Champions #27 Review
Writer: Jim Zub
Artists: Max Dunbar
Cover Artist: Sean Izaaske & Marcio Menyz
Variant Cover Artist: Marko Djurdjevic
Colors: Nolan Woodard
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Previously in Champions…
After being transported to the strange, mystical realm of Weirdworld in search of teammates Sam Alexander & Nadia Van Dyne (aka the Unstoppable Wasp), the Champions found themselves both physically and mentally altered. Some having new powers, all of them having new memories, except for Riri Williams (aka Ironheart). After Riri united with Shadow Spider (Miles Morales/Spider-Man), the pair eventually track down the rest of their changed friends, and Riri leads them towards their lost friend Sam Alexander, now changed into the Nova Knight, and believing himself to be the son of Eshu (the Master), and they alongside Nadia (now believing herself to be the Wicked Wasp) plan on taking over all of Weirdworld…
Summary with limited spoilers
This issue opens with a recap of what happened to Sam from his own perspective, revealing that after being found by the Master, he and Nadia were taken under his wing. The Master taught Sam how to channel the energy from the crystals within Weirdworld, and helped Nadia learn how to control her size-changing powers. The Master made Sam & Nadia believe they were a family, and that aiding the Master’s quest to conquer Weirdworld would bring wisdom and prosperity across the land. As Sam thinks about how the future is theirs, the flashback ends as the story moves to New Crystalium, home of the Crystal Warriors and the remaining crystal energy the Master needs to complete his conquest of Weirdworld. As the Nova Knight begins his attack he hears a screech from the skies. The Champions arrive, joining the battle. As they engage the Master’s forces, the prince of the Crystal Warriors, Crystar charges at Nova Knight. But Nova Knight makes quick work of the prince, decapitating him. At the same time, the Wicked Wasp reveals herself to Mystic Marvel (Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel), having stowed away with the Champions on Snowgore (Amka Aliyak/Snowguard)’s back. Snowgore shakes Wicked Wasp off, as Riri makes her way over to Nova Knight. Asking in desperation what Sam is doing, Sam remembers Riri, and charges at her in anger. As Mystic Marvel shields Riri from the attack, Brawnhammer (Amadeus Cho/Brawn) charges at the Master, knocking him off hi war-crocodile. Seeing this, Sam is further enraged and begins taking in all of the crystal energy. Making a move to intercept, Vivid Vision (Viv Vision) flies towards Riri and merges with her, allowing the two to use the energy to restore the Champions to their proper selves in a huge burst of light. As Sam remembers the loss of his Nova helmet, he hesitates to accept the change. But after a heart-to-heart with Riri, he drops his sword and reverts back to his true self. After apologies are made to the Champion from Nadia for her part in this, and Sam apologies for what he did to the two Crystal Warriors (their people can be rebuilt so Sam’s not guilty of murder), Man-Thing opens up a portal back to Earth for the Champions. The comic then cuts to Sam’s family in Carefree Arizona. His little sister Kaelynn is reading, wanting to become an astronaut so she can go into space to find her dad and Sam. After sharing this with Sam’s mother, a portal opens up in front of them, as the Champions appear in front of them. Sam is home. The comic then cuts to the Champions’ mobile bunker, and after Riri has a brief discussion with Miles regarding his lone-wolf mentality in Weirdworld, Viv approaches Riri. After Viv states that she’s glad things are back to normal, she shares that there was one aspect of their Weirdworld transformations she did miss. Asking Riri if merging with her was pleasing, Viv kisses Riri. Riri is shocked, and her reaction leads to Viv running off, regretting the mistake she made.
Opinions on story and art
Wow. There is a LOT to unpack with this issue! First of all, the conclusion to the conflict in Weirdworld was thoroughly entertaining and engaging and beautifully rendered. However, I admit to not quite understanding how Riri merging with Vivid Vision restored the Champions to their proper forms. The fight sequence beforehand is very thrilling, and there’s lots of great character insight (the opening of the comic revealing just how drunk with power Sam is as the Nova Knight was chilling), with Riri sharing her own feelings of inadequacy after confronting Thanos is one of the stand-out moments of the issue (and the story-arc overall). But I’m still confused exactly how the story gets there. I also would’ve liked a bit more time with Nadia’s reaction to what happened to her. Given her background being raised in the Red Room, I feel like her time as Wicked Wasp should haunt her. It is possible future stories (either the relaunched Champions series next year or Unstoppable Wasp) will address this later, but I do hope it gets addressed. This issue and the storyline as a whole did a terrific job advancing both Sam and Riri’s characters. The conclusion with Sam’s family is moving, and as someone who’s read Sam’s adventures since the first issue of his first solo series was released, this meant more to me than I can say.
The epilogue may be one of my favourite moments in any comic this year. After Mark Waid & Humberto Ramos’s run established that Viv Vision is not interested in boys, to finally see the next step in her story with this kiss means the world to me. The build-up to Viv’s actions is crafted beautifully, and the reaction to the kiss is gorgeously gut-punching. Needless to say I”m incredibly eager to see where Viv’s story, and Riri’s, go from here!
Jim Zub’s writing & dialogue, Max Dunbar’s pencils, Nolan Woodard’s colors, and Clayton Cowles’s letters all remain excellent on this issue. The technique on display here is all top-notch and should be studied by those interested in learning how to make comics or fantasy-adventure tales.