16 August 2011

Archival Review: Dark Reign: Young Avengers by Paul Cornell, Mark Brooks, et al.

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2009 (contents: 2009)

Acquired December 2010
Read June 2011
Dark Reign: Young Avengers

Writer: Paul Cornell
Penciler: Mark Brooks
Inkers: Mark Brooks, Mark Morales, Walden Wong & Dexter Vines
Colorists: Christina Strain, Emily Warren and L. Molinar & A. Street
Letterers: Cory Petit, Chris Eliopoulos & Joe Sabino

Only Paul Cornell could get me to purchase the Dark Reign tie-in to Young Avengers, a crossover I know nothing about's intersection with a series I've never had a desire to read. Despite that, it's a decent book. As always, Cornell comes up with great concepts for superheroes: a girl who might be an Asgardian enchantress or might be affecting her thees and thous, a girl who views being a superhero as a form of performance art, and a refugees from a universe of microscopic fascists, who's reprogrammed a robot to be her racist boyfriend. Of course, there's also the violent guy with a skull helmet who calls himself "Executioner," but I suppose you can't win them all.

The central conflict of the book is that a group of teenagers dubs themselves the Young Avengers, being confronted by a preexisting group with the same name. The characters-- two groups of six, all with real names and code names-- were too much to keep track of, and the plot's examination of how violent can a group be and still be "heroes" is too tired to fit with the young, fresh voice Cornell seems to be going for. The team's angsty, overwrought leader, Melter, is what drags the book down the most. But there were enough moments that worked-- most of them involving Coat of Arms (the artist), Big Zero (the fascist), or the Enchantress (the enchantress).

I was a bit baffled by characters' reactions to Big Zero's tattoos-- she has Iron Crosses on her shoulders. Everyone acts like these are terribly shocking, but I was not aware of any kind of stigma attached to the Iron Cross. Google tells me that some people think it is racist, but the immediate vehemence of the reactions makes me wonder if Cornell scripted the tattoos as swastikas, but it was changed by the time of illustration.

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