He’s one of the best and most prolific writers of superhero comics, but not everything he puts out is a home run. Take Champions vol. 1: Change the World as an example. Subsequent to the events of “Civil War II” along with a general disappointment at how adult superheroes tackle their job, Kamala “Ms. Marvel” Khan, Miles “Spider-Man” Morales, and Sam “Nova” Alexander quit the Avengers and start their own team. Along with Amadeus “The Totally Awesome Hulk” Cho, Viv Vision, and Scott “Cyclops” Summers they take on cases with a clear human toll including human trafficking, gender oppression, and racism. They also have a bonding campout in the woods and take on some irate Atlanteans at one point as well. The execution is solid and it all looks great with Humberto Ramos’ expectedly energetic art. Where “Champions” falls short is that it’s lacking in youthful rebellion. For all their talk about changing the world, this team’s rebellion honestly feels pretty by the books. I hate to say it, but a younger writer less steeped in superhero convention is probably what this book needed.
Fortunately that’s not the case with the second and, sadly, concluding volume of “Black Widow.” Black Widow vol. 2: No More Secrets is a tightly-crafted action story just like the first volume, only it makes more effective use of the six issues collected here. Where vol. 1 felt like it went on for too long, vol. 2 feels just right as it hits the ground running with the Weeping Lion under the Black Widow’s thumb as she fights for the future of the young girls trained under the Dark Room’s Headmistress. Natasha’s fight takes her to secret bases in Russia and the Antarctic, the White House in D.C., and even the Moon. Waid and co-writer Chris Samnee keep the tension relentlessly tight, but also make room for some worthwhile character development regarding the Weeping Lion and the Headmistress’ second-in-command Recluse to make them interesting antagonists. Samnee also delivers some flawlessly engaging art that will appease your eye even as you’re trying to turn the pages in a rush to find out what happens next. It would’ve been nice to see where Waid and Samnee would go from here with the Black Widow, but at least we got one great epic story from them.