On March 18th, the highly-anticipated Marvel teen hero event Outlawed launched with its first issue, written by Eve Ewing with interior work by Kim Jacinto and Espen Grundetjern, and lettering by Clayton Cowles.
The first issue’s cover—potentially my new lock screen—was done by Pepe Larraz and David Curiel, and features the trio of Ms. Marvel, Nova and Spider-Man post-brawl with a bunch of government agents. With Nova and Spider-Man flanking her, Ms. Marvel (or Kamala Khan) is shown crouching and ripping a “No Teen Vigilantes” poster in half, as a static news bulletin that is presumably about the new law plays in the background—a strong, no-holds-barred image to let readers know exactly what direction this story will be taking.
The jump-off point for the Outlawed even sees the Champions coming under fire because of an incident during a simple escort mission that happens to take place at Kamala Khan’s school. After two of their own are severely injured during the incident, the government proposes a bill to ban teenage vigilantism in the US and eventually spread the act worldwide.
Ewing sets up the event by focusing the premise on the government taking advantage of public concern for superpowered youth. This is done in order to take aim at the activity of young heroes without taking the injured heroes’ opinions into account, so they are forced in opposition to these political powers head on in.
While I was initially worried with how this story would play out, I am more than happy to say that my expectations were exceeded. Ewing and company manage to maintain the strong tone of her work on Ironheart along with the previous Champions books by Mark Waid and Jim Zub. The momentum is also kept up in fine fashion, which is important coming off of the back of events like Civil War 2, Secret Empire and War of the realms.
There’s more to this story than just proposing two opposing ideals and seeing which side everyone falls on. With the issue of whether or not teen heroes should be allowed to operate, it will be interesting to see what factors are brought up during this discussion within the title. Should they be allowed to operate under supervision? Should those with secret identities have to come forward and reveal themselves? How do the mentors and parents of these heroes feel about all of this? Will Krakoa consider this law?
In addition to the wonderful set-up for the event, the collaborative interior work gives every appearing Champions member a moment to shine. One of my favorite of which being a full page spread of our heroes facing down a Dragon, of all things. Honorable mention goes to a very explosively green two-page spread.
With Outlawed promising to have an echoing effect across the broader Marvel Universe, I am eager to see where this event goes as this seems to be a far more nuanced take on story concepts like Civil War. Despite Civil War being a point in comics where I started becoming more familiar with Marvel, it’s always an event that I look back on and find myself wondering if it actually managed to properly convey and play out a nuanced argument with the idea of a legislative superhero registration act. I don’t get that from Outlawed—at least not so far.
As someone who’s been a fan of Ewing’s work for some time, I look forward to her taking the reins of this event and I’m especially eager to see what she does on the new Champions book later in April. Hopefully, the other ongoing titles and spin offs attached to this even manage to work just as well too.
I’m also interested to see if/how Outlawed will tie into other parallel events like Children of the Atom and Empyre—two other events that will cover the X-Men and Cosmic Marvel respectively.
While it might take a bit of familiarity with the wider array of teen heroes in Marvel to really get something out of this book, I believe it will be a steady jumping-off point for people interested in seeing what groups like the Champions are all about. The first issue actually does give a few references to past books and events that those who find their interest peaked by this issue can go back and look into in order to get a better understanding of what some of these characters are about.
I highly recommend giving this series a shot starting with Outlawed #1, available now.
Edited by Melissa Lee