In a time where superhero media is dominated by story-lines pitting the characters against each other, where do we draw the line? Enter Champions: a story of young heroes fed up with the constant conflict between their idols who are going out on their own to make a difference.
Champions is perhaps the crux of what the Marvel NOW! initiative is centered around: young and old characters and how they interact in the world of today. And quite frankly, most of the young heroes we’ve grown to love are fed up with the constant Civil Wars and the Inhuman vs X-Men conflicts. Nova and Miles Morales Spider-Man quit the Avengers, Kamala Khan is having her thoughts about it too and Amadeus Cho aka Totally Awesome Hulk is running his own solo operation, deliberately staying away from the bigger heroes. We are even told that after the events that transpired in Civil War 2 the people of the world have had their view of superheroes greatly affected, seeing them as nothing more than constant annoyances rather than life savers.
What this presents is an interesting story about what it means to be a hero: specifically in the eyes of the young heroes against the old heroes. Mark Waid brilliantly displays this struggle throughout the issue, showing how past events have shaped the way our team thinks. Each character is also written with their own individual flare and characters play brilliantly off each other during conversations. The main eyes of which we see this story through are those of Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel, and Waid manages to capture the youthfulness of the character along with great personal moments. Even in general, Waid makes it known that this is a book that will aim for the teen demographic: a group of teenagers rebelling against higher authority to do what they feel is right links directly with what many teenagers go through daily. We even get a wonderful page showcasing all the new teen heroes that have popped up over the past two years. However, I do feel that Waid didn’t manage the tone as well towards the end of the issue as it could have been, but I’m sure this is an issue that can be smoothed out during the run.
I’ve never been a fan of Humberto Ramos and the way he draws his characters. The exaggerated features always put me off what I’m reading making it difficult for me to enjoy the book. However, Ramos’s art is decent in this issue, apart from a few noticeable scenes which look plain ridiculous. What draws the eye to the art is the bright colors by colorist Edgar Delgado who uses his popping pallet to make every page as fun and exciting as possible, especially when it comes to small details such as the contrast in Miles’s red eye outlines to the rest of his black suit; it just flows so well. I wouldn’t consider the art to be friendly to new readers who may find it slightly jarring, but it isn’t as off-putting as usual in my eyes.
Overall, Champions was a decent first looking into the youth of the Marvel Universe and is definitely something new readers may want to pick up, albeit for unusual art and a wobbly plot. Feel free to read further on for a spoiler-section analyzing the plot in more detail.
SPOILER SECTION: DISCUSSING THE PLOT (My More Informal Analysis)
After falling out with the Avengers over not wanting to assist clean-up and rebuilding a destroyed train track, Kamala Khan quits the Avengers; a very well-written scene showcasing how far the character has come since her introduction.
She contacts Nova and Miles Morales to tell them the news, which results in some brilliant witty dialogue between Nova and Miles. Via flashback we see that after the events of Civil War 2, Nova and Miles left the Avengers. Kamala wants to start a team of young heroes to help out where possible and the trio recruit Amadeus Cho, currently helping some miners stuck underground.
Cho then takes the trio to the Vision household where they recruit Viv Vision, daughter of the Vision, who can be used to detect crimes by her scanning the internet. Also she plays an online fighting game with Amadeus, which is pretty neat. She detects a smuggling of women at a nearby dockyard and the group goes to sort it out. This was unexpected and rather dark to me in a book that has up to this point been light-hearted and fun.
They confront the smuggler, a clown called Pagliacci, and the resulting fight ends with Pagliacci taking a bystander hostage. Miles disarms Pagliacci and they win the fight. The fight itself was ok, but the panel layout made it seem longer than it is. There was a large combination of large and small panels that made the page look weird.
However, the group learns that one of the women had died previously, and Amadeus Cho flies into a rage. While a crowd claims Cho should kill Pagliacci, Kamala speaks to them, showing how they are better than murder and want to help out as much as possible, as Champions. #Champions goes viral, and the team is ready to roll.