Heroes Reborn has felt like a smaller event for Marvel Comics, though the stakes are pretty high. This is evident in the latest one-shot tie-in, Young Squadron. Out this week, Jim Zub and Steven Cummings are revealing how the Champions exist in a universe without the Avengers. It’s a quandary worth solving since most of the heroes that make up the Champions were inspired by Avengers, but how do they find their place as heroes in a world where the Squadron Supreme fights with nothing to avenge? That’s a question answered in this solid ode to superheroes and the Champions.
This issue focuses on three of the Champions: Nova, Ms. Marvel, and Spider-Man, although they don’t go by those names in this universe. As seen in the preview, Ms. Marvel becomes Girl Power through way different circumstances from how she gains her powers as Ms. Marvel in the 616. Seeing how each hero gains their powers in this alternate universe is half of what makes this issue so great. From Kid Spectrum (Sam Alexander) to Falcon (Miles Morales), we get to see how these characters are heroes no matter the universe and no matter the accidents or circumstances they gained them in the main universe. It’s a reminder they are heroes regardless of the powers they have.
Though this book is an extra dollar at $4.99, it’s well worth the cover price because it contains those origins, the formation of the team, and a final act as the heroes face off against a major villain. Zub chooses an interesting villain (and a group of villains) to fight, which enhances the weird alternate universe angle. It also helps convey how this universe isn’t correct at all, and that all these heroes belong somewhere else. That helps reaffirm the main premise of the event itself, which connects this one-shot well and gives it more purpose to the larger event.
Zub clearly understands these characters too, as their voices are strong and suit the characters well. The captions help add a superhero element as the godlike narrator explains things to us and keeps things moving. There are some clever spins on characters here, as well.
That leads to the art by Cummings, which brings good design to each character. Colors by Erick Arciniega adds the brightness one would expect from a superhero book that’s cheery and caters to a younger crowd. However, there’s a darkness to the book underneath it all that shines through with well-placed reaction shots from specific baddies, as well. Each character is introduced with a cool profile shot overlaid in panels, which helps give each character a spotlight in the book. There’s a lot of fighting in the book and it’s easy to follow and entertaining given the different power sets involved between the three heroes.
The only downside to this read is the lack of more pages or a chance to flesh certain elements out. Though you don’t need to have complete backstories on the main villain at the end of the book, it would help make some sense as far as their affiliation. There’s also a conclusion made by the team based on a fact the villain informs them that doesn’t add up to how they perceived things earlier in the book. There’s an interesting element in this book about younger heroes and their naïveté when it comes to the Squadron Supreme that is subtly explored but never fleshed out. It’s sadly abandoned by the end — that’s likely to get the characters to the correct place mentally for a future appearance, but it feels rushed. Again, though, this is due to the lack of time and pages to flesh these things out.
Heroes Reborn: Young Squadron is a great example of how tie-in books to an event can have fun, inform readers on the larger universe, and tell a smaller story within the boundaries of a specific premise. Zub and Cummings do a great job establishing the voice of each character while supplying plenty of new elements to make this team a proper alternate take. Young Squadron is a great ode to origin stories and the bravery of superheroes with heart.
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