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Review: Champions #1: Forging a New Age of Heroes

Marvel’s Young Heroes Face Constantly Scrutiny While Doing Good

Sometimes when the adults aren’t acting their age, it’s time to turn to youth for wisdom. That’s the premise for Marvel’s newest and youngest team of heroes called Champions.

Disenchanted with the way their idols are acting in the wake of the second superhero civil war, the youngest Avengers quit the team and form their own team of idealistic do-gooders. They recruit a multicultural lineup with an android (Viv Vision), a Muslim (Ms. Marvel), an Asian (Amadeus Cho’s Hulk) and an African-American/Hispanic (Miles Morales’ Spider-Man).

Writer Mark Waid throws in a nod to the original ’70s Champions team -– which included Hercules, Ghost Rider, and Black Widow. At one point, Ms. Marvel sarcastically asks, “Sorry, am I Hercules?” during a particularly harrowing situation.

Waid does a good job of navigating readers through the as-of-yet untold end of Marvel’s Civil War II, by showing the youngsters’ frustration without spoiling how the war ends. At the same time, he crafts a compelling conundrum for the heroes who, like today’s police, are being constantly scrutinized thanks to the ubiquity of mobile phone videos. As the character Nova says, “It’s like everyone’s got me on video waiting for me to screw up.” By the end of the first installment, it’s that same scrutiny — as well as a stirring speech from the title’s emotional leader Ms. Marvel — that gives the group legitimacy as well as its name.

As usual artist Humberto Ramos‘ angular drawings, particular of Ms. Marvel, are stunning. Ramos is a master of facial expressions as well, even conveying anger, fear and frustration on a masked character.

It’s easy to see why Marvel chose to push this title first as part of its revised Marvel Now lineup. It feels relevant in every way. Hopefully Waid and team can keep up the youthful exuberance.

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Champions #1, Marvel, Released October 5, 2016, Written by Mark Waid, Art by Humberto Ramos, Inks by Victor Olazaba, Color by Edgar Delgado, Lettering by Clayton Cowles; $4.99

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Written by Tom Smithyman

Tom Smithyman is a newspaperman turned marketing executive. A comic book enthusiast since the 70s, he tries to keep up with these alternate realities while juggling a professional career, family, community theater roles and passion for travel. Connect with him @tsmithyman and linkedin.com/in/tomsmithyman/