Writer: Jim Zub
Artists: Kevin Libranda
Cover Artist: R.B. Silva & Nolan Woodard
Colors: Marcio Menyz
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Coming off the events of Infinity Countdown: Champions, change is coming at the teen heroes hard, fast, and from all directions, as Amadeus Cho returns with a new codename, Riri Williams debuts her new armor, and Sam Alexander adjusts to his new position without his Nova helmet & powers!!
Summary with limited spoilers
After the major shake-up conclusion to Infinity Countdown: Champions, the team enters a period of adjustment to their individual new roles & woes. The comic opens with Kamala, Riri and Sam meeting up with Amadeus Cho, who’s powers & appearance have now been altered after he went on a rampage in New York City. He’s no longer the Hulk, and thus chooses the new codename of “Brawn”. In response to this, Riri reveals her new armor, rebuilt & redesigned after Thanos destroyed her previous suit in the aforementioned Infinity Countdown: Champions. Kamala & Amadeus are impressed, but the display upsets Sam, who’s trying to adjust to life without his powers, after Commander Adsit took Sam’s Nova helmet away from him. Meanwhile, in the Vision’s home in Virginia, Viv, Nadia, Dr. Toni Ho & Amka are monitoring a re-awakened Vision’s recovery after the severe injuries he suffered fighting the (Bruce Banner) Hulk. After Vision reassures everyone that he is recuperating well enough, he formally agrees to allow Amka to continue living with Viv. The Champions’ ship arrives, with Nadia, Amka & Viv (alongside her dog Sparky) board & depart with their friends. The team makes their next mission aiding MBali, a small village in Tanzania, as the water sources of the wetlands in the area have been corrupted after recent Earthquake activity. Following a brief aside where Kamala attempts to cheer up Sam, who’s still frustrated & depressed over the loss of his powers, the Champions arrive in Tanzania. After a banquet presented to the young heroes by the villagers in appreciate for the team’s aid, Amka & Viv break away from the rest of the group, as Amka senses some odd mystical energies nearby…
Opinions on story and art
There is A LOT going on this issue of Champions, that cannot be understated. Once again, Jim Zub demonstrates his vast writing prowess this issue, and is joined by guest-artist Kevin Libranda, who’s fluid & expressive art-style feels similar enough to regular artist Sean Izaakse’s as to not feel out of place with the rest of the series. Libranda’s rendering of Riri’s new armor is a particular highlight on a visual level, Ironheart looks great! I must say I really like the redesign for Riri (once again done by Stefano Caselli) giving her a more distinct visual look, allowing her to stand out on her own, instead of looking like yet another Iron Man peripheral character. Amadeus Cho’s new look is likewise very visually-pleasing, the contrast between his green skin and the black & purple of his suit is nice. Also as a taller guy myself, it’s nice to have a particularly lanky member of the team. However I”m not really sold on Amadeus’s new codename yet, I would’ve appreciated an in-narrative reason why he chose the name “Brawn”.
This may be the best issue of the series yet in terms of character-development, as Jim Zub balances dealing with Sam’s frustration at his lack of powers, while also setting up growth for Viv, as the book begins to deal with both the fallout of Avengers: No Surrender and the severe damage Viv’s father suffered there, while also revisiting Viv’s decision to turn off her emotions after the several traumas she suffered during the last arc of Mark Waid & Humberto Ramos’s run of Champions. It’s all presented very naturally, and none of it intrudes on the main narrative of the comic. And while doing all of this, Zub continues to foreshadow another story-arc, as the team is still unknowingly monitored by one of Ultron’s drones. And on a minor note, adding Viv’s dog Sparky to the series is a wonderful choice I one-hundred percent approve of! Marcio Menyz’s colors continue to delight, though I will admit I miss the slightly more distinctive facial coloring Andy Troy provided in the Infinity Countdown: Champions tie-in. Amka & Toni Ho’s skin tones seemed a bit too similar.