REVIEW: ‘Champions,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Champions #1Champions #1 is a Marvel Comics published issue written by Eve L. Ewing and art by Simone Di Meo. The colorist is Federico Blee and letters are provided by Clayton Cowles.

This series takes place after OUTLAWED #1 and is part of a company-wide event. During a superhero battle, Viv Vision made a mistake and caused an explosion and destroyed a school. Kamala Khan, secretly Ms. Marvel and leader of the Champions, was one of the people injured in the blast. In the aftermath, Kamala’s law was passed, making it illegal for people under 21 to be superheroes. 

The first issue of the series follows Spider-Man as he goes to school after the passing of the law. The mood around the school is mixed, with opinions on the new rules ranging from support of its introduction to outrage at it. Ms. Marvel sends a rallying cry to the young people of America that she and the Champions aren’t going anywhere. Spider-Man leaves school and meets up with the Champions team. The group is in hiding, hunted by the government task force C.R.A.D.L.E.  The young heroes have their own say on the events before the action happens in the last part of the issue.

The plot is fantastically structured, as so much of it feels like an aftermath issue of something big. With the narrative being split between two main settings, between the school and the team of superheroes, the reaction to the huge news is divided between a regular community and the super community. Ewing creates a tense atmosphere within each page, resulting in the issue moving at a steady pace. It isn’t too slow and it is important to process the exposition. Champions #1 places the reader in media res, with events taking place within Outlawed #1 or between the issues. It is intriguing to see what has happened to certain characters and where they will appear as the series progresses. 

 

A part of Ewing’s script that really excels is the exploration of youth. Spider-Man’s monologue at the beginning about the obsession older people have regarding younger generations is very well considered and struck a nerve. This theme is prevalent in every aspect of the comic and feels relevant to current events. 

The characters and dialogue are wonderful, and it is clear the writer already understands the personalities of all of the young heroes. The tension within the Champions meeting builds and allows each voice to be powerful. Nova and Starling are bickering constantly, both trying to make a plan. Each character exhibits different reactions to the shock announcement, from fear to rage to an attempt of control, and it’s evident that the friction will only get worse. Ms. Marvel’s leadership seems to be in tatters apart from those closest to her, and her role with being critical inside the OUTLAWED event. 

Ewing’s ability to capture how fraught the dialogue is is sublime and it draws the reader into every discussion. Each time a character talks it feels like the building pressure before a storm. The discussions each of the Champions have felt nervous. There are humorous comments made, there to relieve some of the tension,  but it is clear how scared all of them are.

The art by Di Meo is stunning. The line weights, in particular for the outlines for the characters, are very thin, and there aren’t massive details etched into each panel. This allows the reader’s eyes to glide over the page with ease and maintain a steady pace. Di Meo’s portrayal of movement is awesome. When Spider-Man starts swinging, there is a full-body shot of him leaping. After that you see glimpses of him or panels of his hands and feet, simulating how fast he goes. When fights break out, the lines blur and the pace of the issue seems to go into overdrive. This is the same for explosions, they aren’t shown in their entirety like they’re off to the side of a page. This just hints at the surprise the heroes feel when they happen.

The colors are simply fantastic. There is a pastel quality to Blee’s work, and this combined with the thin line weights seemed to imply a mild haziness on the panels. It could be argued that the events in the comic have moved so fast that the characters haven’t processed it all yet, feeling like they are in an awful dream, and Blee manages to channel that atmosphere in the colors. When Spider-Man goes web-swinging in the evening, there is an orange glow in the center of the panel suggesting a sunset that becomes purple shadows. While the darkness on the edges of Miles’ surroundings is imposing and claustrophobic, but the colors are fresh and rarely seen in superhero comics. The reader feels on edge reading this comic, and a major influence on that is the colors.

There are a lot of heroes and characters involved in Champions #1, but each individual uniform’s texture and properties come through brilliantly. Nova’s eyes shine brighter than anything else in the room, highlighted on his helmet. Spider-Man’s suit clearly looks like fabric. Starling’s costume is the best, the stark red being extremely eye-catching. The perspex of her visor gleams and often obscures one or both of her eyes. The feathers on her wings look fuzzy. Each color on each superhero is vibrant against the dark aura that emanates from this issue and the substance that their costumes have has a good influence on their personalities. 

The lettering by Cowles is large and easy to read. They are spaced out to give the panels room to show themselves off while in addition keeping track of who is speaking. SFX is used sparingly; when they do appear they add to the suspense that leaks out of the comic.

Champions #1 is a tremendous first issue for the series. Ewing’s script is fantastic at tapping into the brilliant characters at her disposal, and she clearly takes young characters seriously. Both Di Meo and Blee both bring very unique styles that result in the book looking completely different than anything else around, and all parts of the creative team work together to cram as much suspense and nerves into the comic as possible. OUTLAWED is similar to Civil War in tone and premise, but the use of only young characters adds a new dimension to the discussion and had a much more personal effect on me. The next issue can’t come soon enough.

Champions #1 is available where comics are sold.

'Champions,' Issue #1
5

TL;DR

Champions #1 is a tremendous first issue for the series. Ewing’s script is fantastic at tapping into the brilliant characters at her disposal, and she clearly takes young characters seriously. Both Di Meo and Blee both bring very unique styles that result in the book looking completely different than anything else around, and all parts of the creative team work together to cram as much suspense and nerves into the comic as possible. OUTLAWED is similar to Civil War in tone and premise, but the use of only young characters adds a new dimension to the discussion and had a much more personal effect on me. The next issue can’t come soon enough.