Seasoned (read: “Old”) readers will fondly recall comic books with their favorite teams engaging in “normal” activities – playing baseball, going camping, hanging out, or other similar activities. In Champions #2, writer Mark Waid and artists Humberto Ramos (pencils), Victor Olazaba (inks), Edgar Delgado (colors), and Clayton Cowles (letterer) put the nascent Champions team in the woods, around a campfire, getting to know each other.
This works in the readers’ favor, as it presents bursts of info about Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Nova (Sam Alexander), Hulk (Amadeus Cho), and Viv Vision from the characters’ perspectives in a casual setting. This could easily have been accomplished in a battle between the Champions and any number of foes, having one character inner monologue throughout the entire fight, or even have another one bossing everyone around, but instead Waid strips away any interference to provide raw, unfiltered information about the characters.
Given that the cast of characters is comprised of all teenage heroes, there is one scene that, again, calls to more seasoned readers as every one of the Champions goes heads down, fingers flying across phone screens. It’s as much visual as it is story-driven, and a fine example of how wonderful the collaboration between Waid and Ramos is.
Ramos is well suited for the assignment of drawing teen heroes, and this collection of characters (with the addition of young Cyclops in this issue) gives the artist a wide range to play with. Every character has a youthful appearance and physique, rather than being portrayed as miniaturized adults. Even between characters there are striking visual differences, and at no point is that more evident than when Kamala and Viv are discussing the possibilities of multiple Captains America. It’s one panel, but everything from nose structure to hair treatment (and, granted, Viv is a synthezoid) is distinct, which Ramos carries throughout Champions #2.
The campfire and casual setting give Olazaba and Delgado plenty of work to showcase their abilities alongside Ramos, from the harsh shadows thrown by the fire to the pulsing jewel on Viv’s forehead and the way her eyes change with the conversation about ghosts. The backgrounds are a couple steps above rubble, but far from being overly complex, giving the characters plenty of depth to explore without getting lost in artistic minutiae.
The end result is a fun read filled with character bits. Waid gives readers building blocks for team relations and character interactions, making Champions #2 an issue that hits the right beats for seasoned readers and provides a nice cross-section for the collection of characters present in this issue. Champions #2 is set to be one of those comics that people remember fondly, even if they can’t remember the exact issue number.