Comic Book Review: Champions #23
If you weren’t reading Champions before, now was the time to jump into the action. Jim Zub had his fun with these characters, and then he took that next step to make these characters their own. That last part being so important when most of this cast were reaching that point where evolution was necessary for their individual growth. With that said, this month’s issue in particular you look forward to once again because this series gives us real stakes for our heroes, for better or for worse.
The trouble that Viv ran into was pretty heartbreaking. To have so much control over her emotional state after everything she has been through up to this point, only to let her wall down for that one second, and that moment of vulnerability turn into a life-threatening mistake. How this sparked an unseen rage within Amka was intense. This was a great time to see what happens when she is pushed to a limit, which even this early in her development never hurts. Especially when her actions capture a strong bond she has already created with some members of this team. The fight between herself and Swamp Thing didn’t disappoint either. While the display of her powers was important, so was the reminder of how powerful Man-Thing is for anyone who has forgotten. The narration of events only helped in the moment when the description of the battle built this up to feel bigger than it was. Not to mention it added more emotional weight to the falling of Viv.
Speaking of Viv, her condition afterwards was crushing. It was one thing for Vision to reveal the truth of his condition, but it was another thing entirely when you top that with what is happening to Viv. Being a synthezoid, it only made sense that some time could be taken to explore what goes on in her head during all of this. Despite this tragedy, I feel as though Jim Zub chose the right time to decide that she needed to figure out how to rise above it. The natural course for any young hero like herself.
How the Champions handled the Man-Thing was pretty crazy. Fear has taken many forms in the past few issues, but what it truly brought out was the fear in the unknown. Especially when these characters could not in time fully understand what it is that drives the Man-Thing and what they could lose at the worst of times. The fight was a great opportunity to show what those like Ironheart and Brawn are now capable of, and also to show what those like Sam are capable of without his power. His identity phase has been very engaging since everything so far has come down to realizing that he isn’t any less of a hero without his powers. The importance of the hero behind the mask shined through, even if it came with a price this time around.
The progression of this Master of The World was new to me, but it was a point of interest nonetheless to see what this guy has planned for a bunch of kids. I could only assume that this is someone building up to be their big bad, and if so, the question remained as to what he hoped to achieve as a conqueror.
This art team took continued to impress when there was more action to take in to admire a lot of the changes to this team. Brawn is still strong, but there’s much less smashing. Ironheart is a lot more diverse in combat, and it made a big difference to see the complexities of her new armor from different perspectives. That including the lightshow inside of the helmet as well. As a whole, it was easier to see how form-fitting this one is too. It looks more feminine, which again makes this more of Riri’s own. Next there was the blank space and circuit lines to create the inside of Viv’s mind was a nice touch. Just enough to create a setting, but not too much to distract from what she’s trying to accomplish in her own mind and with whom. Everything about this portrayal of the Man-Thing has been creative. It was a good contrast foremost to encounter such an elegant swamp setting, only to run into a feral Man-Thing. I loved the balance struck here between the Man-Thing having a solid form, and then also having so much plant-life built around him. You could see the vines wrapping around, the moss which took the form of his hairs, and then there was his glassy red eyes which said more than enough about his mental state. Above all, I loved how the way his body moved felt like he was a slave to his own habits. The colors were definitely more intense this issue which worked very well in favor of the escalation of events. Throughout this issue it should be recognized how brilliant Marcio Menyz is when working with warm colors. A stunning variation to these colors that adds intensity of its own.
There is no rest for the Champions, that much is assured to us through the events of this issue. I was taken back by the balance of action, character development, and one heck of a twist that once again changes everything we knew about the direction this story was taking.