Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Young Avengers #10 & Afterlife with Archie #1: I Care About Nothing Post-Breaking Bad Edition

"I wanted to leave the runes on the mewling quim."

I missed doing a recap for Young Avengers #10, which isn't really a problem since I'm just me rambling to myself. It came out on September 25, right in peak Breaking Bad freakout time, and the plights of the fictional denizens of non-fictional Albuquerque occupied all my fictional character headspace. Sorry, Kieron Gillen. Unless Loki and Doctor Doom teamed up to make and sell magical meth (which would be perfect), it just wasn't happening for me.

Anyways, I decided to finally get this up and to group it with Afterlife with Archie #1, out today. This is also related to Breaking Bad, because everything is. The issue is illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, whose  pulpy, noirish work I first saw in Hawkeye. Francavilla is also a Breaking Bad superfan, and he has made minimalist posters for each episode (totally scored one of his limited edition prints of the first episode, bitch). So when I saw he was the artist for a new horror version of the Archie comics I read as a kid, I had to check it out.

Don't do meth, kids.

What happened:

Meta stuff. Loki's been working with Mother, in typical Loki fashion (i.e. in devious ways that serve him and only him well at the moment but add to his ever-growing list of enemies). There's a mention of him "escaping," and we don't know what that means yet. Sorta-Kid-Loki makes a sorta appearance. We also get to see all of Loki's moms, as portrayed by Mother: Jotun queen Farbauti, plus jointly-ruling Asgardian goddesses Freya, Gaea, and Idunn. Props to proudly feminist Gillen and McKelvie for deciding to make the almost-never seen Farbauti a beefcake warrior with icicle hair. Anyhoo, Loki's been messing with Billy's head because of complicated reasons that we'll just have to ride out Gillen explaining in his own special way. And Fake Patriot and Leah are both working with Mother.


Meanwhile, Teddy and Leah go to the superhero-exes support group, which consists of Leah, America's ex, Noh-Varr's exes, and, uh, Fake Patriot. Noh-Varr, as everyone already knew, is a Don Juan of space and time. And America's ex, Ultimate Nullifier...oh, honey, why? I just kinda assumed America was into the ladies. Maybe she has realized this too since dating this dude. I do feel he was a little shortchanged, though, since his dialogue is basically clumsily inserted Hipster Ariel. At least Gillen and McKelvie nixed the planned-upon fedora. All we learn about Fake Patriot is that he or she is creepy. Teddy is understandably freaked out by the group and tries to leave, probably to watch Breaking Bad. But he can't, because the group is the kind of malevolent entity that would try to stop you from watching Breaking Bad.

Leah's got a clipboard and Beth Ditto makeup. Watch out.

What's next:

Young Avengers #11 should be out later this month, but I haven't been able to find a release date. Judging from the cover, Loki's in trubs. Or at least naked, since his clothes are burning. And maybe Thor is involved? I can only assume Thor looks so mad in that leaked variant cover because he found out Loki is cooking magical meth with Doctor Doom, probably in an old Skrull spaceship in the wilds of Latveria.

Really, don't do meth, kids.

To be honest, I actually thought this was a comic I'd just buy the first of, mostly to take a gander at Francavilla's art. But I'm hooked! Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has written an engaging, unsettling comic. The book tackles the most obvious question - zombies in Riverdale? - with aplomb. Jughead's beloved dog Hot Dog is killed, and instead of writing poetry about it like Mary Oliver, he turns to Sabrina, Riverdale's resident teen witch. Against her aunts' orders, she helps Jughead revive his pet...which doesn't go well.

Dogs, don't do meth either.

What I like most about this book (so far) is how true it stays to the Archie canon, and yet how different it is from the Archie canon. Archie Comics have been around since the 1940s, and they've stayed pretty static all those years. No one is ever going to graduate. No one is ever going to change. And Aguirre-Sacasa keeps to those Archie constants (the Betty-Veronica-Archie triangle, the Moose-Reggie-Midge triangle, Jughead loves food, etc) while, with the help of Francavilla's art, casting a dark shadow over them. With inky chiaroscuro and jarring POVs, Francavilla weaves a sense of unease throughout. It's still Riverdale, but it's creepy, creepy, creepy.

So creepy that build-ups to swinging are immediately forgotten.

Big kudos to Francavilla and Aguirre-Sacasa. This could have easily turned into this (which is hilarious, and also features Jughead carrying a bloodied Hot Dog), but it looks like they've got it under control.

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