Comic Book / Champions (2016)

Champions is a 2016 Marvel comic book, published as part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch.

Written by Mark Waid with art by Humberto Ramos, Champions is actually the second Marvel title to bear that name. The first volume of Champions (published in the The '70s) consisted of Black Widow, Hercules, Angel, Ghost Rider, and Iceman; it's not fondly remembered.

Retooled as Marvel's new flagship youth team, this iteration of Champions features some of the most popular younger heroes of the Marvel Universe working together to set right what they believed their elders have messed up, namely heroism.

In the wake of Civil War II, Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) has become disillusioned by the heroes she used to idolize and regard as her mentors. Taking matters into her own hands, she officially quits The Avengers and rounds up former teammates Sam Alexander (Nova) and Miles Morales (Spider-Man) to fight crime on their own terms. Along the way, they're joined Amadeus Cho (the Totally Awesome Hulk), Viv Vision (daughter of The Vision), and teenage Cyclops (time-displaced from The '60s). Later additions to the team include Ironheart (Riri Williams) and Nadia van Dyne (the Unstoppable Wasp).

With a team chock full of teenagers, expect some rivalries, hormonal urges, and a healthy dash of generational angst to ensue.

Not to be confused with the tabletop game nor the Cryptic Games MMO game, nor Marvel's comic book Contest of Champions or their mobile fighting game of the same name.

Champions provide examples of:

  • Absentee Actor:
    • Miles is missing in Issue #5. Spider-Gwen #17 has Kamala drop in and go off on Miles in worry over this.
    • Kamala, Sam and Scott are MIA in Issue #10 due to the events of Secret Empire
  • Adults Are Useless: The main drive of the series — the teens feel their older mentors aren't cutting it as heroes anymore, and that they need to do things on their own terms.
  • Affirmative Action Legacy:
    • Kamala (Pakistani-American) took on the Ms. Marvel name from her inspiration, Carol Danvers, a white woman.
    • Sam (half-Latino) currently shares the Nova mantle with Richard Rider, a white man.
    • Miles (Black-Hispanic) shares the Spider-Man identity with Peter Parker, a white man.
    • Amadeus (Korean-American) became the Hulk after Bruce Banner, a white man, distanced himself from that persona.
    • Viv is a female 'offspring' of an ostensible male synthezoid. As a synthezoid she is pink with green hair, but her human form has dark skin and dark hair with green and pink natural highlights.
    • Cyclops, the "token white male", has the same Ambiguous Disorder that his adult self is famous for.
    • Riri (African-American) became Ironheart after reverse engineering Iron Man's technology, and ended up taking over his book when he was put in a coma during Civil War II.
    • Nadia (Russian) is the daughter of Hank Pym, who gave Janet van Dyne her Wasp powers. Like Riri, Nadia was able to duplicate Hank's technology, becoming a second Wasp. With Hank dead, she was adopted by Janet, her stepmother. Now they both fight crime as The Wasp.
  • Badass Normal: Amal and her friends in Sharzad refuse to flee the militant fundamentalists who want to deny women a right to education. Scott and Kamala nominate her to lead the Champions.
  • Battle Cry: "Go for Champions!"
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Presumably how Cyclops feels when he abstains voting, be it on whether to use powers during painball or whether to invite Vivian 2.0 to join the Champions.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: Happens suddenly in Secret Empire. According to the cover to #11, Nova is lostnote , Ms. Marvel is incarceratednote , and Cyclops has been deportednote . The Secret Empire: Uprising one-shot has Black Widow uniting the remaining three with Ironheart and the newest incarnations of the Falcon, Wasp and Patriot - those four would all be invited to join the team in the Champion For a Day arc (issues 16-18).
  • Broken Pedestal: After the events of Civil War II, Kamala for Captain Marvel. Sam and Miles show this for the Avengers as a whole, tired of the idea of Let's You and Him Fight.
  • Brought Down to Badass: It's revealed on the cover of issue #23 that Amadeus is still a Hulk, albeit slimmed down significantly, implying that he's not as strong as he used to be. This is due to the events of World War Hulk II, where Amadeus ends up absorbing his "Dark Hulk" persona, creating a fusion of sorts to prevent any more rampages like what happened before.
  • But Now I Must Go: Cyclops leaves the team in issue 18. Though he doesn't outright say it, it's implied that it's due to the events of X-Men: Blue, which has the team travelling through time to finally go back home.
  • Bullying the Dragon: Or rather "Bullying the Dinosaur" — Cyclops and Nova attempt to recruit Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, but Nova's continuing insults leads the annoyed dinosaur to step on them.
  • Call-Back:
    • Miles is the one who recommends the initial trio recruiting Amadeus Cho onto the team, given that the two had a team-up in the first arc of Cho's book.
    • When Gwenpool drops in, she asks if Miles is around, remembering their first encounter in her comic, trying to kill a classmate of Miles'.
    • The Gemini Bank Corporation's trademarking of the Champions' name brings back Kamala's poor encounter with the Hope Yards Development and Relocation Association during the start of her All-New, All-Different Marvel run.
    • Two criminals who are caught by Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur try to rekindle their friendship with the dinosaur way back in a 1998 Amazing Spider-Man Annual.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The teenage Falcon, Patriot, and Red Locust join the team in issue 16, but are gone in 19 with no explanation.
  • Covers Always Lie: Issue #2 has a cover that is a panel, like comics used to decades ago, including speech bubbles in case people don't understand the action depicted. This panel is not anywhere to be found inside the issue and isn't a particularly accurate description of what happens in the issue.
  • Debate and Switch: Defied trope in issue #5, in which Gwenpool is working under the assumption that, like in most comic book stories, the bigotry against non-Caucasians, Muslims, and mutants going on in a small town must be the work of some sort of supervillain mastermind, shapeshifter or high-level Mind Control. The team repeatedly try to explain to her that no, normal people are perfectly capable of doing evil things because the world isn't split into tidy narratives of Good Versus Evil. The thing with this is that actually Gwen fully understands what they argue, but in her words if she wanted to deal with all that gray she might as well stayed on her own Earth (ie. something akin to Real Life). Did you ever had that "I don't want politics/artsyness/whatnot in my escapist fiction" vs. "all fiction/art are political" debates? Yeah. It's exactly that only from a Watsonian perspective.
  • Didn't Think This Through: When the team finds out that they were shot down by Atlantians who, for some reason, have claimed airspace, Amadeus takes the lead and goes to attack them. Twenty minutes later, the entire team is captured and they've voted that Amadeus can never be leader ever again.
  • Five-Bad Band: The Freelancers, an Evil Counterpart team of young supers who hire themselves out to further the interests of the rich and powerful, and have no compunctions against "punching down".
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Five-Token Band: In terms of ethnicity, you've got Kamala (Pakistani-American and Inhuman), Miles (Afro-Latino), Amadeus (Korean-American), and Sam (half-Latino), while Scott and Viv are a mutant and synthezoid, respectively. Riri is African-American and Nadia is Russian.
  • Freudian Slip: When Kamala proposes forming a new team, she mentions showing that they can be better heroes than Captain Marvel. When this is pointed out she hastily replies that she meant The Avengers instead.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: The others laugh at Miles for saying that he has a girlfriend in an alternate universe.
  • Godwin's Law: Amadeus thinks letting young Cyclops join them would be like inviting teenage Adolf Hitler to join them. This looks extremely harsh, mostly because at the time it happened we still didn't know what the old Scott did to earn him such scorn.
    • Even worse, Death of X reveals old Scott didn't even do the deed. He was already dead and it was all an illusion by Emma Frost during the event which gave him such horrendous publicity. And to top it all off: only a single person actually died outside of "Cyclops" and it was a Heroic Sacrifice making Amadeus come across as even less justified.
  • Heroic Safe Mode: After everything she's been through in The Vision (2015), Viv has elected to eschew emotional experience.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Nova pretends this is the case in the paintball match. Turns out it's a cue.
    • The bigoted sheriff in issue #5 is done in his beleaguered deputy when he demands he do something with the Champions or he'll make an example out of him, too. It's that "Too" that makes the deputy realize that he had been behind many of the hate crimes in the town.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Defied in issue #2. One of the reasons Champions let young Cyclops join them is that they would be hypocrites to judge him on the grounds of what he might do in the future after they stood against predictive justice in Civil War II.
    • Played straight with Kamala. In the first issue, she insisted that there was not going to be a clear leader of their group. By issue #3 she bickers with Amadeus over the fact that she should be the leader since the team was her idea. This ends up bothering Nova to no end.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Averted. When Kamala stops Amadeus from killing a trafficker whose inaction and negigence caused a girl to die from an illness over several days, the first thing she does, when she notices people taking videos on their cellphones, is essentially call out the elder heroes and the citizens around them for essentially saying that this is the world the younger heroes have inherited, a world where violence is the answer to solving crime, especially with those with superhuman powers.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: When Amadeus claims that Cyclops talks like a serial killer, Kamala corrects him and says Cyke merely talks like a thirty-year-old "for some reason." The reason is of course that Cyclops would have been about thirty at that point, had he not timetravelled, and only talks like the generation that is ten-twelve years older than them because that's the generation he grew up as.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Amadeus takes this approach when Viv tells him that she isn't into guys.
  • Kick the Dog: They have a term for this: "punching down". The Champions hate to do this and the Freelancers love to.
  • The Kirk: Miles and Sam are both neither too emotional or logical, preferring to differ leadership and ideas to the rest.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": The Red Locust's reaction to Viv. And her reaction to getting invited to join the team in issue 16!
  • Leader Wannabe: For the first three issues, the team has no clear leader. Kamala (the team's founder) gives orders, but Amadeus, being the smartest member, thinks he should be the one in charge.
    • While Scott doesn't join the team until issue #2, Sam and Viv recommend him as leader out of spite and due to his experience leading the X-Men, respectively. Scott argues neither for nor against this suggestion, but merely concedes that he does indeed have that experience.
    • In issue #4, the rest of the team agrees to never elect Cho as their leader after he ends up getting the entire team captured. Cyclops then solidifies Kamala as the leader by defering to her, and she fully takes on the mantle.
  • Leeroy Jenkins:
    Amadeus: Well, Go For Champions! As the leader of this team, I have a plan!
    Miles: BAD PLAN! All those who vote to never, ever consider Hulk our leader, say aye!
    The Champions: AYE!
  • Legacy Character: Issue 9 has Viv meet up with the latest person to be Red Locust, a Mexican hero whose legacy goes back generations. Though, as it turns out, this Red Locust is the first female version because all the previous Red Loci were male and her mother died before she could bear a son, thus the organization who created the Red Locust was forced to use her as their latest.
    • The entire team are this, to Captain Marvel, the Incredible Hulk, Richard Rider, Peter Parker, The Vision, and the original non-time displaced Cyclops. The two new members added in issue 19 are legacies to Iron Man and Janet Van Dyne.
  • Literal-Minded: Viv seems to do this on purpose.
  • The Mccoy: Kamala and Amadeus are both headbutting hotheads with large egos and large sizes. Only Kamala acts like an adult, while Amadeus acts like a kid who is also the Hulk.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Viv asks Kamala if she was making a micro-aggression after the latter suggests they tell ghost stories and the former realises it is uncannily similar to herself.
  • Mistaken for Spies: Why Cho's ship was shot down by Atlantean forces. He retrofitted it from an old american spy craft.
  • Monster Clown: The team's first villain is Pagliacci, a minor Power Man and Iron Fist baddie who has apparently given up being an assassin in favor of becoming a sex trafficker.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: You might think Amadeus, while smart, doesn't seem like the eighth smartest person in the world. You'd be wrong, of course; he simply doesn't feel the need to prove it with every word he says. It also gives him plausible deniability so he can use this trope.
    Amadeus: *gets blasted by Cyclops*
    Amadeus: I keep forgetting you can do that!
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Vision thinks this is the case with Viv, and grounds her.
  • Paintball Episode: The Champions take some time out in Issue #6 to play a game of paintball, where they come up with strategies on how to counter the powers of the others in order to secure a win.
  • The Paragon: What the team (mostly Kamala) intends to be for young people. They believe that the Avengers have failed to be this. Kamala herself is shaping up to be this for the team itself.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: In one arc, the Champions go the arctic where they find the Master of the World has built a factory on tribal lands guarded by an army of robotic drones with the diabolical goal of... repairing glaciers to fight global climate change. As he puts it, he still intends to conquer the world, but he's willing to put in a few centuries of work to ensure that there will still be a world worth conquering.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Discussed when Cyclops comes and says he wants to join the team. The others are hesitant to let him since they are worried he will turn evil and do... something... like his future counterpart.
  • Reality Ensues: The Champions are really cheesed off when Gwenpool starts her antics while trying to deal with a bigoted sheriff. She attempts to justify it by saying that the police's actions are due to some sort of super villain action, but Kamala points out that sometimes it's not that simple and some normal people are just that corrupt.
  • Recruit Teenagers with Attitude: The entire team is this, made up to prove they can be better heroes than the adults.
  • Robosexual: Issue #2 ends with Amadeus kissing Viv Vision! He later claims kissing a robot wasn't that good, but his thought bubbles show he's heartbroken she kissed him only out of curiosity and was unimpressed. Sam also showed attraction towards Viv.
  • Sarcastic Confession: When Kamala and Amadeus are arguing over who gets to be the leader, Nova suggests, as a joke, to make Cyclops their leader instead. Both Viv and Scott concur that he would make a good leader, as he has actual experience in leading a team and beating the likes of Magneto and Sub-Mariner.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: When the Gemini Bank Corporation ends up trademarking the Champions name and logo and starts using it all over the place, it puts the team in the dumps, especially Kamala, who had this happen to her already back in the start of her second run. Nova gets back at the by telling people that the team doesn't support the merchandised crap
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Angry over the fact that it seems that the remaining Avengers really don't care about the regular people, Kamala ups and quits. A flashback shows Spider-Man and Nova had quit earlier than she did. Nova's quitting is something of a Running Gag both here and in his title as his friends keep thinking that he was fired from the Avengers.
  • Ship Tease: All over the place in issue #2. Sam seems to have an interest in Viv, who is later seen kissing Amadeus (later stating she felt nothing from the experience) and ponders if she should try with Kamala. Both Sam and Miles are visibly disappointed when Kamala immediately shoots that idea down.
  • Shout-Out: The villain of the first issue is basically an Expy of The Joker, only his name is Pagliacci.
    • Manchester, AL, the hometown of Impulse (Bart Allen), is visited at one point, and there's an extra that looks a lot like Bart. Waid was one of Impulse's co-creators and Ramos was the main penciller on his solo title.
    • Red Locust's name and color scheme is a tip of the hat to another Mexican superhero.
    • Viv says "d'oh" when she makes a minor mistake.
    • Malala Yousafzai gets a mention.
    • Cyclops liked Seinfeld as a child.
    • Issue 9 opens up with the team watching the "The Cave of Two Lovers" and a reference to cactus juice.
  • Spin-Offspring: Viv, who's now making a name for herself apart from her father.
  • The Spock: Viv and Scott. One is a robot who has learned to control her emotions, and the other is a kid who has a complicated history/destiny.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Invoked in issue #3. The Champions head for a South Asian country to help liberate it from miltant fundamentalists, but their rescuees point out that if they do that, this sends a message to the populace that America will solve all of their problems. One of the girls they rescue comes up with a plan to put these invaders in their place.
  • Teens Are Monsters: The Freelancers, a group of teenagers with powers who basically use it to make a profit by putting down protesters and tearing down slums. Even in their free-time they go out of their way to torment the homeless and then frame it on the Champions.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: The preview for the first issue shows that Kamala is doing this, having quit the Avengers and taking a time out from super-heroics.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: Averted in the third issue - the team helps a group of Muslim women overthrow extremists who are denying women basic education, healthcare, and basic human rights.
  • The Cameo: In issue 1, Moon Girl, the new Wasp, the new Falcon, and Ironheart, watching a news broadcast in which Kamala gives the team's mission statement.
  • Those Two Guys: Nova and Spider-Man often share aside jokes while the rest either argue (Kamala and Amadeus) or stay quiet (Viv and Scott).
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Swapping torches and pitchforks for cellphone cameras. When Pagliacci was caught in front of a crowd trying to traffic girls as sex slaves, the Champions discovered one of the girls had died. This pisses Amadeus off and he punches Pagiliacci through a warehouse. The crowd don't just cheer, they film the event and egg Amadeus to go and kill the clown. This is when Kamala steps in to say that it's one thing to kill in self-defense, it's another thing to finish off someone who's already beaten and even worse to egg someone else to do it for the angry mob.
  • Troll: Seeing Kamala and Amadeus bickering about the leadership, Sam suggests Scott to annoy them.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Viv and Kamala. Trope averted once Cyclops leaves, because all three of his replacements (Ironheart, Wasp, and Snowguard) are girls.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: It's subtle, but in issue #6 when the paintball teams brainstorm battle strategies, only one team actually reveals anything about how they are going to fight to the reader.
  • Unwilling Roboticisation: Inverted Trope for Viv in Worlds Collide. High Evolutionary "evolves" her into a normal looking human girl. It was an Unwilling Deroboticisation!
  • Very Special Episode: The series tackles international social issues while enlightening the readers about those same issues. Issue #1 calls out police violence against unarmed people and children.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Kamala tears into Sam Wilson over the destruction of property in her last Avengers outing. When Sam tries to explain why they can't just help them at the moment, she's so upset, she walks off.
  • Why Didn't I Think of That?: When Nova reveals a video he made viral telling everyone not to support the merchandise going around with the Champions logos, a very happy Kamala wonders why she never thought of that. Cyclops points out that they were all too busy having a pity party to even think of that.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Spider-Gwen appears in the cover of Champions #16, but does not appear in the story, except in a mere mention.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Played both seriously and for laughs in issue #5, in which Gwenpool constantly argues that the racism in a small town must be the work of a supervillain or some kind of malevolent force.
  • You Are Grounded: Yeesh, Viv is hit with this at the end of issue #8 as Vision locks her in her room with countervibranium metal for her unaccounted absences.