Written by: Jim Zub
Art by: Steven Cummings
Colors by: Marcio Menyz
Letters by: VC’s Clayton Cowles
RiRi ‘Ironheart’ Williams showed up at the beginning of last issue wanting a chat with Viv Vision. By the time the issue ended, Viv had been knocked out and RiRi was standing over the body, gloating like the proverbial cat who had finally been given a saucer of cream all to herself. “What the hell?” would be a perfectly rational response to that particular turn of events. Let’s find out exactly what’s going on…
The issue opens with our team being teleported back home by Pinpoint, still feeling pretty good about their recent victory over the Freelancers. They are attacked almost instantly by a mysterious foe who, after some playacting enables her to sucker punch Nova, turns out to be RiRi. She, in turn, is being controlled by Blackheart, an old Ghost Rider villain (although he first appears in a Daredevil issue, which means he’s actually an Ann Nocenti creation) who has the insidious ability to amplify people’s darker thoughts until they override their innate ‘goodness’ or self-control and looks like a cross between a Predator and a Death Note Shinigami while he does so.
This leads to exactly the kind of team-mate on team-mate action you might expect. It’s not just RiRi who’s affected but Sam, too. He flies off to attack Miles Morales, while RiRi and Viv (with the 2.0 version of her personality in charge) take their fight to Kamala. Sam does at least manage to shake off Blackheart’s influence, mainly because Kamala, Viv and Miles say nice things to him and don’t engage him in combat. There’s probably a lesson for Twitter in there somewhere.
The issue ends with the Blackheart-controlled Champions facing off against their friends, which means next issue’s series finale should be interesting. If all this sounds a little perfunctory, it’s not really. While the plot is fairly straightforward, there is fun in the details. From Miles not answering his phone to Kamala worrying about the big hole in her bedroom wall, Zub gives his characters (a little) space to breathe and be themselves – even in the context of a series of violent encounters fought at breakneck speed.
Arguably, this isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff, but it is warm and charming, there’s plenty of action, and Steven Cummings’ art is very engaging. It would be nice to get a little more of some of the minor characters, but on the whole, this is entertaining young superhero fare.
Last issue’s shocking cliffhanger is explained and then some. While the storyline is not the most innovative you’ll read, the return of Miles Morales is handled well and there’s some genuine warmth in the issue’s main character moment between him and Sam. The fight scenes are interesting enough, and the issue as a whole works well as a lead-in to next month’s final chapter. There’s nothing amazing here, but neither is there anything shockingly bad. A good, solid, fun issue of superhero action.