Hulkling and Wiccan first appeared in Young Avengers #1 in 2005, created by Allan Heinberg, and the intention was always for them to be a couple. Heinberg was nervous about whether or not he’d be able to do it in the atmosphere of the time, but he dropped hints, and the fans picked up on the hints with no problem at all. Everybody knew Hulkling and Wiccan were an item long before the reveal, and I think Young Avengers managed to fly under the radar enough that the larger media never really noticed. When they finally made waves, it was with their first visible, on-page kiss, seven years later. To be fair, this seems to be circumstantial. The comic wasn’t consistently published during that time, and Heinberg said there was just no story reason to show a kiss in an panel up to that point. But still — they’d been a couple that entire time, and the smooch had been hotly awaited.
So yeah, there’s a relatively long relationship history there, and one I’m looking forward to reading. I’ve got the books right here where I can see ’em. But the rest of this post focuses on the Young Avengers series of 2013, my personal introduction to the characters, and one of the best books I’ve read this year, no exaggeration!
It’s got high-quality superhero hijinks and pitch-perfect characters. It’s got the Loki I’ve been reading, a younger version but still with that essential wittiness of Loki, and a lot of the meta-story elements that are eventually perfected in Agent of Asgard. Then there’s Kate (the younger Hawkeye I’ve been loving in that series), Noh-varr, and new-to-me characters Miss America and Prodigy. It’s a fantastic lineup, the characters combine and play off each other well, and they make a great team. They act realistically, they’re young, but they’re teens and 20-somethings who want to be good people and strong superheroes. They have troubles, but they don’t whine. And let’s count up the representation: Hulkling and Wiccan are the anchor couple. Then there’s an out bi guy, a lesbian who isn’t forced to make out with ANYONE over the course of the book, a couple of queer gods and aliens, and check out the racial diversity on the cover, too! Basically it’s like most of my social groups but with more superpowers, and that, my friends, is how you appeal to the youth. Plus, I love that even on a team with a character named Hulkling, Miss America is the big-gun bruiser!
Hulkling and Wiccan are the characters of the day, but Young Avengers (2013) is my big diversity crush of the year. And if you’re getting into comics because you like Ms. Marvel, this is the book you should read next!
(PS regarding Wiccan’s name: It was chosen as a general counterpart to the word “witch.” His writers, subsequently informed that Wicca is a specific religious affiliation, have been sensitive to that in developing the character since then.)
- To start at the beginning: Young Avengers Vol. 1: Sidekicks by Allan Heinberg & Jim Cheung (pub. 2006, ISBN 9780785120186).
- The essential reading I just raved about: Young Avengers Omnibus by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie (pub. 2014, ISBN 9780785191711). It’s one complete story, but you can also get the individual volumes that make up the omnibus, starting with Young Avengers Vol. 1: Style > Substance.