[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Snowguard, aka Amka Aliyak, has returned to her home of Pangnirtung, Nunavut, to visit her friends, family, and people. Many are excited to see their very own superhero return home, but others are resentful of Amka. Plus, Amka feels lost. She received her powers thanks to the Sila spirit, but she doesn’t know what the Sila wants her to do. Things are peaceful for a time, but Snowguard is soon needed by the people of Pangnirtung. People go missing, a giant rampages through, and a pantheon of spirits attack the local school.
Champions Annual #1 focuses on Snowguard, her life, and her community. It’s a fleshing-out of the Champions’ newest member, and it gives the reader more insight into the character and where she comes from.
Credit where credit is due, Jim Zub and Nyla Innuksuk do an excellent job of making this read like a character spotlight, and there is a sensitivity in regards to its approach to Inuit culture. There’s not the sense of voyeurism or obsession with a perceived exoticism. The people of Pangnirtung live a modern life, and this means that their culture is slipping away in little ways that worries both the elders and Amka herself.
And Amka is a great character. I’ll admit to not having had strong feelings about her before this issue (partially from being on-again and off-again with Champions of late), but Snowguard proves to be a likable and compelling new hero in this issue. She’s compassionate, observant, and powerful.
Marcus To is the artist on this annual, and he brings a modern, detailed, and kinetic feeling to the book. I’ve always been a fan of To’s work, and he doesn’t disappoint in this issue at all. He and color artist Jordan Boyd do an especially good job of making Amka’s powers look visually grabbing and outright gorgeous at times.
Champions Annual #1 is the spotlight that Snowguard both needed and deserved. She is the newest hero to have joined the Champions, and, here, we get to learn more about her and her home. She’s another great new hero, and Jim Zub and Nyla Innuksuk knocked it out of the park in writing this issue. Needless to say, it gets a recommendation. Check it out.
Champions Annual #1 comes to us from writers Jim Zub and Nyla Innuksuk, artist Marcus To, color artist Jordan Boyd, letterer VC’s Clayton Cowles, cover artist R.B. Silva with Marcio Menyz, and variant cover artist Babs Tarr.