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.
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.