Issue #13 of "Young Avengers" knots everything up in a gorgeous metacomic-al bow, stuffed with just the right mix of "feels" and feel-good. A few loose ends are left unresolved, but they're smaller questions that could only have been concluded too quickly if they were fitted into this issue. They'll hopefully enjoy longer, character-specific attention in Issues #14 and #15.
Oh, wait - I lied. One pressing issue remains. Where in all the extant universes is Tommy?!
Fair warning: those readers who've complained that this volume of "Young Avengers" has essentially played out as "Journey Into Mystery: Part 2" will get to drink that distinctive nerd-rage cocktail of gleeful vindication and futile rage, because the big plot reveal in Issue #13 is that things were quite literally all about Loki. As someone who thought "Journey Into Mystery" was brilliant, I loved this issue, but I can understand it might be frustrating to have that series play such a heavy part if you were expecting otherwise.
Still, don't despair: Marvel's cutest couple gets an epic and touching reunion that saves the universe, as true love and adorableness so often do. The simplicity and ease with which Billy and Teddy decide to trust one another again has more emotional impact than a longer or wordier aproach might, and as usual McKelvie draws some of the most expressive and readable faces in comics today.
To be honest, I wasn't sure how that reunion would be handled. This is, after all, a book in which a character actually and unironically curls into a ball because he's too sad, so subtlety isn't exactly what they're shooting for. But Gillen writes the dialogue with a surprisingly light touch; he trusts the reader to keep up and hop to his intended conclusion without being explicitly directed there. This approach has misfired occasionally, when the leaps were far enough that even the cleverest readers could stumble, but in this issue they all work superbly. It's refreshing to see a series that's at once obvious and unapologetic in its (ridiculously beautiful) aesthetic and careful in its character work.
Speaking of characters, Kate Bishop and Miss America Chavez continue to prove why they're such fan favorites with some excellent character moments. From Kate's cool and collected attitude to a shot of Miss America splattered in eighteen shades of inter-dimensional gore, they're both really well highlighted in an issue that doesn't spend a great deal of space on them. Noh-Varr and Prodigy, on the other hand, are still the most confusingly rendered members of the team, but they too get some solid emotional beats.
"Young Avengers" has consistently wowed me with its visuals, and so when Billy goes demiurge, it's no surprise that the art does, too. This "meta" comic becomes an actual metacomic. Billy wanders over panels from the past issues, putting things into place with a mix of awed responsibility and small sarcasms. It's beautiful and brilliant, and the coloring on Billy's galaxy is just unbelievable. Unlike almost everything else that's this cosmic and expansive in the MU, it isn't overwhelming and frightening; it's bright and wondrous - perfect for the all-powerful but ever-kind Billy Kaplan. Even in panels this pretty, the storytelling stays clear and creative.
In short, this issue somehow manages to raise the already high bar for this series. When it matters, the "Young Avengers" are too smart to be subtle and too earnest to be ironic, yet they still pull off the self-awareness and sly charm of both. It's a tough tightrope to walk, but the creative team captures this tone again and again.
I'm so glad we're all invited to the Afterparty.