Comic Book Review: Champions #1
If you had to ask me for one of my most anticipated books of the new year? Champions #1 would be right there at the top. I loved Wayward (Image Comics), so I couldn’t help but look forward to a Marvel book that these Jim Zub and Steven Cummings could work on together again. This may not be a book freshly debuting, but there is no better time to jump into the world of Champions whether new or old. Relaunching with a new #1 works for a book like this that may need that nudge to find accessibility for those who might feel as though they might miss out jumping in after issue #27.
Being a new #1, the main focus for this first issue would of course be to get back to the mission statement of Champions. The first run had a strong story surrounding the core members and how they broke away from hero work that they didn’t feel was meeting their satisfaction. This new run takes things a step further to actually establish Champions as a global movement. Sometimes it is one thing to say something, and another thing to put those words into actions. What we saw developed was exactly where you would have expected them to be at this stage. It felt right that Ms. Marvel was the leader of this team, that Sam would have found other ways to make himself useful, and that the main team for the most part would be spread out to tackle the scope of their missions. When I say missions, that is what made this first experience with this version of the Champions so exciting. There was a lot going on when their ability to now be in more places than one was put to the test.
There was only one thing that really had me anxious about this book, and that was the danger or obstacles that they would have to face. You don’t try for this level of ambition without facing some larger than life challenges. As they said, something sinister lurks beneath the surface of their expanded mission. Part of me wanted to assume that it had something to do with the dog after the ending to Champions #27, but even then it was too early to assume anything after seeing who made an appearance at the end of the issue.
Big drama. Those words I found chilling as a selling point for this book, but it is something you brace yourself for when the characters are all young. Their problems will deal with the missions, with themselves, with each other. It was tough to tell what was manufactured and what was real drama, but the mystery adds to the interest in seeing where things can go wrong and where things did go wrong during that month where they decided to take Champions global.
The roster for this team was very impressive. To say that the team has seen explosive growth under Ms. Marvel’s leadership felt like an understatement. Some still somewhat new, some very new, and then there were some familiar faces like Bombshell that left me cheering because you would have thought those like her may have been forgotten. When this creative team said that Champions had gone global, that was not just a clever use of words for the sake of hype. Our new character, Qureshi was very interesting for the power he had in contrast to the others. I found it was a good move to try for someone whose powers act more as support than for fighting. Especially when that power can be convenient in a team setting of this scope.
If you weren’t already drawn-in by the story, the art was more than enough to invest in. The art team of Steven Cummings, Marcio Menyz, and Erick Arciniega did an amazing job of breathing life into this expanded movement we call Champions. Steven Cummings’ work was everything that I had expected from this first issue. His pencils are gorgeous, but it is his style that jumps at you most. What I loved about Wayward was the cultural distinction that he was always able to put into his characters. He was so fitting for this relaunch of Champions because this is a team that has such a large and diverse cast of young heroes. All of them from different backgrounds and ethnicity. He made all of that stand out for these characters and much more. That aside, the action was fluent and satisfyingly expressive to capture the drama that these characters couldn’t help getting into. The anger, awkwardness, frustrations, all of it took form this issue and that was a lot to absorb in such a short amount of time. That aside, the details mattered whether it was the new tech, or the further exploration of the base. Marcio Menyz and Erick Arciniega blew me away with the colors they were able to get out of Cummings’ pencils. They did not skip a beat between characters, settings, and everything that you expected to be flashy about young heroes springing into action.
This new era for Champions began giving us the full package. The action delivered was satisfying, our first taste of adventure from them was bold, and the drama was heartbreaking. This iteration of Champions won’t just be about the work they do, it will be testing their fortitude in living up to the name. It’s not about how high you climb, or how far you fall. Being a young hero is about what you are willing to do to stand tall when everything goes wrong.