Publisher – Marvel Comics
Writer – Jim Zub
Artists – Sean Izaakse and Emilio Laiso
Color artists – Marcio Menyz and Andy Troy
Letterer – VC's Clayton Cowles
Consultant – Nyla Innuksuk
When Champions originally came out, I was left unimpressed. Instead of being a compelling read about real-world problems and superheroes, the first collection of the series felt dull and corny. Champions Vol. 4: Northern Lights brings with it a fresh creative direction, and new characters to spice things up.
There is a noticeable quality gap between the two stories, in terms of the writing. The first tale suffers from feeling inconsequential, even with the debut of a new character. Jim Zub provides an interesting premise in a villain trying to save the world...in order to conquer it. Where things fall apart is in the execution. Characters sound right, but the conflict lacks a sense of urgency. It makes those involved feel like they are going through a routine instead of a serious situation.
Things pick up in the second story, which ties into the events of Infinity Countdown. There is a weight to the action that makes it more compelling than the tale before it. At the end of the tale, characters feel like they have gone through something substantial. Zub also plants some seeds for future stories that could become something fun.
On the art side of things, the artistic duos within the collection do a fine job. Sean Izaakse and Marcio Menyz deliver some bright and polished art that never feels static. The work by Emilio Laiso and Andy Troy is a bit darker, yet feels right within the context of the characters. While the differences in style are apparent from the two tales in this collection, the art still looks clean, lively, and appropriate for the writing.
The lettering by Clayton Cowles is smooth without feeling stale. Cowles shines in little details like effectively showing the panic of two characters yelling the same thing in a crowd, and letting a battle cry trail down into a scratchy word balloon. Sound effects do a fine job of conveying the power of the action through kinetic fonts, and fitting colors.
Champions Vol. 4: Northern Lights is a step up from where the series has been, but some issues remain. While the art and lettering are solid, there is something lacking in terms of character development and plot weight. If the last two issues in the collection are a sign of how the series will develop, things should get more interesting in future installments. Those that are fans of the team or the writer might want to look into this collection, but there are more compelling reads out there with young teams.