In the ever-evolving landscape of fandom, there are simply some things that should not have happened. In Retcon This!, we examine some of the more questionable aspects of our beloved geek properties.
The Young Avengers are some of the most interesting new characters in recent memory. Each one has an origin tied to Avengers history and yet they stand on their own as unique characters. I know for a fact that the original series created by Alan Heinberg and Jimmy Cheung was instrumental in bringing a lot of readers back to Marvel comics after a lapse in collecting (I know this because I forced it into as many hands as I could). Those stories are great. Since the end of the initial series, however, the Young Avengers have showed up sparingly in the occasional mini series or one-shot. The official word from the powers that be was that they were waiting on Heinberg to tell the next chapter in these characters’ lives.
At C2E2 last year, Marvel announced the original creative team would reunite for a 9-issue mini-series titled Avengers: Children’s Crusade that would finally bring Speed and Wiccan face-to-face with their probably-mother the Scarlet Witch. That was pretty exciting news. Also, it would be a bi-monthly series. Suddenly folks were less excited. No matter how good it is, a year and a half is a long time to tell that story. It is now December of 2011 and the series started in July of 2010. 18 months have come and gone and we’re still two issues away from reaching the end. That’s not good. The original run was plagued by lateness, too, but this is unfortunately a very different situation.
When the mini began, there were some eyebrows raised with regards to continuity, given Steve Rogers’ role as Captain America (the book was published in July of last year and yet he didn’t reclaim the title until just a few months ago) and Iron Man’s armor design (which at this point is safe to say is just drawn incorrectly). As the series progressed and the delays increased, the problems created by its unclear placement in continuity would multiply. Wanda re-powered Rictor in issue 6 (released in August) and he’s since then been shown with his powers in the pages of X-Factor. On the other hand, June’s issue 5 saw the return of Scott Lang after the kids plucked him from the time stream and so far he’s been seen exactly nowhere since then. Does that mean he’s going to die? Did Peter David decide he wasn’t going to wait and threw a re-powered Rictor into his sandbox while Bendis waits it out for Ant-Man? And what about Doom? He’s doing some pretty high-profile stuff these days, and yet I get the feeling this story is meant to have an impact on him. How is all of this going to shake out for good old Victor?
Axel Alonso and Tom Brevoort have both made mention of the significance of X-Men: Schism, Fear Itself and Avengers: Children’s Crusade ending at the same time. The problem is that Avengers: Children’s Crusade hasn’t ended yet and we’re two months out from the other two stories. We now know that significance is the lead-in to Avengers vs. X-Men next year and that Scarlet Witch is set to be a part of that story… If only THIS story would wrap. Children’s Crusade is an important story. Wanda’s return has been teased at and hinted in a few Avengers issues the past few years and we got a full-on fakeout in Mighty Avengers post-Secret Invasion thanks to Loki. Her coming back is a big deal. I don’t think anyone was expecting the Doom connection, but we got it.
The simple fact of the matter is that this is a story that, due to its nature and vast importance not only to the Marvel universe in general, but the specific ties it has to what is planned to come after it, should not be plagued with delays. It’s unclear whether it’s Heinberg or Cheung to blame, but it doesn’t matter. This story needed to wrap by a certain time and Marvel gave the team a year and half to tell a story other teams can tell in nine months, if not less, given Marvel’s love of double-shipping. The delays are coming really close to causing legitimate problems for Marvel’s overall publishing schedule. This is the kind of story that needs to be on time. Personally, I’m wary of both of these creators now. It’d be foolish of Marvel editorial to not be a little wary, too. Marvel stacked the deck in their favor on this one and they still lost thanks to the talent involved, and that’s a shame. This should have been finished last month and at this rate, they’ll be very lucky to wrap before Avengers vs. X-Men starts. That’s unacceptable and it’s just bad business. The story they’re telling is a fine one. It’s just simply past time for it to be over. There’s stuff to do, after all.