In Champions #6, with their name and emblem sweeping the globe and adorning the driven, how do our heroes celebrate? With paintball, of course! It’s certainly better than what the other guys are up to, but is it good?
Champions #6 (Marvel Comics)
The Totally Awesome Hulk knows that virality is a blessing and a curse, so despite the brightly colored pellets propelled by their powers, he tells the team to not relax quite yet. He’s calculated that something will screw it all up soon enough.
Or maybe a whole TEAM of somethings, called the Freelancers. They’re out for some jollies, too, but in the most malicious way possible. And once they’re done embarrassing the homeless, they’ve got one more surprise for the Champions.
Is It Good?
Champions #6 is a well-written book. It’s Mark Waid; how could it not be? The powers and personalities of the team are again highlighted in a happy moment that shows while they’re busy changing the world they are, in fact, still kids. Their villainous counterparts are introduced in a similar style, as we get a handle on who they are and what they can do through their actions, in a nice bit of parity.
Artist Humberto Ramos turns in perhaps his most even performance on Champions to date. He seems to have finally adjusted to the slower scenes, and of course the action is right up his alley. Colorists Edgar Delgado and Nolan Woodard make the brights brighter and further emphasize the individual looks of each character.
So yes, structurally, Champions #6 is a fine comic book, and the score on this review is based on that. But the choice to make the money-grubbing, already well-off uber-capitalists such heinous villains–disgusting people who find glee in torturing the less fortunate and who boast about their love for “punching down”–is a tone deaf decision that can only serve to further divide, rather than uplift, which is what many hoped this experimental book would accomplish.
The tag at the end of Champions #6 even tells us to prepare for “Class Warfare!” In such a tumultuous political climate, one that seemed impossible only a few months ago, Waid falls into the same trap that allowed our current state of affairs to come about–demonizing the other side. The feeling of being lectured to rather than conversed with led many to vote against their own interests, and continuing to perpetuate the idea that those folks are careless monsters will not change them; it’s instead more likely to put them on the defensive and make them double down on protecting what they have, at the expense of others.
I don’t know, maybe the story will pan out in a less confrontational way, but there’s little in the previous five issues of Champions to suggest that. Waid is obviously free to write whatever he wants, and the stories (sans context) will almost always be quality, as to be expected from a veteran master of the game, but if he truly wants to change the world, Champions #6 is the exact wrong way to do that. Cutthroat capitalism may be unsavory, but it’s not necessarily akin to orchestrating bumfights, and to insinuate such simply turns off the very people you’re trying to reach.
Champions #6 is a lesson in how to develop character and personality through action and not exposition. Through suggesting that anyone could revel so in the misery of the innocent, however, it’s also at complete cross-purposes with the book’s mission statement. It’s (deliberately) difficult to disentangle the tale from the message, so the reader will have to decide if they’re willing to take that trade-off.