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‘Champions’ #1 review: World stars

The Champions get a new direction and go global.

Champions is a series about hope, doing your best, and being better. It’s why Jim Zub’s new direction for the team makes so much sense. Ms. Marvel is now in charge and commanding a global Champions unit to help people everywhere. It’s ambitious, but is it sustainable? With villains running amok, the answer is probably no.

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

The Champions have gone global! The team has seen explosive growth under Ms. Marvel’s leadership, with super-powered members ready to answer the call in a dozen different countries. They’re saving people and improving lives across the planet while they inspire the next generation… but something sinister lurks beneath the surface of their expanded mission. It’s a dark secret that could destroy the team and everything they stand for!

Why does this matter?

This is a big and brand new direction from Jim Zub after following in the footsteps of Mark Waid, Brian Michael Bendis, G. Willow Wilson, Greg Pak, and Tom King. That’s exciting as we’re getting an unfiltered Champions fully formed by Zub’s vision. Bring it on.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

It becomes very apparent why Steven Cummings was chosen as an artist on this title. He’s got a great handle on character expressions, places utmost importance on character acting, can fill a panel with many characters and employs an ever so subtle manga feel that suits the younger characters. As the story unfolds with Ms. Marvel’s multiple teams saving lives, Cummings keeps you there, both with her at the headquarters and with those on the ground. There are also different types of calamities that are articulated well.

Sweet double page spread!
Credit: Marvel Comics

Two things are made very clear in this issue. The first is Ms. Marvel’s vision actually working and her desire to save even more lives is a good and great one. The second is how maybe managing an army of heroes is too much? Zub is without a doubt pushing these heroes in new and different ways which are exciting, to say the least. As the story unfolds, there are new heroes from other countries introduced as well as familiar faces. It’s also made quite a clear strategy and planning is going into all this. At one point a character says, “I was surprised Ms. Marvel assigned two wingers to the same mission.” that’s an interesting aspect showing Ms. Marvel isn’t only a leader in this series, but a tactician. That’ll be fun to see how that unfolds and changes the character.

The teen aspect of the characters is still on full display too. Characters are a bit short with each other, tempers flare, and those hormones are flowing. Or, as is revealed in this issue, maybe there’s more to it than that. Either way, Zub does not lose sight of where these characters are in their lives.

It can’t be perfect, can it?

While I like the art for this book, it can feel strangely distant at times. A lot of the panels are medium and long shots. There are very few close-ups, which keep the characters at a distance and can even make the emotional resonance of a scene feel cold.

Not so much a negative, but a concern, is the cliffhanger of the issue. It caught me off guard with little build up. It made me wonder if I missed a plot thread from a previous issue in the series or an issue in one of the characters’ own series.

Is it good?

I liked this issue because it’s taking chances and pushing the team in a new direction. Zub has a clear handle on the characters and Cummings can handle a heavy dose of team action.

Champions #1
Is it good?
I liked this issue because it’s taking chances and pushing the team in a new direction. Zub has a clear handle on the characters and Cummings can handle a heavy dose of team action.
The new direction is bold, but logical and should be fun to watch how it changes the heroes
Zub has a great handle of the characters
The art does well to manage so many characters on the page
The art can feel distant
The cliffhanger seems way out of left field

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