Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos have been writing this tight team book for quite a while now and issues #6 through #12 are now out in trade paperback form. This trade involves a rival for-hire super team The Freelancers, includes a “Secret Empire” tie-in, and continues to develop Cyclops and Viv. Waid has a way of developing his characters, feeling progressive with his commentary on politics and social issues, and has his narrative woven together with Ramos’ clean and kinetic lines.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Because the world needs heroes, they are the Champions! Ms. Marvel! Cyclops! Nova! Spider-Man! Viv Vision! And the Totally Awesome Hulk! They’re young and idealistic, and their movement is gathering pace -but the newly minted Champions will get a harsh dose of reality when they’re forced to face a throwdown with the Freelancers!
Can I jump in easily?
It’s not the easiest book to drop into, especially if you’re unfamiliar with all these characters, but if you’re familiar with Amadeus Cho, Miles Morales, and Ms. Marvel you should have no trouble. The thing is, Waid does a great job throwing together each of these characters’ baggage and backstories so that they play off each other in natural ways. You’ll be able to enjoy these dynamics, but not the why of them without understanding their complex personalities and back stories.
Reason 1: The Freelancers are corporate heroes who do very bad things
The team is changing the world.
I was shocked to read this book and see how on the nose the Freelancers are with their missions. If a corporation needs to get rid of homeless people they’re there to scare them away. Have some protestors attempting to stop big oil from building a pipeline? There they are. Waid plays off them with the Champions who fight for the little guy and represent the values of a more progressive type of American. That makes these characters much more political in their missions and while it’s not overt it can come on quite strong. That’s a cool element as Waid uses the team to shine a light on the atrocities of powerful companies.
Reason 2: The heroes are fun and bubbly.
If you’re a comic fan from the 90’s you’ll know some of the best stories involved heroes playing a sport. In this collection we get the heroes doing a little paintballing. This allows Ramos to draw some action packed gaming with some cool strategy and have some good-natured competition flare up between characters. Other moments include Nova saving the day by doing something bold on social media (and the team loving him for it) and Viv being very honest about progressing an intimate relationship with Hulk. There’s a rawness to the characters that can’t been seen anywhere else.
Reason 3: The characters have a lot of passion.
When the Freelancers pull a switcheroo on the Champions and start selling merch after trademarking the team’s logo, Ms. Marvel is crushed. She’s furious because she’s so passionate about what the team stands for. Viv must combat her father who knows best even if she’s sure he doesn’t. These characters are young and managing a superhero lifestyle only makes things more complicated. You’ll never forget these characters are teenagers and Waid does a great job using this to create unique and fun stories.
That arm is pretty freaking cool.
Reasons to be wary?
The “Secret Empire” tie-in doesn’t age too well, especially since it completely flips the script, and then is followed by a chapter that is more in line with the series. Aside from this, the complex backstories of the characters is required if you want to fully enjoy the series.
Is there a rational to the reasons?
This is a fun chapter in one of the freshest takes on teen superheroes in a long time. If you dig superhero books you’ll love how Waid and Ramos play with tropes too.