just dive-bombed the web. Mother has some otherworldly instinct that tells her to fear this entity, but there’s clearly some kind of working relationship going on. And yet Mother — in every other respect, a definite apex predator — feels the need to keep this thing at arm’s length. It’s some kind of anti-equivalent to love-hate, or buddy-cop partnership, but I couldn’t tell you anything more. We’ll call it a wait-and-see.
Finally, there’s Teddy. He’s worried that his feelings of love, or maybe his fundamental existence itself, are just eddies of reality swirling around Billy’s angsty self.
Solution? Declare that he and Bill are taking a break, and go hang out with an evil Norse time-traveling witch. Good call, Teddy! As always, he’s an idiot, but no more an idiot than any of us have been in our time. I mean, when you’ve talked to the person you have a crush on maybe twice, it’s probably not a good idea to write them a love letter and drop it into their locker. I mean, that’s a really bad idea, right? As it happens, it is a bad idea. So let’s agree that Teddy is at the point in life where good decisions are hard to make. He might have trusted Leah much more than he should, but he’s sorting a lot out, and to his credit, he comes to his senses in a hurry when confronted with her associates.
Shelby, are you still along for the ride despite the lack of Biffs, Pows, and Bams? Do you have any idea what’s going on with the Patriot-thing? Were you disappointed to see Mother thrust back into the equation so soon?
Shelby: Yes, no, and no way. Let’s address those questions in the reverse order they were asked.
I love Mother parasite. I love that she still exists to us in the form of Billy’s mother, and that she’s still even called Mother. Does she exist that way only because it’s the form we first met her in? Presumably, she can be anyone. Personally, I think it’s an important distinction for both Billy and the whole team to have the main villain be an adult mother-figure. It appeals to the “we can take care of ourselves” attitude so many teens have, and it forces them together when they realize they actually do want to go home to their parents but they can’t. For Billy, it’s extra super painful; not only has Mother perverted his memories of his actual mother, she also got him started on the path of thinking his feelings for Teddy were artificially created. And I cannot get enough of the way she acknowledges the comic book medium. A couple of issues ago it was the way she ate her victims to bare wire frames, and here it’s the gory, inky death of the omniscient narrator.
It appears to be a permanent death, too; that’s the last we see of the omniscient narrator. Poor guy.
Now, un-Patriot. Whoever he is, he is clearly something monstrous. If Mother’s hesitation around him wasn’t answer enough, the fact that he speaks in black speech bubbles with white text gives us all more than enough reason to worry about him. The little “therapy” session reveals that he’s the one who has it bad for Kate. A little research on Wikipedia tells me that Kate and Patriot had something that could only be called “complicated” in their Young Avengering days; beyond that, I haven’t a clue what his deal is.
That’s why I find myself so satisfied with a mostly action-less issue. Gillen has such a grasp on these characters’ voices that I enjoy reading about them. Just seeing them interact with each other makes for a fun read, and there’s so much going on that I don’t understand I’m always kept guessing (in a good way). The very idea of angsty, super-powered teens getting together to discuss their unrequited loves is both kind of funny, completely relate-able, and more than a little concerning. I mean, when I got dumped as a teen, I went on a crying jag; I can’t imagine what I would have done if I had super-powers. Most importantly, it gives Gillen an opportunity to deliver more of that delightful dialogue that makes this title so fun. I know that, the next time I get dumped, my line will be, “No one leaves the Ultimate Nullifier in the negative relationship zone.”
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?