REVIEW: Champions #12 – “Cyclops’ Psyche”

Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler: Humberto Ramos
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 9/6/17

The Champions are taking a well-deserved night off singing karaoke and poking fun at Scott’s stiff nature when a citywide riot in Boulder, Colorado demands their attention.

Plot: The action in Champions #12 begins when the group stops a riot instigated by Psycho-Man and his doom box, only for Cyclops to wind up hit with the after-effects. Now the Champions must deal with a unfiltered Scott Summers whose emotions are pouring out of him and whose inhibitions are all but gone.

And while one of their own is going off the rails, Psycho-Man is striking different cities around the country that might have labs developing batteries with quantum-level powers. Can the team stop him and save their friend? And when will they ever get to finish their karaoke?

Story: A surprisingly touching story came out of what at first appeared to be just a fun night out with the gang and a rather easy-to-beat villain. Champions #12 explored Scott Summers’ fears and insecurities at a level that I have not seen in most X-Men stories, and showcased how united these characters are when one of their team is hurting. This series has previously mined a lot of comedy from petty squabbles between the characters, perhaps in part due to their youth, but now they finally feel like a family as well.

Psycho-Man was an incredibly low-level villain, so the stakes weren’t high at all. But he was the perfect opponent to unlock the emotions that Scott has kept hidden for most of his life – both as an adult and now as the past version of himself. Not to mention that the nearly non-existent threat level allowed the other team members to focus their attention on his needs without making it seem like they were putting innocent civilians in danger.

While Champions #12 may have focused a great deal on Scott to the detriment of other characters, it was worth it to get such a great peek into his psyche. Seeing as previous issues have done similar things with Viv Vision, hopefully we see future ones tackle specific stories for others – especially Sam Alexander now that his Nova series was cancelled.

Art: Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba and Edgar Delgado make almost as cohesive a team as the Champions themselves do. The art pops on every page, with bright and vibrant coloring that accentuates the characters’ expressions in close-ups and that punches up the details of the background in more expansive action sequences.

Though some might say that there is more blank space than necessary in this issue – in terms of the background of certain scenes fading out rather than being filled in – I think that makes perfect sense for a story that’s explicitly focusing on the characters and not the battles. There is still a kinetic feeling to the art when the group is actively fighting Psycho-Man, and a great variety of fun sound effects thanks to Clayton Cowles’ lettering. It’s just that the artists opt to spend their energy on making Kamala and Scott’s conversations look at realistic as possible for example, rather than on whatever else might be going on in their surroundings.

Verdict: For readers who enjoy seeing specific characters get spotlight, and are more interested in how the team members play off each other than in how they defeat the villain, Champions #12 is a nearly perfect issue.

Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5