Review: Champions Vol. 2: Killer App

 When a multi-million corporation uses social media to drive the narrative. In short: reality!

Written by Eve Ewing, with art by Simone Di Meo and Bob Quinn.

My very first article on this blog was ‘Let’s Talk About Marvel’s Outlawed’ about the then-upcoming Marvel event of the same name. The Covid-19 pandemic caused the actual event to be delayed and cut down in size considerably but I still reviewed the main series after it concluded. With all of this history and my fondness of the Champions, to take a look at the 'fallout' of Outlawed: Killer App.

Is it worth a read? Let's dive in.

After exposing the inhumane conditions of the Roxxon 'reeducation centres' Kamala's Law AKA the Underage Superhuman Welfare Act has been temporarily repealed. While the US government assesses if they put the law back into effect or not Roxxon has put their mind to 1. save face and 2. do whatever they can to get Kamala's Law back on the books. The stress and the betrayals of Outlawed still haunt the Champions. After mistaking a group of supes hired to test the security of a bank for actual bank robbers tension reaches a breaking point and Riri threatens to leave the team. When Roxxon announces that they will be hiring interns to help with their plan to keep the youth under control Ms Marvel sees an opportunity to plant a mole in Roxxon to take them out from the inside. But will this fix everything or just tear the team apart even further?

I had my problems with the Outlawed main series, as I discussed, but by and large, I did enjoy it. The same can´t be said for ´Killer App´. It´s not as good Outlawed. Is a lot messier than it is in a lot of departments. In the case of the story, this translates to a narrative that isn't that exciting. The big villain, Roxxon, is still as flawed as it was in Outlawed. Cartoony evil lacks depth and an interesting motivation. Bringing in Jacobson from the Iron Heart 2020 two-parter was a neat idea but he proves himself to be a pretty empty threat. I understand that, just like Outlawed itself, the book focuses more on the conflict between our heroes but the lack of an interesting bad isn't doing the story any favours.

Speaking about the internal conflict between the Champions I can't help but feel disappointed by this aspect as well. It's a 'good on paper but lacking in execution' kind of thing. The conflicts at the books core, aside from Kamala's Law of course, are Riri's pain over Viv''s betrayal during Outlawed, Nova struggling with his self-value and Ms. Marvel questioning her own leadership skills. Interesting conflicts but the problem with all of them is, as I stated, the execution. None of them really get the attention and/or wrap-up they deserve.

Ladies and gentlemen: your Champions for this story.

Take the Riri/Viv conflict for instance. The story smartly shines a light on both Riri's and Viv's perspectives yet the wrap-up is sudden, short and fails to really address what is really at the heart of their conflict. In other words: it's just kind of glossed over in favour of the fight with Roxxon and Jacobson. You know, the lacking bad guys.

The art, while not bad, isn't really doing it for me either. The characters look way too plastic-y and the faces are just... off. 'Baby faces' is the best way to describe it. On the upside the artist has put more than enough detail into the panel, the characters are well designed and the action sequences aren't half bad.

I also very much appreciate that Eve Ewing has the characterizations for the Champions down pretty well. There's always a bit of a disconnect between how a character is portrayed in their solo book and in (some other writer's) works. Watered down in the case of the latter. That is still the case here but to a lesser extent than I'm used to. Ewing also lets the teens be teens. I'm not talking about the off-handed 'I have still some homework to do' comments but the general way they behave. It's nice.

Conclusion

Champions: Killer App isn't bad but it isn't that great either. It has some very good ideas but, in the end, the story fails to really live up to any of it. For a Champions fan, like myself, it's a good read but I wouldn't pick it up if you don't like the team or any of its characters. For how much I like the Champions, I can't say I was surprised by its cancellation though I do hope we'll see another Champion series one day. Pretty sad really since only Miles Morales has a solo book at the time of this writing.

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