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Champions #5 Review

Ho boy. You thought our favorite teen heroes fighting a faux Taliban was touchy? Wait ’til you see the MOSQUE BOMBING in Champions #5. Is it handled well, and is it good?

Champions #5 (Marvel Comics)

Come on, Sheriff, you could have sent those firefighters in a littler earlier. Why, it’s almost as if you WANTED that mosque to burn down. Watch out, though, there are still good people in your department. Just a matter of whether they stay silent or not.

Needless to say, that’s not an issue for Gwenpool. The polarizing pink warrior wants to be a team player, much like one of her namesakes, but the Champions aren’t so hot on that offer. It could be that her vast knowledge of comics is actually a detriment in this situation. I’m sure NONE OF US can relate.

Is It Good?

After surviving a much more traditional comic book rumble with some Atlanteans, our heroes are back to what they do best in Champions #5–addressing situations shockingly close to real life and making readers question how they feel about this approach. And this time, we even have a suspicious surrogate present, in the Unbelievable Gwenpool!

Gwen’s presence is used to perfect effect, as her encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel lore assures her that all the hate crimes in this county can’t just occur on their own; they must ultimately be due to the supervillainy of someone like Psycho-Man or the Skrulls. Anything else just sounds crazy, right? Sorry, Ms. Poole, but this is not your standard comic book. Homesick yet?

As in previous issues, the directness of how Mark Waid writes ripped-from-the-headlines stories in Champions #5 is anything but subtle. That’s not to say there can’t be a place for that sort of thing in art–without relentless candor, music wouldn’t have metal.

But the plain comparison to reality makes one question when metaphor actually is introduced. Are we supposed to believe there really is a sheriff orchestrating widespread, violent oppression out there? I haven’t heard that, even on Alternet, and while it’s assuredly an unintentional implication, when the main narratives in Champions are so strikingly real, why wouldn’t someone think the same of this detail? No wonder Gwenpool can’t figure it out.

Fans of artist Humberto Ramos might be a tad disappointed with Champions #5, as he really doesn’t get to show off many of his trademark, kinetic action sequences. True connoisseurs should be pleased, though, as Ramos instead displays some different tricks. The great detail and distinction between background and foreground sometimes makes it seem like the characters are leaping off the page, a feat accentuated by the crisp colors of Edgar Delgado.

Champions #5 is a return to veracity, with a well-played guest star offering crucial perspective. Tough topics are handled more tactfully than in previous issues, but there are still plenty of teeth-clenching “can’t believe they went theres” to tweak the squeamish. Overall, this is the closest Champions has yet come to meeting its stated directive, which is impressive considering the high bar the creative team has set for themselves.


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