Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Sidekicks Part 6
Written by: Allan Heinberg
Penciled by: Jim Cheung
Inked by: John Dell with Dave Meikis & Jay Leisten
Colored by: Justin Ponsor
Lettered by: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
As I have done from time to time, I have to first single out the cover of this issue for comment. Cheung’s figure work is well done, but what really makes this cover for me is Ponsor’s use of color. The monochromatic approach, set against a stark white background with the dulled cover logo above conveys the tragedy of the moment nicely. My one complaint would be the box of “real” color that surrounds Iron Lad’s helmet. Yes, it emphasizes it, but so does everything else (the tilt of the other Young Avengers’ heads, the helmet’s placement at the bottom center of the page). I think it is a bit overkill for a cover that is otherwise a rather subdued expression of guilt and grief.
NOTE: Minor spoilers will follow as some of my commentary on this issue revolves around them in a way that does not allow me to refer to them obliquely.
The solicitations for this issue refer to the team losing a member and/or making an ultimate variety of sacrifice. I can’t remember exactly how it’s phrased or where I read each one, but that news, combined with the cover image, makes it easy to believe that it was Iron Lad on the chopping block. Truth be told, he is. The sacrifice in question, however, is a much larger one than merely dying. The boy who would be Kang makes a decision that literally dooms the rest of his life and he does so willingly for his teammates. It is a moment both more tragic and less sensational than the character’s demise and I appreciate that the creative team recognized what the true “ultimate” sacrifice would be in this scenario. It’ll be even more interesting to see how the team left behind will handle themselves if and when they encounter Iron Lad (in any form) again.
I also applaud the manner in which the “time paradox” issue of if the Young Avengers will remember being heroes was handled. The fact is that time travel in fiction is crazy, complicated business that is almost impossible to get 100 percent correct. Thus, Heinberg and CO.’s solution, in essence to simply shrug and say, “Hey, guess it is one of those weird things about time travel, eh?” is refreshingly direct and smart. By not overexplaining things, we are left with reasoning that, while not even attempting scientific soundness, feels much more satisfying.
Cheung’s sequential work continues to be very strong. There is still something that I just don’t like about his Captain America (I can’t quite place my finger on it specifically though) but otherwise, I really do enjoy his work.
The costume tweaks he offers at the end of the issue I basically like as well. Clearly the winner of the costume redesign is Kate Bishop (who, by the by, is an excellent character) who trades in that awful Mockingbird mask (I’m sorry, but it is) and evening dress for a more contemporary costume. Wiccan (formerly Asgardian) and Hulking’s costumes are virtually the same, while Stature (she was nearly called Ant Girl) and Patriot add and lose a mask respectively. On the one hand, I’m glad to see Patriot ditch the full mask because black characters are few and far between in comics and now when he’s featured on the cover, it’ll be clear that he is one of the few, the proud, the interesting. On the other hand, I dug the full mask, and don’t really like his new domino replacement. Plus, anyone who charges into battle with an earring in his or her ear (especially a hoop) is just asking for trouble. But these minor issues aside, the changes in costume (such as they are) are not bad at all.
Finally, yay for Vision’s permanent return. Color me pleased.