Champions #9 Review

by Charles Martin on September 08, 2021

Champions #9 Review
Writer: Danny Lore
Artist: Luciano Vecchio
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The COVID plague has been a horror show for the whole world. At the risk of being irreverent, I'd like to bring up the effect it's had on comics -- not just the industry as a whole, but on individual titles.

Here's poor Champions, hashing out plot points that, by all rights, should have been settled a year ago. And it's currently being published every two months. Bi-monthly! What is this, 1974?!

But there are some sparkly silver linings in those storm clouds.

For a start, the leisurely publishing schedule has allowed Luciano Vecchio and Federico Blee to take their time and really give of their best on the visuals. Champions #9 is a beautiful comic, richly imbued with both a distinctive personal style and copious levels of detail. The colours march in lock-step with the lines, carefully amplifying the intended artistic effects all around. Emotive character faces, dramatic action panels, and detailed scene-setting -- it all looks gorgeous.

And this issue's script does a fine job justifying its artistic excellence: Danny Lore nails shut the "Outlawed" coffin in a wholly satisfying way here. The Champions beat Roxxon and the law in a way that's been far too long in coming. 

It's highly satisfying for many reasons, but for me, what hits hardest is that it's Kamala Khan (not Ms. Marvel, an important distinction) that gets to swing the hammer. The author orchestrates a perfect moment that makes sense both in terms of plot development and "behind the scenes" storytelling, literally putting Kamala on stage to speak out at last about the infamous law bearing her name.

It's a very fulfilling conclusion to a plot thread/crossover/event granted unnatural long life by the plague.

Now, granted, it's a rather "talk-y" end to an arc that's been long on ideas and a little short on action. But there's good news if you're the sort of Champions fan who wants to see these heroes engaged in physical clobbering: This isn't actually the end of the arc! This issue sets up an intense confrontation for #10, and it promises to feature all the super-powered punching and zapping you're looking for!

This is not to say that Champions #9 is bereft of action; there are short, sharp bursts of conflict as Roxxon attempts to derail Kamala's speech. These moments offer an opportunity to revisit the intriguing team of super-antagonists Lore & Vecchio created for #6; these are also opportunities to spread out and rope in some Champions that have been under-utilized in the current arc.

I also want to point out that this not-quite-a-finale is a carefully orchestrated climax that Danny Lore scrupulously planned out. A young civilian from #7 makes a vital reappearance at a climactic moment here. Kamala's speechifying ties together all the philosophical points raised in the arc so far and does it in an intensely personal manner.

And speaking of matters intensely personal, Lore extends their streak of keeping the ambiguous relationship between Viv and Riri in the air, neither burying nor directly addressing the momentous history between the two. It's a beautiful and realistic treatment of an uncertain situation, and the author's continued success at juggling it loads every word of dialogue between the characters with dense meaning.

Champions #9 delivers a long-needed and well-earned win for Kamala Khan and the whole team, finally settling the "Outlawed" arc in a wholly satisfying manner. It looks terrific and the characters sound great; plus, there's the prospect of a knockout fight looming in the next issue. This title has been dealt dirty by the vagaries of world events, but the latest issue is a big payoff for fans who have stuck with it.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
A single-panel inference that Kelly Thompson's West Coast Avengers are still A Thing? Possibly with Reptil and Ghost Rider on the team now? I will so take it.