Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Classics - The Champions (Marvel)

   Not everything can be a winner - and the ironically-named series The Champions was one of Marvel's rare misfires.

   In the mid-70s, Marvel must have thought it was invincible - it had a huge string of hits, with several "team" comics enjoying success, including the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Avengers, and the Defenders - so why not add one more?

   The Champions line-up almost seemed like an afterthought - it included former Avengers Hercules and the Black Widow, former X-Men Iceman and the Angel, and the Ghost Rider.

   But it takes some kind of chemistry between the team members to make a team book work - and there wasn't much of that going on here. It felt like a random gathering of mismatched heroes.

   The book itself seemed to struggle - it was originally intended to be a Giant-Size book, but was reconfigured into a regular comic.

   But the biggest problem was the inconsistency in the creative team. In the first dozen issues the book passed through the hands of writers Tony Isabella, Bill Mantlo and Chris Claremont, and artist Don Heck, George Tuska, Bob Hall and John Byrne. They're all talented, but it's difficult for a book to maintain any cohesive storytelling with so many changes.

   The series finally ended with issue #17, and Marvel actually lost a lawsuit over the ownership of the name of the group (it belonged to a roleplaying game), so the team was dissolved and never made a comeback.

   So Marvel's not without its stumbles - but even with that, there's a lot to enjoy in this series, though all the characters eventually went on to bigger and better things.

Grade: B-



Glen Davis said...

Champions is actually one of my favorite 70's series BECAUSE of it's constant talent changes and the weird line up. The book seemed to change completely from issue to issue.

Chuck said...

Glen, I can understand that - it was one of the things that made the original "Defenders" so much fun. I bought all the issues of "The Champions," but it just never quite worked for me - though when Byrne joined it sparked my interest. But (like everyone else) he didn't hang around long.

Mr. Brooks said...

When Byrne and Black Goliath showed up I thought "now we're getting somewhere". BG would have made a great addition to the team. Muscle & brains.

Chuck said...

Mr. Brooks, I had the same reaction - but alas, Byrne didn't stick around.