Champions #19 Review

by Charles Martin on April 11, 2018

Champions #19 Review
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Sean Izaakse
Colourist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Okay, it's time to call it. I was wavering a bit due to Uncanny Avengers, but this new Champions has sealed the deal for me: I love Jim Zub's writing. 

This issue fixed so many of my problems with the way this team used to be written. The priggish social justice high-horsing, the always-nagging Kamala, the regular doses of "How do you do, fellow kids" dialogue - all gone. Instead, we get a growing team of smart, engaged, heroic teens with realistic voices and a delightfully broad spread of attitudes. 

It is delicious; I wanna eat the script to Champions #19 with a fork.

Fair play to the devil's advocate: Mr. Zub does have to stall his main plot to do all this wonderful character work. We barely advance 1.5 plot points down the road to unravelling the Arctic Mystery this arc is supposed to be about. But it is a more than fair tradeoff.

What little we do see of the Arctic Mystery plot is promising. It looks like the new creators' take on socially-conscientious issues is going to skew more toward "fight global warming by stopping supervillains from enslaving weather gods" rather than "guilt readers over driving non-hybrid cars."

This is an especially spectacular issue for Riri because of the nuanced way the author afflicts her with a touch of social anxiety. I love that Viv succeeds in reaching out to her after Kamala fails; that illuminates all three characters in a constructive, realistic way. And Nadia is bubbling along throughout the issue, contrasting Riri by demonstrating that scientific genius does not have to go hand-in-hand with introversion.

Over on the dude side of the team, Sam is built up as dangerously headstrong in a way that becomes brilliantly plot-relevant in the final scene. And finally Amadeus Cho comes across as a goof in a way that's youthful and endearing instead of arrogant and off-putting; that's a challenge that even Greg Pak struggles to overcome.

The team also gets equipped with a new flying headquarters. Mr. Zub wants to call it the Champions Mobile Bunker, but I think it's gonna go down as the Big Blue Brick. Which is not to shortchange the Big Blue Brick; it looks pretty awesome inside and out.

And with that, we need to talk about Sean Izaakse's art. He's clearly in love with shiny mechanical stuff (the Big Blue Brick is his baby) and drawing the Ironheart armour is, I bet, the highlight of his day. But he's also pretty stellar at posing characters, too. 

Mr. Izaakse's made a careful study of Humberto Ramos's style and picked up his strong command of lineweight variation while retaining his own generally more realistic proportions. Marcio Menyz has similarly preserved the high-intensity colour palette this title has always had. (Maybe I should call it the Big Electric Blue Brick.) The overall visual effect is a distinct and positive refinement on what came before while also maintaining stylistic consistency.

Mr. Izaakse still wobbles on occasion when drawing expressive faces. He's made palpable improvements on that front in recent months, though. It's great to watch artists evolve and strengthen! Also, and I mean this as the highest possible praise, I think I actually prefer Mr. Izaakse's rendition of Riri to Stefano Caselli's. He could maybe work a little harder on her hair, but he lends a realistic youth to her face and body that was sometimes sorely lacking in Invincible Iron Man.

Hold your heads up high, Champions fans! Jim Zub and Sean Izaakse perform an impressive soft reset that makes this team even easier to love and nullifies a lot of the "oh, it could be great, but" complaints earned by previous issues. Champions #19 concentrates very productively on character relationships, and if future issues deliver as strongly on plot development, this title is poised for greatness.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
Do not worry based on that cover and title page; inside, you'll find Sean Izaakse does know how to draw Hairgel Hulk.