Written by: Mark Waid
Art by: Humberto Ramos
Colours by: Edgar Delgado
Champions has a lot of things going for it: its characters are among the more popular teen superheroes, it boasts Mark Waid as writer and it features the adventures of a new team, albeit one using an old name. But what makes Champions great isn’t any of that, but how it approaches adolescence. Not since New X-Men – Academy X and Young Avengers have I seen such good writing of teenagers, and if you know me, you know that’s high praise indeed.
Champions is light on plot, and instead decides to introduce its characters to the reader. While it’s an odd decision, given that this is a second issue and all, the way it goes about it is nothing but charming. The teen camping trip will forever be a cute way to go about character work, and it’s very well done here. Waid shows off characters’ powers in fun ways, and their personalities shine through how they demonstrate them. Things like the Hulk jumping so high he reaches the moon, or Nova’s attitude when showing off his powers all work to really define these characters for the reader. But the standout is definitely Viv Vision, who gets some great interactions that scream “awkward teenager” while also being one of the few characters in all of fiction who can pull off the “I don’t understand human culture” trope. A lot of this is due to her age, as the teenage years are awkward for everyone, so Viv’s behaviour is more justifiable and easy to relate to. The only character who doesn’t get much focus, reason for joining the team or depth in general is Amadeus Cho (the Hulk), who seems to exist to be a jerky jock.
The portrayal of the characters as teenagers in general is very well done, with themes of awkwardness, hormones, waywardness and rebellion all getting the right amount of time devoted to them, and that time being very well spent. While the reason for the Champions’ founding is touches upon — “justice without unjust force” — it mainly serves as a basic motivation for some of the characters. All in all, Waid does a great job giving everyone a distinct personality, and characters like Viv and Cyclops a good reason for being on the team. If nothing else, Champions feels like it will make you care about these character if you don’t already.
The art is pretty good this time around, which came as a shock to me, as someone who generally doesn’t like Humberto Ramos’ art. The cartoony look and exaggerated poses works for this younger team, where everyone wears their feeling a bit more on the sleeve. Ramos’ biggest strength is that his work conveys a lot of energy, and when your comic is as lighthearted and fun as Champions #2 is, you really want that. But he also does good work with the quieter character moments, surprisingly, with more subdued facial expressions where necessary.
Champions #2 is a great issue that really nails the feelings of being a teenager. From awkward romance to rebellion, Mark Waid clearly knows how to write compelling adolescence. Friendly to newcomers and fun but compelling, this is another great issue in what is shaping up to be an awesome series.
4/5 – Very good