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Champions, The #1: Review

Oct 1975
Tony Isabella, Don Heck

Story Name:

The World Still Needs…the Champions!

Review & Comments

3 stars

Champions, The #1 Review by (January 31, 2023)

Review: When I was a dumb kid, I made up a story which showed a three-way battle for power between the Mummy (Kharis), the Phantom of the Opera, and Godzilla, who for this exercise had been shrunk to human size. How could anyone devise such an oddball scenario? Simple, those were the three Aurora model kits I had to use as fragile action figures. If I had had anything else, that would have gone into the weird mix as well. So why am I bringing this up now? Well, every time I see the Champions, Marvel’s strangest team, I think of that stupid story. Why? Because the members of the team seem to have been chosen based on which action figures the writer found at the bottom of a drawer. Check it out: a Greek god, a sexy spy, a demon-possessed biker, and two ex-X-Men (including Angel whose mutant power was “wings”). And I did buy their comic faithfully in the 70s! Really, I did, even though I was old enough to know better (complete set still in the basement)! And even then Marvel didn’t seem to have any strong commitment to the series with its irregular publishing schedule and constantly shifting creative teams, most of whom were not seen at their best. Even Tony Isabella, who came up with the concept, is gone after scripting only five of the first seven issues. The early series is rather pedestrian, rarely rising above the mediocre. To my surprise, with issue #11, Bill Mantlo’s writing much improves and John Byrne takes over as artist and the quality rises, though it never quite overcomes the oddball teaming. But the last seven issues are a lot better than the first ten.

Comments: Part one of three parts. First appearance/origin of the Champions though technically they do not become a team until issue #5. Hercules is coming off a guest run in THOR #221-238. Black Widow has just left her co-starring role in DAREDEVIL #81-124. Iceman and Angel left the X-Men for college in X-MEN #94. Ghost Rider is between issues #13-14 of his book. Ivan Petrovich returns in issue #4. First appearance of Richard Fenster, whose snarky comment about a “scrawny, mop-haired New York writer” is likely a dig at Roy Thomas. Venus had her own Marvel series from 1948-1951 for 19 issues; her first Silver Age appearance was SUB-MARINER #57, where she first had the identity of Victoria Starr; this is her second Silver Age appearance. Cerberus’ only Marvel appearance was in THOR #130. The mutates were previously seen in THOR #163-164; this is the first appearance of the harpies and the Amazons. Hippolyta (in DC Comics, the mother of Wonder Woman) previously appeared in THOR #127-128; later a member of the all-female Fearless Defenders. Pluto and Ares are frequent foils for Thor and Hercules


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Champions, The #1 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

On the UCLA campus, new students Bobby Drake and Warren Worthington meet and agree that college life isn’t what they expected. Suddenly, a portal opens up in the air and harpies emerge, attacking everyone in sight. Bobby and Warren become the ex-X-Men Iceman and Angel and fight back against the invaders….

Elsewhere on campus, Natasha Romanoff and her mentor Ivan Petrovich wait in a classroom as Natasha is applying for the position of Russian language teacher. Suddenly, a portal opens up there and a band of Amazonian warriors emerges, looking for Venus; Ivan fights them but he is quickly overcome. Humanities professor Dr. Victoria Starr enters the room and is recognized as the goddess Venus. Natasha has by this time donned her Black Widow outfit and is fighting to protect Venus. The Widow seizes her charge and swings her outdoors and away on a cord….

Johnny Blaze is riding his motorcycle near the UCLA campus when he notices the commotion. He rides over to investigate and the presence of danger causes him to transform into the Ghost Rider. He is confronted by an armored giant calling himself Cerberus. A blast of hellfire makes the giant decide to turn into a giant (one-headed) purple dog and pursue Ghost Rider….

At the school auditorium, Hercules has arrived, hired to lecture on Mythology by agent Richard Fenster. Another portal opens and a gang of mutates emerges to attack Herc and he responds, causing such mayhem that they crash through a wall and outside where Ghost Rider spots him. GR rescues Herc, after a hasty explanation that he’s a good guy. They come upon the harpies and the Amazons pursuing Venus, Black Widow, and the two ex-X-Men. Herc punches out his old enemy Cerberus, GR blasts hellfire at the harpies, Iceman freezes out the Amazons, Angel lifts Venus high into the air where she overcomes the mutates with love power. As the disparate heroes stop to try to figure out what is going on, another portal opens and they are all blasted into weakness. Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, accompanied by Ares and Hippolyta, conveys a message from Zeus that Venus must wed Ares and Hercules marry Hippolyta or the universe dies…. 

Don Heck
Mike Esposito
Petra Goldberg
Gil Kane (Cover Penciler)
Dan Adkins (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Dave Hunt.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Warren Worthington)
Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider

(Johnny Blaze)
Ivan Petrovich
Ivan Petrovich

(Ivan Petrovich Bezukhov)

Plus: Cerberus, Champions, Hippolyta, Pluto (Hades), Venus.

> Champions, The: Book info and issue index

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