SECRET EMPIRE’s most compelling element has been witnessing how characters across the Marvel universe choose to deal with Hydra’s takeover. For the Champions, the obvious response was joining the Resistance in order to protect their team’s founding values. CHAMPIONS #11 tests these values, values that are a restoration of trust and hope between superheroes and average citizens. In the ruins of Las Vegas, the team desperately continues their search for hope within the ruins of Hydra’s cruelty.

Image from CHAMPIONS #11, courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Champions: Assemble

CHAMPIONS #11 follows the aftermath of SECRET EMPIRE #2, during which Leader Roger’s authorized the wide-scale destruction of Las Vegas. Their crime: harboring the Avengers’ Resistance against Hydra. The issue is divided into three different sections, each of which following a team of Champions searching for survivors. These teams display a combination of the old and new, pairing experienced heroes like Spider-Man and Hulk alongside newcomer heroes like Ironheart and Patriot. Yet all of them share a similar goal in mind: find and rescue civilians who survived the attack.

This chapter in the CHAMPIONS’ narrative is predominantly dialogue-heavy, with a greater emphasis placed on interactions over action. Amadeus Cho’s mathematical ramblings stress his desire to find a positive outcome, only to succumb to the emotional impact of that number. Miles Morales sees himself a veteran compared to Patriot and Ironheart, two inexperienced heroes starting out in an overwhelming situation, and Viv Vision’s logical reaction to Hydra’s attack contrasts with Wasp’s emotion-driven desire to find any possible survivors. Mark Waid’s writing emphasizes the fact that these heroes are still teenagers, thus having different reactions to the death and destruction.

READ: Find out what the veteran Champions were doing prior to joining the Resistance in CHAMPIONS #10!

CHAMPIONS #11 also establishes a new roster of characters that will presumably become future Champions members. Some, like Ironheart and Wasp, currently have ongoing storylines. Others, like Joaquin Torres’ Falcon, were established in previous series. However, all of them are young, millennial-aged individuals who wish to make a positive difference via heroism. It is these factors that make the CHAMPIONS’ storyline so unique, pitting the idealism of youth against the cruelty of a Hydra-run U.S.A.

Fighting For the People?

Image from CHAMPIONS #11, courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Yet it is the ending that delivers the issue’s most compelling moment, as the Champions confront how Hydra’s takeover affects their mission. Easily SECRET EMPIRE’s most disturbing factor has been the public acceptance of Hydra’s leadership. Captain America’s past patriotism has caused this scenario. No one wants to acknowledge his corruption, especially if Rogers and Hydra continue providing the country with jobs and protection. Thus, ordinary people have become accomplices to Hydra’s crimes, forcing the Champions to re-evaluate their founding modus operandi. In order to overcome this fascist regime, the young Champions must work alongside the older heroes they originally distanced themselves from.

Humberto Ramos’ artwork remains a standout aspect of the CHAMPIONS series. The artistic layout displays a contrast between Las Vegas’ grey/brown palate and the hero’s individual multi-colored designs. This is further emphasized by the drawn size of its characters, usually depicted as small compared to the collapsing landscape. Even an imposing figure like the Hulk is overshadowed by rubble and fire, projecting the strongest Champions members as helpless. This visual narrative re-emphasizes the odds that this team faces, all the while re-affirming their struggle to maintain a hopeful tone.

READ: Here are ComicsVerse’s thoughts on why a team like the Champions matters for its millennial audience!

CHAMPIONS #11 Final Thoughts

CHAMPIONS #11 is light on action but heavy on reaction, pitting a group of idealistic heroes against a grim reality. The team’s struggle to locate survivors simultaneously highlights Hydra’s cruelty while examining how each member deals with such a catastrophe. In this sense, SECRET EMPIRE marks the Champion’s first dramatic villain, as it is one supported by the very citizens they were founded to reach out to. As the most idealistic of heroes, the Champions find their greatest test in discovering hope within a seemingly hopeless situation.

Once again, Mark Wait and Humberto Ramos manage to craft not only another solid CHAMPIONS issue but a great SECRET EMPIRE tie-in as well.
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Harrowing, yet Hopeful

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