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Champions, The #11: Review

Feb 1977
Bill Mantlo, John Byrne

Story Name:

The Shadow from the Stars

Review & Comments

4 stars

Champions, The #11 Review by (April 25, 2023)

Review: And here’s where this series begins to be good. The art is suddenly much better than it has been so far in the series. No surprise to find it is by John Byrne. Stand-out sequences include the initial car trouble sequence and the confrontation between Natasha and the possessed Hercules. The story itself is okay though the bulk of it is hijacked by the weird Western/sci-fi plot starring shadow people. This is a bit rushed and the shadows rather easy to defeat…a little too easy. Kaa who gave Hulk a hard time in his book is herein killed by…Angel? And Hawkeye takes out the rest of the race with a single arrow? Is Bill Mantlo a joint pseudonym for Clint Barton and Warren Worthington? And does Two-Gun Kid contribute anything to the issue? Anyway, Mantlo and Byrne lift this issue above the rest of the series.

Comments: Part one of three parts. Bill Foster, longtime associate of Hank Pym starting in AVENGERS #32, became Black Goliath in POWER MAN #24-25 and had a brief self-titled series; this issue falls right after that; much later and with a name change to Goliath, he is famously killed by the Thor clone in CIVIL WAR #4. Western hero Two-Gun Kid time-traveled into the present and hung out with Hawkeye and the Avengers in AVENGERS #142-172. Kaa previously appeared in STRANGE TALES #79 and INCREDIBLE HULK #184. In a story full of shadows, it’s Iceman who jokes about the radio show, THE SHADOW. The incident referred to by Black Goliath on the final page took place in BLACK GOLIATH #3-4. The construction problems of the sky-car are mentioned again in issue #14 but never resolved. Gaspar Saladino lettered the first page. The letters page includes one by Charles H. Hungerdunger, which is a joke name from the Marx Brothers film ANIMAL CRACKERS.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Champions, The #11 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

The Champions, test-driving their new sky-car, are in danger when the controls suddenly freeze up in Black Widow’s hands and the car heads for a rooftop where Bill Foster is standing. Bill suddenly transforms into Black Goliath and catches the ship, its momentum pushing him toward the edge. Angel flies Iceman overhead where he is able to construct a platform of ice to support Black G. Introductions are made, with Bill dropping the name of Tony Stark, and Darkstar arrives, the Russian defector having been permitted to remain in the USA though the intervention of Nick Fury….

In Arizona, Johnny Blaze is riding his motorcycle through a canyon when imminent danger causes him to transform into Ghost Rider. He is then run down by a herd of stampeding cattle, destroying his bike. He creates a new cycle out of hellfire and rides away as explosive arrows seal the canyon on either side. He is captured by a sheriff and a group of ranchers but Hawkeye, accompanied by the Two-Gun Kid, arrives to vouch for him. Hawkeye tells GR they are investigating some strange phenomena in the area—and then they all discover a flying saucer over the Mesa of Lost Souls….

As Hercules holds up the sky-car, Black Goliath (who designed the ship) discovers that the craft was constructed from inferior metal which caused it to malfunction. It was built by a team led by the group’s lawyer Emerson Bale and Angel promises to look into the matter. Then they see a TV news report of the incident in Arizona and head out there in the newly repaired sky-car, joined by Darkstar with Black Goliath remaining behind….

Hawkeye, Ghost Rider, Two-Gun Kid, and the ranchers discover a race of shadow people led by Kaa who are able to control men’s minds by possessing their shadows, preparatory to invading Earth. The possessed ranchers attack the heroes just as the rest of the Champions arrive. Darkstar uses her darkfield to trap the shadows but they can easily move through darkness and try to capture her shadow. Iceman creates an ice cover to put them in the shade. Hercules tries to bash the shadows with a rock but they take over his mind and send him to kill Black Widow. In a few tense moments, Natasha is able to talk Herc though the possession and he is able to snap out of it with his divine power. Angel is possessed by Kaa himself and he fights back, flying upward until his shadow on the ground becomes so small that Kaa is killed. Hawkeye fires an explosive arrow into the alien ship and the blast of light kills all of the other shadow people….

As the heroes are saying their goodbyes, Black Goliath contacts them about a woman with the box stolen from Bill Foster’s lab and she is being pursued by…and then Stilt-Man crashes into the lab…and the box belongs to the Stranger….

John Byrne
Bob Layton
Don Warfield
Gil Kane (Cover Penciler)
Bob Layton (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Bruce Patterson.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Warren Worthington III)
Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider

(Johnny Blaze)

(Clint Barton)

Plus: Black Goliath (Bill Foster), Champions, Stilt-Man, Two-Gun Kid.

> Champions, The: Book info and issue index

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