Champions is the kind of story perfect for an election year. The first issue established a new law known as Kamala’s Law that made it illegal for underage kids to be heroes. The concept makes sense on some level, but it also goes against everything the Champions stand for. If you have the ability to help others you should, especially if you’ve been given amazing powers. In the second issue out this week, the politically-charged language continues to fly as ordinary people young and old take sides on the issue.
Writer Eve L. Ewing is writing one of the best superhero comics involving activism and protests ever. That’s in part because she’s established there are two very specific sides with varying degrees of logic backing up their arguments as well as a divided group of heroes. More specifically, this issue further establishes Riri Williams aka Ironheart as against breaking the law, while Nova, Spider-Man, and Ms. Marvel are very much willing to break the law to continue to be heroes. What strengthens the messaging of protesting in this narrative is how Ewing pits these groups against each other and creates a believable voice to follow. In effect, this allows the reader to question both sides and come up with their own conclusions.
Broken up into three scenes, Simone Di Meo and Bob Quinn draw this book with expert amounts of energy and stylized storytelling panache. There’s a short bit of superhero action as Nova, Ms. Marvel, and Spider-Man try to break up a rowdy crowd, but much of this book is focused on characters sitting or standing talking things through. That’s where the art comes in to pump up the entertainment value. There is stylized hyperkinetic energy in every scene, from a bunch of heroes in a classroom being shouted at to the final scenes of Riri at home in her pajamas explaining why she won’t be a hero anymore.
Pair this art with colors by Federico Blee and you have art that dazzles. Blee uses a lot of lens flare and a bit of yellow splatter to sparkle up the book as if light dances off everything. There’s also a good amount of striking between shadow and light that can make the calmest of living room scenes feel dramatic.
It is unfortunate this book was delayed, since a lot of the messaging is empowering, especially for young people, to act on their convictions and speak loud and proud. If this book came out at its original release it may have even affected the election to get more young people out to vote. All that said, the political angle is what makes it good, and if you’re looking for more of an action and adventure tale you may not find what you’re looking for. This is a comic of ideas and thus there is a lot of talking and a lot of reactions between characters. There are only three scenes with very little in the way of location changes, making the book quite static save for the incredible art. In hindsight, the visuals can only do so much to amp up the scenes.
Champions is a unique series marked by thoughtful commentary on activism and the youth being told they need to know their role as subservient to adults. The second issue brings into focus the complicated nature of conflicting ideas, never casting any one side as wrong, but letting the reader decide. That makes this book an entertaining read for readers who want a little complexity and thoughtful contemplation in their comics.
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