Champions #8 gets personal. Well, interpersonal actually, as the team reels from the Freelancers emotional and moral assault last issue. Writer Mark Waid opens the issue with Spider-Man (Miles Morales) trying to restrain Ms. Marvel. Nova (Sam Alexander) happens along and the trio share the misery of being duped, especially when it appeared as though they had won the physical conflict with their opponent.
Waid uses the remainder of Champions #8 to reflect the disappointment and heartbreak the team is left with after the Freelancers co-opt their brand. Not only do the Champions have to reconcile their own feelings, they have to anticipate the reactions of their mentors, a plot device that allows Waid and artist Humberto Ramos to have a little fun, despite the general emotional downbeat frontloaded into this issue.
It also bares the personalities and foibles of the teen team, especially compounded overtop other feelings that have simmered throughout the series to this point. Hulk (Amadeus Cho) gets alpha male in Cyclops’ general direction, has a much-needed discussion with Viv Vision, and also realizes that maybe his focus pointed in the wrong direction. The other characters have discoveries on a similar level, but of all the Champions, this issue provides a nice arc for Nova and Ms. Marvel and their friendship.
Which comes right back to the general sweep of the series: the young heroes stand to learn as much about themselves as they do teamwork and conflict resolution. Yes, their powers and costumes are still in play despite the lack of a true foe in Champions #8, but this issue is about the kids under the costumes.
This is where Ramos and Waid meet in the Venn diagram of this series – and they overlap substantially.
Ramos’ art is wonderfully animated and exaggerated. Despite being a synthezoid, Viv is just as expressive as Nova or Hulk, just in a different manner. She doesn’t blush or display as wide a range of emotions, but Ramos deftly maneuvers her through the familiar reactions as she faces being grounded, just as so many other teens have been before and since Champions #8 has hit the new comic racks.
Ramos doesn’t settle into one repetitious set of reactions, but has a different range for each character. The coloring tagteam of Edgar Delgado and Nolan Woodard take that into account, giving the backgrounds and set pieces different emotional tones, or, more frequently, pulling back on atmospheric shading to encourage readers to focus on the cast of Champions #8.
This issue continues the momentum this series has picked up of giving readers the feeling of a complete single story in a single issue, while constructing a larger arc around, behind, over, and through the story in the issue. This series has been a treat to this point, set within the Marvel Universe while maintaining its autonomy. The team’s coming together now and leaning into each other to weather the adversity around them. I look forward to what’s up next.
The Champions deal with the repercussions of their encounter with the Freelancers in Champions #8, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Humberto Ramos.