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Champions #46 features two stories. The first is less than pleasing: a reprint of Tigress #3. Aside from the fact that a Dr. Katherine Kaat Tigress adventure is a poor fit for an issue of Champions, Tigress is the weakest series Heroic has yet published. Like most issues of Tigress, this story is little more than another of the mindless sex-and-gore fests that were so popular in that era of comics.
Thankfully, Champions #46 also gives us a new story - and what a story. The plot: heroes Icestar and Icicle(both out-of-costume for the duration) get a surprise visit from their mother. The hook: It's astounding to see 11 pages of raw character development, partly because few writers can find that much depth in characters, partly because few characters have it to begin with. I've poured over A Visit from Mother a dozen times, studying each facial expression and line of dialogue for motivations and intentions. The characters are simply that deep, the writing that enjoyable.
Even the Grayson mom is no throwaway character. She's overbearing and self-righteous, but not in the cliched, unconvincing fashion that demands nothing of the reader but to hate her. We can understand even her most reprehensible actions, and sympathize with her even when we don't agree with her.
Also interesting is the way the three of them play off each other. They could use a few lessons in relating to each other, but they're recognizably a family, something rarely seen in comics. Nor is it all heavy stuff; the Grayson siblings have some fun with their secret identities that really made me chuckle.
The artwork is great. I've never been sure how I feel about Ciro Napolitano, but this is some of his best work. The Grayson mom is quite distinctive and real, there's a very domestic look to the scene, and Johnny has relatively little dialogue but some very expressive body language. Jeff Brennan's inks hit just the right tone, too.
A Visit From Mother makes this issue well-worth buying.
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