Warning: SPOILERS for Champions #2
Miles Morales has struck a deal with Marvel's version of the Devil, Mephisto - and as yet, the price he must pay is entirely unknown. Jim Zub's relaunch of the Champions is hitting all the right notes, with the young superheroes attempting to operate on a global stage. Unfortunately, though the Champions don't know it, one of their own has struck a Faustian bargain.
The first issue saw Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan coordinate three Champions missions at once: a test they seemed to pass, except for one disturbing splash panel that suggested something went horribly wrong in Dubai, where Kamala was leading a team against the threat of Zzzax. Most of the Champions were upbeat when they returned to base, with two notable exceptions; Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man, and Amadeus Cho. They seemed to be the only ones who knew something had happened in Dubai, and in a shocking twist, the final panel showed Miles confronted by Mephisto, Marvel's version of the Devil himself.
This week's Champions #2 explained just what had really happened in Dubai. The mission had ended in tragedy, with Zzzax actually killing several members of the team - including Viv Vision and Kamala herself. Miles and Amadeus were the only survivors, left to grieve the deaths of their closest friends. And that was when Mephisto appeared on the scene, offering to reverse time - if one of them just asked him to do it. Although there was no hint of a price, Mephisto was entirely up-front about the fact he had ulterior motives. But in the end, Miles' desperation to see Kamala brought back to life trumped his common sense, and he signed up for the deal. Given a second chance, Miles and Amadeus were able to beat Zzzax, preventing the deaths.
There are obvious parallels here between Miles Morales and Peter Parker, who likewise struck a controversial bargain with Mephisto in 2007's "One More Day." There, Peter agreed to allow Mephisto to rewrite history in order to bring Aunt May back to life, at the cost of his marriage to Mary Jane. But Miles' deal is far more sinister; when Mephisto offered to bring Aunt May back, he had the delight of knowing he'd just written a happy marriage out of existence. This time round, the cost is uncertain, but certainly part of it is the fact that Miles' emotions are in complete and utter turmoil. It's also concerning that Mephisto is continuing to manifest around Miles, suggesting he has some sort of grand plan to corrupt the young Spider-Man.
Mephisto seems to be becoming an increasingly important figure in Marvel Comics right now. Jason Aaron's Avengers series has hinted that he ruled the world of 1,000,000 years ago, and that the first group of Avengers managed to overthrow him and begin the present age. He seems to be making something of a comeback, perhaps taking opportunity of the War of the Realms to prepare for a major push. If that's the case, this could be a very bad time for Miles to find himself in Mephisto's debt.
Champions #2 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.