By Jim Zub, Steven Cummings, Marcio Menyz, Erick Arciniega & Clayton Cowles
Champions #1 is an example of what happens when a group of great characters are put together and given a talented creative team. Although perhaps not as wacky and weird as Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodriguez’s Exiles, it is still a very impressive first issue that benefits from focusing on the more likeable of Marvel’s younger generation. Sam Alexander, Miles Morales, Kamala Khan, Viv Vision, Ironheart and more are all united as the Champions expand their enterprise on a global scale with teams operating in Japan and Mexico. It’s an exciting dynamic that benefits from an interesting roster, and Jim Zub manages to spend enough time with the characters so that readers get their roles and responsibilities even if they’re only familiar with the characters from their respective solo books. But something that is lost in the shuffle is that there are plenty of spoilers in this issue for the team’s past adventures that may mean newcomers will find surprises ruined for them should they wish to go back and read the team’s past adventures before progressing further. That does not detract from the quality of the issue at all and is something to bear in mind if you’re coming to this book fresh, because you’ll almost certainly be wanting to read more of this team by the issue’s end.
With such a large cast of characters at the disposal of Zub and Cummings it can be easy to get lost when keeping track of which character is which but the creative team does a good job at balancing their roles. Ms. Marvel handles the dynamics of leadership in an interesting way, but Miles has his own secrets that put him in an interesting position on the team. Sam is adjusting to his role as a former member of the Nova Corps and as a transition issue, it wastes no time in putting all the pieces on the board. This approach avoids the standard recruitment issue that often comes with new team books like this one, and fans of the characters’ previous entries will be well and truly used to them and how they operate by now.
Steven Cummings’s artwork is clean and uncomplicated, whilst colour artists Marcio Menyz and Erick Arciniega deliver their own distinctive colours that help befit the youthful energy that this book has. It flows naturally as all three artists get the most out of the character designs and the action sequences, getting the balance right very well. Clayton Cowles’ letters are well structured and the conversations are remarkably easy to follow, which is no small task given how many characters are featured in Champions.
Jim Zub makes you care about the characters and their struggles. Whilst the entire issue is dedicated to their lives as superheroes, the book contains plenty of tension and drama that fleshes out the characters and instantly reminds audiences why they’re so popular. The strongest team books that Marvel have at the moment like Exiles and X-Men: Red have made each team member feel relevant and important like they have a reason to be there, and even in the first issue with so many characters, Zub has managed to do just that, culminating in a fascinating, incredibly investing cliffhanger.