SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Champions” #3, which is on sale now.
After one issue establishing the need for the Champions in the Marvel Universe as well as a follow-up issue showcasing the initial six members of the movement getting to know each other, issue #3 of the Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos series puts the team’s new way of superheroing into action. Whereas other superteams go on patrol or react to attacks that happen to them, the Champions have a decidedly modern way of approaching things.
The issue picks up right where the previous one left off, with the teen team bonding by camping in the woods. Viv Vision, the synthezoid daughter of the Avenger Vision, informs Ms. Marvel that she has been “monitoring certain #champions hashtags in the fictional South Asian country of Sharzad.” While Sharzad has been defending the rights of women and girls, specifically when it comes to their right to an education, terrorists have started lashing out and gunning down children seeking knowledge. Kamala immediately pegs this as the Champions’ next mission, and the sextet boards Amadeus Cho’s vehicle.
On the way to Sharzad, Kamala mentions Malala Yousafzai, the 19-year-old real world Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient who survived a gunshot to the head from terrorists attempting to keep girls from getting an education. This issue mirrors those events, echoing what writer Mark Waid initially said he hoped to do with “Champions.” “Comics take the world outside your window and make allegories, superhero them up if you will, still dealing with the same emotions and frustrations and injustices we’re dealing with on a regular basis,” said Waid ahead of the book’s debut.
Upon landing in Sharzad, the team deals with an immediate threat posed by terrorists holding women and girls at gunpoint.
Initially the Champions are unsure of how to proceed once the immediate threat is dealt with. Ms. Marvel offers to move the girls to a nearby territory, but they refuse to leave. “If we run, we accomplish nothing,” says on Sharzad girl. “We give in to extremism.” Viv agrees with these points, but the Champions also know they can’t just leave the situation as it is.
Then, a teen named Amal steps forward with a plan. She knows that the girls have to stick up for themselves and use their ideas against the extremists, and the Champions will help them gather up every girl to stand together in protest as a display of power and solidarity.
Later, while the protestors speak in public, the Champions burrow underground — directly under where the demonstration is being held.
On Amal’s cue, the hidden Champions knock the earth out from under the terrorists while Amal calls out the god that the terrorists claim to be serving while attacking and murdering innocent people. “Perhaps this is what “your” god truly thinks of your crimes!” she says into her megaphone.
Since the Champions can’t be seen rescuing anyone, Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel disguise themselves and try to protect the protestors without calling attention to themselves. With the terrorists taken down and their leader pinned by protestors, Amal speaks to him: “You are the heretics,” she says. “We are the ones made strong by our god. You think we are whimpering little girls? We are warriors.”
Later, the Champions prepare to depart and have final words with Amal and the other girls. The issue ends with Kamala using paint to add a “C” for “Champions” to their clothing. The #Champions movement has grown.
This issue displays what Waid said he was setting out to do with “Champions” back in September. While the series will feature supervillains, Waid said the team is “not out to fight crime.” Instead, “they’re out to deal with street-level stuff that the Avengers and New Avengers and some of the other big teams don’t deal with on a regular basis.” He continued, adding that the Champions will be “an international team in scope” and that they will tackle “global injustice.”
“You’re dealing with arms races and international conflicts, especially those involving young people,” said Waid in September. “How do you do that in a way that’s effective without suggesting there’s a simple answer to it? We are into the idea of the Champions as less of a team and more of a movement.”
The movement begins in “Champions’ #3. “Champions” #4 arrives in stores on January 4, 2017.
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