If You Don’t Like Young Avengers, I Don’t Like You

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Let’s talk about Gillen and McKelvie’s run of Young Avengers, specifically about how awesome it is and the representation of sexuality. I’ve wanted to talk about this since issue #09 and David explained what it was like to realize he was bisexual. Maybe it’s dumb, but that bit really spoke to me personally. I can’t speak for all bisexauls because, contrary to popular belief, we are not of a hive-mind. (If this isn’t one of those Bisexual Fact meme things yet, it should be.)

But anyway! Issue #09!

David Alleyne

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Issue #09

You know what sucked? Being a teenager. You know what didn’t suck? Figuring out my sexuality. I guess I was lucky in that one day I woke up and knew what my feelings were, that they had always been there, and that was that. There was nothing to freak out about, because freaking out would have been like suddenly being surprised and upset that oxygen was also a thing. I told a few friends, and nothing changed. But despite this comfort zone of mine, it was hard to find stories that matched up with me. Bisexuality wasn’t explicately named, even in some of Francesca Lia Block’s stranger works, but “girlcrushes” were. Lesbians and homosexuality were.

So to read this series and identify with David just felt. Well, it felt nice.

Obviously I’d like to talk about more than just my own shit, so now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on. The series is wrapped up with issue #15, and I have some mourning to do until I can get the next Hawkeye focused on Kate.

— Yeah, let’s talk about Kate. (Psst. Spoilers.)

Kate Bishop

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Issue #15

 “Princess. I’ve seen the way you look at me. You’re not that straight.”

This could be a few things! This could be America actually calling Kate on her statement, but for the most part it’s probably just America teasing her friend. Gillen sums this up rather well in an ask on his Tumblr…

One of the things in Young Avengers (and life) is that every character has got to define their sexuality in the manner of their choosing. In this area, one person doesn’t get to tell another person who they are. Kate has said she’s straight. At least at the moment, as Kate says she’s straight, she’s straight. [Source]

For the entire book (and I’m only going to talk about this run in particular), Kate has been involved both sexually and romantically with Noh-Varr. While this certainly does not mean she is 100% heterosexual, it is the evidence we have. Kate is 21, a New York socialite, and maybe the most “traditional” of the group. America’s statement could be a gentle nudge to suggest to her to explore her own sexuality, or again, it could just be teasing. If we approach everything from the Kinsey scale, truly heterosexual and truly homosexual are rare on the sexuality spectrum, and it’s quite possible Kate leans towards straight with some girlcrush tendencies.

That said, it was fun to see The Gay Friend trope get dumped on its head here. Billy and Teddy have their relationship, David woke up bi, Noh-Varr doesn’t discriminate, Loki is the patron god of certain debaucherous sex acts, and America was experimenting with boys that one time with that jerkbutt the Ultimate Nullifier.

By the way…

America Chavez

Um, I want more of her. Everywhere. Look at the art for her universe.

ya-utopia

Issue #14.

Seriously, just look at it. The watercolors and the disregard for physics. This is beautiful, and America defied destiny and gave this world up because she did not want a utopia without her mothers. Who probably got the rudest awakening of her life to find that Billy, the Demiurge, is a teenager who can’t keep his shit straight.  Who is just like everyone else.

I think we all have one of those moments, just not on such a grand scale of alternate dimensions and superpowers. Still, she roots for Billy and Teddy, because true love is what’s going to save the day.

Hell, even David roots for BIlly and Teddy.

Hell, even David roots for BIlly and Teddy. (Shut up, Patri-not.)

And do I even need to wax poetic about her in general? I might. I do love her. I want to cosplay as her so bad despite being a pale white girl with stick straight hair. She kicks holes through the multiverse and punches Loki when he gets too Loki.

Billy Kaplan & Teddy Altman

Issue #14.

Issue #14.

I’m going to pretend I don’t go on Tumblr for a moment and that the Young Avengers tag isn’t rife with people hating on Billy and Teddy and their arc except to say: did we even read the same story?

So you’re dating a boy who can wish things into existence, including possibly the feelings you think you have for him or maybe even you yourself. This is definitely something the two of you should talk about, preferably before said magic user boyfriend wishes your mom back to life for you in a misguided attempt to make you happy because it will accidentally summon a multidimensional parasite. It’s okay, these things happen!

But there are multiple instances over the issues #13-14 where it looks like they do figure that shit out, and regardless of the bigger picture, they are okay with the circumstances of who and what they are. Teddy accepts Billy, and Billy understands Teddy’s feelings. That is how you figure shit out in a relationship.

Loki

Loki, you’re getting your own series where you get to emo-kid it up all over the place. Hell, can we have America showing up in Agent of Asgard to punch him when he’s getting out of line? I’d read the hell out of that.

Noh-Varr

Conversation between me and @lovestoned.

This is all I’m going to say about Noh-Varr because otherwise it’ll just turn into a giant picspam and that’s what Tumblr is for.

TL;DR

Young Avengers is a great series and I love the characters and I love the style it was written in, specifically showing their more normal moments rather than focusing entirely on punching, and they’ve got so much going for them that I hope they don’t get benched for too long.

Purple-haired Pepper Potts.

8 Comments

  1. Michelle

    January 14, 2014 at 2:03 AM

    Yes, I agree with this entire post. I haven’t even read the last two issues and I miss this series already.

  2. caitlin

    January 15, 2014 at 7:34 AM

    EVEN IF I WASN’T CONSULTED FOR THIS ARTICLE I’M DELIGHTED TO SEE I AT LEAST HAD A HAND IN ITS COMPOSURE, HOWEVER OBLIQUELY. it makes me happy.

    i feel like i need to meditate a little here in the comments because there’s been so much surprising backlash against america’s offhand remark to kate, up to and including america attempting to “invalidate” kate’s sexuality by telling her she’s not as straight as she thinks. WHICH, FOR ONE THING, is really fucking funny because straight fans have this colorful tendency to read every character as straight by default, and will sometimes even have a go at queer fans for insinuating that their heroes might be… more like them? america positing this in-universe makes for an interesting mirror, like it’s throwing the fandom a glimpse of itself, but lending some weight to the argument of interpretation by giving it a voice in canon. predictably, some straight people are pressed as hell about it; it’s hard to pin your hopes on authorial intent in that “the creator WROTE them as straight” when even the creator is deliberately like “i wrote no such thing”.

    for another thing it makes for a really great thematic coda to the run as a whole, which gillen again dropped in his answer: is kate straight? for “right now”, sure. so much of the arc is about the fact that the person you were two years ago is not and CANNOT be the person you are right now, because change is both a chaotic and constant variable. the person you are today might not even be the person you were yesterday, but the ownership of who you were is just as important as the acceptance of the person you’ve become. so much of YA was about being true to the person that you are at this moment in time: for billy and teddy it was trusting in their feelings to steer through the ‘what ifs’ behind and before them; for kate and noh-varr it was about prioritizing what you have right now against what you want/need (something that noh fucked up hardcore, sorry buddy but somebody needs to be the fuck-up in this relationship and kate’s too perfect); and with loki you have this conundrum LITERALLY manifest itself into a visual representation of his guilt that only lets him go when he acknowledges where he’s come from and commits to forward momentum.

    all of this, the question of sexuality as part of the larger question of “who am i”, is just part of the larger tapestry, and the entire arc is hammering home the point that it can change, because it’s happened before. so yeah, potentially all-queer superhero team WOOOOOO

    • Rachel

      January 16, 2014 at 3:49 PM

      Gillen’s response to that ask was so fucking timely that it had to be included. Is Kate straight? Who fucking cares! It’s still a different and refreshing take on That One Gay Friend trope everything seems to run with.

      But the magic of the internet gets us that much closer to knowing authorial intent because of how we interact with creators and we can just ASK.

      They’re also all YOUNG and NO ONE STAYS THE SAME so there’s always room to grow and change. HELL, DAVID.

  3. Courtney Lang

    January 15, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    Everything. Yes. Yes. Young Avengers all day every day loved by everyone everywhere.

  4. Feron

    January 15, 2014 at 11:51 PM

    I am going to have to start reading this series.
    David’s bit especially interests me, I don’t think I’ve ever run across a character explain it in such a way that feels so similar. Granted, I’m still working my way through this new part of my life, but that’s the closest I can say how it feels. I really wish I didn’t ignore such a large part of myself for so long.

    • Rachel

      January 16, 2014 at 3:52 PM

      I consider myself lucky that I figured it out as young as I did, and that my denial stage wasn’t a major cause of heartache, but I know not everyone is as lucky. I had a lot of positive factors in my life that helped me get to that point. So I really do wish the best of luck to you on your own road to discovery. <3

      • Feron

        January 17, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        I’ve typed this message out like five times now, just want to say thanks, that means a lot :)

  5. rosgakori

    January 16, 2014 at 12:02 AM

    Young Avengers is perhaps one of the best comic books out there. Marvel now! has made it even better, with right focus on things and Loki.

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