Champions is not only the type of comic book we need right now, it is the type of gorgeous character-driven youthful series focused on real-life issues that we deserve. One of a handful of books that Marvel needs to make sure they truly study and learn from going forward, becuase it’s one of the best on the shelves.
Superheroes always have been and always will be, social justice warriors. Their goals are to protect the world from various threats, but also to try and make it a better place in many ways. Far too often this part of the mission to better the world can be forgotten or takes a back seat to the more bombastic action sequences taking on aliens, giant robots, or whatever member of a handful of villains that is making trouble this week.
Champions is a series that puts this social justice fight right at the forefront next to some of the most solid and amazing character work around, with the action sequences being more of a tasty extra side dish to this amazing meal we’ve been served.
Truly what Danny Lore, Luciano Vecchio, Federico Blee, and Clayton Cowles are doing in their run is beyond words, but since words are needed for a review, I’ll try to find the right ones to do it justice.
Just like the last issue, there isn’t really a single standard superhero fight to be found (that appears to be saved or the next issue) which is fantastic. There is action, don’t get me wrong, but it’s smaller scale in service of the story where the young heroes save the day through their wits, their connections, and their dedication to trying to build a better world for themselves and everyone else.
Truly some of the best scenes are the ones where the Champions are just chatting with one another through their new app or in the aftermath of their defeat of Roxxon, bringing back some welcome familiar Champions faces, where they are allowed to be heroic, smart, friendly, vulnerable and just teenagers. There is a true weight upon their shoulders both from ‘Kamala’s Law’ and from what it’s put them through, but they work through their traumas and issues to do what is right and make it seem so easy along the way.
Making it look easy is also what Lore does when it comes to writing these believably young and ideal characters with such incredible depth. Most of these characters have been around for quite a few years now, but truly these issues skyrocket to the top of the list for best depictions and understanding of these characters. What they are doing needs to be studied and applied across many other books, because this is the type of character work so many fans want to see all the time.
What really helps support this heavier material alongside the brightness of these young heroes getting to be young and idealistic is some of the best artwork around. Vecchio and Blee work wonders together with the bright vivid word they create artwork that 100% takes amazing superhero work and elevates it to whole new levels. It’s light but also has a weight to it that is 100% in line with the overall youthful focus and mission statement of this series.
These issues span a whole gauntlet of emotions and motivations, the main stars are teenagers after all, and all of that is clear upon each page. There is no question what a character is feeling or experiencing because the emotion is captured in every face and on every page. Blee’s colors, which are bright but also have some shadows/darkness to them, follow the emotive arcs extremely well setting the right tone.
While the conversation pages are great for the character moments that are taking place on them, it’s the touches that Vecchio and Blee bring to these pages that make them sing. Technology is firmly part of our lives, especially for the young, and the way it plays a role in this book is authentic and innovative, and just fun. Comic books are fun, and this team never once forgets that.
The aforementioned bits of personality and emotion is clear upon the pages through the artwork, but also through the touches that are made to the lettering by Cowles. It would be easy to just give everyone the same speech bubbles and no flares or emphasis while going simple with SFX, but that’s not Cowles’ style and that’s not what would fit this book. Caption boxes for various characters are bright and colorful and fun, showcasing their feelings perfectly.
Since this is a more talkative and action of the more human direct type of issue, the use of SFX is minimal but it’s beyond effective when it is used. From a simple ‘ping’ to showcase a video call being hung up on, to the always classic and perfectly executed ‘Thwip’, it all just works to bring even more life to this story.
Champions #9 is now on sale in print and digitally from Marvel Comics.