Champions continues to deliver a vibrant and emotional character-driven story that perfectly finds its teenage voice while turning an eye towards hard to solve issues that plague both fictional and real worlds. Comic series like this truly showcase that teenage-focused titles can not only thrive but have a well-deserved place within the publishing realm.
Society has always bounced around the quote that children are the future, while at the same time both consciously and unconsciously going out of their way to mortgage that future away. Throughout history these are the moments where the youth rise up and push back, working to secure their future and stake their claim to a place in societies and on this planet. We’re in one of those spaces currently, as are the youthful heroes of the Marvel Universe.
While the immediate damage of the passage of the Underage Superhuman Welfare Act, or ‘Kamala’s Law’ as it came to be called, is on pause (as the government re-examines and re-debates the issue), the evil corporation Roxxon and others are doing all they can to damage to this youth movement. Since the series was launched as part of the Outlawed mini-event (where the aforementioned bill originated), it’s been a great look at a very different way to go about doing teenage hero books.
More often than not because of the superhero nature of these books, the teens might have them dealing with social or personal issues but more often than not they are solving things by throwing punches at clear colorful supervillains. This wasn’t the case for the Champions when Eve L. Ewing, Simone Di Meo, Federico Blee, and Clayton Cowles launched the series and it’s still not the case with Danny Lore and Luciano Vecchio joining Blee and Cowles for this new arc.
These are threats and moments that can’t just be punched away, leading to the crux of this arc being about using their skills and powers and even their secret identities in new ways. Taking things down from the inside is a tale as old as time, but the way they are going about it and what it might cost them along the way is where things get very interesting.
There is a true appreciation for these characters and their background and their experiences while it’s never forgotten that despite the number of years they have now existed (some past or getting closer to the decade mark) they are still teenage characters. Who have the same issues and emotions and moments that other teenagers often do. Every moment where they got to just be themselves and be together, from gaming to talking about their emotions or counselling one another, were emotional goldmines and great to read.
Also, the joke about Marvel Heroes ages and about millennials was both hilarious and “makes me feel old” at the same time which made it funnier. As was the idea of Vision being that dad that keeps popping into the room despite how annoyed his child is getting about it. Truly great stuff.
Lore easily crafts these moments and they are brought to emotional gorgeous life by Vecchio and Blee. Every emotion is clear upon their faces and the colors easily shift to bring a brightness or a darker tone to the surroundings to match each of the moments. If the words were taken away it would still be abundantly clear from facial expressions and body language how these characters were feeling in the moment, adding that wonderful realistic touch.
There is a lot of dialogue in this one because it’s a much more character-focused issue with only some action near the end, but Cowles makes sure that the placement of the words doesn’t become overwhelming. While also throwing in really great more subtle SFX that is befitting the quieter atmosphere of this issue.
There is just such a vibrant and powerful tone to the whole issue that radiates off the pages and perfectly fits these characters and this book.
Alongside all the great teen moments and the emotions and the solid voices, the series is also bringing a lot to the table in regard to real-world issues.
When putting together this story they made sure that not only are the Champions engaging in “espionage” as Kamala kept calling it, but Roxxon is doing their own very real dirty tricks. Using social media algorithms to hide events or curate the narrative one desires is a very real concern in our world. The reliance and trust that is put into the platforms despite knowing how algorithms are used and manipulated stand against the fact that these platforms are also often the only way for marginalized groups to get their voices out there.
There is no easy answer to how any of this can be solved or dealt with, and the story makes that clear. This is not a problem that the Champions can beat away (though it looks like there will be potentially stuff to physically fight down the line) as it is societal and systemic. But they keep fighting, just like those of us in real life also have to keep doing.
Champions #7 is now on sale from Marvel Comics in print and digitally.