Champions wrapped up its second story arc Killer App earlier this year, and now it’s collected in trade paperback. It’s a series AIPT listed as one of the best series that was sadly canceled in 2021 thanks in part to writer Danny Lore’s exceptional handle of each member of the team. It’s also a series that feels well-timed given its themes of apps and how marketing and consumerism manipulate people. It also wraps up the years-long Kamala Law storyline which was heavily delayed by the pandemic in 2020.
Collected here is Champions #6-10, which follows Eve Ewing’s great first five issues that set up Kamala’s Law. Its main focus involves the always-evil Roxxon corporation, who wants to keep Kamala’s Law alive and well with a repeal in the works. To do so they develop an app to help change opinions while also supplying plenty of products to distract and keep people happy with Roxxon itself. Lore does well to establish their superiority and make it impossible for the Champions to stop them unless they change their usual tactics.
A bit of a heist story, Lore sets up Miriam Blakemore well as the head of publicity and marketing at Roxxon. She’s smart, committed, and a good villain to spar with the Champions without fists, but with decision making. Lore does an exceptional job capturing Blakemore’s personality through dialogue, and the same goes for the Champions themselves. Everyone in this book sounds like themselves, with a touch of immaturity and believable emotions as these heroes attempt to infiltrate a huge corporation.
Blakemore even comes out at the end not as an evil person, but as a person who loves her job and manipulates minds. There’s a message here about how these corporations are evil and yet people within them can see themselves as simply doing their job.
As far as the team goes, characters like Kamala, Nova, Miles Morales and Viv are all well written throughout this book. Nova in particular gets a moment as he speaks to a protestor, which later pays off. A strong case is made that Nova is a good leader and can inspire with motivational speeches. Meanwhile, Miles must insert himself at times to cool off arguments. The dynamics at work across the team are complex and well-realized thanks to the dialogue and plot setup.
The dialogue can feel incredibly long in the tooth, but at a certain point, it starts to feel natural. Compared to other superhero comics it can feel like a lot, but Lore has a way of capturing your interest, be it through emotional moments or the evolving character development. Still, the book could use a bit more splashy action to pick up the pace.
Kamala is intriguingly written here, as she’s taking on Roxxon, but also is still reeling from how they use her face to manipulate audiences. She’s feeling hurt, and at one point is thrown into actively working with them against her will. Ideas about agency and choice are explored, further humanizing these characters and making them relatable. You can tell Kamala is dealing with real trauma and it makes her arc in the story all the more empowering.
Danny Lore is joined by Luciano Vecchio and Federico Blee, who bring a lot of energy and brightness to the book. Emotions run high throughout and Vecchio captures the wide range of feelings these characters go through. As mentioned above, the dialogue can get a bit heavy, but the art seems to build around it well. There’s something about the kinetic curved line of Vecchio that can make what would otherwise be a cluttered-looking page look clean and appealing.
Champions Vol. 2: Killer App is a series well worth your attention as it connects to real-life issues we’re all facing via corporations manipulating us. It’s also a deeply emotional rollercoaster for its characters, with some of the best moments focusing on Nova and Ms. Marvel. Read this, as it’s one of the most realistic looks at this young superhero team ever.
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