Wednesday, November 7, 2012



I've been enjoying some of Marvels "Classics" series lately. Cheaper than buying a hardcover "Masterworks" volume and a step up from the bare bones, black and white reprints seen in Marvels "Essentials" series. The "Classics" series is a great way to get nicely reproduced color reprints of obscure bronze age Marvel titles at a fairly cheap price. The Champions Classics Vol 1 reprints Champions issues 1 thru 11.

The Champions were a rather oddball assemblage of heroes based in California. The stories weren't exactly the Bronze Age cream of the crop, but they were spirited and fun and reading them now, 30 years later, they do have a rather nostalgic charm to them. The Champions roster consists of Hercules, Ghost Rider, Black Widow and from the X-Men...Iceman and Angel. The team is assembled through coincidence and necessity, when the god Pluto turns up at UCLA with harpies, hellhounds, amazons and other various mythological monsters to force Hercules into marrying Hippolyta and to force guest star Venus to marry Ares. But there are other heroes at the campus. An unemployed Black Widow is applying for a job teaching Russian to the college kids and Bobby Drake and Warren Worthington aka Iceman and Angel are also on hand. The two X-Men are depressed at their inability to fit in with the world. Also on hand is Johnny Blaze aka Ghost Rider, recently freed from his ties to Satan and also feeling displaced and directionless. All of them band together to help Hercules fight off Pluto and his plans for a double shot-gun wedding.

Over the course of the first 11 issues collected in this volume, The Champions stay united to deal with mysteries in Black Widow's past, the Angel revealing his identity to the public and having his family fortune put at risk as a result as well as dealing with various villains including Titanium Man, Crimson Dynamo, The Griffin and two new characters; the down on his luck businessman turned super powerful villain called Rampage and Russian villainess turned Champions teammate Darkstar. The best of this collection are the stories that feature the art of George Tuska, all of which look very good. The not so good are those issues done by Bob Hall and Don Heck which are pretty rough. Also on hand to do some of his earliest work for Marvel is John Byrne doing pencils on issue 11.

The Champions certainly wasn't the best comic to come out of the Bronze Age. While it might have taken a back seat to The Defenders, they still had an entertaining and odd mixture of fun characters. The appeal to me then and now was the odd mixture of heroes, all of who had their own personalities and a unique, dynamic chemistry. It was a collection of characters that one would never have thought to put together into a team. The Champions seemed a dumping ground for unused heroes, but that gave the series a sort of "underdog" status. One of the things I always enjoyed about Marvel was their ability to make these B-Team books so engaging. Marvel Classics: Champions Volume One is definitely worth checking out.


  1. I have fond memories of the Champions as I got issues 3,4 and 7 in my local newsagent.I was very taken with Darkstar and I even liked Headband Angel. These guys were the prototype West Coast Avengers. I need to get the Iron Man Annual in which they guest-starred.

    1. I loved all the oddball teams like Defenders and Champions and Agents of Atlas. Same with DC. Loved groups like Metal Men and Doom Patrol and Challengers of the Unknown. Fun stuff.