14th Oct2020

‘Champions #1’ Review (Marvel Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Eve Ewing | Art by Simone Di Meo | Published by Marvel Comics

With so much going on in the comic book world it’s impossible to keep your eye on everything. Like most people I tend to follow my favourite creators and characters mostly, but I do like to dip my toe in other waters just to see what’s out there. This Champions book is one of those toe-dips. As the first page makes clear, this book comes on the back of an existing storyline, which I’ll recap in a minute, but for me the hook was two things. Firstly, the name. The Champions is a name with a lot of history in the Marvel Universe, and I say that as someone with a full run of the original 70’s book. This incarnation first came along with Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos back in 2016, essentially to give Marvel a ‘youth’ book. That was my second hook, the sidekicks/young hero angle. There’s been a good timeline of ‘youth’ heroes of course, from Teen Titans to Young Avengers, and they can be a refreshing change from the standard books. Let’s hope this is too.

So, in the lead up to this book, the Champions were involved in accidentally blowing up a school while fighting a dragon. So they say. Kamala Khan, secretly the Champions Ms Marvel, was injured and hospitalized. She then found herself in the weird situation of being on both sides at once. As the injured Kamala, she became the symbol of a movement to ban underage superheroes. As Ms Marvel, she became a target for that same movement. ‘Kamala’s Law’ has now made underage heroes illegal, enforced by the government task force C.R.A.D.L.E. Got all that? Actually just sounds like a younger character version of the whole New Warriors/ Civil War/ Superhuman Registration Act to me, but maybe I am being a tad cynical.

So we open at Miles Morales school, as he hears from his friends that The Champions are about to start a news conference. Which is news to Miles, who as Spider-Man is a member of the team. Kamala does a ‘Greta Thunberg’ and basically tells the world that this new law is wrong, young people can be trusted and, in fact, it’s only young people that can save the world. Essentially sticking two fingers up at the authorities. Miles might agree with some of the sentiment, but doesn’t appreciate having a more clearly defined target now on his back. This becomes even clearer when he is nearly captured by a NYPD/ Federal agent sting, for being illegally active. Miles starts to question his appetite for this whole hero thing, echoing Peter Parker’s journey during Civil War, another parallel intended or not.

Miles makes his way to a secret warehouse meeting, called by Kamala and full of more teen heroes than you can shake a stick at. Emotions are running high, with a philosophical disagreement over toeing the line, which means partnering up with an ‘approved’ mentor hero, or going full on outlaw. Some favour the former, Kamala favours the latter. Adults have proven untrustworthy, so the young heroes need to make a stand alone. Just as full out fighting is about to begin, the meeting is busted by C.R.A.D.L.E, led by Vance Astrovik, known as Justice. All hell breaks loose, and although some escape, some like The Wasp and Bombshell arte captured. The ones who did escape, led by Nova, are now homeless, on the run, and in a whole lot of trouble. Actually, more than they know, as the last page reveals who the traitor was who revealed the location to C.R.A.D.L.E. Yikes.

I must admit, this was better than I anticipated. I was expecting something middle of the road good, but this is a bit above that level. The set up to all this was very derivative of the Civil War storyline, but this issue runs with that well and forges a more newer, individual direction, though perhaps echoing the old Secret Avengers team a little. Scripter Eve Ewing keeps a good handle on the many characters, though not many outside of Miles and Kamala get much screen time this time round. That’ll come I’m sure. The art by Simone Di Meo is a little too busy and cartoony for my personal tastes, but suits this book and its look well. The target audience for this should really appreciate the writing and art for sure.

A wise man once said to stay young, to save the world, you must break the mirror. The Champions have done that. Let’s see if that was a wise decision.

**** 4/5

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