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Ms. Marvel addresses the world about Kamala’s Law, an act that criminalizes teenage superheroes, in Champions #1, Marvel Comics (2020). Image: Eve L. Ewing, Simone Di Meo/Marvel Comics

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Marvel’s teens are better at politics than Iron Man and Captain America

And it’s making Outlawed smarter than Civil War

From the moment it was announced, Eve Ewing’s Outlawed crossover begged comparisons to one of the most influential Marvel crossovers of all time, Civil War. In Outlawed, Marvel’s teen heroes make a mistake with big consequences, causing the US government to criminalize being a young superhero, while in Civil War, the New Warriors — another teen hero team — make a mistake with big consequences, causing the US government to criminalize superheroes who don’t register their secret identities with the government.

The intro issue only solidified those comparisons, but then coronavirus shutdowns set in and the whole series was delayed about five months. Now, Champions #1, the issue that March’s Outlawed #1 was supposed to lead into after a month, is here, and as your comics editor, I can offer some new insight.

Outlawed is like if everyone in Civil War was smart.

What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. If you missed the last one, read this.


Champions #1

Most folks would agree that Civil War deserves legendary status for the mark it left on the Marvel Universe and the memorable moments it left behind. But you’ll find that a lot of people also agree that the plot of the crossover rested on a couple of the closest allies in Marvel Comics — Captain America and Iron Man — refusing to just talk to each other like grownups.

Champions #1 has two advantages here, the first of which being that Miles Morales, Kamala Khan, Nova, and Viv Vision are all teenagers, a population for whom snap decision-making and distrust of authority is perfectly in character. The second is that right out the gate, Ewing takes the time to present understandable and logical reasons for different kid superheroes to be for or against breaking the new law. Some of these kids depended on crowdfunding to protect their neighborhoods, for others, like Joaquín Torres, risk their immigration status by not immediately complying. But others see the law as forcing them to get adult approval for work they’re already doing to fix the failings of adult society.

Batman #100

“Your name is Bao Pham,” Batman says to Clownhunter. “Your parents were killed by the Joker five years ago,” in Batman #100, DC Comics (2020). Image: James Tynion IV, Carlo Pagulayan/DC Comics

Clownhunter unmasked! The teenage vigilante who wants to kill the Joker, and all the Joker’s henchmen, and anyone who puts on a Joker mask to loot a store, is orphaned kid Bao Pham. If you’re wondering whether Batman managed to get through to him about the murders, the answer is no.

First Knife

“If I am alive, there might be others sleeping, too,” a cyborg soldier awoken from centuries in the past tells the priestess of the agrarian society that now rules the Midwest of America in First Knife, Image Comics (2020). Image: Simon Roy, Daniel Bensen, Artyom Trakhanov/Image Comics

First Knife is a quite interesting comic that displays some impressive world-building. Part science fiction, part fantasy, definitely a cautionary tale about our future, with shades of Mad Max, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Terminator and more.

The Dreaming: Waking Hours #3

Musing on which Shakespeare authorship theories are definitely bunk, Lindy rejects Sheikh Zubayr and Illuminati Shakespeare out of hand, as a pyramid-headed incarnation of Illuminati Shakespeare cries giant tears out of its one eye, in The Dreaming: Waking Hours #3. Image: G. Willow Wilson, Nick Robles/DC Comics

Lindy might go mad from spending too much time trapped in the Dreaming but I’d like to stop so we can all appreciate Crying Illuminati Shakespeare here. Props to Nick Robles and colorist Mat Lopes.

Getting it Together #1

A purple cloud forms above Jack’s head as his new guy asks to borrow his leather jacket. Over the next few panels it grows to fill the entire background as he says “Hmm...” in Getting it Together #1, Image Comics (2020). Image: Sina Grace, Omar Spahi, Jenny D. Fine/Image Comics

Jack’s best friend Sam and his sister Lauren are a couple, at least until they broke up, and now Jack is beginning to suspect that they guy he just started to date is a total con artist. Sina Grace, Omar Spahi, and Jenny D. Fine’s new soap opera series about 20 somethings in LA has a nice start, but what I like the most is the big purple cloud of suspicion surrounding Jack in this scene.

Marauders #13

“Never doubted you for a second, darlin’,” Wolverine says, as storm plants her sword by the sword bearer’s dais in Krakoa, in Marauders #13, Marvel Comics (2020). Image: Vita Ayala, Matteo Lolli/Marvel Comics

Three swords down, seven for the mutants still to find in the X of Swords crossover.

Decorum #5

Neha studies biology, weapons, and research for assassins, as her fellow students, a space marine type, a weird floating jelly type, and a giant alien crane, bully her, in Decorum #5, Image Comics (2020). Image: Jonathan Hickman, Mike Huddleston/Marvel Comics

Another issue of Decorum, another download of brain-blasting Mike Huddleston art to your eyeballs.

Legend of the Swamp Thing: Halloween Spectacular

Swamp Thing pulls a murderer into the earth with vines that invade his body as the man screams, and Swamp Thing gently advises the girl who summoned him to go find her sister, who yet lives, in Legend of the Swamp Thing: Halloween Spectacular, DC Comics (2020). Image: Vita Ayala, Emma Rios/DC Comics

I found most of DC’s Halloween Swamp Thing anthology to be unremarkable except for Vita Ayala (second Vita Ayala comic of the roundup!) and Emma Rios’ “Sleeping Giant,” which absolutely slaps.

Chasin’ the Bird: Charlie Parker in California

Charlie Parker stands on the band stand, about to play. With the saxophone mouthpiece between his lips, he inhales, as the word BREATH is spelled out behind him in large purple letters, in Chain’ the Bird, Z2 Comics (2020). Image: Dave Chisholm/Z2 Comics

I can tell you right now: Chasin’ the Bird is going on my best comics of the year list. The book is a Citizen Kane-style biography of one of the most tumultuous times in the live of virtuoso jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, drawn by a cartoonist/jazz musician, and it has maybe the best translation of music to the comics form I’ve ever seen. Read this comic.