As part of the Marvel NOW! "Divided We Stand" initiative, a new Champions series is on its way in October with young heroes from the Avengers and X-Men. This comes after days of "I Quit!" imagery featuring many of the characters now revealed to be members of the team, in what's described by series writer Mark Waid as a "generational shift."
"When we were growing up, the general perception was it takes adults to fix the world. Kids can do little things, but basically you have to wait till you grow up to make the big choices and the big decisions. Well, Mark Zuckerberg would disagree with you. Some of the other young trend-breaking scientists that are coming to light, online especially, would beg to differ with you," Waid told Entertainment Weekly. "Those are the inspirations, as much as anybody else, for the idea that we don’t have to wait until we grow up to be Tony Stark or Captain America to make a difference in this world. We’ll find our way, and we’ll find our own way."
Waid, who will be joined on Champions by artist Humberto Ramos, currently writes the Ms. Marvel/Spider-Man/Nova trio in All-New All-Different Avengers. The writer said much of the other members were recommendations by Marvel's Executive Editor Tom Brevoort.
"The Amadeus Cho Hulk worked for me because one, it’s a very primary character," said Brevoort. "The Hulk is a very core Marvel Universe character and that kind of gives a little more legitimacy to what you’re doing. And anytime you have a Hulk in a group situation, it’s a more volatile situation, even if it’s an upbeat happy Hulk. We thought that was pretty good for potential drama and interest."
With Cyclops, Waid has an ulterior motive in enlisting him for the team.
"And man, I’m in that tiny sliver of people who think Scott Summers is the best X-Man there is. I’ve loved Scott Summers ever since I first started reading X-Men comics back in the mid-60s," said Waid. "So I campaigned quite heavily to get young Scott Summers on that team. My primary goal was for the doubters: By the end of issue 1, I can make you love Scott Summers."
Brevoort explains, however, that Cyclops' would-be Champions teammates might be the hardest to welcome him in, comparing him to "Kid Hitler" in terms of what his adult counterpart apparently did in the still-unrevealed story between Secret Wars and "All-New All-Different Marvel."
"This is the young Scott Summers pulled from the past. In my head, he’s kind of the first challenge the group faces," Brevoort revealed. "Which is to say that when they get together and start to do this, what they’re doing is not just putting together a superhero team, they’re more like activists. They’re making an inclusive statement that they mean to be for all members of their generation: it’s time to get together and stand up and fix the world. This is a message that goes out and people come in response to it. Cyclops shows up and goes, 'Boy I love what you’re putting down, I’d like to be a part of it.' It’s kind of like Kid Hitler showing up at the door. The older Cyclops has done some stuff. He’s a hugely divisive figure in the Marvel universe, so the first question these kids have to answer for themselves is, should we let him be a part of this? Is his very presence going to taint what we’re doing? His older self became a radical and a revolutionary and did awful things, but is it the same guy? And that’s kind of why he’s there I think. He wants to go down a different road than his older self did."
This team takes its name from the 1970s Marvel super-team the Champions - a name that has been mired in legal battles that have prevented its re-use until now, even as 2007 with a series solicited as Champions being quickly changed to become The Order.
"Marvel Comics and Heroic Publishing have entered into a joint agreement that will allow for the publication of a Marvel's Champions comic book, while at the same time allowing Heroic to continue publishing its own line of separate Champions and Champions-related titles," said Marvel. "We’re pleased to have reached an agreement and wish Heroic Publishing the best in their future endeavors.
Brevoort added to that, saying "it feels good" to have the Champions name, as it's "a really upbeat superhero name."
"It feels good in that, when we first started talking about names for this group, we tended to go for 'something something Avengers.' That always seemed off-mission for me. If they’re cutting the cord, if they’re going off on their own to establish themselves as a thing onto themselves, they kind of need their own name. They are ultimately very socially conscious, very activist-minded, and very positive about being superheroes, so the name had to feel like a really upbeat superhero name."