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Champions, The #14: Review

Jul 1977
Bill Mantlo, John Byrne

Story Name:

The Creature Called…Swarm!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Champions, The #14 Review by (May 16, 2023)

Review: “Not the bees! Not the bees!” Well, yes, the bees: Swarm is a pretty cool looking villain and his half of the story is a lot of fun. The other half of the story: Herc and Iceman fighting machinery is a familiar trope and this one reveals another plot thread never pursued: like the sky-car malfunction in issue #11, the revolt of the team’s defensive hardware is never mentioned again. Signs of preparation for a plot that was scrapped with the book’s cancellation? Very likely. And we have a couple of bits of characterization: Bobby is insecure about his age, feeling like he is not being taken seriously. Meanwhile, Ghost Rider resents Darkstar because she was quickly accepted by the group that is still wary of him. Of course, he overlooks the fact that she’s a cute babe and he looks like a demon from Hell (because technically he is one). So, pretty cool issue.

Comments: Part one of two parts. First appearance of Swarm. Last appearance of Ivan Petrovich in this title; his next appearance is in DAREDEVIL #188. Ivan’s son Yuri appeared as the bad guy in issues #7-10. Rampage was the villain in issues #5-6. Iceman refers to himself as “that lil’ ol’ Iceman, me” parodying the advertising slogan of Italian Swiss Colony wines, “that little old winemaker, me,” which ad campaign was defunct by the time of this comic (and actor Ludwig Stossel dead). John Byrne listed as co-plotter. Gaspar Saladino lettered the first page. And, wait…the sky-car is called the Champscraft in this issue. Seriously.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Champions, The #14 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

At the Champions headquarters, Hercules is suddenly attacked by the defense machinery with the computer calling him an intruder; he fights back as only Hercules can. In another room, Bobby Drake, concerned with not being taken seriously by the rest of the team, is trying on a new costume he has devised. A chunk of machinery crashes by and through a window, plummeting toward pedestrians below; as Iceman, Bobby coats the falling machine with ice, creating a pylon that arrests its descent. He then investigates and discovers Herc battling steel tentacles….

At the docks in Santa Monica Bay, Ivan Petrovich is departing for Russia to reconnect with his son, the new Crimson Dynamo. Black Widow, Darkstar, and Johnny Blaze are there to see him off with varying levels of sentiment. (We are also informed that Ivan’s real reason for leaving involves Nick Fury—and once on the ship he is confronted by a man with a gun.) Meanwhile, a terrified man clutching a briefcase disembarks from the ship and runs along the pier, pursued by a purple-caped figure. Packing crates burst open, freeing giant mechanical bees on the man; Johnny turns into Ghost Rider from the sense of danger and the Champions swing into action and battle the bees….

Back at headquarters, Herc and Iceman are battling the building itself; when they have destroyed one piece of equipment, another one activates to attack them. Iceman hurries to the control room to shut down the system but he is attacked by the bodiless Rampage armor while Herc is confronted with a bulky android….

At the docks, the Champs are fighting the bees and the frightened man is confronted by Swarm, a purple-cloaked man who is composed of bees; he sics the bees on the man who is swiftly stung to death. Then the bees, live and mechanical, depart. Natasha, Laynia, and GR find the man’s body and learn from his ID that he was an INTERPOL agent. Natasha contacts headquarters for Iceman to bring the sky-car but there is no answer…

…as Iceman is fighting for his life against the Rampage armor; he tricks the armor into punching the generator controls, destroying the armor and shutting off the electricity to the offices. The huge android attacking Hercules falls over as the rooms are turned dark. Some investigation leads Bobby to conclude it was due to faulty building materials. Natasha, Johnny, and Laynia arrive and Nat is angry that Bobby and Herc missed an urgent call. The Angel crashes through the window and tells his teammates to look at the skies: they are blackened with a massive swarm of bees….

Characters: Champions, Hercules, Black Widow, Iceman, Angel, Ghost Rider, Darkstar, Ivan Petrovich, Swarm,

John Byrne
Mike Esposito
Glynis Oliver
Gil Kane (Cover Penciler)
Al Milgrom (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Irv Watanabe.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Warren Worthington III)
Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider

(Johnny Blaze)
Ivan Petrovich
Ivan Petrovich

(Ivan Petrovich Bezukhov)

Plus: Champions, Swarm.

> Champions, The: Book info and issue index

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