Writer: Mark Waid / Artist: Humberto Ramos / Marvel Comics
Champions is a team book that will easily have you annoyed with how good it is. You’ll start looking at your other books wondering why they’re slacking; why they’re not making honor roll or getting straight A’s across the board. Waid is always incredible when it comes to character development. We hold Jonathan Hickman as the gold standard for world building, but when it comes to character development you gotta say Mark Waid’s name. Again, it’s not easy to do that on a team book either. Highlighting six other characters from other series and making sure you’re not writing them in character while still building them up? Talent. That’s the shit I enjoy. That’s what I’m here for, man.
There’s so much I want to highlight in this issue, especially the kiss shared between Hulk and Viv, but I’ll leave that for you to see for yourselves. Instead, I’ll focus on the team’s next mission which takes them to Sharzad, a country in South Asia. The women there are being oppressed and murdered for everything under the sun, especially when it comes to trying to educate themselves. We see Kamala has an invested interest in this as she’s had the same issues occurring in her home overseas as well. On that journey to Sharzad the topic of team leader comes up and it’s not as easy a pick as one would assume.
This is a pretty big deal in terms of the team’s future and I love how Waid has everyone’s personalities come out. Kamala and Amadeus are going at it, and Sam is making jokes to Miles, while Viv and Summers are quiet in the background until their names are brought up. What I truly love about the mission this time around is that when the Champions go in to help and clear off the bad guys, they are already thinking about what can be done to get real long-term peace. They realize they are visitors there and it gets pointed out they can’t be the ones coming in (as Americans) solving things up front so they ask and get told the best way to go about things and they don’t fight it.
We’re seeing them in a country full of brown people too, so Kamala and Miles help out from the crowd while the rest of the team gets more covert. Plus Amal,the woman whose plan it was is about that ride-or-die shit from jump, man. Amal is in the thick of it saying they don’t need help to be rescued, but here’s how we fix things. That’s how you help, fam. That’s how you international relations right there, b. Ramos is excellent on the visuals as well, per usual. This dude been a fave of mine from way back without me even knowing till I looked back years later and realized, oh shit, Ramos was drawing this? The way he gives characters a distinct look, especially in teen team books, is great.
His art can flip between bright and dark tones with such flare. It’s magnificent and truly makes any series he’s on stand out. He does a great depiction of not only the heroes, but the women fighting back as well, including the entire action scene. You gotta realize how great Ramos is on the pencils.
More solid material from Waid and Ramos is waiting for you on comic stands. We’ve seen what these legacy heroes can do in their own series, now we get to see them work as a unit on their own terms away from their Avengers. Champions is the natural progression of the hero’s journey for our favorite legacy characters and this book needs to stay around till it’s time for them to pass the baton.
Reading Champions? Read previous reviews of the series here.