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Champions, The #4: Review

Mar 1976
Chris Claremont, George Tuska

Story Name:

Murder at Malibu!

Review & Comments

3 stars

Champions, The #4 Review by (February 21, 2023)

Review: Another fairly basic tale with a villain controlling some of the heroes and forcing them to fight their friends. A lesser effort from Chris Claremont, who had his plate full with the X-Men at this time. Familiar art by George Tuska—check out the teeth on the characters! Minimal plot is padded out with fight scenes while we wonder how any villain could mind control the Black Widow or Hercules but then recall that comics characters were a little less developed in the 1960s and 70s so they had some weaknesses that would be eliminated over the decades. But even in the 70s, Angel and Iceman holding their own against Hercules was a strange sight. And it’s nice to see that Ivan is okay after issue #1 when the Amazons beat him up.

Comments: The team belatedly gets its name on the final page, courtesy of Angel. Only appearance of Dr. Edward Lansing. Bobby Drake is seen holding an X-MEN comic book. Only issue of the series written by Chris Claremont. The letters page includes one by future columnist/comic book fan Danny Tyree.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Champions, The #4 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Black Widow and Hercules walk along a California beach, talking over their last adventure in Olympus. Suddenly, they are attacked by a madman who is strong enough to overcome Hercules and fight Nat until Herc recovers and beats up their foe. The bad guy turns out to be an elderly (and frightened) man who calls himself Billy. Then six armed men appear from the sea to capture Billy; Herc stands up to them and is shot with their guns….

Hercules and Black Widow recover and find themselves prisoners in a rundown psychiatric hospital in San Marine. Their captor is Dr. Edward Lansing and he plans to keep Herc under control with a collar that delivers a shock to Nat when he misbehaves. Lansing is trying to recreate the Super-Soldier Serum, using the hospital’s inmates as guinea pigs. For now, the treatment turns the subjects either simple or vicious. And now he has two new subjects….

At Warren Worthington’s beachfront cabin, Ivan Petrovich is worried about Natasha’s absence but Angel and Iceman aren’t so concerned. Then Hercules smashes through the wall, followed by Black Widow and several super-strong inmates. Lansing manipulates the two heroes with a control box and having them kill their friends will complete their conditioning. But then Ghost Rider arrives and takes on Hercules with the help of Iceman and Angel. Black Widow fights Ivan but seeing her friend at her mercy causes her to snap out of her conditioning. She attacks Lansing, dodges his gunfire, knocks the control box out of his hands and smashes it. He runs for safety to his mutated inmates but the control box was for them too and they kill him….

Later, Herc bemoans the inmates, innocent victims of a villain; Angel admits there is evil but it is up to them to help the helpless as the Champions!

George Tuska
Vince Colletta
Phil Rachelson
Rich Buckler (Cover Penciler)
Frank Giacoia (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.

> Champions, The: Book info and issue index

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