As Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Mike Norton, and Kris Anka bring "Young Avengers" towards its big conclusion (or at least for this creative team's time on the book), there's a bit of setup that needs to take place. That's what "Young Avengers" #11 achieves, moving all of the proverbial pieces into place so the climactic confrontation between Mother and the rest of the Young Avengers can finally occur. But with this creative team, even an issue all about setting things up is still a lot of fun.
One of the things that makes "Young Avengers" #11 work is how well the characters act and react to, well, everything. Noh-Varr's embarrassed hiding of his messages from his exes, for instance, or how Oubliette's comments lead him to shaving off of his beard. There's something about the way that McKelvie draws that expression on Noh-Varr's face as he eyes the shaving cream, a mixture of shame and longing, that instantly drives home everything that Gillen wants to tell about the character. Just compare the way the characters look and act when they're hanging out after defeating Lord Eldritch, versus once they're back on the ship and Loki has to tell them what happened to Hulkling last issue. Gillen and McKelvie are such a seasoned creative team at this point that they've got this down to a T. Different postures, altered facial expressions, dialogue that meshes perfectly -- it's no small wonder that the two keep collaborating, because everything just comes together so perfectly.
A lot of attention is going to be paid to Loki's updating this issue, and credit to Gillen a that it fits into the story in a logical manner. It would be easy to just wave your hand and declare that he's no longer Kid Loki, but instead it feels like something that was planned since day one. As a result, you don't look at that scene and think, "They're just trying to sync the character up with how he looks in the recent films," but instead it's a chilling and uneasy moment that is genuinely bad news for the cast of "Young Avengers."
I also appreciate that while there's a definitely resemblance to actor Tom Hiddleston, it isn't simply McKelvie tracing or lightboxing publicity stills. Loki certainly looks a lot like him, but at the same time he still moves in a natural manner, and you can see the resemblance between Kid Loki and grown up Loki. It's the same guy, just one that's finally been allowed to go through puberty. Once again, this isn't a surprise. It's that high attention to detail cropping up once more.
For an issue that's mostly setup, there's a lot to love about "Young Avengers" #11. Prodigy's network of contacts alone is worth the price of admission, as he works out how to assemble an army in the blink of an eye. It meshes well with the sort of themes you often see in Gillen's writing, but never feels forced or unordinary. Instead it's a smart and fun little moment that pulls together everything you know about the teenagers of the Marvel Universe. I wish all lead-ins to a big climactic storyline were as much fun as "Young Avengers" #11. I don't know who's going to follow Gillen and McKelvie with these characters, but they're going to have huge shoes to fill.