Jim Zub takes over writing duties for Marvel’s Champions with volume 4, “Northern Lights”, out November 7th.
The trade collects the three issue “Northern Lights” story, as well as the two issue Infinity Countdown: Champions. In “Northern Lights”, the team heads to Canada and comes face-to-face with both Master of the World and Alpha Flight. Then, tying into Infinity Countdown, Sam Alexander gets a distress signal from the Nova Corps and heads into space to battle Warbringer. Ms Marvel, Viv Vision, Ironheart, Wasp, and Snowguard tag along, and the crew finds not only Warbringer, but Thanos as well.
Sean Izaakse draws “Northern Lights” with Marcio Menyz on colors, and Emilio Laiso draws the Infinity Countdown tie-in with Andy Troy on colors. Zub writes both stories, and Clayton Cowles letters them.
Champions was started to show the power of youth, and to empower younger readers. Its purpose is to show how idealism and innocence can be a tool and a strength instead of a weakness. Zub captures this spirit in his debut on the title.
Admittedly, both of these stories are somewhat cut-and-dry in their plots. The team answers a distress call and there’s a big fight. It’s superhero comics 101. However, the themes and morals of these stories make them worth reading.
Both stories involve the Champions bucking authority to be heroes and do the right thing. Sometimes the “right” thing isn’t the logical thing, but these teens are showing the importance of trusting your heart and putting good out into the world. There’s even a moral conundrum in “Northern Lights” that adds a layer of complexity and gives readers young and old something to think about.
Both art teams on this book capture the essence of traditional superhero comics. The work is bright and vibrant; the action is big and explosive. Izaakse, Menyz, Laiso, and Troy all fit the tone of their respective stories perfectly.
“Northern Lights” is the start of a new era for this series. Not only is it Zub’s first arc, but it’s the first story where Ironheart and Wasp are official team members. Point being, this is a fair jumping-on point if you’re new to Champions. However, as this is a team book and there are only three volumes preceding this one, you’ll probably enjoy it more and have more of a connection to the characters if you catch up on Mark Waid’s run first.
Champions is an inspirational, fun comic, and Jim Zub is a natural fit for the series. All high schoolers should be reading it. Heck, all adults should be reading it to remember what it’s like to be young and hopeful. It’s important to hold on to that hope, and comics like this remind us of that.