Monday, 27 May 2013

Favouring The Young Avengers #5

Or yet more thoughts on the brilliant page layouts of Young Avengers

There are easily dozens of reasons to read Young Avengers. Kieron Gillen has created a big campy superhero story that is simultaneously a hugely empathetic metaphor for growing up, with all of the hurt, beauty, and drama that entails. The art team, led by Jamie McKelvie, are creating a book that is easily one of the best looking comics around: it's expressive, elaborately technical, and distinct from everything else. What I'm trying to say is that Young Avengers is great comics.

But for all that, I think I can pinpoint my favourite thing about Young Avengers, which is the crazy, experimental layouts that function as the focal points of every issue.

Now, part of this love comes from the fact that these are very pretty and interesting to look at from a purely aesthetic perspective. But what really elevates them is that they are also, from a story standpoint, so much more...

Note: there will be moderate *SPOILERS* in beyond this point. Procede at your own risk.

This is the layout from Young Avengers #5. From a purely plot perspective it shows Loki's magic powering up the other Young Avengers so that they can defeat the alien-parasite-parent-things that are the story's current antagonist/s. From a purely-a-mechanism-to-tell-the-story perspective, this layout is brilliant: it seamlessly manages to convey six separate plot threads occurring simultaneously in an interesting and perfectly understandable manner. It's the kind of thing that could only really work in comics, and is just... well, great.

But like all of the focal point layouts in Young Avengers, I think this one from issue 5 manages to make a statement about the characters of the comic. In this case, the layout suggests a whole series of things about Loki. For instance the layout has a web shape to it with a pensive/concentrating Loki in the centre with the other Young Avengers active in the webbing. This immediately puts Loki into comparison with a spider, incidentally an animal totemic of a trickster god, and the events surrounding him as the results of his plotting, his spiderweb. On the one hand that makes the web a trap for the parasite/aliens, that they have been caught and dispatched as a result of his constructed spell. But also, given Loki's nefarious nature and role in weaving together the Young Avengers in the first place, the web reflects how Loki has ensnared the Young Avengers in the plot he has spun. And speaking of his nefarious nature, a spider is a brilliant metaphor for what Loki is, a creature useful for his ability to eliminate parasites, but also dangerous and poisonous to be around. (Actually, the fact Loki is sitting in a pentagram, a symbol used to contain evil, is also rather emblematic of the fact that he is a semi-tame danger to the Young Avengers.) There are just layers and layers of additional meaning to this composition.

Which, all-in-all, is why it's my favourite part of Young Avengers #5.

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