Check out this spread from Young Avengers 04

April 26th, 2013 by | Tags: , , , ,

I made a joke on Twitter the other day that went something like “The trick to getting me to write about comics is to either make me mad, discover great art, or for me to come up with a dumb idea I think is funny.” The third one is why I wrote three thousand words about Quitely & Millar’s Jupiter’s Legacy (“I wonder if I could write about every page of this comic…”) and the first one is pretty much the only reason I write about industry-related things or news, as opposed to the actually interesting part of comics: the comics themselves. The middle one is why I clicked on a random link on Tumblr and saw this:


Drawn by Jamie McKelvie, background inks by Mike Norton, script by Kieron Gillen, colors by Matt Wilson, and letters by Clayton Cowles. McKelvie talks it out here.

It’s good, right? I like this a whole lot. Bleeding Cool has a bigger version, but I think the small is good enough to wow.

Here’s a secret: whenever I write about comics, I’m not trying to show you why something is good so much as figure out how to express why it clicks for me. I don’t draw comics. I don’t write them. I read them. I don’t know from pens and quills, but I do know my taste. And I’m drawn to things that are either immediately understandable — a Frank Miller or Masamune Shirow action scene, some Katsuhiro Otomo rubble, a pretty girl drawn by Inio Asano, an Amanda Conner face — or so striking that it makes me look twice.

Let’s be real: you don’t study every panel in a comic, even in the good ones. I love several dozen panels in Frank Miller & Lynn Varley’s Dark Knight Strikes Again, but I’ve never looked at the panel of the weird mutant orphans escaping from jail and rubbed my chin, you know? It’s not that it’s not important. It’s just that it’s normal. Sometimes you just take things in stride until something appears that forces you to pause.

That pause is one of the reasons why I love comics. I want to be challenged and surprised when I read, and the best way to do that is to throw something at me that I either haven’t seen before (Masamune Shirow cranking up the panel count in Appleseed) or that’s familiar, but perfected or done in a new way (Frank Quitely’s work on We3 is a new spin on the same tactics Shirow was working with).

(I get the same thing out of rap, here and there. I want to hear bars that make me go “unh!” by accident like I was an old black lady in church and the preacher just said something wild profound.)

This McKelvie spread puts me in mind of Bill Keane’s Family Circus more than anything else, and it’s exactly what I want out of comics. There’s also this from McKelvie’s explanation:

Kieron mentions in the AR segment for the book that when you make comics as a team you’re really trying to pretend to be one person making the whole thing. That’s why we believe the best comics come out of close collaboration, and not just a production line.

You can tell when an artist and writer are in sync, I think. Or at least, I’d like to think. Who knows if I’m right, But either way, we need more stuff like this.

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5 comments to “Check out this spread from Young Avengers 04”

  1. Rad. Love that those two are trying to make a unique sequence every issue that makes you go “Whoa.”

  2. I had no idea this was coming going in and it absolutely blew me a way; I started laughing at the sheer audacity of it. My first thought? Unlikely a candidate for great action scenes as McKelvie may have been before, he’s officially achieved David Aja tier with this one. My second thought? Come to think of it, both he and Aja have now approached Ditko tier; because c’mon, those old school Spidey action scenes where we see the “ghost” Spideys illustrating the physical process of him getting from point A to point B, like that one spread in the first annual? Direct spiritual ancestor to sequences like this and some of the stuff Aja’s been doing in Hawkguy. It’s Ditko’s back being chased after here, and it’s one of the things that makes Young Avengers the only really vital Big Two title currently going.

    If you haven’t read Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery or the Sinister arcs he did in his Uncanny X-Men run, you gotta check that shit out.

  3. @Rbx5: I remember seeing previews of McKelvie’s Secret Avengers issue, and immediately thinking “miscast!” He demolishes that right here.

  4. Young Avengers just keeps getting better every issue. There’s a page later in this issue where Captain America and Thor are drinking coffee that was sheer genius, but I can’t go into why without tossing some big spoilers into the mix.

  5. And the line that Captain Marvel gives after this sequence?