CHAMPIONS #12 moves away from SECRET EMPIRE and back to the antics that made the book click with readers. Mark Waid weaves a tale of emotional instability that shifts between laughter and heart-wrenching. Humberto Ramos and Edgar Delgado continue the bright, colorful style that is so important to the series.
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Emotional Shift

SECRET EMPIRE ends this month, and the Marvel Universe is slowly beginning to pull itself out of that dark time. CHAMPIONS #12 makes the first push back with an issue that starts with a secret oath and then moves into… karaoke?

Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Yeah, we’re getting back on track.

It’s My Party

CHAMPIONS was hit hard by SECRET EMPIRE, so it’s wonderful to see some humor and team-building (such as the paintball game and camp out truth or dare from earlier issues) — they function as a big part of why CHAMPIONS works. Writer Mark Waid wisely adds depth along with the karaoke, however, as Cyclops is far too content to once again sit on the side during the fun. Waid depicts Cyclops well here, clearly familiar with the oft-taciturn adult Scott Summers became. Cyclops often took himself and his mission too seriously, especially when he trained the X-Men previously. Refusing karaoke is perfectly in tune for his younger self. His serious nature presents the team with an interesting nut to crack.

READ: CHAMPIONS had the right magic from the start. See our thoughts on the first issue here!

It’s not the team that cracks Cyclops though, but an encounter with Pyscho-Man. The microverse villain’s emotion book (which, amazingly, manipulates emotions) accidentally feeds into Cyclops, and the result is… well imagine giving a grumpy toddler a Red Bull.

NEVER GIVE A TODDLER A RED BULL!! Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Humberto Ramos’ art demonstrates once again why he is so essential to CHAMPIONS. He captures emotions perfectly, from Cyclops’ adrenaline rush to Viv, Nova, and Hulk’s “Oh crap” expressions before Cyclops takes the wheel. Edgar Delgado’s bright colors mix with the cartoonish movements needed for a teenage superteam. The character scenes are the strongest art, though Ramos includes a great scene of swarming rage-zombies. Both artists and Waid craft issue after issue of fun material that also manages to have just enough depth to appeal to all ages.

A Glass Cage of Emotion

Cyclops’ emotions continue to shift as the book goes, with Waid milking it for both laughs and for drama. Cyclops shifts between aggression, glee, and morose breakdowns. Waid’s mastery of teen emotions shows itself again, as Scott reveals the pressure he puts on himself: a repressed desire for fun and a fear of the future. It feels in character with classic Cyclops but adds a new depth with the shadow of Scott Summers looming.

Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Waid moves through all the emotions perfectly, as Cyclops garners amusement, frustration, and empathy from his teammates. It’s a powerful team-builder, even though Cyclops’ shifts can be rather jarring as he bemoans the burden of his powers, then instantly perks back up. The fact the Champions don’t knock him out for the whole issue shows their bond (and infinite patience).

READ: We spoke with Mark Waid about CHAMPIONS and more at Wondercon!

Final Thoughts On CHAMPIONS #12

CHAMPIONS #12 stands as a return to form after SECRET EMPIRE. The story functions as both fun and deep, allowing the team to grow and highlighting Cyclops. He was always an odd man out (as a younger “adult” hero), but this issue shows why he deserves and needs to be part of the Champions. Waid, Ramos, and Delgado continue to be Marvel’s sleeper team.

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