New Avengers #3 Review

Hulkling is KING ARTHUR OF SPACE. What more do you want from a comic? (Other than different art.)

Where we last left off in New Avengers #2 (only two weeks ago!), Sunspot’s Avengers Idea Mechanics team (officially granted the title of New Avengers by Clint “Hello-I-am-a-SHIELD-spy-just-letting-you-know” Barton) had managed to take down the Maker’s Life Minus minions, but unbeknownst to them he succeeded in summoning Moridun, a dark wizard from a universe that existed prior to their own.

This week, Teddy Altman becomes KING OF SPACE.

To be precise, KING ARTHUR OF SPACE.

I am so incredibly here for this.

While the art is regrettably still the same as before (AKA horrifying in anatomical ways I cannot even begin to explain and not at all suited to character expression or dynamic action in any sense), my overall enjoyment of the story has skyrocketed after the previous issue. Some of Ewing’s strongest writing happens when he has a chance to explore characters in a more nuanced fashion, which is difficult to do when trying to introduce a new hero team all at once. By issue #3, we’re given enough room to let the characters breathe a little bit, resulting in what may turn out to be one of the greatest payoffs yet for long-time Young Avengers fans.

In my previous review, I expressed a desire for New Avengers to go all-out and become a niche book, catering to the fans who gravitate to a book like this because of our love for the characters it contains. New Avengers #3 has delivered that to me in spades, and I am beyond thrilled.

For those who aren’t as familiar with the convoluted backstories of the Young Avengers, this issue may not be as enjoyable as it was for me, despite the comic’s very good effort at including the crucial bits of backstory as it goes. But from my end of things, everything is wonderful and Teddy is King Arthur of space and I don’t even care how ridiculous it is because it makes me that happy when I read it. But to be fair to those who may not know the inspiration behind this story (other than Arthurian mythos, but we’ll get to that), we need to go all the way back to the first volume of Young Avengers.

Teddy Altman, also known as Hulkling, was originally named Dorrek VIII and is the half-Kree, half-Skrull son of Mar-Vell and the Skrull Princess Anelle, sent to Earth for his own safety and raised as a human until the Super-Skrulls came to Earth looking for him and killed his foster mother. The Skrulls wanted him to take the throne and rebuild the Skrull empire, while the Kree obviously did not want that (since they and the Skrulls are bitter enemies).

The Avengers and Young Avengers managed to prevent this fight from turning into yet another Kree-Skrull war by having one of the no-longer-evil Super-Skrulls shapeshift into Teddy’s form and pretend to be him, spending time with both groups as a part of a peace treaty between the two. Since those comics (which were published almost ten years ago), we haven’t seen much that deals with Teddy’s royal heritage, nor the implications of his nature as the child of both a Kree and a Skrull.

UNTIL NOW.

This week, we get a bit of a hodgepodge of stories at the start: there’s Power Man very rightly calling out Billy for using “Wiccan” as his codename when it’s not actually his faith (which we’ve been saying for a long, long time, so good for Victor for finally bringing it up), Dr. Toni Ho trying to get in contact with Aikku Jokinen, the Norwegian girl with whom the POD armor forcefully bonded when it landed on Earth, and Songbird discovering a listening device that wasn’t planted by their token SHIELD spy. POD’s story is of particular note because Dr. Ho finds out Aikku is not okay inside the armor, having been rejected by her girlfriend for being “an alien thing” and “not human” anymore. With Aikku, that makes three confirmed LGBTQIA+ members of the New Avengers, which is a pleasant surprise.

Everything else gets put by the wayside, however, when a massive spaceship shows up outside the base, demands Teddy’s presence, and then magically teleports him on board when POD attacks the ship, with Billy tagging along magically since he can’t keep Teddy on Earth instead.

Apparently, this is what “Billy tagging along magically” looks like. Just so you all know.

New Avengers 03 image 1

I don’t care what anyone says, this is HORRIFYING.

I miss the days of Jim Cheung and Jamie McKelvie so much.

There are some minor brighter spots to the visuals, though. While the art is still eye-gouging and horrifying at times (AKA all of the time) and proportions and nuanced character physicality are both a joke, the color work fits relatively well with the nature of the comic itself, with its brighter shades to help characters pop off the backgrounds and use of different palettes for contrasting settings.

While the New Avengers prepare to head into space to rescue Teddy, we discover that the spaceship contains the Knights of the Infinite, a group of Kree-Skrull hybrids. Based on a prophecy from their old, wise, magic-using leader M’ryn, they believe that Teddy is destined to unify the fractured Kree and Skrull empires and be their once and future king. (Sadly, what the Knights don’t know is that M’ryn was killed by Moridun just after they left to go get Teddy, with Moridun believing he is the king M’ryn’s prophecy predicts.)

Any of that sounding familiar?

Yup, it’s Arthurian mythology in space.

If the above wasn’t obvious enough, we also have someone named Lan-Zarr (Lancelot), a fighter named K’kyy (Kay), M’ryn’s (Merlin’s) daughter and fellow magic-user Mur-g’nn (Morgan), and a sword hidden in the Light of Truth that can only be retrieved by their prophesied king.

The Knights seem to be a rather pompous lot, prone to pontificating at length about destiny and prophecy and being worthy and whatnot, and through it all Teddy is just so done with the entire thing.

New Avengers 03 image 2

Teddy retrieves the sword while Lan-Zarr is going on and on about how he must be truly worthy to do so, and immediately demands to go home. Of course, this means the Knights all hail him as their ruler, leading Billy to tell Teddy to “[not] freak out… I think you’re the King of Space.”

Everything about this is absolutely delightful to me.

I’ve wanted a return to the storyline of Teddy’s true heritage for a long while now, and the fact that I’m getting it in the form of a King Arthur story with aliens deeply convinced of the seriousness of everything they do and an Arthur figure who is having none of it makes it all the better. It’s utterly ridiculous but that over-the-top ridiculousness just makes it all the better for me, because the story is so unabashedly enthusiastic about what it wants to be that I can’t help but enjoy it too.

All prophecies aside, Teddy’s existence is important for other Kree-Skrull hybrids, who are most likely considered inferior and outcasts by both societies they’re supposed to belong to. To have someone who is not only a hybrid like themselves but the next person in line for the throne of one of those empires is a huge deal, and despite the Knights’ pretentious airs I think it’s very possible that Teddy could do a lot of good things at the head of the Skrull empire or even at the head of a combined empire.

Sadly, this does mean that Teddy would have to stay in space, which is something Young Avengers fans have been worried about since his royal heritage came to light. If he does become the leader of the Skrulls, let alone the leader of the Kree and the Skrulls, that takes him off the playing field as an Earth-bound character and also removes a source of conflict from the cosmic Marvel storylines, since Teddy-as-emperor would be quite firm in stopping the empire(s) from going to war like they always do.

And, of course, if Teddy’s in space, Billy will be there too, which would effectively eradicate the two characters who are arguably the most prominent LGBTQIA+ superheroes at Marvel right now. That’s certainly not what I’d want as an outcome for this storyline, but the fact that Teddy himself has so little patience for it all and just wants to go home (insisting they call him “Teddy” instead of “Dorrek” and repeatedly asking to go back to Earth) is promising.

This was an incredibly fun issue to read, despite my continued aversion to the art, and Ewing’s writing pays off so much more when given the chance to be dedicated to a few characters at a time. Billy and Teddy’s excellent adventure in space will continue in New Avengers #4, and I can’t wait to see what Teddy does as the new Space King Arthur. (It’s a tough job, but hey, someone has to wield the magical space sword.)

New Avengers #3 was written by Al Ewing, with art by Gerardo Sandoval, colors by Dono Sánchez Almara, and lettering by VC’s Clayton Cowles.

Images courtesy of Marvel
New Avengers #3
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Eve

Eve is asexual panromantic, a graduate student with no time for sleep (but always time for comics), a senior contributing writer for the Rainbow Hub, and an avid consumer of any type of media she can get her hands on. When not perusing her incredibly large collection of Marvel comics, she can be found reading, knitting in front of the TV, or on her laptop.

  • Jacob Pauli

    this sounds totally awesome but there is no way in hell I’m braving that art for the story

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