Marvel Comics' Champions is a team of adolescent heroes out to change their world for the better, dealing with both super villains and complex social issues while struggling with personal changes. In Champions #19, new writer Jim Zub kicked off a new era for the book that found the ranks of the titular team growing as Riri William (AKA Ironheart) and the Unstoppable Wasp (Nadia Pym) joined the team. The coming months will find the group dealing with even more changes, as their ranks continue to grow and individual members are affected by the choices they make here and in their solo titles.
The first big change come in the currently unfolding arc, which will see a new member named Snowguard join the team. From there, the Champions will embark on an epic, outer space journey in the two issue Infinity Countdown: Champions mini-series by Zub and artist Emilio Laiso. And when they return to Earth in their main series, Zub and new Champions artist Kevin Libranda will tackle the fallout from the team's intergalactic sojourn and the impact from the end of a number of individual members' solo books.
CBR spoke with Zub about Snowguard, how the Infinity Countdown mini connects to what he's doing in Champions, and his sense of how the ending of Greg Pak's recent Incredible Hulk run has impacted Amadeus Cho.
CBR: Let's start off talking about the Champions' newest member, Amka Aliyak, aka Snowguard, who we met for the first time in Champions #20. What inspired Amka's creation and what can you tell us about her superhuman abilities?
Jim Zub: I've been writing at Marvel for the past four years, and one of the most enjoyable aspects of playing in the big ol' Marvel sandbox is the potential to add new toys. With Thunderbolts I stuck mostly with fleshing out characters or moving their stories forward. In Uncanny Avengers I made little tiny elements and then in Avengers: No Surrender I went all in - a new hero, villains, new back stories on existing characters, all kinds of fun stuff. When it came time to take over Champions I just felt that it would be great to add a new teen hero to the mix. If I was going to do that, I had two goals: One, the new character would have mystic abilities (because the team doesn't have anyone with that power set) and two, that he or she would be Canadian because, well, I'm Canadian and I've been at Marvel long enough that I can start executing my Maple Syrup Agenda™.
If I was going to go ahead and create a new Canadian hero, I felt it would be nice to showcase a part of Canada that doesn't get much time in the mainstream spotlight. An indigenous hero seemed like something a bit different we could tackle, and I was especially excited about making her a regular part of the team, not just a guest star for an few issues.
I pitched that broad concept at Tom and Alanna, my editors, and they gave me the go ahead to start developing it further. From there I started doing research and through a friend I was put in touch with Nyla Innuksuk. She's a film and VR producer who has a solid footing in Inuit myth and gave me a ton of great context for what it was like growing up in Nunavut. It took the research I was already doing and really contextualized it in a way I could never have gotten from books and websites alone.
In the same kind of way that Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider, Amka is imbued with magic energy by Sila, an energy that's a bit like mana, ubiquitous and ever present but not normally something people can see or control. It allows her to tap into much larger forces and transform herself with animal traits, at first by accident but with practice in a very powerful way.