Miles Morales must navigate a world where young superheroes have been outlawed in Champions #1 (opens in new tab). Written by Eve Ewing with art by Simone Di Meo, Champions has the unenviable task of getting readers used to a new status quo while also juggling a large cast. Fortunately, the new debut gets off to a good start whether this is your first run-in with the now-outlawed team or not.
Written by Eve L. Ewing
Art by Simone Di Meo and Federico Blee
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
A significant portion of this success is thanks to Eve Ewing's choice to focus on Miles Morales for this first issue. Out of all the Champions, Miles Morales is inarguably the most familiar to potential readers, and Ewing puts the audience inside his head to provide exposition via his angsty inner monologue. There's a good reason for Miles to be struggling, as 'Kamala's Law' banning young superheroes is causing other side effects. When Miles is at school, a fellow student gets reprimanded for violating a new dress code banning clothing that supports young superheroes.
There's an oppressive feel to Miles' world, and artist Simone Di Meo helps add to that with panel layouts that are slanted and compressed, creating a literal off-kilter visual scheme to this part of the book. When Miles goes out on patrol as Spider-Man, he bursts from the panel, visually capturing the freedom he feels in his superhero alter-ego. But as he stops a crime, the panels come crashing in again until it's revealed that the whole thing is a sting operation by NYPD. These visual and storytelling cues by Di Meo and Ewing really helps build the mood and gets the readers on Miles' side as the book works its way to the second half of the story.
This back half focuses on a secret meeting by the Champions, and it is here that the cast explodes. Nova, Starling, Boom Boom, Moon Girl, Dust, and more are introduced to the reader. Eve Ewing's script avoids using captions to introduce the roster, instead allowing the dialogue between the young heroes to do the lifting. This keeps the scene feeling a bit more naturalistic as, without the dramatic introductions, readers are just dropped into the conversation. For readers unfamiliar with the cast, there may be a fear of being overwhelmed by all the faces, but because Ewing isn't constantly throwing names at you, it keeps the scene easier to parse. These are young heroes discussing their future.
Miles falls a bit to the background here, as the focus shifts to Ms. Marvel, Nova, and Starling. The three superheroes all have their own ideas as to how to proceed, but their meeting gets cut short when a C.R.A.D.L.E. team bursts into the room, led by a superhero who knows the consequences of being a little too young on the battlefield. Ewing uses this as a thematic callback to Miles' earlier monologues when he had contemplated whether adults remembered what it was like to be young. Now, he gets an answer.
The fight sequence at the end of the book is a visual feast, with Simone Di Meo's expressive linework capturing the movement and chaos as the young heroes fight to escape. Color artist Federico Blee shines in this scene. The saturated palette throughout the book gives a sense of vibrancy and energy, and in the climax it really shines as the heroes pop off the page while their opponents fade into the background. This allows the young heroes to appear larger than life, even as the walls close in around them.
Champions #1 closes with some of the heroes captured and the others on the run, and a cliffhanger that leaves plenty for Eve Ewing and Simone Di Meo to explore in the future. By focusing on Miles and allowing his voice to guide readers into this new status quo, Ewing and Di Meo create a great starting point for the new series. The artwork by Di Meo and Blee gives the book a boost of visual energy, and Ewing's script captures the short tempers and angst that teenagers have without either aspect getting overwhelming. With such a large cast, Champions has a difficult balancing act to perform, but this debut pulls it off with style.
Champions #1 goes on sale October 7 (opens in new tab).