The youth truly are the future both on and off the comic book pages. Marvel’s Outlawed comes to a satisfying conclusion in a heartfelt and serious issue that tackles a number of real-world issues wrapped in the cloak of superheroics.
Marvel Comics’ youthful heroes were pushed to the brink last year with the events of the Outlawed one-shot, where tragedy led to a law prohibiting heroes under the age of 21 without a mentor. A bump in the road came as the series meant to launch out of this one-shot were delayed because of a couple months-long shutdown of all comic book publishing due to the pandemic.
Some of the books meant to continue this event storyline never saw print and others were staggered out, perhaps not as connected as had been hoped. Even with all those detours and changes Champions #5 brings a big, exciting, and affirming ending to the event.
After taking the core teens of this team all around the world, including last issues connection with the X-Men/Marauders, Eve L. Ewing, Bob Quinn, Federico Blee, and Clayton Cowles brings the entire gang (including tons of other young heroes) all back together for a jailbreak and a confrontation with those that pushed this law on them.
Comic books have always been political, despite what some claim, and the best ones use events of the world to influence their works. Marvel has always been said to be the world outside the window and that very much is the case with this series. Even with the delays, the themes of unjust laws, powerful corporations meddling in them, politicians enacting harsh laws without knowing/caring about the consequences, and the struggle that the youth have against the power structure that holds them down, are still very relevant. Sadly, they are themes that will likely be relevant for some time, but the young champions of the real world give many a lot of hope about change just like the young Champions on the page.
Ewing continues to make it look easy to really capture not only the voices of teenagers but the range of emotions and effects that these stories would have on them. Each of the kids feels fully distinct and has their own views and voice about everything.
Another great touch is that unlike many stories in entertainment, there is no easy clean-up at the end. Kamala’s Law and the C.R.A.D.L.E. agents that enforce it are somewhat put on hold, but the law is under review and may or may not be repealed. The Champions aren’t going anywhere, thanks to the sales that snagged the book a new arc with a change in creative team members, and will keep up the fight.
There was a lot to wrap up in this issue, but even with a natural frantic pace (there was a jailbreak and more after all) it never once felt like it was rushed. All the beats came to a pretty natural conclusion.
Quinn and Blee are a solid team, and Quinn stepped in quite seamlessly to take over for Simone Di Meo with the third issue. The jailbreak scene stands out quite a lot as there is so much going on, but it’s all clear and detailed. The use of powers and technology provides a colorful and amazing visual. Cowles adds to the tension in this scene with the alarm sounds integrated in a big way that just makes you feel like you can hear the dangerous sound.
The next issue sees Danny Lore and Luciano Vecchio taking over writing and art respectively, with Blee and Cowles staying on board inside and Toni Infante remaining on covers, and there is a short two-page glimpse at the direction of their run to end the issue. It is really exciting to see them continue the fight in a new arc, and already the energy that comes from Luciano and Blee teamed together on the art is overwhelming in the best way possible.
Champions #5 is now on sale from Marvel Comics in print and digitally.