The Last Annihilation: Wiccan & Hulkling opens up with Billy and Teddy in class, as the official previews for the event showed earlier last week. Showing how our leads met is cute, yes, but Oliveira uses this moment to hammer in an important detail: Billy and Teddy will always come to each other’s rescue, and they’re never really alone. It’s this sentiment that is the driving thread behind Last Annihilation, the idea that Billy and Teddy are more than just husbands, but partners in every sense of the word.
The flashback segments are really touching, especially in hindsight now that we know and love Billy and Teddy as a couple. There’s something heartwarming about how Oliveira writes these scenes, adding this important bit of information into Wiccan and Hulkling’s backstory. We never saw these conversations between them in the original Young Avengers, where the two were already dating, so it’s extremely nice to have these moments written in now.
The way the story changes from the past to the present is really interesting and Oliveira has a way of making you love every character he’s writing. Even minor characters like Teddy’s mother are just bursting with heart, making you smile through their interactions with the main characters. Of course, the flashbacks are certainly more emotionally driven than anything in the present, but there’s some great character work being done in the modern scenes — particularly with Billy and a certain villain and Teddy and a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Without spoiling too much, there is a beautiful sentiment within the pages of Last Annihilation, particularly in the flashback sequences of Billy and Teddy. Throughout Oliveira’s text, Billy was “othered,” believing himself to be a freak due to his powers while the boys in school are bullying him for being gay. There’s an extremely touching sequence where Teddy reveals his powers to Billy, declaring them both freaks but loving each other even more for it. Oliveira is masterful here with the exploration of a superhero identity through a queer lens, using textually queer heroes to tell the story. It’s not hard to see what he’s getting at here, and it works wonderfully. This moment will truly be remembered by Young Avengers fans as one of the greatest for Billy and Teddy.
This issue marks a few very important moments in Billy and Teddy’s timeline — it’s clear Oliveira not only has a lot of love for these characters, but that he truly understands them. If Marvel wants to explore the idea of another volume of Young Avengers, Anthony Oliveira makes a compelling argument here for why he is the obvious choice. Jan Bazaldua’s art hits home where it needs to, making those softer moments at the heart of the comic look especially tender.
The flashback sequences juxtaposed with the present-time scenes do wonders to showcase just how much Billy and Teddy have grown, both as a couple and individually. The Young Avengers feel like a team that’s grown up with their readers, and this is a comic that truly understands that sentiment. This is a story about love, about family and the people who will be there for you in your hardest moments. If Billy and Teddy weren’t already cemented as arguably Marvel’s greatest romance in the last few decades, this comic certainly does the job establishing them comic book supercouple royalty.
The Last Annihilation: Wiccan & Hulkling isn’t just a good Billy and Teddy comic, it’s another exciting installment in the cosmic Marvel landscape that’s been heating up in recent months.
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