OUTLAWED #1/ Script by EVE L. EWING/ Art by KIM JACINTO/ Colors by ESPEN GRUNDETJERN/ Letters by VC’S CLAYTON COWLES/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
The only reason the original Civil War wasn’t considered the worst story to come out of Marvel Comics in 2007 was because it was the same year they released One More Day. As it is, Civil War has not aged well, though opinions regarding it have mellowed in the wake of the film adaptation (which has very little to do with the original Civil War) and the even worse Civil War II.
Outlawed #1 spins the same tired story, with the same illogical consequences. The plot sees Marvel Comics’ most popular teen heroes working to protect a famous climate activist who was clearly inspired but is legally distinct from Greta Thunberg. It spoils little to reveal that things go south, property damage is racked up, people die and the whole shebang ends with superheroes under the age of 21 being outlawed at the federal level. This also leads to the formation of a new organization, CRADLE, which is charged with supervising all of the super-powered teens whether or not they want to be part of a government-run superhero team.
This idea has been done before with series like Avengers Academy. However, Eve L. Ewing does improve upon the original Civil War and the contrivance that led to superheroes suddenly facing increased government oversight in that all the characters assembled here are acting in character. Admittedly, I’m not familiar with most of the new Champions beyond Miles Morales and Kamala Khan, but they’re true to form here.
The artwork isn’t quite as on-model. Generally Kim Jacinto’s artwork is serviceable, but only that. There are many panels where limbs are oddly elongated and the perspective is shot to hell. The color art by Espen Grundetjern doesn’t really stand out one way or the other, sadly.
Fans of Champions may enjoy this series, but it is hard to recommend it to anyone else. Familiarity with the characters is assumed, so new readers will be left in the dark. The story, while competently executed, is far too derivative of earlier series. And the artwork is merely okay, apart from a few oddly awful panels. Despite this, it’s better than Civil War, but that’s damning with faint praise.