Review: ‘Avengers & Champions: Worlds Collide’

Avengers & Champions: Worlds Collide Writer: Mark Waid Artists: Humberto Ramos, Jesus Saiz, Victor Olazaba and others Marvel Entertainment; $17.99 Rated T+ for teens 13 and up When writer Mark Waid took over the main Avengers title in 2015, the conceit for his All-New, All-Different Avengers was a team line-up neatly divided between adult heroes […]

Avengers & Champions Worlds Collide

Avengers & Champions: Worlds Collide
Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Humberto Ramos, Jesus Saiz, Victor Olazaba and others
Marvel Entertainment; $17.99
Rated T+ for teens 13 and up

When writer Mark Waid took over the main Avengers title in 2015, the conceit for his All-New, All-Different Avengers was a team line-up neatly divided between adult heroes Iron Man, Thor, Captain America Sam Wilson, and The Vision, and teen heroes Ms. Marvel, Nova, and Spider-Man Miles Morales. One generation actively training the next was built into the book, but in the ever-chaotic shared setting of the Marvel Universe (and perhaps the even more chaotic behind-the-scenes world of Marvel Entertainment), that status quo didn’t last too long. After about a dozen issues, the kids spun off into their own book, forming an all-new, all-teen team calling themselves The Champions, while the adults added a few more characters for a relaunched Avengers book.

Waid wrote both Champions and Avengers, so it was not only natural, but perhaps even inevitable that they would reunite in a crossover story arc. That’s what’s collected in Worlds Collide: Three issues of each series, alternating back and forth.

The specific threat that brings the heroes back together is a sort of apocalypse of the day, a huge meteor headed straight for Kentucky with enough force to take out a hemisphere. The villain behind the meteor strike, which turns out to be the opening salvo of super-science plot to destroy two worlds—the title of the crossover story is to be taken quite literally—is The High Evolutionary, an old Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creation who is basically the superhero comics answer to Doctor Moreau.

He has long ruled Counter-Earth, a planet on the other side of the sun, which he has populated with animal/human hybrids called Ani-Men. He’s worked out a way to destroy the worlds, and it’s some pretty clever comics writing on the part of Waid, who uses real science to tease out the plot specifics and answer the questions that no doubt arise in readers’ heads when presented with facts so fantastic that they make the suspension of disbelief difficult.

While the threat requires two superhero teams to meet it, the Avengers (whose ranks now include Hercules, Spider-Man Peter Parker, and The Wasp Nadia Van Dyne) and the Champions (which also includes The Totally Awesome Hulk Amadeus Cho, the time-lost teenager Cyclops, and Viv Vision, the android “daughter” of The Vision) don’t get along too terribly well. Heroes who pull together in order to save the day but aren’t exactly chummy is, of course, a longtime hallmark of Marvel Comics, but here Waid keeps the tension thematically focused on a single point—the Champions chafe at being treated like kids by the Avengers, despite the fact that they are, you know, actually kids.

While there are a dozen superheroes involved, the characters who get the most attention are The Vision and Viv, whose strained father/daughter relationship is emblematic of the tensions between the two teams, only much more intense. Throughout, The Vision acts like a particularly aggressive and vindictive jerk, and its only gradually revealed why he’s being so controlling over his daughter; the climax hinges on her actions, and, in expected serial comics fashion, sets up a weird, unexpected cliffhanger that will be explored elsewhere later.

Despite that, Worlds Collide works quite well as a standalone read; it’s a complete story and thus a satisfying read, whether this is one’s first, second, eighteenth, or eightieth Avengers story arc. The art is, unfortunately, fairly scattershot. Because the story ran through alternating issues of two titles, the art changes every 20 pages or so, with the Champions art team of Humberto Ramos and Victor Olazaba drawing every other issue. The three Avengers issues have two different art teams; Jesus Saiz draws two of the three, while Javier Pina and Paco Diaz draw the other. The end result? Three extremely different art styles, changing frequently.

It’s all quite readable, of course, and there are only a very few visual continuity glitches, but it is certainly more difficult than it should be to get lost in the world of Worlds Collide, since too little care was taken to make a consistent-feeling story.

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