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‘Champions Vol. 4: Northern Lights’ review: Great feel good superhero storytelling

A fun story starting off with an excellent three-parter.

One of the reasons Marvel’s Champions series has been so great is how fun and light it can be. These are younger heroes after all, so the adventure can be a bit less melodramatic. At the same time though, the characters are all dealing with their own stuff and throwing them together has only made the tales more interesting. In the fourth volume, Jim Zub writes two stories both containing different kinds of stories.

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

IRONHEART and THE UNSTOPPABLE WASP join the Champions at last! The team has grown but the mission stays the same – the Champions fight to make the world a better place for all! Writer Jim Zub (AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER) and artist Sean Izaakse (UNCANNY AVENGERS) reunite to push the Champions beyond their limits with any icy Antarctic adventure that will challenge everything they believe in! Don’t miss this fi rst chapter of a new era of Champions – and the birth of a brand-new hero!

Why does this matter?

This collection features Champions #19 to #21 and Infinity Countdown: Champions #1 to #2 (which I already reviewed). It’s a trade paperback running on the shorter side, although five issues per collection is standard these days.

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

Cool new hero! Credit: Marvel Comics

This contains the “Northern Lights” story which is tied to environmental activism and the origin of a new hero, while the second is an Infinity Countdown tie-in involving a showdown with the Mad Titan himself. It’s safe to say this is jarringly split between the two stories, although it does give the benefit of getting two different types of stories with the same Champions heroes you know and love. The first shines a light on the good nature of the heroes developing their new home base, while the second is all out action and reveals a major turn for Nova.

“Northern Lights” is an excellently written story, throwing a twist on the villain and also developing a new hero who may or may not join the team. This three-part story is well paced, throwing in some hero-on-hero fight scenes as well as making a good point about a villain who wants to do good for bad reasons. The Master of the World is what he calls himself and he makes a strong argument. Snowguard–the new hero who gets a full origin here–is quite fascinating, tying into the Inuit culture. Sean Izaakse’s art in this story is quite good, especially when there are many heroes on the page fighting all at once. There’s a skill to keeping the action understandable when you’ve got super small heroes fighting alongside flying heroes.

The second story is drawn by Emilio Laiso and ties into Infinity Countdown. Fighting off Earth, this story gives you a different taste of the Champions thrusting them into a more big-time superhero team role. You’ve basically got the Champions fighting off those giant floating whales from the Avengers movies, plus Thanos! Laiso’s work suits this series since it has a slightly cartoony, more curved, feel-good look to it. As far as tie-in stories go, this one does a great job, giving the heroes a big part in a larger story when so many others skimp on high stakes.

Big action! Credit: Marvel Comics

It can’t be perfect can it?

This is a good collection, although it has a bit of schizophrenia going on due to the completely opposite stories. Having read and reviewed the Infinity Countdown Companion this also feels a bit unnecessary, but I suppose if you’re only reading Champions (how could you though?) it’s nice to have it in this collection. That said, it’ll force many to double-dip.

Is it good?

A fun story starting off with an excellent three-parter that is highly enjoyable due to its villain and a brand new hero entering the fold. The last two issues collected here might feel tacked on, but it’s still a good blockbuster action style superhero story.

Champions Vol. 4: Northern Lights
Is it good?
A fun story starting off with an excellent three-parter that is highly enjoyable due to its villain and a brand new hero entering the fold.
The first three issues offer up a strong origin story and a fun villain
The last two issues tie into an event with big blockbuster action
Not much of a flow to the overall read
The 'Infinity Countdown' tie-in is a double dip since it was collected elsewhere

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