Comic Review: Champions #1.MU
The creative team behind the excellent all ages comic Raven Pirate Princess unites with colorist Frank D’Armata to tell a fun story of teen heroes being socially responsible, making bad puns, and best of all, punching kaijus. You don’t need to read a single issue of Monsters Unleashed to enjoy writer Jeremy Whitley and artists Ro Stein and Ted Brandt’s work on Champions #1.MU as a battle between the Champions and the ultimate sell-out Freelancers turns into a fiery curb stomp brawl against giant monsters.
Even though this might be their one and only appearance, Whitley, Stein, and Brandt give the crafty, douchey Freelancers plenty of personality and unique abilities. And like Stein and Brandt’s characters in Raven Pirate Princess, this squad of metahumans, who were paid to frame anti-Roxxon oil pipeline protesters, has great body diversity even if they’re pretty annoying. Mighty is the condescending and tough team leader, Crush is the flirtatious, kind of nice one that ends up being the deadliest, Cursed is the quiet wild card, and Hotness is Guy Fieri the supervillain. The Champions definitely have their hands full with them, especially when the highly immature Amadeus Cho version of the Hulk starts hitting on Crush. Whitley doesn’t just use the Freelancers as shiny cool teen external conflict machines, but as mirrors into the characters. For example, the usually competent and put together Cyclops become a bundle of frazzled ruby quartz nerves when Panic reminds him of what he’s going to be when he grows up. Poor Cyke has way too many issues…
Champions.MU has a nice balance of action and humor, which corresponds to Ro Stein and Ted Brandt’s art style of cartooning meets powerful, sometimes goofy superhero figures. The fast pace of the battle between Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and Nova is only matched by their various fire related quips as they deal with Hotness. And other characters get involved in the comedy, like Vision’s daughter Viv, whose android nature gets taunted by a baddie and is met with a headbutt and a Philip K. Dick joke. She and Ms. Marvel are the real MVPs of the issue rescuing the innocent civilian protesters with some extreme driving and embiggening skills. Their portion of the issue of the best because it’s Ultraman meets Speed with a social conscience and plenty of pretty orange flames from Frank D’Armata. Either Ms. Marvel or Viv would make excellent leaders of the Avengers in the future.
Jeremy Whitley, Ro Stein, and Ted Brandt, and Frank D’Armata capture the youthful Saturday morning cartoon energy of superhero comics and the pure power of kaiju movies in Champions #1.MU. It’s the sequential art version of red velvet cake and ice cream. Watching Ms. Marvel think on her feet and wrestle a lizard monster with her polymorphing abilities should be the dictionary definition of joy, and I hope to see this talented team collaborate on more young, scrappy teen hero books in the future.
Rating: 7 (out of 7)