SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for “Civil War II” #6 and “Champions” #1, on sale now
Readers of this week’s “Civil War II” #6 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez saw the fracturing of Team Iron Man that served as the precursory moment for the formation of Marvel Comics’ newest supergroup, The Champions. This latest team of heroes is not only the newest team to form in the Marvel Universe, but also the youngest, featuring Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Nova (Sam Alexander), and Spider-Man (Miles Morales), among others.
There’s a curious disconnect between the defining moment of the team members’ departure in “Civil War II” and their initial formation in the first issue of Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos’ “The Champions,” indicating that the characters’ involvement in “Civil War II” might not be over, despite their seeming exit. Conversely, the stories of some potential players have yet to truly begin, with the divided post-CWII backdrop providing the opportunity for Marvel’s young guns to step forward and be noticed.
Waid’s “Champions” #1 establishes Kamala, Sam and Miles as the nucleus of the budding team, just as Waid had infused the young blooded trio into his just-concluded incarnation of “All-New, All-Different Avengers.” Waid had likewise established a bond between these three characters during his 15 issues on that title, which has played well into the divisive nature of Bendis’ “Civil War II” story. When Ulysses’ latest vision revealed a shocking potential future vision of Miles’ murder of Captain America (Steve Rogers) to all of the story’s combatants, Kamala and Sam naturally side with their friend, driven by an even deeper friendship than the one of convenience formulated by a common moral belief with the rest of Tony Stark’s side in the conflict.
That friendship, and divide, is symbolically conveyed by Marquez in “Civil War II” #6, where Kamala and Sam, alongside Riri Williams, young Cyclops (Scott Summers) and Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), are rarely shown in the same panels as Tony and Steve, the established, older guard, in a kind of artistic foreshadowing of the future “Divided We Stand” dynamic. With no real history between Kamala and Sam and the other newer heroes, the team instead finds themselves bound by generational and ideological similarities; not unlike that seen, ironically, in the formation of the original Avengers.
In “Champions” #1, Waid uses and expands upon the generational bond established by Bendis in “Civil War II.” As Waid’s story references Riri, but doesn’t directly feature her, it hints that there are still bonds that have yet to be forged. Especially with Scott, who goes unmentioned but is promised to play a prominent role in the second issue, although that issue’s cover featuring an outright fight between Sam and Scott that shows not all of the alliances between the group in “Civil War II” resulted in immediate friendship. Kate is conspicuously absent from any mention in “Champions” #1, which speculatively could point towards some sort of eventual differences between her and the team.
For anyone who believes it’s not an Avengers team without an Iron Man, the group’s name notwithstanding, Riri’s presence begs for eventual inclusion, and could help forge and establish new dynamics with Marvel’s other young heroes, allowing Bendis to focus on her character in “Invincible Iron Man.” The same would apply for Kate, who has largely been relegated to the Hawkeye-verse up until this point, and has had relatively little integration into the Marvel Universe. She could also perhaps fit in as a possible replacement member to the team, not unlike the original Hawkeye did back in the old days of “The Avengers.” Similarly, young Scott’s character could benefit from some interaction with a mainline Marvel team, something even his older version rarely experienced, save for event-type storylines.
They’re not referenced in “Civil War II,” at least yet, but Waid has already added Amadeus Cho, aka the Totally Awesome Hulk, and Viv Vision to the team, and also makes mention of a few other newer heroes at the end of “Champions” #1. The new Falcon, Joaquin Torres, might not be immediately recognizable to those not reading Nick Spencer’s “Captain America: Sam Wilson” series, but is foreshadowed as a potential candidate. Likewise with Lunella Lafayette, aka Moon Girl, who has been virtually unseen anywhere outside of “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.” Inclusion of her character would make The Champions notable if for no other reason than it would be the first superhero team since the Runaways to include a dinosaur; a decided advantage for a team ripe with so much youthful inexperience Nadia Pym, daughter of Hank and Maria and also now the new Wasp in the Marvel Universe, seems like an obvious choice as a candidate as well.
Event stories like “Civil War II” have long hyped and promised lasting change, to varying degrees of permanence. “Champions” #1 serves as a sneak peek into the aftermath of the event; the issue reveals that Sam and Miles had already quit the Avengers – before Kamala doing the same that issue – and Miles notes that he has “suffered enough fallout from this mess.” The nature of that fallout remains unknown, as does the fate of Steve Rogers, who is unseen and unmentioned in the issue. Whether Ulysses’ vision had come to pass or not, and whether Cap is even alive, is noticeable by its lack of mention.
So who will be a Champion? Nadia’s familial ties with a founding Avenger almost makes her a given. Riri’s technological knowhow makes her a natural fit, and her intelligence would play off well against Amadeus’ own in a next-gen Stark / Banner type rivalry. Moon Girl’s relative anonymity begs for her character to be explored, and, well, she has a dinosaur. An imminent inclusion for Kate doesn’t seem as likely, though, as her relative lack of interaction in “Civil War II” doesn’t advertise her as much of a team player. And the new Falcon doesn’t seem to bring much beyond being able to fly. He has a bird, sure, but a dinosaur is much cooler.
“Champions” #2 goes on sale November 2, while “Civil War II” #7 is scheduled for release on November 23.
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