The Next Generation: Champions #1 Review

The most important part of any superhero team is the reason they have for existing. The Uncanny Avengers act as a crucial bridge between Mutants, Inhumans, and everyone else as tensions rise, the Ultimates solve the cosmic issues threatening the planet, and so on. And in a universe with these, and half a dozen other such teams, the (All-New All-Different) Avengers just seemed… aimless. It was a team of some of Marvel’s most popular and trendy heroes for the sake of it, without a thought as to how these characters would work together, or what their purpose would be beyond holding the prestigious title.

And that’s kind of why it flopped somewhat. Mark Waid isn’t a bad writer, nor is Mahmud Asrar a bad artist, but everything about the series felt like everyone involved wasn’t very invested in it.

Now, from the yet to be revealed ashes that Civil War II left behind, rise the Champions, a team that looks like it might have real purpose again.

Spoilers beyond this point.

The issue kicks off with Kamala in a sort of retired state, and a flashback explaining why she quit the Avengers: the other heroes being reluctant to help clean up the collateral damage their last battle caused.

It’s clearly a much deeper issue than that though, and more like the breaking point for a number of unresolved tensions, undoubtedly stemming from whatever the hell happened at the end of Civil War II. Spider-Man and Nova apparently already quit earlier, and while they are happy to see Kamala on their side again, they’re a bit more reluctant to get on board her next plan: forming their own team.

Kamala, Miles, and Sam are this generation's Golden Trio. I love it.

She manages to convince them anyway, and they set about finding some more young heroes who may be interested, namely Hulk (Amadeus Cho) and Vivian, daughter of Vision.

Viv sweeps the net for any crimes they can help stop, and they discover a group of young girls being held hostage by a human trafficker.

It’s a surprisingly dark challenge for them to take on in the first issue, and the fact that one of the captives dies during the (overall successful) rescue attempt makes it even more so.

Hulk is ready to smash the kidnapper into a million pieces, and the crowd of onlookers filming him on their phones have no problem with that at all.

But then Ms. Marvel steps in, and gives a pretty awesome, and pretty relevant speech, while we get glimpses of a bunch of different young superheroes. It’s an uplifting moment, and an excellent note to end the issue on.

Heavy handed? Yes. Necessary? Hell yes.
Overall, I have a lot of hope for this series. While the plot was fairly straightforward, Mark Waid is already portraying the characters way better than he did in ANAD Avengers, and the rapport between the main three is a delight.

One issue I have is with the timing. Civil War II is over a month away from its conclusion and a lot of the events and the overall climate in this comic is based on what happens then. Another is the art. It’s a mixed bag for me, Humberto Ramos does an excellent job of stills and backgrounds, less so with faces and action scenes. At times, the art is exaggerated to the point of annoyance. Regardless, it works for most of the issue, and the coloring by Edgar Delgado during the flashback scenes is excellent.

Have a poorly drawn Kamala face, for old times' sake.
It just feels so good to have a team with a purpose, and the fact that the purpose is making people believe in heroes again after Civil War II (both in and out of universe) makes it all the more compelling. 

Aranwe Quirke is a totally real, definitely not made up name. No, you may not see the birth certificate.