Champions #25 review
Writer: Jim Zub
Artists: Sean Izaaske & Max Dunbar
Cover Artist: Sean Izaaske & Marcio Menyz
Variant Cover Artist: Jong-Ju Kim
Colors: Marcio Menyz & Noland Woodard
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Previously in Champions…
After a harrowing adventure in space, the Champions’ return to Earth lead them to encounter the mysterious Man-Thing, and after a tense battle, Man-Thing teleported away, taking former-Nova Sam Alexander and all-new Wasp Nadia Van Dyne with him…
Summary with limited spoilers
The comic opens with Riri Williams (Ironheart), waking from a nightmare, reliving the moment Thanos threatened to kill her in her dreams (see Infinity Countdown: Champions #2). After waking, Riri gets up and strolls around the ship, eventually encountering Kamala Khan and Miles Morales (Ms, Marvel & Spider-Man) as the former has just finished a phone call with Sam’s mother, trying to reassure her that the Champions are doing all they can to find him and Nadia. After Riri checks in with Viv Vision, who tells her efforts to contact any other magic users to help them have failed, the two find Amka Aliyak (Snowguard) and Amadeus Cho (Brawn), trying to communicate with the source of Amka’s powers, the Inua spirit Sila, for help finding their missing teammates. After Amka reassures the great spirit that she’s not looking to add power for herself, but for her friends, the spirit reveals that the two have been taken to the realm of Weirdworld, a strange mystical fantasy realm. Sila then entrusts Amka with the Siege Parallel, and with the warning that this journey is fraught with risk, and that those that enter through the Siege Parallel will find themselves changed, showing what they could be in another reality. The Champions all agree to head for Weirdworld together and enter the portal created by the magic totem (but not before Viv leaves a message for her father should something go wrong).
Riri then awakens in strange new chainmail armor and surrounded by warrior-rats. As the rats make the move to attack her, Riri finds a magic mace and begins knocking out the rats. But as they continue their attack, another figure appears from overhead. Miles Morales, dressed in new garb of his own, attacks and with the help of Riri, they defeat the rat-hoard. Miles then introduces himself as the Shadow-Spider. He appears to have no memory of her or anything beyond Weirdworld, also revealing that within these lands, Riri is renowned as the Lady Ironheart, wielder of the Mace of Light and Truth. Riri continues to try and remind Miles of the Champions, as the comic cuts away to Amadeus, now the orc Brawnhammer. Amadeus is enslaved in an underground weapons forge for the Great Esthu, and as he toils away, an attack breaks out, as Man-Thing & Amka attack all those within the mine. Amadeus tries to intervene, leading to him and Amka fighting one another. Amka seems to have a brief moment of recognizing Amadeus, before knocking him out and carrying him out of the mine. She brings him to the rest of the resistance movement she’s part of, as Amadeus is freed from his imprisonment by Kamala Khan, now calling herself the Mystic Marvel and Amka Snowgore. But as Kamala recruits Amadeus, an unnamed, but familiar wasp flies off, towards the enemy’s castle….
Opinions on story and art
HOLY CRAP this was another outstanding issue! Kicking off this new three-part story-arc with an oversized issue might be a bit annoying from a cost point of view, but it’s well worth it for creators Jim Zub, Sean Izaakse, Max Dunbar, Marcio Menyz Noland Woodard and Clayton Cowles to start “Warriors of the Weird” with a bang. The set-up for this new storyline is very intriguing, and I absolutely love all the cool redesigns the Champions have each received, Sean Izaakse made each of them look great, balancing medieval/fantasy aesthetics with the visual core of each hero perfectly! The mystery of what has happened to the team, and to Nadia & Sam is laid out very nicely, setting up lots of questions to fuel the next two issues. Why are Mystic Marvel and Snowgore working with Man-Thing? What’s going on with Nadia and Sam? And the reveal of the mysterious narrator of the issue is chilling! The transition from the opening of the book, drawn by Izaakse, to the remainder of the story, drawn by guest-artist Max Dunbar, is handled very fluidly. I could hardly notice any difference between their pages, or between the coloring by Menyz & Woodard. This all allows for a very smooth read, never taking readers out of the narrative once. Also, I continue to adore the use of Viv’s dog Sparky, as he has several moments to show how cute he is throughout the opening. The decision to frame the story around Riri is appreciated, allowing her more spotlight than she’s had thus far in Zub’s run. And yet another mystery for the arc, why is Riri the only one who remembers their life outside Weirdworld? The lettering by Clayton Cowles is fantastic as always, clear and easy to follow, and with excellent sound-effect touches throughout. All of the fun character moments, the action-sequences and mysteries presented take me back to watching and reading Lord of the Rings and Beyond the Deep woods, in all the best ways.