Champions #9 Review

by Charles Martin on September 04, 2019

Champions #9 Review
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Steven Cummings
Colourist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

When we last saw the Champions, Riri had just blasted Viv. Yowsers, right?

This issue picks that point up and rides it like a rocket, tornado-ing into a civil war situation that turns heroes against each other and eventually pits the founding Champions against their enormous roster of newer recruits.

The pace is breathless, and the mechanics of reconnecting the founders and explaining why their teammates are turning on them occupy all of this issue's attention. 

It's a good story, it makes plenty of sense (if you've been reading steadily since the beginning of the volume), and it's exciting.

What gets squeezed out of the mix, though, are the memorable touches of characterization we've seen in past issues. 

(I don't know why, but I'm specifically thinking of the Locust's bombastic confidence from #8.)

I'm not saying that this issue is lacking in character work. Viv gets a fascinating quasi-resurrection that pays off some prior foreshadowing. Miles and Kamala turn Nova from the dark side in the issue's satisfying climax, and they do it with heartfelt words.

The dialogue repeatedly edges into cliché territory, though. At one point - when Evil Sam says he'll "show you … show all of you!" - Kamala calls out how stereotypically villainous he sounds. It's a good moment. It illustrates Kamala's genre-savviness. But hanging one lampshade on one example of a problem doesn't do a lot to solve it.

Devils Advocate: Evil Sam is by far the worst offender in terms of hackneyed dialogue. And that's doubtless a conscious choice meant to illuminate his character. Turn Sam Alexander evil, and the kid goes straight onto an all-scenery diet. 

The relentless drumbeat of the plot just doesn't give the characters a lot of breathing room. Champions #9 sets up a superb conflict for #10, but it feels virtually certain that that payoff is going to completely overshadow this issue.

The fast, action-heavy script plays well to the artist's strengths. Steven Cummings believes in the full-body superhero, and this issue's wide scope and roster give him tons of opportunities to show off tons of Champions in action. Facial expressions are handled well, but they take a back seat to kinetic heroes locked in conflict with each other.

I have to single out the visual treatment of Evil Riri as especially great, though. The artist puts a sneer on her face and a tilt to her hips, making sure she looks as unsettlingly nasty and different as she sounds in her dialogue.

The colour palette is spread across the whole spectrum, making full use of the individual heroes' colour schemes. Hero-to-hero combat rightly receives the highest-intensity colours. This is most apparent when the action visits Kamala's home in Jersey City. Grove Street is a land of softer colours where heroes clobbering each other stand out thanks to vibrant shading as well as dynamic art.

This issue of the Champions moves the whole volume toward a climax. It looks good and the seismic upheavals in the plot make dreadful sense. The scope is so wide and the developments are so rapid-fire, though, that there's little room to give anyone much of a distinctive voice. For a team as amply stocked with unique personalities as the Champions, that's a bit of a shame.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
This issue satisfied intellectually, but it didn't make as much of an emotional connection as it could. I was nodding my head, but I could have been standing up and cheering.