Champions #16

by Charles Martin on January 17, 2018

Champions #16
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler: Humberto Ramos
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colourist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Champions went to a dark, contentious, unsatisfying place during Secret Empire. Dropping it after reading #10 or #11 would have been completely understandable.

It would also have been a huge mistake. The Champions have been killing it ever since getting past those tie-ins. Champions #16 is still on top of its game, and besides being an entirely satisfying evolution of the team's story, it makes a great drop-in point if you ditched the Champions somewhere in their muckier political days.

The book dives straight into the mystery we most want to explore: The shocking double-Viv situation produced by the Champions/Avengers crossover. Viv Vision's death was teased hard after the High Evolutionary turned her into a human girl, but instead we got a total surprise: human Viv and her synthezoid replacement "Viv 2.0" are both alive and well.

Daddy Vision has chosen the path of maximum creeposity: Tuck the two Vivs into dual beds and pretend that suddenly having twin daughters is totally normal. He has Nadia hanging around to give him teen girl advice and also to prod him toward explaining the "hows" and "huhs" of the situation.

The Champions, meanwhile, vote not to let Viv 2.0 on the team, but since they're one synthezoid down, it's time for a membership drive. This means hitting up all of the guest stars from #11, plus Moon Girl. Maybe. Sam may have spoiled that signup by, well, being Sam. (And the cover's totally lying about recruiting Spider-Gwen.) Ironheart, new Falcon, and new Patriot are all on board. 

"Cho Hulk recruits Ironheart" is probably the weakest bit of the book, as it forces two of the Marvel universe's smartest people into a dreadful "nerds speak in math" cliché. It's not even hard math; they're factoring a polynomial together. Are they teaming up or doing pre-algebra homework? (While the dialogue here disappoints, Humberto Ramos saves the day by making the meeting look cool. Of course Amadeus Cho is gonna goof around and try on chunks of Iron Man armour if you let him into a Stark lab.)

This issue also pays off the groundwork laid in #9 by bringing the Red Locust onto the team. "Ms. Marvel meets Red Locust" is pretty glorious, and their relationship - young, plucky and energetic meets younger, pluckier, and energetic-ier - has a lot of comedy potential. 

The fun parts relieve the simmering existential weirdness of Viv's story. Mark Waid is pushing hard toward the uncanny territory of King and Walta's magnificent 2015 Vision series, but he knows his limits and concentrates on the novelties he's introduced to the family. We get to peek through the eyes of both Human Viv and Viv 2.0, and Mr. Waid shows that this experience is tremendously unsettling for both of them. There's an inescapable, ominous feeling that this situation, like the Vision series, is headed for a bad end. 

Humberto Ramos's art is rock solid throughout; I think he's working a little extra hard because the Red Locust is his baby. Colourist Edgar Delgado is also doing heroic work. Not only does he desaturate the Vision scenes to bring them in line with Jordie Bellaire's wintry palette from the 2015 book, but he does it gradually. Things are wrong and getting wronger in the Vision house, and this is clear at a glance thanks to the changing colours.

A fresh take on Marvel's creepiest family and a healthy dose of hero recruitment combine into a comic that's both hilarious and heartrending. This issue covers a lot of ground, offers up a lot of memorable moments, and hangs onto the powerful "storytelling for the ages" tone this title has had since Secret Empire. If you have the slightest interest in these characters - particularly Viv and Vision - you just can't miss this new chapter of their story. If you're just here for cool teen heroes doing cool heroic stuff, Champions #16 has you covered too.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
My review went on so long I didn't have time to fully address the Spider-Gwen fakeout. It actually becomes a hilarious joke when Miles brings it up.

Other last-minute update: New Patriot? Still awful. Oh well, there's always next month.
Charles Martin's picture
Frig, Reddit pointed out to me that the hilarity of the Gwen joke is severely undercut by the fact that Kamala met Gwen in Spider-Gwen #17, so it's pretty dumb for her to think Gwen's imaginary here. So, uh, my enthusiasm may be overriding my common sense.