Today, I’m bringing you what could be called a bit of a passion project. In honour of Marvel’s new show on Disney+, Hawkeye—this is actually just an excuse, I’ve been planning this post for months—I’ve decided to talk about my all-time favourite superhero team: the Young Avengers. I hope to introduce you to the team and maybe even spark some interest in reading the comics. This will probably—definitely—be quite a long post, so let’s jump straight into it!
Who Are the Young Avengers? Introducing the Members
There have been two variations of the team, although when thinking about them you’d most likely think about the individual members that have been part of this team at some point. There are only four of them who have been on both iterations of the team. So let’s jump into it. I’ll give you a very brief introduction of all the heroes—so as not to spoil a single thing—as well as what team they belong to.
Nathaniel Richards (Iron Lad)
Nate is the reason the Young Avengers are created in the first place. It’s hard getting into this character without spoiling anything, but if you have some knowledge of Marvel, the name Nathaniel Richards will definitely be familiar to you. Let’s just say he’s on a mission to prevent future events and this is why he recruits the Young Avengers.
Elijah Bradley (Patriot)
Eli has recently been added to the MCU, so most people will already know he has a family history of heroes. However, he has some personal struggles he’s dealing with. He is the first leader of the Young Avengers.
Billy Kaplan (Wiccan)
Another character that has been recently added to the MCU, and as you probably know by now, one with an insane family history. Billy is one of Marvel’s first-ish openly gay characters and one of my all-time favourite characters. A very powerful yet insecure hero in the beginning, but he slowly grows into himself.
Teddy Altman (Hulkling)
Teddy’s definitely one of the characters who’s had more development through the years. He is an absolute sweetheart who is impossible not to love. Another openly gay character with some crazy family history (can you tell this is a recurring thing?).
Kate Bishop (Hawkeye)
Well, well, well, the most recent addition to the MCU. Kate is one of the most fun characters to read about, especially in recent publications. She’s truly made a place for herself in the comic world.
Cassie Lang (Stature)
Scott Lang (Ant-Man)’s daughter, so the hero business runs in the family. Because of this, her comic history might be slightly longer and convoluted compared to brand new characters.
His origin story is weird, I can’t lie. He becomes a sentient being after Nate finds remains of the Vision and downloads his operating system into his Neurokinetic armor. Just go with it.
Tommy Shepherd (Speed)
Just recently introduced to the MCU alongside Billy, who he shared his convoluted family history with. He has also just recently been canonised as LGBT+. Unfortunately he doesn’t have many appearances, but he’s still a joy to read about whenever he shows up.
Billy, Teddy, Kate, and Tommy are all also part of this line-up.
Kid Loki / Ikol
I’m not even going to attempt to explain Loki’s character arc because I just wouldn’t know where to start. The best way to approach this character is just to start reading and go with the flow. Kid Loki has also recently entered the MCU.
America Chavez (Ms America)
Before being in the Young Avengers, America was in the Teen Brigade—which I’ll admit I’ve never read about. She’s another super powerful LGBT+ character, which is my favourite combination. Her power? Travelling through the Multiverse. She is also about to be introduced in the MCU in Doctor Strange’s new film.
Noh-Varr (Marvel Boy)
Noh-Varr is a character that creates a bit of a divide, you either love him or hate him. I, personally, adore him. I think he’s really fun to read about, and although I’ve not read much of his extended Marvel history, whenever I’ve encountered his character I’ve had a great time.
David Alleyne (Prodigy)
David is actually an X-men, a mutant with the ability to telepathically absorb the knowledge and skills of anyone nearby. He also has a special place in my heart since he’s the first character I read about who came out as bisexual on-panel. The latest unexpected yet perfect addition to the team.
Why Do I Love Them So Much?
Young Avengers comics are often centered around themes of self-discovery. After all, when the team starts they are teenagers. So, because of that we go through a coming-of-age arc with them. We see these characters grow and learn and develop.
One of my favourite aspects of these comics is the diversity and how it’s treated. The team has always been diverse in many aspects—let’s not forget that the first leader they had was Eli, a black man. Additionally, especially the newest combination of team members is extremely queer. Actually, many of them actually feature on my “Bisexual Representation in Comics” post, and most those that aren’t there are just another type of LGBT+. They are the first mostly queer superhero team.
The Young Avengers comics are a celebration of diversity, something that is extremely refreshing to see. Even more so, something that wasn’t as common when the first comics were being published. This and their exploration of the teenage experience make them super special and unlike anything else.
Firstly, here’s a huge disclaimer than I’m nowhere near being an expert on Marvel, but I’ve done my fair share or Young Avengers reading and I believe I can talk confidently on this team at least.
I know reading Marvel comics can be intimidating—I’ve been daunted by the prospect myself in the past. Because of this I’ve compiled a reading order, so you don’t have to. I want to mention that I’ve not actually included every single issue where they appear as I myself haven’t read that. Instead, I’ve tried to provide the maximum number of important appearances these characters have had. Although this might not be the 100% complete list, it is—I think—more than sufficient, and a good guide, which I wouldn’t consider just for beginners. I’ve made this as comprehensible as possible, and I hope you’ll be able to navigate it comfortably.
Although I’d love to include all the authors and artists, this is already a very long post, so instead I’ve linked to the goodreads page where you can check that information easily.
Finally I will not be mentioning plotlines since that would end up spoiling some of the previous volumes, but instead I’ll tell you my brief opinion and I will be marking all volumes as core reading or optional (and one recommend against).
Young Avengers as a Team
Young Avengers (2005) 2 volumes
This is very essential as it establishes the first line-up of this team. I haven’t read it in a long time, but I remember loving it. Obviously, this is what got me into the Young Avengers, so it’s a special one.
This special is collected in the volumes above. It’s an exploration of what the characters motivations are to become a hero. Definitely interesting to learn more about them as individuals.
This one is not essential, but I personally really enjoyed seeing the dynamic between the Young Avengers and the Runaways.
This one is fantastic to learn more about the individual characters. Definitely more laid back, but as a character-driven reader, I love it.
I remember sadly not liking the art style of this and that not letting me enjoy this to the fullest. However, it was still fun once again thanks to the dynamic between the two teams.
I will not lie to you right now, I remember absolutely nothing about what happened in this series. But I also don’t particularly remember enjoying it too much. All I can say for sure is that it’s definitely not a fan favourite.
This is a nice enough one-shot, but there is nothing too remarkable going on beside some character bits. I’d still recommend reading it since it’s so short.
The Young Avengers appear on issues #1, #4, and #5. These are just silly little short stories, but they’re fun enough.
Super important. This does not only tie into the Young Avengers plotline but also the Avengers are a very integral part of this. If you like the Scarlet Witch, this one is an important part of her character arc.
It sets the scene for the following volumes, but you can probably skip it and you will be fine.
Young Avengers (2013) 3 volumes
This is, hands down, my favourite Young Avengers series. I loved them before this, but it wasn’t until this point that I became absolutely obsessed with the team. These three volumes have become comfort reads that I keep going back to.
Post Young Avengers
Now, here is where it gets complicated.
If you want to read comics about these characters pre-Young Avengers—most of them don’t have them—that’s up to you.
The following is a list sub-divided by character because that’s the way I find them easier to read. However, if you want to read them in chronological order I have provided the publication years in brackets. Additionally, I’ve decided to list the books only under the most prominent characters that appear in them, but know that some other characters from the team might be in these volumes as well.
Billy Kaplan and Teddy Altman (Wiccan and Hulkling)
I’m grouping them together because they almost always appear as an item.
New Avengers (2015) 3 volumes
I would say this is pretty vital for Billy and Teddy, since it’s their first job post Young Avengers. It does tie in many other character arcs, but I think you get the necessary information to follow it even if you’ve never read about them.
I found this to be very fun and light read. Kate also makes an appearance, which is always great. This one is very short as well, so definitely worth giving a shot.
Strikeforce (2019) 2 volumes
I went into this with low-ish expectations because I hadn’t ever read about most of these characters, but it ended up being one of my favourite storylines. The character dynamics were super bizarre but extremely cool to read about and the plot was very interesting. Teddy is not in this one, but don’t worry, because going forward he’s one of Marvel’s most important characters.
I’m on the fence with this one. If you’re interested in Empyre as a Marvel event I’d say this is core reading, but if you’re only in it for the Young Avengers you could possibly skip.
Very highly important for Teddy’s character arc. It’s a must read if you’re interested in him. I will not lie, if you’re not a regular Marvel reader, this will be slightly confusing at times, but I believe you can get most of what happens here. I mean, my Marvel reading and subsequent knowledge is all over the place and I understood what was happening.
You can get away with not reading this, but it’s a short issue that further establishes Teddy’s role in the Marvel universe. I also enjoyed reading about the Fantastic Four, which I’d never done before.
Totally optional in terms of the overall Marvel world, but really vital for Billy and Teddy’s character arcs. It’s a fun and light-hearted one.
I mean, it’s in the name, it’s all about Hulkling. It’s an interesting one where we get to learn more about Teddy’s mind.
This one is a chill, laid-back issue (but not really). I’d say give it a try because it’s super short and the dynamics between Billy and Teddy are always fun to read about.
I’m saying it’s optional, but I would highly recommend reading it since we get some of their backstory and it’s beautiful.
This is only four issues in total, so it’s truly a super quick read. It wasn’t anything too special in my opinion, but there are still some enjoyable moments.
Kate Bishop (Hawkeye)
Hawkeye (2012) 6 volumes
I personally haven’t read this one, but it’s the one that inspired the storyline we’re currently seeing on Disney+’s Hawkeye. I believe it is more important for Clint than it is for Kate in terms of character arcs.
Hawkeye: Kate Bishop (2016) 3 volumes
This, I feel, establishes Kate both as a Marvel character and as a solo superhero in that universe. I absolutely had a great time reading it and seeing the spotlight on Kate.
West Coast Avengers (2018) 2 volumes
Definitely optional but I truly recommend you pick it up. This is probably one of my favourites. The cast of characters is super eclectic and fun to read about, and the plot is on the light-hearted side but you still get to see some of these characters’ depths.
Only the first issue is out, but after having read it I can tell this is going to be an interesting and fun mini-series. I’m not marking it as optional or core reading because I still can’t tell.
America Chavez (Ms America)
The Ultimates 4 volumes
I personally haven’t read this one yet and I’ve not had an issue following America as a character, but I’m sure it adds something to her overall arc.
America (2017) 2 volumes
Well, well, well… There’s just no way to put this nicely so I’ll just say it. I absolutely hated this mini-series. I was really looking forward to reading about America, but this was very bad, so I definitely would recommend you to stay clear of it if you, like me, adore America, because she’s horribly written here.
They totally retconned her origin story and comics going forward are going to be going off of that, so it’s a must read. It’s quite enjoyable and despite not knowing how I feel about this new origin, I still liked reading it.
Kid Loki / Ikol
Loki is a hard character to talk about because he’s obviously had a very extensive history in Marvel and I’ve only read his comics that stem from the Young Avengers or are mini-series. So, this section is definitely the least reliable, but you’ve been warned.
Loki: Agent of Asgard (2014) 3 volumes
I quite enjoyed this series. I read it quite a while ago but I remember having a good time. The art is stunning and I loved how Loki was presented.
I read this one recently, and I’ll admit to being quite confused. It was just an okay read for me, nothing too special.
Tommy Shepherd and David Alleyne (Speed and Prodigy)
Once again, putting them together since post Young Avengers they’re almost always together and Tommy doesn’t have many appearances on his own.
X-Factor (2020) 2 volumes
I read this one super recently and I loved every single second of it. It’s the first X-Men comic I read but it definitely left me wanting more. An interesting plot with a great cast of characters.
It’s an okay one. I truly do enjoy the cast of characters—some of the appearances made me super happy—but I wasn’t as interested on the overall plot.
I’m putting this one here solely because David introduces the comic. A cute compilation of stories centered around Marvel’s queer heroes. I personally haven’t read all the stories, only the ones I’m interested in. Teddy, Billy, Tommy, and David are the ones in it from the Young Avengers.
Noh-Varr (Marvel Boy)
The B story is a Noh-Varr, David, and Teddy short story. I liked seeing just these three working together, their dynamics are super fun.
Royals (2017) 2 volumes
I personally didn’t love this one, and it’s definitely not a vital series for Noh-Varr’s character, despite him being relevant in it. So, unless you’re an Inhumans fan, you can skip it.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2020) 3 volumes
When I read read the first volume of this series, I sadly didn’t like it as much as I hoped too. Noh-Varr is always fun to read about, but I didn’t care much for the Guardians of the Galaxy—which is ironic since this is their comic series. However, there are still some very fun bits.
Elijah Bradley (Patriot)
Black Panther (2018) 4 volumes
Elijah has been on comic limbo for the past few years, only making tiny appearances here and there. However, he has recently appeared in issues #23, #24, #25 of this. I personally haven’t read them but I do hope to see him have a comeback now that he’s been added to the MCU.
Cassie Lang (Stature)
Cassie also hasn’t had a leading role in a while but, since she’s Scott Lang’s daughter, she’s had appearances in his comics.
I haven’t got much to say since I haven’t read this but I’d say read it if you’re interested in Ant-Man or you’re a super big fan of Cassie, but I don’t think you’ll get much of her.
Astonishing Ant-Man (2016) 3 volumes
You can apply all I’ve said for the previous one here. I haven’t read it as I’m not certain it’s too strong on the Cassie content and I just don’t care about Ant-Man that much.
Once again, I haven’t read this one. But I know that Cassie has a more prominent role here, since she works as her father’s partner.
Nathaniel Richards (Iron Lad)
Nate is a character that I find particularly hard to explain because there are many versions of him constantly at play. From my understanding, Iron Lad from Earth-6311—which is the one I’ve been mentioning—has been in comic limbo for a while.
If I’m being honest, I wasn’t expecting to love this as much as I did. The plot is really interesting and will keep you on the edge of your seat.
He hasn’t had any main role post Young Avengers.
Are you a Marvel reader or would you like to get into it? Have you read any of these comics? Who is your favourite character?