NO TIME FOR LOSERS: MARVEL’S CHAMPIONS RULE!

Listen to Jedi KC

Listen to Jedi KC


a KC COLUMN By KC Carlson

Champions #1

Champions #1


I’ve written about Marvel’s Champions before, but I thought it was time to come back to it after reading a big chunk of them. Not that there’s a huge chunk of Champions yet, but the team seems to have struck a chord with other Marvel characters and creators since late last year. These days it seems that the Champions are the current go-to supergroup for guest appearances (especially in Marvel “events” like Monsters Unleashed and the current Secret Empire).

For those who still don’t know what the current Champions are about (the title was also used by Marvel for a short-lived super-group in the 1970s), this team was pulled together by writer Mark Waid (huge chunks of DC, Marvel, and Archie characters, not to mention his creator-owned work. Like a lot of Mark’s friends, we suspect all this work is actually created by a Legion of Mark-Waids, although Mark himself is probably not aware of it, as most of it is probably produced during the 10-15 minutes he sleeps each day. Yes, he’s a sleep-writer…) and artist Humberto Ramos (Impulse [with Waid], various Spider-Man series, and his creator-owned series Crimson).

HEROIC ORIGINS (Not to be Confused with Heroic Publishing)

The Champions team was formed when former Avengers Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Ms. Marvel (Kamala Kahn), and Nova (Sam Alexander) walked out of the team following the events of Civil War II. Early in the Champions series, they were joined by new teammates (The Totally Awesome) Hulk (Amadeus Cho), the Vision’s daughter Viv Vision (from Tom King’s bonkers 12-issue Vision series, which is currently being annotated — because it needs it!), and the teenage version of former X-Man Cyclops. They band together to explore what superheroes can do to help people beyond simply punching bad guys. Which means, in practice, their foes are not necessarily super-powered villains, or bratty teenage super-villains (like the Freelancers group, who challenge them in issue #6) — but sometimes non-super-powered corrupt officials in power, like politicians or policemen.

The Champions take on the Freelancers on the cover of Champions #7

The Champions take on the Freelancers on the cover of Champions #7


So far, they have been an exceptional team, despite the fact that not all of the team members actually like each other. Or, in the case of Viv Vision, understand each other. Her teammates struggle to comprehend her, as she is often more “Vision” than her dad. Interestingly, that father/daughter conflict seems to be playing a big role in upcoming issues of the series.

The fun part of the series is watching the Champions make mistakes. One of their big ones is still ongoing in the comic. When they failed to register their Champions trademarks and logos, the villainous Freelancers “stole” them and used the name to commit larger crimes. This causes much teenage angst among the group until one of them (using the internet) just fixes it. (Also proving that not every superhero battle has to be resolved by physical violence and fighting.)

GUEST STARS AND GUEST APPEARANCES

Champions #5

Champions #5


Marvel has been hinting around a bit that the Champions might adopt a more fluid membership in the future. There have already been guest characters such as Gwenpool in issue #5. Then Viv met wannabe new hero Red Locust — who is so new, she has to refer to her notes for her heroic public speeches. Red Locust appears in Champions #9, which also includes her origin as a back-up story.

The Champions have also made contact with Ironheart (Riri Williams) in her own title, Invincible Iron Man #6, where they offer her a Champions membership. She teams up with them again in the Secret Empire storyline (along with Falcon II, who is also offered membership in Secret Empire: Brave New World #2). The Champs also appear in the main Secret Empire series.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THEM

Secret Empire: Uprising #1

Secret Empire: Uprising #1


I like that the Champions are not just about super-powered battles with costumed characters. Their attempt to “put the world back together” (from issue #1) is broad enough to include shutting down a human trafficking ring, saving a group of young woman and girls that are being gunned down by terrorists, and encountering a small town full of hate crimes caused by their elected officials. They stand up to other Marvel heroes in discussing the Black Widow’s brutality against Hydra members in Secret Empire, and even the Red Locust shuts down a drug lab using runaway minors as slaves in her origin story. So Champions goes some way in making you think while you’re being entertained. Always a plus for quality entertainment.

Champions #10

Champions #10


At a time where I’m generally letting my comics pile up for several months to make the reading experience better (I really should just “trade-wait”!), I’m proud to say that Champions usually gets my attention the day (or the day after) I bought it. And the positive experience of reading it always makes me want to read more comics — right now! It might just be Marvel’s current Secret Weapon. Hey! Champions #10 (a Secret Empire tie-in) is on-sale today, at your local comic shop!

I wish there were more current Marvel (and other publisher’s) titles like this that inspired me to read them quickly, creating anticipation for new adventures. I know why the industry has developed a “writing for the trade” mentality, but that can sometimes mean not enough plot/story/action in single issues. I want excitement on a monthly (or even weekly) basis! Every issue should be exciting and “count” — not just the first and last chapters.

Comics should do better. That may ultimately be the Championsreal mission!

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KC CARLSON: Hand-built by robots. Explains so much…

WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. . . .You’re still here? It’s over. . . Go home. . .

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