With the first run of Champions concluded and the relaunch coming next month, there was no better time for this creative team to give us an annual to smooth over that wait. When the last special issue from this series gave us one of the most captivating stories from Marvel this year, I couldn’t help but look forward to what this annual had in store for us.
The choice to center this one around Amka Aliyak (Snowguard) was smart. I like this character, but I will also admit that I jumped in a bit later after she was introduced and all the Thanos madness happened. Surely there are other readers as well who may have missed that opportunity to be there when Snowguard was first given her origin story. That is what made this annual the perfect opportunity to grant her an issue dedicated to fleshing her out in a way that the main series wasn’t able to earlier. Off the bat we were given plenty of room to get to know where she came from and how she got her powers. Of course this wasn’t in great detail, but there was no denying the gist that you get from her origin. It was also very informative to better understand the kind of peoples who she belongs to, the Inuk. Honestly we do neglect having enough characters like Amka who represent a culture. To some extent I’m pretty sure you can say that our superhero world here is fairly uncultured. Champions has taken a big step forward in correcting that problem.
Amka’s experience return home also managed to fill in many gaps to her story too. From there, those who are more new to this character could better understand the kind of family she was born into, the kind of community she lived with, and the way that all of this influenced how she turned out now. The past and present definitely collided for Amka when the opportunity was taken to also address the way that the youth now live in contrast to the older generation. We also don’t see enough of that in other books as well. It was engaging to follow this character who walked that line between old ways and new ways. Me personally, I would have fallen with the younger crowd who never got to learn my own language. It happens, and I think this perspective worked very well for the truth to the way things change over time.
The true strength to this story was Amka taking pride in who she is and taking a more proactive approach towards discovering her purpose with these powers. It’s easy to say that someone like her gets to choose how she uses these powers, but doing and knowing are two very different things. Especially when not fully grasping what these powers are can limit you to what you are capable of when it matters most. That is what made Amka’s bigger moments of revelation so empowering. She dove into the deep and walked out with newfound confidence.
I was blown away by the work of Marcus To and Jordan Boyd on the interiors. Credit where it is due that from start to finish of this series, there was never a reason to doubt the quality of artwork that you could get out of this book. Whether it is the cover or the interiors, you were always getting the best. Marcus To’s pencils were clean, and he got a lot of detail out of a mix of fine lines and bold. The inking fit very well for the way it brought out depth and shadows. What grabbed my attention first was the unique tattooing of the Amka’s people, Everyone has a distinct style, and there was definitely a time barrier between those who had it and those who did not. I was more than impressed with the colors from Jordan Boyd. I don’t think I have ever seen this kind of use of bold, vivid, or vibrant colors from him. It was all very beautiful on top of the way he was able to blend them as well. Some of those gradients he nailed so well to bring out that aurora-likeness these to the powers of Sila, Amka, and even this other entity introduced through the events of this story. It also goes without saying how the scenery stood out on its own as well for the natural beauty that Boyd was able to bring out in his coloring. His use of organic colors made a big difference there.
Champions Annual #1 was a worthwhile experience stepping into the shoes of Marvel’s newest young hero. Amka Aliyak is a hero you are either newly getting to know, or getting to know better than you did before. A special supersized issue was the best use of time to flesh out the backstory of a character when the average issue can only offer so much to satisfy.