Civil War II is still raging in the pages of Marvel Comics, but it’s already a foregone conclusion that (much like with the original and cinematic Civil War events) the Marvel Universe will be a fractured place in the wake of it. Fans can expect new heroes coming to the forefront and new teams forming to supplant those that have been discredited, disbanded or both by the inter-superhero fighting.
Now, we know the name of at least one such new combo: The Champions, a team of teenage heavy-hitters. While sharing a name with a cult-classic 1970s Marvel team that featured the eclectic lineup of Hercules, Ghost Rider, Angel and Iceman under the leadership of Black Widow, the new Champions are teenagers largely culled from the publisher’s recent push for more youth-targeted and diverse characters. The team seems to reflect the rising Millennial consumer audience that Marvel and other comics companies are eager to win back to their readership.
EW offers a first look at the new team (below) described as “A teen team supreme that refuses to adhere to the antiquated ways of old.” The roster includes Miles Morales, the younger (and formerly “Ultimate”) Spider-Man, current Nova standard-bearer Sam Alexander, Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel, “Totally Awesome” Hulk Amadeus Cho, and Viv Vision, the synthezoid “daughter” of The Vision. Also joining up is a teenaged version of Scott Summers, aka Cyclops – technically the same person as the adult version of Cyclops also active in the Marvel Universe but displaced from his own timeline along with the other original X-Men during a recent ongoing storyline. The Champions will be written by Mark Waid with art by Humberto Ramos.
Pointedly, three of the best-known members (Morales, Khan and Alexander) are former junior members of the main Avengers team who will be quitting the team in response to the moral failings of their adult counterparts during Civil War II, as evidenced by the teaser image showing the trio symbolically burning their Avengers membership IDs. Waid explains that attitude is also a big part of why they’ve repurposed the Champions name:
“If they’re cutting the cord, if they’re going off on their own to establish themselves as a thing onto themselves, they kind of need their own name. They are ultimately very socially conscious, very activist-minded, and very positive about being superheroes, so the name had to feel like a really upbeat superhero name.”
Marvel Comics has taken something of a public relations beating in recent weeks, with media reaction to a controversial Captain America plot twist (which turned out to be setting up a bigger story in a different context in subsequent issues) leading to a deluge of angry feedback from fans directed at writers and editors. While new teams have a mixed history of hitting big with readers, Champions brings together a notable set of popular, topical and positively covered characters – with the publisher clearly betting that their presence will ensure the arrival of a potent new franchise.
We’ll keep you updated on The Champions as more information becomes available.