This book details a well-realized if derivative superhero setting, with enough details for identifiable flavour and sufficient openness for players and gamemasters to leave their own stamp on the world.
The writing is in that crisp, dry and clear style we all know and love. It conveys the information within with commednable conciseness and efficiency of language. I have found no errors that might mar the experience, although if you're eagle-eyed about that sort of thing it may well be different for you. Only in the initial history section does it run slightly overlong, and then to try and get as much detail as possible to present a full spectrum of literary, cinematic and musical references from across the ages. Characters are given full and well-written biographies, with most getting statistic blocks for easy play. The characters, and especially organizations, are well-differentiated and use different niches with enormous narrative potential. I especially liked the United Nations agency, UNTIL, as its writeup solved many narrative difficulties that agencies like the DEO or SHIELD increasingly present.
The setting's strongest suit is its familiarity. In CHAMPIONS UNIVERSE there are no idiosyncrasies, complex metaphysics or intricate cosmologies that detract from rather than add to the book. Everything is strongly reminiscent of the 'classic' superhero fiction we all imagine we read or watched at some time, fitting the ageless ideas it culls from countless sources. It is every inch a recognizable, easily understandable and comprehensible world like and yet vastly unlike our own. In a nice twist from most superhero fiction, the rest of the world of the United States of America is represented, both in fleshed-out villains and unusual heroes. It's still very much about American heroes, but there's attention to other parts of the planet usually glossed over.
The setting's greatest weakness is its familiarity. Simply put, there is not a lot of a unique or really enticing quality to the world presented in CHAMPIONS UNIVERSE. It does not, but very nearly falls into the fatal trap of many whole-cloth superhero worlds where many things are just expected to happen and exist because it's a superhero universe and that's how MARVEL Comics and Detective Comics Comics have been operating for decades. There is nothing really weird, outlandish or confusing here, but neither is there a lot that breaks the mold, besides its use of magic and mystical forces as the driving motive behind superpowers existing. It's a stable of places, ideas and characters for many kinds of stories, rather than a world tailored to one kind, and while a definite strength that does leave much of it feeling frustratingly bland at times.
As well, its depiction of Voodoo has more to do with Hollywood stereotype than the faith itself, with more dark magic and less trance-possession.
Still, if you want to play and tell superhero stories, this book has more than enough material to springboard your group into nearly any kind of adventure imaginable, from the depths of Atlantis and Lemuria to the streets of Great Lakes super-metropolis Millennium City, from the farthest stars to other worlds and dimensions. I heartily, if with some conditions, recommend this book for anyone interested in superhero RPGs. Bear in mind, however, that you need a copy of the rules to use the stats presented in the book.
[4 of 5 Stars!]