Champions #1 Review

by Charles Martin on October 07, 2020

Champions #1 Review
Writer: Eve L. Ewing
Artist: Simone Di Meo
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Miles Morales serves as our initial viewpoint character as the world reacts to Kamala's Law.

Here's the skinny: Super-hero-ing under the age of 21 is now illegal in the United States, with a special federal task force (C.R.A.D.L.E.) in place to enforce the law.

The Champions eventually bring up a maybe-important exception to the rule: Teen heroes can operate under the "mentorship" of adult heroes. This means Kamala's Law basically throws the Marvel universe into a Silver-Age DC situation where teens must be sidekicks.

This is antithetical to the Champions' mission statement, and Ms. Marvel makes that a key point of her pirate broadcast announcing to the world that the Champions will keep on heroing. She formed the team to catch the balls that adult superheroes were dropping in their intramural conflicts like Civil War II. The entire point of the Champions was for teen heroes to solve problems on their own, and Kamala's committed to carrying on that mission.

Miles is perfectly placed to witness reactions both in civilian life and within the team. He's at Brooklyn Visions when Ms. Marvel makes her broadcast. Surprisingly, support for the Champions is far from universal. Miles's friend Jamilah announces her intent to found a pro-C.R.A.D.L.E. club.

Even more surprisingly, Miles sees similar divisions in a secret Champions meeting. Kamala made her broadcast unilaterally, and not all of her teammates are on board. Some question their right to act independently and the risks they subject themselves and their communities to -- and some question Kamala's leadership.

Eve Ewing does a great job of mining out the full implications of Kamala's Law. There are valid viewpoints on both sides of the conflict, and every character is acting reasonably. 

Her script also turns up some excellent follow-on details. The NYPD attempts to arrest Miles in a mugging sting. The cops aren't particularly enthusiastic about enforcing Kamala's Law, but they don't want C.R.A.D.L.E. on their streets, usurping their authority.

On the visual side, Simone Di Meo and Federico Blee do an excellent job bringing a cerebral script to life with some passionate visuals. Mr. Di Meo's great strength is in blocking dynamic panels that aren't afraid to get up close and personal with the characters. While this approach is generally effective, it does sometimes inhibit the flow of the story. It's also difficult to keep track of the vast cast during the meeting scene; there are teen heroes in there that I don't even recognize.

Federico Blee's colours are smart and vivid. A lot of this story revolves around virtual communications (Ms. Marvel is doing her broadcasting and also attending the Champions meeting remotely), and Mr. Blee has a talent for giving the real world and the virtual screens distinctive but equally vibrant colours.

The creators aren't afraid to expand the Champions already-lengthy roster in this issue. One of its most pleasant surprises is the presence of new teen heroes in the meeting. Squirrel Girl is there, as are Moon Girl and Miles's female anti-hero pal, Starling. 

Ms. Ewing also makes the most of a busy script by loading in relatable problems alongside the weightier philosophical issues. The Champions open up their meeting chatting about the difficulties of laundering superhero costumes when you're maintaining a secret identity.

Her script also establishes an important link between philosophy and practicality. As noted above, not all the Champions agree with Ms. Marvel's decision to soldier on. And big as this team is, members bowing out could have a serious impact on their effectiveness. Pinpoint, for example, is one of the heroes who's most hesitant to continue. Losing his teleportation powers would be a serious blow to the team. He is instrumental in helping the Champions escape a C.R.A.D.L.E. ambush in the last act -- what will the Champs do if he quits?

Dynamic art and a solid, thoughtful script help sell this initial issue of the Champions. It's a big team and there are a lot of different opinions on their new status as law-breakers; Champions #1 takes the time to explore the possibilities while also throwing in quite a bit of action.

Our Score:


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Hooray, Squirrel Girl lives! Now if this series can just rope in Gwenpool …