The world still needs heroes! But… does it need so many of them? In the first issue of the new volume of Champions, writer Jim Zub and artist Steven Cummings double down on the expanded roster of teenage superheroes, immediately showcasing the breadth of characters in Marvel’s junior varsity ranks. The book opens with team leader Ms. Marvel coordinating the efforts of three different squads, each working to tackle a different crisis in a different part of the world. In addition to members of the original lineup, as envisioned by Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos when the second volume of Champions debuted in 2016 (minus Kid Cyclops), Kamala’s charges include other next-gen heroes introduced to the team in recent months, like Ironheart and the new Wasp, as well as brand-new or nigh forgotten kid crime-fighters like Pinpoint and Bombshell.
That’s a lot of heroes.
I’m not complaining, although I can understand how an already marginally recognizable team might suffer further complication by including ever more unrecognizable faces. In fact, I’m glad Champions exists. The success of the X-Men in the 80’s and 90’s birthed a glut of mutants and as many team books as a spinner rack could hold. In the 00’s and 10’s the same was true for the Avengers brand; those guys even needed their own planet to base operations. But Champions, both in the fictional world and in the retail environment, exists because the world needs heroes. And good superhero teams. Sure, there might be a little bit of cashing in happening in the immediate future thanks to the presence of Miles Morales, but Marvel hadn’t been banking on Sony’s fantastic Into the Spider-Verse achievement when they first put this book out. This book was engendered because some very talented creators gave life to some very compelling characters, and a few other very talented creators decided they could pull these kids together for some very compelling stories. And that’s exactly what they’ve been doing for almost thirty issues now.
Continue reading Champions by Zub & Cummings
We’re pretty familiar with the routine at this point. Marvel’s big summer event simmers with lead-in stories and “road to” developments before kicking off with a Free Comic Book Day prologue. Then we hit the main event, and queue up the requisite mini-series, including the anthology book with short stories from a variety of up-and-coming creators. And, of course, the tie-ins. Everyone has a tie-in. Occasionally these crossovers enhance the main storyline, and in some cases they’re downright essential. It’s increasingly problematic, in fact, that more and more of these comic book events are inscrutable in their own right and require following a good portion of the ancillary material. Sometimes the connection is tangential, but the plot trigger results in a decent one-shot or two-part tie-in. More often than not, however, it just seems like Marvel’s cheap way of selling more copies of their books.
And every once in a while Marvel gives us a stellar event book, and they tie it in with a great monthly series (that we should all be reading anyway). I’m hoping that Champions #10, out this week, didn’t need the Secret Empire banner to help boost its sales, but whatever the case, Mark Waid & Humberto Ramos took advantage of the opportunity to spin a worthy companion tale.
Continue reading Champions and the Secret Empire Tie-Ins
Champions is one of the most exciting new books to come out of the current crop of Marvel NOW! releases. Writer Mark Waid assembles a team featuring many of the most promising young new heroes in comics. Ms. Marvel, Nova, Spider-Man, Cyclops, Vision, and Hulk in their original incarnations would be exactly the sort of temporary superhero team that would last a year and fizzle out. Luckily for readers, Marvel, and Waid, have put serious effort into developing these new young heroes, finally giving them a team of their own. Miles Morales has become a worthy successor to Peter Parker. Nova, in much the same way, functions as a softer version of Richard Ryder. Ms. Marvel, hot off a top spot in Civil War II and featured in far too many team-ups lately, actually feels like a crucial member of the Champions team. Hulk, in this case the “Totally Awesome” Amadeus Cho, is quite different from the original, serving as both brains and brawn. Lastly is Viv Vision, an excellent character whose presence also manages to save the amazing Vision family from total comic book extinction, is a welcome addition, acting as the team’s Jarvis and Kitty Pride combined. Each of these heroes brings something new to the table, each one representing a new direction for Marvel, while also being reminders of heroes past. Champions is a book filled with legacy, a reaction to the superhero teams of old. It aims to be to the youth of today what X-Men was to the youth of the 80’s.
Continue reading The Best of Marvel NOW! #3 – Champions
Marvel’s 2016-2017 publishing initiative kicked off this week: a new slate of books for a new era, albeit with old branding. I have less of a problem with the re-hashing of the Marvel NOW! label than I do with the name itself. Reminds me too much of a gawdawful series of pop music compilations. “NOW that’s what I call superheroes!” I also don’t mind that we’re starting the new cycle before the end of Civil War II. As we all remember, the same thing happened last year when the first All New All Different Marvel titles debuted before Secret Wars had a chance to wrap. There has been enough foreshadowing, as well as plenty of hints in press releases and solicitations, so that we have a general idea as to what the fallout looks like. Just, you know… let’s try to avoid any overt spoilers, yeah?
Week 1 slaps the NOWness on two new ongoing titles, one mini-series, and two continuing series. Foremost among these releases, with seeming significance for Marvel’s heroic youth movement, is Champions #1 by Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos, and Victor Olazaba. Casual comic book fans unfamiliar with the new Spider-Man, unaware of Kamala Khan, or confused by a Hulk with a faux-hawk, may let this one slip by. And that would be a huge mistake.
Continue reading Marvel NOW! – Week 1