With the news from this weekend’s NYCC that the Runaways are going to be showing up in future issues of Avengers Academy alongside other semi-forgotten Marvel teen heroes, I got to wondering: Do teen heroes necessarily work for audiences nowadays?
Don’t get me wrong; I like Avengers Academy a lot, so I’m not asking whether it’s a bad book. But adding the casts of Runaways, Spider-Girl, Young Allies and other canceled books to the line-up of the book just underlines how many different attempts Marvel has made at teen-led series over the years, and how many have just not found enough of an audience to keep going. Add in things like the various X-Men titles – Young X-Men, New X-Men, the revamped New Mutants before that title was given back to its original owners – and there’s a worrying amount of series that never quite found enough readers to keep books alive.
Over at DC, things are better with an entire “Young Justice” line complete with Teen Titans, Static Shock and Blue Beetle in addition to franchise extensions in things like Superboy and Supergirl (Fury of Firestorm for some reason isn’t included in the Young Justice line, but should be, considering its leads are high school students). But even so, Red Robin has bitten the dust and Batgirl has been revamped to remove the teen star with an older character, which fits with books like Legion of Super-Heroes and Hawk & Dove aging their leads into the seemingly more comfortable young adulthood.
I can’t work out if this is actually a thing, a sign that whatever trends may have seen teen superheroes be the in-thing – In the 1980s, don’t forget, the biggest selling DC books were New Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes, and the Justice League was revamped to bring in new, younger characters to capitalize on the trend – have passed due to the increasing age of the average reader. After all, a ridiculous number of books get canceled at DC and Marvel all the time, so maybe it’s unsurprising that the younger characters just get caught up in that. And yet… I’d like to see one of these books become a big success at Marvel, you know? Just one, to prove that it can be done, and they can last a long time. We’ve come close twice, but both Runaways and Young Avengers fell apart for different reasons – here’s hoping that Avengers Academy can buck the trend and go the distance*.
(* Insert any other cliche you want there, seeing as I apparently have started doing so.)