Teenage Hijinks And Sibling Rivalry In Champions #17

by CJ Stephens

Champions #17 manages to be a lot of fun and incredibly terrifying, all at the same time.

There will be spoilers…

Champions #17 features two distinctly different yet interconnected stories, both of them continuing from previous events. Viv Vision, Vision’s original daughter now turned human, is being stalked by her newly built twin sister, Viv 2.0. And the Champions, having held a recruitment drive, now struggle with space issues, as their group has doubled in size. The narrative bounces back and forth between these two storylines, going from a tense psychological thriller to teen party, and the tension between the disparate story genres serve to really amp up the slow building terror on Viv’s end.

The story begins with a lamp, quite literally, then spends the rest of the issue creating a sense of inevitable dread as the reader struggles to figure out why.

Don’t worry, it eventually makes sense, although everything about this tale, even the fun team-building parts from the B story, adds to this  feeling of inevitable dread. You know things are going to end badly, and they do, but in such satisfying faction. From the lamp, we move into Viv Vision’s world as she shares her worries about her new twin with Nova, who advises her to relax, as sibling relationships can be complicated.

Yeah, sorry Nova, but the horror movie camera angles say you’re wrong…Too bad it’s not really Nova on the phone, but Viv 2.0, possibly henceforth known as Evil Viv, depending on how things shake out…

It only takes 3 pages to make one fear for Viv Vision’s life!

As I mentioned, there’s another story going on at the same time. The Champions have added a bunch of new members, but don’t really have room for the resulting crowd. New members Ironheart, Falcon, Red Locust, Patriot, and Wasp provide more superpower and round out the group nicely. Plus it’s very cool to see teenage geniuses work together to save the world; it’s very progressive and optimistic. Marvel has never really had an equivalent to DC’s Teen Titans, but right now the Champions has that same comfortable feel. Or maybe I just have a soft spot for teen sidekick groups…

Original members Hulk (Amadeus Cho variant), Ms. Marvel, Nova, Cyclops (time-displaced teen variant), and Spider-Man (Miles Morales variant) are aware that Viv (both of them) are struggling with their new sisterhood, and because these kids are actually friends, they plan to swing by and check in on them. But Viv 2.0 is in full-on supervillain mode; she overheard Vision complaining that he only planned for one daughter, and that sent her newborn logic circuits to a bad place. Not only is she stalking original Viv and gaslighting her via simulations of her friends, she’s ok with using her powers to create mass train disasters just to keep the Champions from checking up on them!

The Champions spring into action, stopping the trains, saving innocent bystanders, and cleaning up property damage. They’ve really got this whole “gotta do it better than the adults” thing going on. All the while, Viv 2.0 attempts to murder her sister, original Viv, and seriously, a killer stalker who can walk through walls is terrifying. At the same time, Wasp figures out that Vision’s weird sickness is due to a computer virus, which makes it the equivalent of a common code for Vision, whose immune system is fully developed. Wasp refers to said system as firewalls, stretching but not quite breaking the whole metaphor. This is mainly due to the fact that Wasp is freaking adorable.

So Vision’s safe from the virus, but Viv 2.0, who is literally a newborn, is not, thus explaining her sudden evil turn. That and the fact that her mother killed to protect her family as well. Between her dead killer mom, her viral infection, and Vision’s innocent complaint about suddenly having two daughters, Viv 2.0 seems fully prepared to complete her transformation into the next big bad guy. The only thing in her way is original Viv, in all her vulnerable human splendor.

It’s a fun and terrifying read, matching realistic teen issues and banter with superheroic situations. Mark Waid’s got a touch for these characters and their dialogue, and I’ll be anxious to see who picks up the slack when he completes his move to DC. I’m not always a fan of Humberto Ramos’ work, but Victor Olazaba’s inks smooth things out nicely, and the coloring by Edgar Delgado fits these characters nicely. Plus, the visual storytelling is smooth and powerful, mimicking completely different styles of film easily. Here’s hoping everything works out for both Vivs. Either way, that lamp is never going to be the same again.

Champions #17, published by Marvel Comics, features writing by Mark Waid, lettering by Clayton Cowles, and art by Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, and Edgar Delgado.

CJ Stephens

CJ Stephens wants to be a ninja or a rock star when he grows up. For now he works as an Adjunct Professor of English. He may one day actually finish his PhD, but at this point in time his part-time superhero gigs and binge TV habits tend to take up too much time. He taught himself to read at the age of 4 using a secret combination of Sesame Street, superhero comics, and the love of his mama, and once came in 4th in a High School spelling bee… when he was in 6th grade!!! Cash him outside at https://twitter.com/CJStephen1 and http://cstephensjr.tumblr.com/.