INFINITY COUNTDOWN: CHAMPIONS #1 / Writer: Jim Zub / Artist: Emilio Laiso / Color Artist: Andy Troy / Letterer: Clayton Cowles / Released: June 20, 2018 / Marvel
Every event tie-in is a candidate for suspicion. Will the writing be any good? Will the art be any good? Will the tie-in have anything whatsoever to do with the event it’s connected with? Infinity Countdown: Champions #1 is one of those rare tie-in issues that not only lives up to expectations but shatters them. It bursts on the scene as a tie-in that’s not just strong in its own right but also can lead readers to the Champions or in turn lead Champions fans to Infinity Countdown.
Sam Alexander is a member of the Nova Corps and the Champions. Late one night his helmet picks up a distress call from a Nova outpost under attack by Warbringer, a mad Chitauri recently seen battling for the Power Stone. Sam sets off for outer space, prepared to go on his own, but when he calls one of his teammates to say goodbye the group decides to go with him. Improvising a means to travel through space, the team soon arrives at the sight of a completely destroyed outpost. Despite being warned off, Sam continues his pursuit. It’s a personal matter for Sam who has been beaten by Warbringer twice and even seen Warbringer defeat the Avengers. When the Champions find Warbringer they learn that his plan is to kill all the other Chitauri who are loyal to Thanos. Thanos won’t use them to fight, and Warbringer finds this humiliating. Thanos has no problem with Warbringer’s massacre since it will satisfy Mistress Death. The Champions, in true Champion fashion, have to consider whether they need to fight to keep the ranks of Chitauri alive.
Jim Zub, current Champions writer, tackles this tie-in and he handles it just like a Champions issue—if the Champions were called to outer space to deal with a crazy alien. The issue is told from Sam’s point of view, and it’s a perfect choice. His behavior borders on a cry for help. He’s determined to go in a hurry but makes a bit of a production out of his departure with his mom; he calls his friends to insist he won’t take their help only to accept it; he lets them help track Warbringer down only to ignore their advice when they offer it. In a way Sam’s behavior is almost self-destructive. Sam is starting a personal journey in the Champions main title so turning this story about Warbringer into a lens through which to focus on Sam and his perceived inadequacies reinforces that theme for regular readers. Ultimately, though, this is a compelling character thread to follow whether the reader follows Champions or not.
This issue, though, still would have been little more than a team round-up and action adventure if Zub hadn’t included something that’s become standard Champions fare by now: a moral dilemma. The Champions, with their modus operandi to not just defeat villains but to also make the world a better place, often find themselves in sticky moral quandaries. Infinity Countdown: Champions #1 is no different as the team finds itself arguing over whether to defend otherwise helpless Chitauri from Warbringer. The Chitauri in danger don’t exactly have spotless histories, and Zub creates effective drama out of the debate.
Adding to the “at home” feeling that Zub creates in Infinity Countdown: Champions #1 is Emilio Laiso’s work. Laiso’s art in this book, in what may be a complement by me or not, is very reminiscent of Sean Izaakse’s. Starting with Sam when the distress call comes in, seen throughout the group round-up, and on display with characters in space Laiso has drawn a book that Champions readers will still feel is theirs. Additionally, because the art from neither Izaakse nor Laiso exhibits overly distinctive styles—such as artists like Bacchalo or Allred—an Infinity Countdown reader could easily transition to the Champions and not be put off by an unexpected art style.
Tie-ins are always a little risky for a reader, but there is no danger here. My opinion is probably transparent by now. Infinity Countdown: Champions #1 is the best Infinity Countdown tie-in yet. As a book it knows exactly what it is and successfully balances the needs of the cosmic storyline with an honest Champions adventure.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 kneeling Chitauri
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| Infinity Countdown Adam Warlock | Infinity Countdown Prime | Infinity Countdown #1 | Infinity Countdown #2 | Infinity Countdown #3 | Infinity Countdown: Daredevil #1 | Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk #1 | Infinity Countdown: Captain Marvel #1 | Infinity Countdown #4 | Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk #2 |
Theron Couch is a collection of 1000 monkeys on 1000 typewriters trying to produce Hamlet. From time to time he accidentally types comic book reviews. Theron’s first novel, The Loyalty of Pawns, is available on Amazon and he’s published assorted short stories. Theron maintains a blog with additional comic and book reviews as well as posts on his personal struggle with mental health.