Heroes Reborn: Young Squadron #1 Review

by Charles Martin on May 26, 2021

Heroes Reborn: Young Squadron #1 Review
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Steven Cummings
Colourist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

In the main Marvel universe, the modern Champions came together when Tony Stark's ill-advised teen Avengers -- Ms. Marvel, Nova, and Spider-Man -- took issue with the team's crisis-to-crisis M.O. and split off to pioneer their own, more compassionate form of heroing.

In the world of Heroes Reborn, where the Squadron Supreme replaces the nonexistent Avengers and does a C-minus job of concealing their obvious evilness, it makes sense that these three kids would have a dramatically different story.

And this is that story.

Younger, hero-adoring versions of those characters -- Kamala Khan, Sam Alexander, and Miles Morales -- each undergo an unlikely, super-Silver-Age-y transformation into a superhero sidekick.

But the heroic facade cracks even before the origins are done: Instead of acceptance, Nighthawk gives Miles a promise of prison time if he catches the kid playing hero again.

The Young Squadron soldiers on through a couple of super-fights, but the bloom is definitely off the rose for them. Their second antagonist (and I'll do the solicits one better and not spoil his well-chosen identity) bashes that heroic facade to dust, forcing the kids to confront the great shortcomings of their heroes.

The art team does an excellent job of modulating this journey into darkness. Steven Cummings puts together a satisfying kid-hero story while also debuting perfectly appealing new character designs. Erick Arciniega draws on the full colour spectrum to make the origins literally shiny before dialling down the intensity as things get dark. He slowly builds a chilly blue-grey palette around the Young Squadron as they ask questions and get disturbing answers.

I also hail Mr. Cummings' ability to handle subtle emotive work as well as punchy-zappy fighting. There's a critical moment where the story hinges on Nighthawk shooting the kids a disturbing look, and the artist nails the necessary menace.

Writer Jim Zub goes all-in on the corny retro vibes when he scripts the origins of Kid Spectrum and Girl Power. They're fast, they're silly, they're fun. And the first hints of darkness come through wonderfully. Besides Nighthawk being a dick -- and not in a Silver Age DC "trick cover" fashion -- Mr. Zub slides a couple of chilling mentions of Mephisto into the early scenes.

Unfortunately, things have to move faster to wrap this story up within a single issue. In contrast to the organic way the first suspicions sneak in, the full-blown "hey, this Squadron is evil!" revelation is essentially served to the kid heroes on a platter by the book's main antagonist. It's a good revelation and the creators wring good drama out of the kids' reactions to it. But there's just not enough space to conceal the artifice with which it's delivered.

As characters, these younger, more naive versions of Kamala, Miles, and Sam serve mainly as mirrors that reflect the cheapness and imperfection of the Squadron Supreme's heroic veneer. They do that job well. And their creators invest them with just enough empathy and realism to make the reader care. They may not have the legs to support further "Young Squadron" adventures, but they do a solid job of making this alternate universe feel just as cold and foreboding as it should.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
The Young Squadron even has a lame battlecry that would make Roy Thomas proud (if that's the right word).