Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Important Queer Couples: Billy and Teddy - Marvel's Young Avengers

This entry was born out of our latest obsession: Young Avengers.  More specifically Billy (Wiccan) and Teddy (Hulkling).  My partner and I have been in a process of hunting down nearly every comic we can with them in it and it's been quite a ride and usually out of order.  Oops.  Originally I was going to do a review for each of these comics, but there's so many and comics are hard to track... so I'm going to combine them instead and hopefully make it easy to follow.

What Do I Need To Know?

Lets be honest, the world of comics is confusing and for those who are thinking of wading into the worlds of Batman, Ironman, Captain America, Superman or any other comic creation, there's a lot.  This makes it really hard to follow just one character without knowing about others.  So here's a quick break down, without spoilers, you'll need to know to look into Billy and Teddy.

Billy - Originally a Marvel fanboy he may or may not be the reincarnation of one of Scarlet Witch's children. He has the power to do basically anything by repeating his intention over and over until it happens. He also happens to be Jewish and Queer and those are central parts of his identity.  He also originally went by the name of Asgardian.

Teddy - While initally named after and resembling the Incredible Hulk, Teddy is actually a shapeshifter with connections to both the Skrull and Kree. He is fiercely loyal to his boyfriend, Billy, and serves as a sort of grounding force when Billy drops too far into his own brain and not so safe ideas.

Why Should I Be Paying Attention to Them?

In the world of queer fiction, there are a lot of tropes that we're all used to seeing.  I'm happy to say that this couple subverts most of those. While Billy and Teddy have their own issues, they are always portrayed as a loving couple who will endlessly risk life and limb for each other and don't get caught up in the oh so boring and standard 'who is he sleeping with this week?' plot lines.  What angst does come up never seems to be from their relationship, but rather from their powers and the world they live in. Because of this, they become each other's firm ground to stand on and it's refreshing to read.  Yes, sometimes the comics use the 'love conquers all' fix at the end of plot lines, but trust me when I say that their relationship in this case makes all the difference.  It's so rare that the love between two queer individuals is the life saving force everyone ends up needing and it's a welcome change that I can't get enough of.

So Where Can I Find Them?

Hopefully soon in the Marvel Extended Universe - like seriously, there are some things that NEED to happen in Infinity War and Avengers 4 that could lead to this. Signed, sincerely, a fangirl who needs this.

In all seriousness, we're still looking for all the comics.  Below are the ones we've located and read so far. Plus in order.  They are best when read in order, but we understand not wanting to wait.  I know I'm missing some here and these aren't full reviews, they're just summaries of the plots so you know what's going on if you can't find them or need an idea of where to start.

Young Avengers Collected - Allan Heinberg, Jim Cheung, Andrea DiVito
This is the beginning.  With the actual Avengers out of commission, these new teenage heroes show up and cause a ruckas even if they're trying to help.  So Captain America decides to put a stop to it and tell... their parents?

A solid introduction to the team and why these characters have the potential to be their own driving force.

Avengers: The Children's Crusade - Allan Heinberg, Jim Cheung
Wiccan is convinced that Scarlet Witch is his mother and she's not the monster that everyone else is making her out to be after the House of M storyline where she nearly destroyed everything. So he sets out to find her and, in true Billy fashion, finds more then he bargained for.

Because, as you'll learn, that is Billy. He gets into trouble, but he also kicks some major ass and is a lot smarter then the 'adults' give him credit for.

Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways - Zeb Wells, Stefano Caselli
All the grownups are fighting and even the Young Avengers have been pulled onto Captain America's side and told to hold their ground until needed. But when the Runaways are pulled into the fight, they can't stay and watch, so the two teams end up coming together to save each other from the major conflict.

The nice thing is you don't need to know about the Runaways to read this, the comic does a solid job introducing them very quickly and how well the two teams mesh.

Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers - Christopher Yost, Takeshi Miyazawa
The two teams come together again this time because the Skrulls are invading and since both teams have a Skrull in their ranks, they're both very involved.

This one is obviously part of a larger storyline and you can tell in the execution. That's really only my one complaint. The anime style of illustration is also a fun aspect.

Young Avengers - Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson
Few things are worse then a space born suburban mother bent on chasing you away from home.  Billy had the best intentions with summoning Mother, but now the team as a whole has to deal with her, along with Kid Loki and America Chavez.

THIS is the arc that hooked us.  I can't really communicate how creepy and effective the villain of Mother is. You kinda just have to read it and you'll get it. Also, Kid Loki steals the entire comic.

I know there are more, we're still looking.  We have two comics on order from our local comic shop and pages are still being scoured for more mentions. Then there's fanfiction to search for, and deviantart pages to favorite and all sorts of things. In a world where queer characters are far too often fetish-ized for the consumption and pleasure of straight fans, it's super refreshing to see a queer couple (and lets be honest, nearly an entire queer team) take center stage and not devolve into the drama and cat calling that the popular media would have you believe we all live. Billy and Teddy are a breath of fresh air and I really hope they have many more stories and adventures to come.

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