The teen heroes of Marvel's Champions are about to face their biggest challenge ever as they enlist in War of the Realms. But they'll have a returning ally in this war - the now adult Cyclops, who helped found the team while he was a time-displaced teenager.
Guiding the Champions - and Scott Summers - on this journey are writer Jim Zub and artist Juanan Ramirez Romero, who will pit the young heroes against an entire army of trolls and monsters from Malekith's army.
How will Cyclops take to the Champions now that he's an adult again? How will the Champions handle their former ally now being a totally different person? These are the questions Newsarama ask Zub ahead of Champions #5's May release. Read on for the full scoop on what's at stake for the team as they enter War of the Realms.
Newsarama: Jim, War of the Realms might just be the biggest challenge the Champions have ever faced. What’s their place in this conflict?
Jim Zub: The newly-expanded global Champions have been pulled into a global conflict with the War of the Realms, so they have an important role to play. Kamala's team is big and they're able to help out in multiple locations at the same time thanks to Pinpoint, their new portal-popping teleporter. The Champions will be heading to some unexpected locations to lend a hand and try to push back invading forces from the other realms.
Nrama: One of the team’s founders is coming back in Champions #5 – the adult Cyclops. What’s that reunion gonna be like?
Zub: The Champions knew that the young X-Men were gone, but have no idea that the newly-returned Cyclops now carries the expanded memories of his younger self. When the Champions are in deep trouble, Scott Summers answers the call. Since Cyclops left, the Champs have been thrust into some really dark places, so it's a heartfelt reunion, but also carries a lot of mixed emotions. It's a big moment and I got goosebumps as I wrote it.
Nrama: Cyclops has the memories of his teen self’s time on the Champions thanks to Jean Grey’s psychic manipulation. How does suddenly being an adult affect his relationship with the team?
Zub: Scott remembers his time with the Champions. It happened "recently" even though he was young at the time. It's the kind of mental dichotomy that only can happen in superhero comics. I don't want to spoil how it all plays out, but suffice to say that Scott is the current and bitter version of himself from Uncanny X-Men, but also carries the positive and heroic times he had with the Champions with him as well.
Nrama: And on the other side of that, how does the team view this turn of events for one of their oldest friends?
Zub: They've heard stories about Cyclops the terrorist, Cyclops the murderer, and the young version of Scott even told them how scared he was about becoming the older version he saw in our world, so it's a weird head spin for the Champs to try and ratify all that with the young hero they knew and trusted.
Nrama: What are the Champions up against here?
Zub: An army of murderous trolls! A relentless march of monsters determined to stomp our world beneath their feet.
Nrama: You’ve been working with artist Steven Cummings on Champions, but Juanan Ramirez Romero is drawing this story. What’s he bring to this tie-in to such a massive event?
Zub: Steven has done a stunning job on the first four issues of Champions, but it takes him more than a month to draw each issue and we need to make sure the series runs on time so he's jumping ahead to issue #7 while Juanan Ramirez Romero steps into draw this one. Juanan has a big bold style that marries itself really well with the heavy emotions and action we have in this special issue.
Nrama: You’ve had some dark stuff bubbling up in Champions, with Miles Morales making a deal with Mephisto. How does that affect what happens in this Champions War of the Realms story?
Zub: No spoilers, but the team is reeling after the events of the four-part “Beat The Devil” story we relaunched with. Kamala is struggling to hold it all together just as War of the Realms kicks in, so the stakes are higher than ever.
Nrama: Bottom line, for readers of both Champions and War of the Realms, what makes this a must-read story?
Zub: The new Champions series takes the team into difficult terrain, forcing them to step up and fight for the better world they want to live in. The odds are heavily stacked against them and the simple bonds of friendship they once had are being tested in ways they never could have imagined. Thrust right into the middle of that is one of their former friends, but he's changed and is dealing with his own turmoil.
Champions #5 is about the toll this war takes on heroes, and the bonds that come from friendships, teams, and responsibilities. I wanted it to feel like the crossover issues I relished when I was a young Marvel reader; Unexpected character combinations and circumstances that reveal something deeper about everyone involved.