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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Champions: Pure Comics Genius

Whoever thought a super-team like the Champions was a good idea was very, very wrong.

It was an awesome idea.

I've mentioned them a couple of times over the past week, but in case you're just joining us, the Champions are quite possibly the worst team in Marvel Comics history, composed of what seems like a random grouping of Marvel characters that weren't realy doing anything else at the time.

There's Iceman and Angel, who got shoved out of the X-Men to make room for some guy called Wolverine; Ghost Rider, seen here in his whiny Legion of Monsters days wherein he rode the Skull Cycle and had to deal with his head bursting into flames anytime danger was near; Hercules, whose major accomplishments involve drunken brawls with real super-heroes; and, fresh from her breakup with Daredevil, the bewitching Black Widow.

Incidentally, aside from a lone scene where she's lounging on a beach in a bikini pondering whether or not to go save Hercules from being pressganged into marriage, the Black Widow always appears in her costume, a fetching black leather full body ensemble with dart launchers on her wrists. She wears this even when she's on a job interview to become UCLA's new Russian professor, and that is weird.

Weirder still, however, is the fact that in what can only be called a misguided attempt to pass as a civilian, she elects to put normal clothes on on top of her costume, despite the fact that a skirt and fashionable blouse do little to hide the fact that you're wearing a full-body black leather catsuit underneath--and in fact, actually make it kinda creepy.

Seriously, Tony Isabella: What's that all about?

Anyway, that's the lineup. And while the Defenders get a lot of flak for being one of the worst teams ever, that's a team that has the Hulk, Dr. Strange, the Silver Surfer, and the frigg'n Sub-Mariner, and those four guys are badass. Even the minor-league version of the team had a female Thor analog with pigtails and a sword, which is probably one of the greatest character ideas ever.

The Champions, meanwhile, have two part-time third-string Avengers and what essentially amounts to three scrubs. And considering that Chris Claremont pits them against a group of super-strong retarded hobos in Champions #3, that pretty much makes them the spiritual predecessor to Nextwave.

Regardless, even without the issues where Bill Mantlo first introduced the world to the magic that is Swarm, it's my kind of comic, and by that I mean that there is a lot of punching. So what better to shed light on the unappreciated genius of the Champions than with a look at the astounding sound effects:

Wait one second. I was willing to just roll along with "CRAM!," but the sound of the Black Widow kicking someone in the head is "BUNCH!"? Holy crap that is awesome.

The Champions: Because you're not going to see someone get hit with a lamppost to the sound effect of "SWATT!" anywhere else.

Belive me. I've looked.


Blogger Gordon said...

I was seriously thinking about getting the Champions trade...and you've sold me on it.

70s Marvel + interesting sound effects = almost MST3K-esque comics goodness

6/28/2006 7:40 AM

Blogger Mark said...


Isn't that the sound of a Cockney cursing?

6/28/2006 8:01 AM

Blogger Jon said...

The Defenders were awesome. I totally loved their team concept. They weren't a group of misbegotten freaks summoned by a mysterious leader, and they weren't a group of the best and brightest, meeting in their clubhouse.

No, the Defenders were just people who happened to be hanging around Dr. Strange's house when Dormammu or Dracula attacked -- the superhero equivalent of getting your buddies to help you move by buying the beer and pizza.

6/28/2006 8:02 AM

Blogger Philip Looney said...

I wonder if the villian is saying "what the devil?" because of getting kicked in the head, or the sound it made?

6/28/2006 8:42 AM

Blogger Steven said...

"the Defenders were just people who happened to be hanging around Dr. Strange's house when Dormammu or Dracula attacked "

The Defenders ALSO happened to be four guys who, individually, could casually kick the crap out of the Avengers. TEAMING UP!

Seriously, when the weakest guy on your team is the functionally omnipotent Dr. Strange, it's kind of hard to find a decent challange.

The Champions as the forefathers of NextWave. That's freaking brilliant.

6/28/2006 10:33 AM

Blogger Brandon said...

Ah, "CRAM!" - the most nononomatopoetic of sound effects.

6/28/2006 2:15 PM

Blogger Senor Cheeseburger said...


What the bunch are you talking about?

Ghost Rider is a pussy and Angel couldn't beat up my neighbors 6 year old daughter. Hercules can be defeated with a keg of beer or a math problem and one good back-hander would send the Black Widow back to the kitchen where she belongs.

Iceman is the only bad ass in the group but at the time he was still pretty much an overgrown snowman who could make really neat slippery slides. FUN!

You are wrong. I am right. You are ugly. I am attractive.

6/28/2006 4:05 PM

Blogger Filthy McMonkey said...

Actually, I believe the team he was referring to was the Defenders, tho I have to say that I'm pretty sure Namor was the weakest link in that group, and not Dr. Strange.

And he IS a badass, just not as bad assy as the other three.

6/28/2006 4:22 PM

Blogger Mark Hale said...

So, like... what exactly are they the Champions of, anyhow?

6/28/2006 5:02 PM

Blogger Philip Looney said...

>>So, like... what exactly are they the Champions of, anyhow?

Los Angeles! Cause California knows how to party.

6/28/2006 5:43 PM

Blogger Ragnell said...

I'm afraid to ask, but did they ever write the "justify why we're a team" story with these guys?

Or was it just Hercules hitting people. Because I'm down with Hercules hitting people.

6/28/2006 6:28 PM

Blogger Steven said...

Thank you, Mr. McMonkey, for actually reading what I wrote. (second time in as many days someone has called me out for something I clearly didn't write)

Oh, and by weakest, I meant their ability to take a punch to the face from, say, Thor.

As for their ability to bring the pain, yeah, you're definitely right, Namor's probably the weakest, and THAT is saying something right there!

6/28/2006 8:10 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Ragnell, in the story where they fight the giant super-strong retarded hobos, the Angel says that they should stick together "Because the world still needs... CHAMPIONS!"

That's about it.

And just because I can't get enough of saying it, here it is one more time: super-strong retarded hobos.

6/28/2006 9:11 PM

Anonymous Chris K said...

Tony Isabella wrote somewhere that he pitched the book as an Iceman/Angel duo, but was told by Marvel to also bring a strong guy, a girl, and someone with their own book, since that was the recipe for a successful team. Or not...

I'm really baffled by Marvel not putting this out as an Essential. That would cover the whole run plus guest appearances, and its the sort of... eccentric book that seems to thrive in that format. Much as _I_ go for this stuff, I think the "Classic" tag (and price tag) is really pushing it...

--Chris Keels

6/28/2006 9:19 PM

Blogger Chugs Taylor said...

So ultimately, the question of the ages is "which team would you rather be on-The Champions...of Los Angeles and Super Strong Retarded Hobos or Justice League Detroit".

Also, more comics need to use "BUNCH" as a sound effect.

6/28/2006 9:24 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

The "Classic" line of trades that Marvel's putting out mystifies me a little bit too, considering that a couple of their choices, like What If and The Champions would've made dandy Essentials.

But on the other hand, Omega the Unknown would leave a lot of room left over.

6/28/2006 10:55 PM

Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

Actually, 17 issues of Champions plus the Super-Villain Team-Up crossover and the Spectacular Spider-Man epilogue, that's only 19 issues, at 17 pages each, that doesn't match the minimum 24-25 issues, I think.

6/28/2006 11:49 PM

Blogger Scipio said...

"a lone scene where she's lounging on a beach in a bikini"

But... but it says she never found her place in the sun?!

I'm too dumb for Marvel, sigh...

6/29/2006 12:38 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the "bunch" is actually the sound of a major wedgie somehow given with only a kick.

6/29/2006 12:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris, I love your comedy, but you really should not dis The Defenders. On his worse day, the so-called "weak link" Namor is a lot more bad-ass than Wolverine. I hated the Busiek mini-series, but he knew that those for were worth more than the lot of the other Marvel characters. The only character that would've made that non-team more bad-ass is Capt. America. But then, they would not have been a non-team. In the future, please refrain from dissing the original bad-ass team. I'm sensitive like that.

6/29/2006 6:46 AM

Blogger Senor Cheeseburger said...

Namor is a pussy.
He has wings on his ankles... THAT MAKE HIM FLY!!! If that's not gay I don't know what is.

Wolverine would turn Namor into fish sticks. Yeah he's stronger, but last time I checked, he's half naked and isn't immune to the effects of razor sharp adamantium slicing off his limbs.

If namor was proficient with any weapons or had some sort of long rage attack... or even the ability to sneak up on him, he might have a chance. However, you have to be a pretty amazing hand-to-hand combatant to walk away from a fight with a guy with 6 razor sharp protrusions sticking out of his hands without a scratch...

Hand to hand is what he does and he's the best at what he doesn

To retiterate: Namor is a pussy.

6/29/2006 4:17 PM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

"Chris, I love your comedy, but you really should not dis The Defenders."

That's weird, I wasn't aware that refuting the "worst team ever" status that is the basis of countless Twisted Toyfare Theatre jokes by talking about how the core members were badasses and claiming that one of the latter members was "one of the greatest character ideas ever" constituted a "dis."

You crazy kids these days!

6/29/2006 10:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, you did say that, but it was in a Champions' entry. That's the dis. As I said, I'm very sensitive like that. I was also very drunk this morning from doing the urban thing. The equivalent of "Whatchoo lookin' at?!?" I'm better now. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Let's not fight again (hugs all around).

6/30/2006 1:26 AM

Anonymous The Mutt said...

Namor can go toe to toe with the Hulk.

The Hulk can go toe to toe with Thor.

Dr. Strange can whisper a few words and send them all to another dimension.

The Defenders kick ass!

The Silver Surfer is, and always will be, soooo stoooopid!

8/20/2006 8:47 PM


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