The world still needs heroes...which is why the Champions have expanded their roster to include many, many more young heroes, so that they can do more good around the world. Ms. Marvel is leading the various splinter teams from their Mobile Bunker headquarters. Team one includes Snowguard, the Locust, Bombshell, Falcon (the Joaquin Torres version), and a new character named Pinpoint. The second team consists of Ironheart, Power Man (the Victor Alvarez version), Patriot (the Rayshaun Lucas version), and Wasp (the Nadia van Dyne version.) The third team consists of Ms. Marvel herself, along with Viv Vision, Spider-Man (the Miles Morales version), Brawn, Sparky, and Sam Alexander, formerly Nova, who is now functioning as the team’s pilot. The classic Champions, all of whom founded the team.
Ms. Marvel is still learning the different quirks and personalities of their new team, trying her best to figure out who works best with whom and in what configuration. She goes through a breakdown of their abilities as team one does their thing in Mexico and team two does their thing in Japan. While most of the team is okay, there are some edges that Ms. Marvel understands need to be smoothed out, like Ironheart’s clashing with Power Man.
All three splinter teams – Ms. Marvel’s fights off an energy monster in Dubai – are successful in their missions and meet back on the Bunker. Sam tries to congratulate Miles on a job well done, but Miles ignores the accolade. Sam tries to talk to him about it, but Miles shuts him out of both the conversation and his room...which is complicated since Miles and Sam are roommates. Brawn, who was walking by when the conversation happened, suggests that Sam should let it go because Miles needs some time to himself, but Sam fights back by saying that he’s trying to stay positive himself after losing his powers twice in the last few months.
In another part of the Bunker, Ms. Marvel starts to give a speech to the assembled Champions as the new teammates mingle with each other. Specifically not paying attention are Riri and Viv Vision, who are discussing Viv’s surprise kiss from Champions #27. Riri is surprised that Viv is acting so normal after the former’s rejection of the latter, but the conversation doesn’t go over too well and Riri, unable to deal with robot logic, asks for some space.
Reaching the end of her speech, Ms. Marvel tries to give a shoutout to Miles and Sam, but neither are anywhere to be found, so she goes in search of them, promising that she’s going to keep her cool, since that’s what leaders do. She finds Sam outside the room he shares with Miles and asks him to go make sure their flight path is correct. She tries to get Miles to open up his room, but when he doesn’t, she shrinks herself down and enters his room anyway. Kamala tries to talk to him and get him to open up, but they instead end up in a shouting match where she asks if he’s upset that she’s in charge or if she did something wrong. Unable to answer her questions, Miles asks Kamala to leave. She leaves, and Miles is left alone. Well...as alone as one can be when Mephisto’s also in your room, commenting on your anger and asking you if this isn’t everything you hoped for.
Mephisto. Mephisto. There’s a surprise guest star and a twist I’m not sure anyone saw coming, but what a way to end the first chapter of a brand new volume! Spiders and Mephistos have not mixed well in recent times, and the fact that it seems as though Miles and Mephisto have made a deal of some sort can’t possibly bode well. What the details of that deal may be still remain to be seen, but given that Kamala was talking about how great it was that they were doing more good in the world may have something to do with it. Did Miles wish for something akin to world peace? Maybe. Possibly. It could have something to do with the mass shooting he faced in an earlier issue of the Champions too – Jim Zub is clearly building on older plot lines and developing the characters as he goes.
Beyond that one huge twist, this issue was filled with a lot of great moments. There’s some wonderful interplay between characters, and Jim Zub is absolutely outstanding at juggling a large cast of characters and giving them each an establishing character moment so you get a glimpse into who they are. No one lacks a personality, and that’s a difficult thing to accomplish when dealing with as many characters as Zub is here. Moments like Pinpoint speaking terrible Spanish to the tiff between Riri and Power Man to Nadia solving her problem with a handy scientific solution to Kamala’s entire internal monologue are handled perfectly. There’s also set up for future guest appearances with a list of back-up Champions, which could be very interesting, when it comes to pass.
There is the worry that Kamala may have bitten off more than she can chew here by expanding the Champions the way she has, but the Champions were founded with a mission statement, to be a global movement, and that’s what it’s finally becoming. How she’ll handle what’s thrown at her next – Viv and Riri’s issues, Miles’ deal with Mephisto, Sam struggling to be powerless on a team with more powered heroes than ever before – will be an interesting struggle to watch, especially as she struggles to grow into an impartial leader.
Steven Cummings joins Jim Zub in this issue for art duties, and he does very well with handling a wide cast of characters, each with their own unique looks. The action scenes are easy to follow and expressive, and Cummings doesn’t resort to a lot of plain white backgrounds the way lesser artists might when faced with so many characters to draw. His Mephisto is also wonderfully creepy, that last splash page with his appearance on it is enough to make anyone gasp aloud.
The Champions - and Jim Zub - charge forth with an all-new volume that's absolutely worth checking out with its mix of great characterization and plotting. Zub clearly has a journey in mind, and it promises to be a fantastic one.
Champions #1: Champions Charge!
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
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