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I wanted to like this volume, I really did. And the damning part is that, I don’t think it’s the book itself that’s to blame for why it falls apart like it does. See, Champions, Volume 2 is a perfect example of what’s wrong with the “big two” in the American comics industry: A story can be going along quite nicely, when all of a sudden, some huge, world-changing event happens in the surrounding comics universe, and anything that had been happening in the series has to take a backseat for Mandato
The first three pre-MEP issues are a little jarring at first, too, introducing us to a team that’s essentially an evil version of the Champions…who everyone in the book already seems familiar with. It’s been awhile since I read volume 1, but I don’t think we as readers had met them before this point, so there’s a weird bit of narrative dissonance there. But it tells a decent enough story, once you get beyond that hurdle. Then there’s a throwaway issue, where we meet the Red Locust (the one I mentioned who never appears again), before we dive into the “Secret Empire” event, and everything goes to crap.
Issue #10 feels the most like it belongs in this series, with the Champions trying to free what amounts to an internment camp of Inhumans from Hydra’s grasp. It still comes entirely out of left field, compared to events leading up to it, but it at least tries to maintain some of the themes of combating oppression, and looking out for people first and foremost.
Then we get to issue #11, and suddenly the team is split up around the world, teamed up with random, less well-known members of the Avengers, trying to conduct rescue operations for survivors of large-scale Hydra attacks…that have all happened off-page. So what we do see on-page is a lot of heavy-handed moralizing, and bonding with characters who are gone, after this issue ends. It’s quite frankly, a mess.
…and it gets worse with issue #12, which begins with the team singing karaoke(?!) Didn’t the previous issue just end with the Champions (and their new friends) vowing to take the fight to Hydra? Did that happen, off-page? Is that threat over now? We’re never told. Instead, we flash ahead three hours to the team fighting a villain named Psycho-Man (how they ran across him, or why is also never explained). Plot contrivances happen, to give us a little bit of a character sketch for Cyclops, but really, this issue just felt very “villain of the week,” with seemingly no connection at all to anything that came before it.
I hate this phenomenon in American comics, where entire series can get commandeered by MEP. I’d been reading a couple other Marvel comics at the time these issues would have come out, so I have at least some knowledge of what was going on in the world at large, but if you were someone who was just reading Champions? Man, would you be lost. And that’s why this sort of thing ticks me off so much–it’s sacrificing reader enjoyment for line-wide conformity, regardless of whether it makes sense or not. And in a darkly cynical way, if we look at it through the lens of what Champions is supposed to be about, Marvel itself represents just the sort of thing the team is supposed to be fighting against: an old guard that’s blindly chasing glory, or the “next big thing,” with no regard to the little people caught in the crossfire. We the readers, as the “little people” have no control over the events that such large juggernauts (Marvel, DC) are partaking in; we’re just trying to get by (enjoy good stories), when sometimes (often), something huge and unstoppable crops up to get in the way of that.
…with that off-the-cuff analysis, I almost talked myself into giving this volume one more star. Almost. But meta-commentary aside, Champions Volume 2 is still disappointing. It was a great book that had a lot of potential, but I don’t know how or if it’s going to pull itself back together, following this derailment it had no control over. And given how this volume ended, I’m not sure I’m entirely keen on finding out, and that makes me rather sad.
Volume 2 of the Champions series is a bit of a mess story-wise and an excellent example of how company-wide events can really mess with individual series at Marvel and DC.
It starts off well enough with the Champions having to deal with a teen mercenary group that oppose everything the Champions are trying to stand for. It’s not the greatest plot since the villains are too one-dimensional for my liking, but the first couple issues of this book at least form a cohesive story. Since this volume’s t
I really like the Champions team, but this volume did not have a cohesive plot at all. I was intrigued by the Red Locust, but sad that she just vanished. In general I’m not a fan of the secret empire storyline and wish my comics could just stand on their own without confusing world shifts that happen elsewhere in the marvelverse affecting them. I was particularly disappointed to see Riri/Ironheart show up here and barely do anything, since havingbher interact meaningfully with the Champions woul