SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Champions #9, on sale now.
The Champions have made a name for themselves in the Marvel Universe in their short amount of time as a team. Its roster consists of teenage heroes from all corners of the Marvel Universe, including a Spider-Man, an X-Man, a Hulk, an Inhuman, a cosmic hero and the “offspring” of a longtime Avenger. As the latter, Viv Vision has the least amount of experience in operating as a force for good, having debuted in 2015’s critically acclaimed The Vision from Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles.
Champions #9 (from Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, Edgar Delgado and Clayton Cowles) features the first-ever solo tale for the superhero. In it, Viv travels to San Diego to keep an eye on the Champions’ biggest rivals, the Freelancers. This alone would be enough to fill the pages of the comic, as a spotlight on the teenage synthezoid would go a long way to fleshing out the character. However, the Freelancers are nowhere to be found, leaving readers with the pleasant surprise of the introduction of a new Mexican legacy hero named the Red Locust.
When the Red Locust makes her grand entrance, even the longest of longterm Marvel readers might be unsure of whether she’s an established hero or brand-new character. As explained in the issue’s backwater, she is, in fact, the brainchild of Waid and Ramos, the latter of whom is credited with designing her visual look. As explained in-story, Fernanda Ramirez’s ancestors were a part of the Locust Brotherhood, who were sworn protectors of Mexican travelers and tribes. One unique trait of these trackers was their ability to control insects, which Fernanda refers to as “ridiculo.” When Viv asked if Fernanda can do this, she replied, “I’m working on it. I am hardly Squirrel Girl, Viv.”
The ability to talk to animals aside, Red Locust does share a few qualities with the likes of Squirrel Girl, not to mention the new Wasp, Nadia Pym, and Ironheart, Riri Williams. All four women have a youthful exuberance that radiates from them on every page they appear on. While Red Locust and Squirrel Girl potentially share an ability to communicate with their namesakes, Fernanda, Nadia and Riri are the most alike. All three are new to their roles as heroes, and it definitely shows.
Red Locust bursts onto the hero scene as she’s chasing down a young man whose mother is very worried about him. With this being Fernanda’s first time out in her armor, she’s a little overzealous and winds up damaging a cab Viv is riding in. After a quick explanation, the two heroes take off after a local drug runner with ties to a mysterious man from the series’ first issue. Viv and Red Locust stop the criminals and turn over the blood money to the police. In a less-than-ethically-pure move, Red Locust pockets some of the leftover cash… in order to pay the cabbie for the car she damaged earlier.
The origin of the Red Locust identity spans back over two hundred years when the brotherhood built the armor as a symbol of their cause. It’s meant to be passed down to the first-born son – all named Fernando in honor of Spain’s King. When Fernanda’s mother dies before being able to give birth to a male heir, the brotherhood reluctantly allows the young girl to take up the mantle. The first thing Fernanda does is to begin to make modifications, studying hydraulics and exoskeletons in order to imbue the suit with super-strength and jumping abilities, a fascination and natural ability with science that mirrors Nadia and Riri’s.
Of course, now that she’s been introduced, there’s the little matter of what’s next for Red Locust. She has left such a good impression on Viv that the Champion is considering making a case to her teammates that Fernanda should be added to their roster. There have been a few teases of new members added to the Champions, particularly within the pages of Marvel’s Secret Empire event and the spinoff miniseries, Secret Empire: Uprising.
Reading the issue, it’s easy to see Red Locust fitting in with the team’s other young heroes. She already has a connection with Viv, and it would likely be just a matter of time before the rest of the team — and the reading audience — embraced her as well. A case can even be made that the Champions should have a free-flowing roster depending on the type of threat they’re facing. For example, if Nova is tied up in cosmic space matter, someone like Ironheart or Red Locust can step in for him. Fernanda would get some hands-on training from her peers, the value of which both to the team and on an entertainment level shouldn’t be overlooked. Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel have been in her shoes and can guide Red Locust on the dos and don’ts of being a superhero.
More importantly than whether Red Locust would make a fine Champion (again: she would), she is a valuable addition to the Marvel Universe as a whole. At a time when fans are clamoring for more diverse, new heroes, Red Locust nails both requirements, and does so with ease, feeling neither forced nor stereotypical. There is a lot more to learn about the young hero, and yet she’s already a fully fleshed-out character whose story adds to the rich tapestry of both the greater Marvel U as well as the Champions’ own corner of it. While she may not be ready to star in her own solo series, Waid and Ramos could do a lot worse than to introduce her to the mix as Champions continues to forge boldly into the future.