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Marvel announced this weekend at the New York Comic Con that Paul Cornell and Mark Brooks are working on a Dark Reign: Young Avengers mini-series, set to debut this May. In the book, Patriot, Stature and the rest of the crew run into a new group of super-folks calling themselves the Young Avengers, and chaos, naturally, ensues.
“This is a bit of a dream project for me,” Cornell writes on his blog. “It’s basically the Young Avengers running head on into a new group of, well, are they heroes or not? At any rate, they’ve stolen the Young Avengers’ name. Our heroes are put in the same place as the original Avengers were put when they themselves appeared, how do they react to these new kids who don’t really know what they’re doing: fight; mentor; feel attracted to? How about varying degrees of all three?”
But fans looking at this new crew of teenage malcontents will recognize some of the names as not Avengers, but their archenemies, The Masters of Evil. Back in 2006, original Young Avengers writer Allan Heinberg said he wanted to introduce a Young Masters of Evil in his second season of the book. He added they’d have ties to the originals “in the same way the YA have ties to the Avengers.” Heinberg’s second season of Young Avengers obviously never happened, as he became busy with Grey’s Anatomy. But it’s nice to see the idea didn’t die and has been picked up by the very capable Paul Cornell. And it seems a natural tie-in to the themes introduced in Dark Reign, particularly Dark Avengers.
So who did these kids “map to” in the original Masters of Evil? Well, Melter, Executioner, Enchantress and Egghead should be obvious. Although there’s no telling if these kids are, for example, the sons and daughters of the original characters, or just share their name, it should be fun to try to figure it out as the mini-series is published. I suspect the obvious references will hide greater connections to other heroes or villains, sort of like Hulkling ended up being more tied to Captain Marvel than the Hulk.
Big Zero’s connection isn’t quite so obvious, until you consider her description: “Big Zero: a white power skinhead who can grow to enormous size or sink to microscopic, who claims she’s raising an army in the Microverse with the aim of toppling the Federal government. Her favorite thing is to goad people of other races.” And the fact that she shares the initials of the one of the many leaders the Masters of Evil had over the years, Baron Zemo.
And then there’s Coat of Arms, who seems to have traits similar to the Crimson Cowl, i.e. someone in the background trying to manipulate everything … which makes me suspect she has some sort of big secret that’ll be revealed about her true identity.
So are these new Young Avengers destined to be villains, or will they rise to the occasion and become heroes? Yes, it seems obvious that they’re on the road to the dark side, but let’s not forget that some of the Masters of Evil eventually found their way back to the light in the pages of Thunderbolts. So we’ll see where this all goes.