In the aftermath of Civil War II, six adolescent heroes; Ms Marvel (Kamala Khan), Viv Vision, the Totally Awesome Hulk (Amadeus Cho), Nova (Sam Alexander), Spider-Man (Miles Morales), and the time-traveling teen incarnation of Cyclops sought to change the face of superheroics in the Marvel Universe. They did so by forming the Champions, a team dedicated to not just fighting super criminals, but making the world a better place. Of course, part of changing how things work is adapting to the developments that come your way, and this spring the Champions will be dealing with several big shifts to their status quo
The first big change is the new creative team of writer Jim Zub and artist Sean Izaakse, who take over Champions with April’s issue #19. They’ll usher in a new era that will see the team welcome new members The Unstoppable Wasp (Nadia Pym) and Ironheart (Riri Williams), as well as taking on new challenges and dealing with the interpersonal drama and classic soap opera style elements that are a hallmark of a number of Marvel super team comics.
CBR spoke with Zub about his take on the team’s original members, new recruits the Wasp and Ironheart, and what readers can expect from his initial stories.
CBR: The Champions are an interesting team. They’re adolescents, many of them are characters continuing heroic legacies, and a number of them have been part of larger teams like the Avengers and the X-Men. There’s a lot of great aspects to explore there. Which elements of the team as a whole are most intriguing to you?
Jim Zub: I love the youthful energy and sense of possibility inherent in the Champions. They’re go-getters, they’re explorers, and they’re still trying to find their way in the world. This is a cast of characters who don’t have dozens and dozens of issues under their belt, so we can really stake our claim and affect them in unexpected ways that will last.
This is my fourth team book at Marvel (wow, seeing that staring me in the face feels strange), and with each one I’ve tried to find core ideas that drive the book. The Thunderbolts were all about failed redemption and regret-tinged nostalgia. The Uncanny Avengers were an eclectic crossroad of the Marvel Universe who stuck together out of friendship and a desire to better themselves. The huge team we see in “Avengers: No Surrender” is a celebration of past and present, “Marvel Legacy” in a very literal sense as we try to take that old school Marvel magic and sync it up with the here and now.
It’s early on in the process with Champions but, so far, the core for me has been bridging the gap between youth and adulthood – Who we are in that awkward time full of potential when adult responsibilities start to enter our lives and we realize things aren’t as easy as they once were when we were young. There’s still a lot of fun and adventure to be had, but it’s tinged with more complex problems looming on the horizon.
The original tagline for the series was, “The world still needs heroes,” and that holds true. The Champions represent a hopeful generation gripped by big problems they had no part in creating – political strife, climate change, the overreach of technology invading our lives. These teens want to change the world, but figuring out how to do that while juggling their personal lives and emotions; well, that’s the trick.
Of course, the other fun aspect of the Champions is the individual characters. Which of the original cast are you especially enjoying writing?
Sam Alexander’s youthful energy is a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying playing him off Miles. They’re pals but also competitive. Honestly, the whole team is competitive in that way teenagers constantly jockey for social status within their peer group. They’re like a group of gifted students who realize they’re not the only genius in their new class. There’s mutual respect and friendship there, but also boundary-testing and competition.
Kamala is such a wonderful character full of potential and I enjoy the way she doesn’t want to be the leader of the team but gets pulled into that de facto role because of her experience leading raids in MMOs and because she’s just the most organized in general. She’s a very responsible person, but also becoming acutely aware of what taking on that responsibility means.
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