SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Champions” #4, which is on sale now.
Last month’s issue of “Champions” took the teen team far away from their New York City-area meet-up spot to the fictional South Asian country of Sharzad. After helping local women form a resistance movement against a terrorist cell, the Champions charted a course for home in their reconfigured spy plane — only to be shot down over the ocean.
“Champions” #4 from Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos picks up the action right where the previous issue left off, as the team scrambles to land their plane safely — or as safely as they can — in the ocean. After much debate in previous issues about which Champion should serve as team leader, Ms. Marvel instinctively slides into the role during the crisis and delegates life-saving tasks to the team. Spider-Man and Viv keep the fuselage together while Nova serves as a replacement engine and Hulk holds onto the wing. Ms. Marvel then tosses the job of flying the wrecked ship to Cyclops.
Scott notes that “piloting runs in my family,” a reference to his father, the pilot-turned-space-pirate Christopher “Corsair” Summers. Cyclops and the rest of the Champions manage to land the plane safely on the water, leading to a brief moment of calm. The team decides what to do next, which leads to Cyclops and Ms. Marvel giving the same order at the same time.
Clearly their leadership skills and instincts have some overlap.
Later, Ms. Marvel has a chat with Cyclops as he uses his concussive eye beams to propel the downed ship. Kamala commends Cyclops’ piloting skills, and then alludes to the big X-Men event that’s going on right now in other books.
“So…I’m an Inhuman, and you’re a mutant,” says Kamala. “And everyone says we’re supposed to be at each other’s throats. But that feels crazy.” Cyclops adds that he likes her as a teammate and friend, and Kamala reciprocates. No need for this Inhuman to “versus” this mutant.
Of course the two are talking around the big Inhumans vs. X-Men war that’s currently unfolding in the pages of “IvX.” In that series, the X-Men have made a preemptive strike against the Inhumans in order to succeed in their goal of destroying the Inhuman Terrigen cloud. While exposure to that cloud gave the presumably human Kamala Khan super powers years ago, it now kills mutants that it comes into contact with. With the cloud on the verge of dispersing into the atmosphere, rendering all of Earth’s air deadly to mutants, the X-Men have taken steps to destroy it. That doesn’t sit right with the Inhumans, as the cloud is part of their tradition and the means with which new Inhumans are given powers.
But all that’s playing out in other books; right now, Ms. Marvel and Cyclops are friends, working together on the Champions. It is worth pointing out that Kamala and Scott both appear on upcoming covers for “IvX,” which implies that this truce may not last.
Eventually, the Champions’ ship runs afoul of the very people that shot them down: the undersea army of an Atlantean colony. Mistaking the heroes for spies (because of their spy plane), the Atlanteans take the team hostage in their water-filled vessel. As the team plots their escape, Kamala once again instinctively takes the lead — but she checks with Scott first.
Scott’s advice? “Listen to our leader” — meaning Kamala. It looks like after a few issues of nearly every Champion claiming to be the leader, at least two members of the team agree that Ms. Marvel deserves the role. And, considering that she got the team out of two jams in one issue, it looks like she knows how to do the job.
Of course whatever unity the team has found over the course of this adventure could be upended next month. As Kamala reminds us on the last page of the issue, the team has said that “anyone who wants change in this world can call themself a Champion.” Kamala wasn’t counting on the unbelievable Gwenpool wrapping a Champions cape around her neck…
“Champions” #5 — co-starring Gwenpool — arrives in stores on February 1.
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