REVIEW: ‘Champions,’ Issue #3

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Champions #3 is a Marvel Comics published comic and the main part of the Outlawed event. Written by Eve L. Ewing. The art is by Bob Quinn while the colourist is Federico Blee. Letters are from Clayton Cowles.

Kamala’s Law has been passed in America, making it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to become a superhero. The Champions have become the figureheads of the underground movement rejecting the new legislation, going on the run. However, their numbers have been dwindling as their friends and teammates surrender, quit, or are arrested. Those captured by C.R.A.D.L.E. are taken to “re-education centres.” At the end of the last issue, the Champions found themselves cornered by C.R.A.D.L.E. agents again, who had been lured there by Viv Vision—someone the young heroes called a friend.

In this issue, the Champions are thrown deeper into hiding. Some time has passed since the second chapter of the series, showing in a flashback montage what has occurred between the books. They have been pursued and tracked closely, cut off from any help and resources. In a different part of the country, Viv has traveled to Kansas, where she befriends an older woman who tries to take care of her. And while the Champions continue the fight from outside, some of the inmates within the re-education center are starting to crack.

The plot continues to be a tension-building drama as the circle around the young heroes is getting smaller and smaller. The issue is split into three, each part taking place in a separate location. The first part is in the facility where some of the team are being held captive. The very first scene is Bombshell tearfully repenting for her part in her illegal actions on camera. The second part is Viv on her own adventure, while the final part is the main team in hiding. Ewing doesn’t cut back and forth between the scenes, she lets each one take place fully before moving on. This allows the atmosphere within each part to build on its own without being interrupted. 

The Champions are desperate for help, which doesn’t come soon enough as they are again tracked down. But a reveal contains a guest star that was both a relief and a surprise. The issue had been very sad up to that point, and the potential for hope is very welcome.

The best part of Champions #3, and the series as a whole, is the characters. At this point, the heroes are starting to break down. The stress of being fugitives and fighting a government agency and running and homelessness is having an effect on their personalities and their wellbeing. In a diary, Miles mentions that each member of the Champions is reacting differently to the pressure. Ewing brilliantly writes the dialogue to show their fraying resolve, from Ms. Marvel’s waining leadership to Spider-Man’s numbness. 

The writer’s ability to show the vulnerability of her young protagonists is both astounding and gut-wrenching at times. One poignant example is while the heroes are taking refuge in a child’s treehouse, just after Kamala wakes Nova from a nightmare. Their discussion starts off angry at the world around them; their mentors and their government. Then Ms Marvel collapses in tears as the weight of the world begins to crush her. It’s a phenomenal exchange that shows just how far these characters are being pushed.

Viv’s adventure into Kansas is refreshing in that it isn’t as dark as the segments it is sandwiched between. Viv is taken in by a kind older woman and looks for guidance from her. The kindness that both parties bestow on each other is sweet, but it’s hard to ignore what Viv has just done to her former teammates.

The pressure is also building on those held captive by C.R.A.D.L.E, with the personalities of the character within that facility starting to create tension. Locust is refusing to eat any food given to her, defiantly turning her nose up. Meanwhile, the mystery of whatever has happened to Bombshell is a threat that may endanger them all.

The art continues to be fantastic, with Quinn responsible for the entire issue. His drawing of faces feels different than other current artists. The varying thickness of the lines, particularly in regard to eyebrows and mouths results in some brilliant facial expressions. Ms. Marvel and Locust are examples of these incredibly expressive faces, making panels of theirs especially powerful. The way that Miles is drawn when he is in his Spider-Man costume is also interesting. He is very thin and small, which is a big contrast to other older characters. This is a resounding theme among the other characters, which makes it almost comical when they stand next to “adult” superheroes. The way the C.R.A.D.L.E. agents are drawn is ominous and imposing, always seen in a huge mass of oncoming soldiers. 

The colours by Blee have been consistently stunning during the series. All of the different locations and scenes within Champions #3 are adorned with very different tones and lighting. Within the rehabilitation facility, the lights from the fixtures on the ceiling are portrayed as invasive and overbearing. This is shown through a yellow haze that travels down the panels. This effectively conveys to the reader the heat and claustrophobia the inmates are feeling. 

In contrast, the colours in Viv’s scenes are bright and positive. Viv has these vibrant green and purple highlights in her hair and she wears her trademark light green shirt. The entire scene has stunning colours, but a panel of her flying underneath the pinkish sky to fix a broken wire stands out.

The letters by Cowles are very easy to read no matter the balloon they are in. There are captions next to each hero with their names and alter egos as they appear, and caption boxes in the form of a ‘handwritten letter.” They at no point overcrowd the panel.

Champions #3 is a brilliant addition to one of the best-written events in years. Ewing fills each character with both strength and vulnerability as they are pushed to breaking point. Each voice that is heard is unique and individual. During the quiet moments, the pages are brimming with suspense, but when things get lively the pace turns frantic. Each issue can’t come fast enough.

Champions #3 is available where comics are sold.


Champions #3
5

TL;DR

Champions #3 is a brilliant addition to one of the best-written events in years. Ewing fills each character with both strength and vulnerability as they are pushed to breaking point. Each voice that is heard is unique and individual. During the quiet moments, the pages are brimming with suspense, but when things get lively the pace turns frantic. Each issue can’t come fast enough.