I am loving the new direction that Champions has taken. It's one thing to enjoy the members of a team—that's what got me into the series to begin with—but what really creates a masterpiece is managing to put that all-star team into unexpected situations with compelling story arcs while having the narrative precision to still provide those nuanced character interactions that makes us love them that much more. In Champions #21, our young super team finds themselves at odds with the Captain Marvel led Alpha Flight.
I thought I was burnt out on heroes fighting heroes for a while. In the last 20 years, we've had two major Civil Wars, Avengers vs. X-Men, X-Men vs. Inhumans, and if I’m being honest, that song was starting to lose its tune. However, this story played to a different beat. I realize now that it’s the execution of these conflicts that makes or breaks them.
Zub plays the hearts of children against the minds of adults and creates a conflict that has readers teetering between who we should agree with. Furthermore, there's the more focused point of Ms. Marvel confronting Captain Marvel concerning her actions in the last Civil War. That was a satisfying interaction all on its own.
Needless to say, the issue is a big fight over whether or not The Master should be allowed to continue illegally saving the world (just so he can dominate it some eons from now) or if his psychotic butt should be taken in now. It's kind of an interesting predicament. The fight proves to be entertaining as well. With a square-off of strength between The Hulk and Sasquatch, next to a magic vs. tech duel with Talisman and Ironheart, we get a full-fledged team battle to remember. Zub's dialogue throughout the bout is just delightful, and the teens handle themselves very well against the experienced adults.
The best thing about all of this, is that this is actually just a covert means of creating an origin story for new team member. Amka gains powers from the spirit of the land that seem to have roots in nature. That means the Champions will now have a magic user! Quite exciting if you ask me. I love her design and, furthermore, that she’s a woman of color, so more points for natural inclusion of diversity.
Izaakse’s art is just so refreshing. I can’t get enough of it. He knows how to draw characters as strong, regal, powerful, idyllic—whatever fits the personality—and it’s always stunning. I wish I could have seen more of Talisman, because every shot of her using her mystic abilities was a work of wonder to behold. The way he handles action is also nothing to overlook. He knows how to pose a power full punch or a last-minute defensive shield. Every panel is a treat. You couple that with these powerful colors from Mario Menyz? Muah! Yes. It’s that good. I want to sink in and take my time reading just because it’s so fun to look at. I feel like a child with a picture book.
The choice to put Zub and Izaakse on Champions is one of the best decisions Marvel’s made in recent months. I already liked the super team before, but it didn’t have me running to get it off the shelves. Now? I’m sprinting. This is how to refresh a series. If you aren’t reading Champions already, you need to do so.