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At first, I thought that Marvel's: The Champions was a team that mirrored the Teen Titans, or at least the current iteration of the Teen Titans in DC Rebirth, but now I realize that they are very different in terms of the function that each team plays in their respective publication universes. A quick reminder that when I discuss the Teen Titans I am talking about the DC Rebirth team lead by Damian Wayne, Batman's son and current Robin.
I am going to tell you now that this post will not be a comparison of the two teams. I can make a comparison post at some point in the future, but this is going to focus on the Champions and why they are an important team to exist in Marvel Comics, and why I am recommending this series as a must-read (well... not for everybody).
The Champions is a story that is very grounded in the real world. Or at least, as grounded in the real world as a story with super-powered teens can get. If you have not read my last post and do not know who the Champions are, I suggest reading my post on the Champions that I made a couple months ago (which was also my first post), which you can check out right here.
Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel, created the Champions when she noticed that superheroes, mostly the ones in the Avengers, would protect civilians, beat up bad guys, and then call it a day. The thing that Ms. Marvel had a problem with was the fact that superheroes would cause a fair amount of damage to the surrounding area, which includes roads, buildings, and people's houses among other things. Well, the Avengers don't help the people they swear to protect fix up the damage that they caused. Usually they go, "Yeah, sweet, let's call it a day, I'm sure that this bridge will fix itself. If it won't, someone else'll do it." Okay well not exactly like that, but you get the point. Superheroes do not hold themselves accountable for the damage, and superheroes do not fix messes they've made. So what Kamala did was gather a bunch of young teenage superheroes to form a team that would not only protect people from whatever it is they need protecting from, but also help out with anything that happens because of encounters with evil-doers. Get it? Good, because now we're moving on.
The founding member of the team was Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, who went to Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and Nova (Sam Alexander) to initially start the team. The two are hesitant at first, but they come around and become full members. The next two heroes that join are the Totally Awesome Hulk (Amadeus Cho) and Viv, (Vision's Daughter. She doesn't have a superhero code name). The last member to join is Cyclops. Here's what I need you to understand before we move further. One, this Cyclops is not the original Cyclops that people are used to. Two, that original cyclops? Yeah, he's dead. He died during a war against the Inhumans. Also he became a bad guy for a while so now everybody that sees the Cyclops I'm about to talk about, they get more afraid of seeing Cyclops than any other mutant. But we are going to get into how he joins the team eventually.
Now moving back to when I was talking about this team being more grounded in the real world. They don't deal with intergalactic threats, or at least not from what I have read of the team's stories. In fact, the team saves a group of girls that were kidnapped and were going to be shipped to wherever for a variety of nefarious reasons. Another example is in the title's first real story arc where the team goes to a small town to find that the amount of hate crimes has increased. There is insulting and offensive language graffiti-ed onto people who are a part of a minority group's cars, property, places of worship, etc. There are also instances of assault and bombing attempts made by white supremacists on a mosque in the story. The Champions try to make a change in the town by protecting all people who live there no matter their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and sexual identity and promoting equality. You may be wondering why the police are not involved, well that's because the town's sheriff is a huge racist, and as it turns out he was instigating all of these crimes.
Since the police are headed by a guy that is pretty racist, the Champions find that: One, they need to find a way to out the racist sheriff to the public and have evidence. Two, prove that he is trying to kill minorities, which evidently is a hard thing to do because the authorities you would call to report this behavior are also the people engaging in that behavior. However, the day is saved when the deputy grows a conscience and finds proof that the sheriff was the mastermind behind allowing racism to run rampant through the town (which is actually the picture above).
I believe that this is the writer Mark Waid using this team that has members in minority groups (be it fictional minority groups like the mutants or real minority groups) as a tool to create a commentary on the current situation in the United States as well as use the Champions to comment on other issues that are happening around the world to different groups of people. I feel that this statement kind of encompasses all the characters that Mark Waid, at least from what I know, is writing for Marvel Comics. Especially his current run on Captain America, which is amazing!!!!
Some people really do not like the Champions and talk about how SJW (Social Justice Warrior) Marvel is trying to force diversity and their agenda on comic fans. To that I say that's their business, not mine. I, however, think it is genuinely important that:
1. There is representation of all people from all walks of life to be portrayed accurately and properly in all media that they appear in. Think about this as an example, if a comic company had only male superheroes in their roster, what message would that send to the younger audience reading those comics? I'd wager that kids would be taught (or rather, they would learn) that women can't be superheroes from the content they were reading. Now messages that we send in the content we put out are just one aspect of the argument surrounding diversity in comics. There is more to this discussion than what I just brought up, but this is as much as I'm going into with this point because this discussion is a multi-faceted discussion with different points of view. Some points of view that I am not familiar with or know/understand the reasoning behind. Therefore, I refuse to make any arguments in this post. I did, however, share my personal experience to give readers an idea of my take of diversity in comics.
2. People realize that these are fictional characters in a fictional story. They don't need to get all riled up when there's a character in a story you don't like. You don't like the story, guess what? Marvel and DC have been around for over 75 years. They have other stories. Some others may suit your fancy.
Alright now that I'm done with that we can go back on topic. What I really like about the characters in the Champions is not only what they do on-duty, but off-duty as well. If you read the comic they engage in training exercises, but they have fun while doing it. They'll go camping to have an environment where all of the members get to know each other's abilities. They'll split into groups and play paintball so they can learn battle strategy. I think having these young heroes engage in activities like this is Mark Waid trying to tell us that even though these guys are heroes, at the end of the day they are still kids. They want to have fun, they want to screw around, and even though they have major responsibilities they find time in their lives for the company of their friends and to have fun when the opportunity presents itself.
That concludes this post. If you haven't read the Champions title by Mark Waid, I really suggest that you do so. I'm going to go over Waid's current Captain America Run, which I said already is AMAZING. Feel free to check out my other posts in my profile. See you in the next one!
Note: I do not own the panels, texts, and images used in this post. All panels, texts, images, characters, and art belong to their respective owners.