This week’s, one of the most highly-anticipated Marvel releases of the year finally arrives after months of delay. Eve L. EwingSimone Di Meo, and Federico Blee‘s Champions relaunch picks up where March’s Outlawed one-shot left off, and finds the young heroes of the Marvel Universe on the wrong side of the law. How will they deal with their new outlaw status – and will it tear them apart from the inside?

We’ve got a review of the all-new Champions #1, plus a Rapid Rundown of some of Marvel’s other big releases for the week, all ahead in this week’s installment of The Marvel Rundown!

Champions #1
Champions #1

Champions #1

Written by Eve L. Ewing
Illustrated by Simone Di Meo
Colored by Federico Blee
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover by Toni Infante
Reviewed by Joe Grunenwald

It’s been over six months since the Outlawed one-shot kicked off a new status quo for the young heroes of the Marvel Universe. While most of the other heroes of Earth-616 have resumed their adventures in one form or another, the Champions have remained largely in limbo following this spring’s Diamond shutdown and Marvel’s slow return to its full publishing slate. This week’s Champions #1 finally picks up on the aftermath of the team’s disastrous Outlawed adventure and the newly-passed “Kamala’s Law.”

Writer Eve L. Ewing establishes the new conflict facing the Champions smoothly and clearly. Ewing uses Spider-Man Miles Morales as our entryway into the proceedings, a perfect way to bring readers new to the Champions into the series given Miles’ post-Into the Spider-Verse profile. Following Miles both as Spidey and in his civilian identity it was easy to forget this was a Champions comic — until everyone else arrived and the weight of the situation really became apparent.

Champions #1
From Champions #1

As if the law’s name wasn’t a clue, Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan is central to the Champions new status quo, and her actions in this issue flow out of last month’s Magnificent Ms. Marvel without requiring having read the previous book ahead of time. Kamala takes some actions in this issue that feel a little out of character, until you consider the circumstances and the enormous pressure she finds herself under both as Ms. Marvel and as Kamala Khan. It’s a fascinating direction in which to take the character, and I look forward to seeing it play out both in this book and in her own solo title.

Champions #1
From Champions #1

Simone Di Meo and Federico Blee provide the visuals for this issue, and they do a wonderful job with the material. Much of the drama of this issue comes from the character interactions, and the pair convey the tension of those moments expertly. Di Meo’s characters are expressive and kinetic, and Blee’s colors complement and enhance Di Meo’s linework well. The main confrontation of the issue between the Champions and the agents of C.R.A.D.L.E. is beautifully rendered, capturing the chaos of the action and the frantic energy of our heroes.

There’ve been several Champions relaunches over the past few years, but right away this newest launch sets itself apart. If the previous run on the title from Jim Zub and Steven Cummings was about establishing and expanding the community of young heroes in the Marvel Universe, this one seems to be about stress-testing that concept. The Champions may be on the verge of their own Civil War, and if this debut issue is any indication it’s going to be an excellent read.

Final Verdict: BUY.

From Champions #1

Rapid Rundown!

  • Black Widow #2
    • This issue reveals that when it comes to Natasha’s new life, there’s much more under the surface than it seems. Bucky and Clint are watching Nat from afar and find that she’s… happy? I wasn’t sure if the team would be able to continue the momentum the first issue ended with but this was even more impressive than the first, despite me having the feeling that I’ve read this story before. Everything just seems super fresh with Elena Casagrande and Jordie Bellaire’s awesome artwork. The ending of this issue got me even more excited for where the story is going. —HW
  • Star Wars #7
    • The second arc of this series kicks off with this issue, and it’s probably the most engaging issue of the series yet. Charles Soule and Ramon Rosanas delve into the relationship between our main antagonist Commander Zahra and her mentor Grand Moff Tarkin. It’s a complicated one to say the least, but I don’t think Soule’s done with her backstory. There’s definitely more to tell. I was sorry to not see Jesus Saiz’s name on the cover, but Rosanas is an even better fit for this world than his predecessor. There’s a grounded feeling to this story given that Rosanas is obviously using traditional storytelling techniques instead of what I suspected to be heavy referencing used for the first arc. This was the first Star Wars comic in a long time where I noticed the subtle expression on a character’s face; is that a low bar? Probably, but I’m glad that Marvel’s using some top talent to bring this era of the Star Wars universe to life. —HW
  • Wolverine #6 and X-Force #13
    • Continuing the X of Swords storyline, writer Benjamin Percy and artist Viktor Bogdanovic get an unofficial double-sized story as they helm our favorite Canadian over these two titles. The quick recap: warriors from Krakoa have been selected to battle the other-dimensional fighters of Arakko in a tournament of champions, and Wolverine, being one of the chosen representatives for the battle, has to obtain a blade from Master swordsmith Murama for the upcoming battle. For the most part, I’ve been digging Percy’s run on both titles — dark, gritty with a very distinctive edge — and Bogdanovic helps with keeping that going with Logan’s quest for a weapon as well as that of his counterpart, Solem, Arakko’s top sword is a badass swashbuckler with skin made of Adamantium. While the race for these two contestants is engaging, and the set up for their clash is on-target, these two issues could have been compressed into a slightly longer single issue and still make for a solid read. If you’re a fan of action, the Hand, trips to Hell, and X-Events, it’s worth the read. —GC

Next week, X of Swords marches on, and the Age of Khonshu concludes for the Avengers!


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