After an emotionally draining and intense battle of ideologies in issue #3, the teen sensations try to save their own hides in Champions #4. Is it good?
Champions #4 (Marvel Comics)
Pilot mode disengage, Hulk-hold-ship-together is a go! Who’s leading this mission anyway, and how the hell did Nova damage his helmet? Oh wait, it’s not a mission at all! Don’t get it twisted! Bet you never thought about the fantastic, transoceanic politics of the Marvel Universe, didja? Neither did this team. And they are in NO WAY ready for the universe-hopping, pink-speaking anomaly on the way.
Is It Good?
Writer Mark Waid continues to develop the various personalities in Champions and successfully bounces them off each other for meaningful effect. There’s nothing like a little adversity to figure out who a team’s true leader is, but this time it’s not a ripped-from-the-headlines conflict, but something distinctly House of Ideas. That would be fine if the dialogue didn’t deliver a wink and a nod to the reader, overtly reminding us that, hey, they can’t all resemble real life.
That slide away from verisimilitude seems like it will continue next issue, if the guest star at the end of Champions #4 is any indication. The series may be undergoing a bit of an identity crisis as it progresses, as the very genuine tribulations in issue #3 are giving way to the more and more improbable. Of course, given the origin of the guest star, it could swing back around again, but in a very convoluted way. Whether you liked it or not, Champions was a gutsy book that might have been trailblazing, one which now seems to be backsliding into more typical, maybe even forgettable territory.
Artist Humberto Ramos does better with the “quiet” scenes in Champions #4 than he did in the previous issue, but whiffs through his usual wheelhouse — the action sequences. It may have been a mistake to have the man renowned for frantic and frenzied movement carry an underwater fight without any dialogue or description. There are indeed some very cool individual panels, but it’s difficult to catch the overall plot thread through Ramos’ heavily stylized pencils. Colorist Edgar Delgado continues to do the best with what he’s given, whether it’s through the ease of contrasting Cyclops’ optic blasts with the dark water, or the greater challenge of finding a way to make the purple and green Viv Vision stand out in that environment.
Champions #4 is a much more typical Marvel comic than the previous issue, and suffers because of it. The book’s original direction may have been off-putting to some, but it was unique and could have opened new avenues for storytelling. Waid and Ramos may still achieve that, as the next issue’s guest star has a built-in backdoor to reality, but the shift in #4 is jarring, and stands as an avoidable stumble in Champions‘ momentum.