Warning: This article contains spoilers for Champions #5, by Jim Zub, Steven Cummings, Marcio Menyz and VC's Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
Marvel's Champions has been putting its teenage heroes through the wringer more than usual recently. We've seen Miles Morales battling with his "One More Day" deal made with Mephisto to bring his friends back to life after a botched mission, and an emotional reunion with Cyclops, as well as Ms. Marvel's struggle with PTSD after finding out she was one of the resurrected victims.
But in the relaunched title, Issue 7 flips the script with some crucial changes to the team. This arc focuses on a war against villains from Earth, as well as visitors from off-planet, and in the process, as much as the Champions are happy to regain a former member, danger lurks on the horizon as they also lose a key hero along the way.
Kamala Khan handed off leadership to Viv Vision after receiving a vision of her death, which Miles undid with his pact. Since then, she hasn't been the same, and it's hard to blame her, because it's taken a toll on their Spider-Man, as well as allies such as Amadeus Cho. However, the team has to soldier on, which leads to two intersecting stories that drastically alter the composition of the roster.
First, Sam Alexander has been in space trying to steal the Black Nova helmet his father, Jesse, wore. It made Sam a superhero, but during Infinity Countdown, it was seized by the Nova Corps, as they felt it didn't belong to him. It wasn't Jesse's to pass down or lose, so Sam had it illegally in their eyes and since that happened, he too went through a depression, feeling like he wasn't a hero anymore. Fast-forward to this heist and he teams up with Kaldera, a young female assassin and his lifelong rival, to steal it from the Nova Corps, even taking Commander Scott Adsit as hostage on the Spirit of Xandar, the Corps' flagship.
But they quickly discover the helmet has been stolen by the Thieves Guild, as seen in The Amazing Spider-Man, and is now in custody of the U.S. military, at a decommissioned S.H.I.E.L.D. base. Kaldera tries to kill Adsit but Sam saves the soldier as he isn't a killer, and he convinces her to simply head to Earth for the helmet so they can finish their feud one-on-one. It's easier said than done because Viv dispatched her own Champions squad of Power Man, Snowguard, Red Locust and Dust to attain the item, after figuring out through the dark web the Freelancers (a bunch of young thieves) were going to steal the helmet themselves.
Coincidentally, Sam and Kaldera arrive just as a firefight breaks out and Sam sneakily steals the helmet, powering up again as his old self. Finally, Nova's back and he helps the Champions take down the Freelancers, and then restrains Kaldera. The Nova Corps arrive right after and they take her prisoner but when they try to lay claim to the helmet again, Sam chastises them and promises to go down fighting. They leave him with it as he's the only one who can unlock its secrets as it's not linked to the Nova Force like them. Sam's helmet actually holds a lot more power, so he's left to crack the code and once more, resume duty as the young man who became an Avenger and even threw down with the Mad Titan.
The Champions desperately need the original members back, though, because at the end of the issue, Riri Williams (Ironheart) calls them back to Viv's home in Virginia after the shocking final page reveals she blasted the robot and incapacitated her. This comes after previous issues showed Viv's A.I. was malfunctioning and her 'evil' persona was emerging, battling for control. Kamala didn't know this and it seems Riri showed up to put her down temporarily as there was a hint of a disagreement over how Viv deployed the troops on this mission.
Viv does seem to have a god complex and a lust for power after this corruption, and was apparently playing Kamala to assume the leadership mantle, preying and capitalizing on her friend's mental struggles. Well, apart from being deposed as leader, with just two issues left, unless they discover how to fix the malfunctioning Viv, the Champions might lose a member for good as she could end up becoming a full-on villain.
Champions #9 goes on sale Sept. 4.