Review: Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #1

Published on July 10th, 2010

I’m a fan of The Young Avengers. I have the first hardcover on my bookshelf and I lend it out to anyone who shows any interest because it’s so good and so much more than the average sidekick book. Unfortunately a lot of the Young Avengers stories that have followed that collection haven’t really lived up to it in my eyes. So when I found out that writer Allan Heinberg and artist Jim Cheung, the creators of that fantistic original run, were coming back to write “Avengers: The Children’s Crusade” I was really excited.

Young Avengers is about a group of young heroes gathered together in the wake of Avengers: Disassembled and House of M by a younger version of the Avengers villain Kang the Conqueror. The team has faced major villains in the Marvel Universe from Kang to Mr. Hyde and stopped a new Kree/Skrull war.

“Avengers: The Children’s Crusade” starts off with an interesting warning from Marvel. This book seems to take place prior to Civil War because Steve Rogers is Cap and is friendly with Iron Man. The intro note says that the time frame of the story may be a bit confusing because they started working on this project a while back. They point out by the end of the series that the time frame should make a lot more sense.

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Children’s Crusade focuses largely on Wiccan, a character with magic powers. Captain America, Iron Man and Ms. Marvel are concerned about him because his powers seem to be growing by leaps and bounds. The problem with that is that there’s a chance that Wiccan is the son of Scarlet Witch. You see, back in the day Scarlet Witch and Vision had a relationship together (I know, Vision’s a robot…hang on it gets weirder) and they wanted some kids but since the Vision’s a toaster wearing a cape they had some problems. So Scarlet Witch decided to use her powers and magic-ed them up a pair of twin boys named Thomas and William using two lost souls. The demon Mephisto decided those souls belonged to him and attempted to absorb them but the lost souls were so transformed by Scarlet Witch’s love that they destroyed Mephisto and disappeared. The theory is that those two souls went and inhabited Wiccan (who’s name is Billy) and fellow Young Avenger Speed (named Tommy) who has super speed powers. This would also explain why they look identical to each other even though they were raised by different people and it’s a point of interest that Scarlet Witch’s powers were magical and her brother, Quicksilver, is a speedster. All outward appearances point to Wiccan and Speed being the sons of Scarlet Witch. So The Avengers are worried that Wiccan’s powers may get out of control and cause real damage in the same way that Scarlet Witch’s did.

Wiccan agrees to live in Avengers Tower for a while so that the Avengers can determine whether or not his powers are going to be a danger. His only condition is that his fellow teammate and boyfriend Hulkling (super strong, shape shifting son of Kree Captain Mar-Vell and a Skrull princess) can come along with him. Soon after being shown their room the two of them are busted out by Speed and the rest of the Young Avengers who believe that the Avengers have taken Billy against his will. Billy decides he should go back but Stature (size altering daughter of former Ant Man Scott Lang) comes up with the idea of actually going out and trying to find Scarlet Witch. Her theory is that if she sees that her boys are still alive that she may undo all the damage she did when she had her massive nervous breakdown which was due at least in part to believing Tommy and Billy were dead. Stature also believes that since Scarlet Witch brought Clint Barton and Wonder Man back to life that she’ll be able to bring back Scott Lang, Stature’s father.

Now, right before I sat down to read this I started thinking, “Hey, Wiccan and Speed are supposed to be Scarlet Witch’s kids…they should introduce these guys to Magneto! How awesome would that be?!?” And what do I see on the final page of this book? Magneto showing up to tell Billy and Tommy to come with him! That’s what’s called vindication.

Overall this was a great read. Heinberg and Cheung know these characters so well. Heinberg’s dialogue is really natural and he manages to sneak a lot of humor into it while Cheung…well, it’s Jim Cheung. He’s God damn amazing. My one complaint about Young Avengers in general…WHEN ARE YOU GUYS BRINGING BACK IRON LAD?!? Come on! I know he has to grow up to become Kang, but figure it out! For those who don’t know, in the first story arc of Young Avengers the young Kang assembles the Young Avengers and, using high tech armor from the future, calls himself Iron Lad. And he was badass! I know there are plot problems with it, but figure it out and bring back a great character!

Ok, I’m done ranting. Go read Children’s Crusade and get the old Young Avengers trades.

Ian Candish
Ian@ComicImpact.com