Champions #4 Review

by Charles Martin on February 17, 2021

Champions #4 Review
Writer: Eve L. Ewing
Artist: Bob Quinn
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cyclops gives his former teen teammates the deus-ex-Krakoa they need so desperately. But a breather at Riri's lab segues into the bad news: Scott can't swing Krakoan asylum for the Champions.

Instead, he provides the next best thing: A team-up with Kate Pryde's Marauders out in international waters.

And meanwhile, Viv is finally pulling herself together thanks to some astute advice from her little old lady guardian angel.

It's an eventful issue, but still a strongly character-based one. Eve L. Ewing retains her talent for massaging meaningful character development into natural, plot-oriented dialogue. The Champions (and the Marauders!) sound like real people dealing with real problems, while also learning about themselves along the way.

As for the visuals, Bob Quinn delivers a strong set of pages that are equally comfortable portraying conversation or combat. His mastery of the main protagonists grows ever stronger. I particularly love his Ms. Marvel and Ironheart, but his Nova is impressive, too.

Federico Blee delivers appropriately high-powered colours for the Champions scenes. The scenes away from the team -- with Senator Patrick and Viv -- give him a chance to flex his muscles and engage in some softer, more modulated lighting. The results are excellent.

This is a good comic. But is it a great one? No, not quite. Getting all that sweet dialogue onto the page does stretch the scenes out and slow down the pace. But then, comic pacing is always a Catch-22, with the sweet spot between "too slow" and "too fast" being tough to pin down. 

Rest assured, if Champions #4 falls on the "slow" side, it's just inches away from the sweet spot. (But Senator Patrick's scene is the weak link. It drags on and lacks a satisfying payoff.)

Mr. Quinn does occasionally struggle with conversation panels that feature many different speakers. These demand one of the trickiest artistic jobs in comics: lots of middle-distance faces drawn with a minimum of detail. It's tremendously difficult to make faces emote using just a handful of tiny lines. The artist struggles valiantly with this and his successes outweigh his failures -- but some goofy mugs do slip through.

This issue has its share of faults. It's far from forgettable, though! The handling of the Marauders deserves praise from every creative angle. This is a nigh-perfect execution of a Mutant team-up that honours the Krakoan status quo. It shows that while it's harder to use the X-Men as friendly guest stars now that they're all freaky and nationalistic, it can be done in a fun, satisfying way.

This is also a transformative issue for the characters and the plot. The team picks up fresh resolve from their Mutant sabbatical; this adventure is a slingshot maneuver that changes the Champions' direction and fires them back into the Outlawed event with great speed.

It's also a particularly critical moment for Ms. Marvel and Viv Vision. They're both struggling to find the moral high ground in how they respond to Kamala's Law. There are strong parallels between their experiences in this issue, even though they approach their uncertainties from wildly different positions. And they both reach conclusions that will satisfy fans and get them excited for future developments.

What might be the most important thing about Champions #4 is that this team is once again portrayed as a collection of heroes worth rooting for. They (like their comic) are not perfect, but it is wholesome and heartwarming to watch them strive to be better. I wouldn't put Champions at the top of the quality heap -- but I would count no minute wasted that was spent reading this title.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
I like that the Champions variously draw inspiration from both fictional Marvel struggles (the Mutants) and real-world ones (the Civil Rights Movement).