Friday, December 29, 2017

REVIEW: The Champions #15 (2017)



THE CHAMPIONS #15 (2017) —
Regular cover by Humberto Ramos.
©Marvel Comics
THE CHAMPIONS #15
Marvel Comics, $3.99, 28pgs.
On-sale December 20, 2017

“World’s Collide, Part 6”
20 pages, Read Time – 8:30

by Mark Waid (story), Humberto Ramos (pencils), Victor Olazaba (inks), Edgar Delgado (colors), and VC’s Clayton Cowles (letters). Edited by Tom Brevoort.

 BOTTOM LINE: More an epilogue than a proper part of the tale, with a new Viv Vision born into a world where all adults are stupid and all the teens are Wesley Crusher.


So, this issue of really more of an epilogue to the “Worlds Collide” story than a genuine 6th chapter. Of course, that story seemed to go about two more issues that it really needed to anyway. That’s been a failing lately of Mark Waid, hitherto one of my go-to writers, whose name alone was often enough to cause dollar bills to practically leap out of my wallet and into the cash register at my local comics shop.

This issue has a bit of the same failing. The conversation and eventual confrontation between the now human Viv Vision and the less-human-than-ever High Evolutionary takes up seven pages — more than 1/3 of the issue! We could have easily covered that same narrative ground in half that space. Then we get four pages of the Vision, thinking Viv dead, at work building Viv 2.0. Conveying that info, even with reinforcing The Vision’s paternal grief, really only needed to take up four panels.

The problem is that the story was obviously planned out starting from  the last-page shock reveal. Because these days it’s all about the last-page shock reveal, not the story. Narratively, it’s not about the destination, or even the journey, anymore. It’s all about that transfer at the next station.

But from dead Viv to two Vivs, we didn’t really have a lot of ground to cover. So fill, baby, fill.

Meanwhile, we get adults acting stupid, which seems to be the theme of this book. Adults are stupid. It was much the same in THE AVENGERS before Waid split off the young members to form The Champions. There were a couple of issues where the adults acted so mean-spiritedly toward the teens, I was certain they were possessed by some entity that would soon reveal itself. But, nope. The adults really were behaving that much unlike actual adults. No wonder the kids split.

So, here, none of the Avengers seem the least bit concerned with the Vision locking himself away in his lab. Leave that worry to the kids. We adults are just here for the post-funeral buffet. Then, when the kids have a blow up over Nova deciding he should quit because he’s the only non-Wesley on the team, the Avengers are just, like, okay, whatev. Laters. You kids deal. Work out your issues. Check in on the Vision, t0o, maybe. But we’ll smell ya later.

Meanwhile, it falls to Ms Marvel, as leader, to convince Nova that he’s actually the most Wesley of them all. Sure, he’s not book smart, or computer smart, or even people smart. But he is deus ex machina smart, and that’s almost as good.

Now, I’ll grant you, the fact that the High Evolutionary has evolved into a living data stream — a being of “pure electronica,” as he calls it — is pretty cool. And the danger of him doing the same to the newly humanized Viv is somewhat suspenseful. Although one wonders why he previously “evolved” Viv from android to human, given that, in his new ideal state, that must be seen as a backward step. So much so that he insists on correcting it here.

And about that cliffhanger, which was the one and only point we were driving to, albeit at the speed of a funeral procession — having a human Viv and [spoilers!], an android one, certainly does present a host of intriguing story possibilities. I don’t about it to actually amount to much in the long-term, hence the fairly low “collectability” score, but ya never know.

I’ll also note, having complained about overuse of the Photoshop blur technique in this week’s issue of THE MIGHT THOR, that the trick is used to good effect here, in the smoke that ripples off the just-transported Viv.

Oh, one final thing — with the Champions in Viv’s back yard, and her in a lush virtual garden, there seemed to be a LOT of loitering around green backdrops this issue. Maybe that was done on meta-purpose. Maybe the safe space Viv got sent to at the end of the last chapter was supposed to resemble, in some way, her own back yard. But if that similarity was not completely intentional — and it’s not clear that it was — there should have been more to differentiate the two settings than a few colored alien fruits in the wherever it was Viv was until she wasn’t.

Oh, and one more final one more final thing: I don’t call the cover very successful. I only just now noticed that’s supposed to be the High Evolutionary’s face our heroes are running across. That’s really not clear at all. Nor does it make a lot of sense, even in an allegorical sense. Also, I still hate the Falcon’s new costume. So, that didn’t help.

Oh, and I lied. On more really and for true final one more final, final thing — the worst sin this issue commits (and it’s a sin that only reinforces my complaint of how little there there was there) is that it was only in my hands for 8 ½ minutes. At $4, that’s almost 50¢ per minute for my time. Phone sex is a better value for my entertainment dollar.

***PETULANTLY RECOMMENDED***

STORY GRADE: C
ISSUE SCORE: 65.25

COVER: 5.00 | PLOT: 6.25 | SCRIPT: 7.50 | LAYOUT: 8.25 | ART: 8.75 | EDITS: 5.50
PRODUCTION: 7.50 | VALUE: 4.25 | COLLECTIBILITY: 6.75 | GOSH-WOW: 5.50

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