I want to like “Young Allies” #4 more than I actually do. The pieces all seem to be here: a writer known for writing teens well, a healthy mix of well-known-but-underused and low key/unknown characters, an artist with an energetic, enthusiastic style, and a group of bad guys perfectly suited for the team. But, something isn’t right and all of these positives don’t cohere in this comic. Part of the problem is how easily the bad guys are dispatched, but, worse than that, there just isn’t anything here to connect with. The group and their plight come off as generic without a strong hook to say “Read this instead of ‘Avengers Academy’ or ‘Avengers: Children’s Crusade,’” two similar Marvel books.
McKeever does a good job with the Bastards of Evil, taking characters originally introduced as a threat to the Young Avengers and making them his own by making them not actually the sons and daughters of supervillains. With multi-generation heroes and villains a popular concept, playing against that is an interesting idea, especially since it raises the question of who these kids are and how they came to think they’re the children of villains. This revelation also gives the heroes an advantage when the Bastards begin squabbling amongst one another after their leader is revealed to not actually be Electro’s daughter.
Even considering that, the Young Allies make such short work of the Bastards that it’s somewhat anti-climactic. The entire issue builds up how big a threat the Bastards are, how the young heroes, new to working together, really should get some back-up from more experienced heroes, and, then, the fight is over far too quickly and is decisively one-sided. It deflated everything that had been built.
Some of the interactions of the Young Allies are entertaining, like Gravity and Firestar trying to get the Spanish-speaking Toro on board to help them, but not understanding anything he says. Even so, the book is so focused on the plot that the characters get lost a little at times.
David Baldeón is very energetic and dynamic in his art. His characters are always moving, always looking ready for action, and are very expressive, but his art is unpolished in places. Look at Singularity’s face in the first panel of the comic and note the odd shading, and coloring, that makes it look misshapen and weird. Instances like that crop up here and there throughout the issue. Baldeón nails the action scenes, though. His energy really comes through there and makes for exciting art.
“Young Allies” has a lot of potential, but it’s just not there yet. This issue is so focused on the Bastards of Evil that the book’s stars get lost a little in the shuffle. What the book lacks is a clear purpose and identity, especially given the other young heroes team books Marvel is putting out right now.