Young Avengers: The Teen Team for the Tumblr Generation

The longer you spend online, the more likely you are to get involved with some kind of fandom.

As fans have found new people to interact with, their love of properties spreads, and often takes on a viral quality. While this started on sites like LiveJournal, it’s been exacerbated by new properties like Tumblr, which have great ways for people to discover things.

With Tumblr, anyone can start a blog and find both content and people to follow using different tags. It seems pretty simple, but since a majority of discovery is coming from a unified feed (called a Dashboard), you’re more likely to find things you weren’t even looking for.

Young_Avengers_06_-_22.jpgThis is how I was introduced to Keiron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers; a friend of mine had reblogged someone else’s post, and I got to know the story through proxy. The point of the book is to carry on the stories of some of the Young Avengers that Marvel previously introduced in 2005, and introduce new characters as needed. What results is a lovely book that has a very familiar feeling: it’s almost like the “teen team” books of the past, where creators could try new things because the universe was so separate.

Like The New Mutants didn’t have the X-Men to boss them around, or like how the Teen Titans didn’t need to worry about the Justice League showing up, Young Avengers allows us to see characters in their natural habitat. This might seem weird to say, but it’s often a bad habit that writers have to focus on big-name heroes, even if they’re only guest-starring in their someone else’s book. No one is a side-kick here, and it really lets personalities flourish.

What’s also interesting is that the book skews a bit older than Teen Titans or The New Mutants before it. Instead of seeking the younger teen audience, it zeroes in on something I like to name “The Tumblr Generation”; you’re looking at people from 16-22 who are smart, still relatively insecure, and often look for characters to latch on to. This is why Homestuck is such a huge web phenomenon: there are so many characters and personalities that it’s hard not to find one you identify with, and want to read more about.

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While Young Avengers has a more central cast, they’re diverse enough to provide a rock from which fandom grows. Some teens may identify with Kate Bishop, the mature, young adult Hawkeye who isn’t above a little casual sex from time to time. They may see Loki as someone misunderstood, devious, but well meaning. They may look at Miss America as a confident, feisty person of color with an ass-kicking power set. Each of these characters is well-defined and participates in the story, which keeps people invested.

An invested audience is a captive audience. It produces fans that will make fan-patterns of jackets, sell themed things on their Etsy online store, and likely buy every piece of licensed merchandise available. It’s a wet dream for creators (and a testament to their skill) to produce something that people like so much, and will hopefully be secure enough to let them keep doing it.

So pick up Young Avengers if you’re looking for a fun team book with great characters and rabid, passionate fanbase; it’s only three issues in, so there isn’t much catching up to do. Speaking from personal experience, it’s a great experience to be able to participate in a community that’s just as excited as you are.

Just be careful not to get too invested in the “feels” while you’re there.