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Champions, The #5: Review

Apr 1976
Tony Isabella, John Tartaglione

Story Name:

The Economy is So Bad That…

Review & Comments

3.5 stars

Champions, The #5 Review by (February 28, 2023)

Review: History lesson: There was a worldwide recession in the mid-1970s. Lesson over. This is why Rampage is called “the Everyman of super-villains…the first menace born of the Recession.”  Well, all the Everymen who own high tech armored costumes that enable them to take a punch from Hercules, at least. And, like criminals of the 1929 Depression, he is a bank robber—but concerned only with hurting the government not the ordinary people who are struggling just like him. Any real issues are over-simplified which is a good thing as this is a comic book and intended for entertainment and no one wants to hear a comic book writers political opinions (a sentiment that is sadly old-fashioned these days). So what we have is a rookie Iron Man with a streak of anger and self-pity in him, ready to distract the heroes from what would be a lot of boring business discussion on California’s laws on incorporation. An extra half star for an interesting, if not very complex, villain, setting this above the usual run of this title. 

Comments: Part one of two parts. Title is patterned like the setup to a joke. Ghost Rider does not appear in the issue as he is adventuring in Hell with Son of Satan in issues #17-19 of his own comic. First appearance/origin of Rampage (Stuart Clarke). First appearance of Emerson Bale who appears a handful of times in various comics the next few years. Irv Watanabe lettered pages 10-31, uncredited.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Champions, The #5 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Warren “Angel” Worthington meets with his family lawyer Emerson Bale and discovers that he has inherited a fortune from his late parents. Elsewhere, tech firm founder Stuart Clarke is learning from his attorney Amos Crawley that he is in serious debt and must declare bankruptcy; Clarke blames Crawley for his plight and fires the man before running off and vowing vengeance….

At UCLA, Black Widow is mulling over Angel’s plan to form a regular team of Champions; Ivan Petrovich warns her that team-ups have always resulted in her being hurt. Natasha thinks the Champions are different, being a team-up of loners. On the nearby football field, some players are trying to explain the game to Hercules. They challenge him to carry the ball across the goal line while they try to stop him. Herc just plows through them and still doesn’t see the point of the game. Richard Fenster, the college’s lecture agent, has just learned he’s been fired and must break the same news to Herc and Natasha. Suddenly Angel and Iceman arrive to (literally) sweep him off his feet and offer him the job of the Champions’ business manager….

Stuart Clarke visits his shuttered lab and dons an exo-skeleton uniform designed for the police but Clarke lost the contract to Stark. After a brief debate with his conscience, Clarke, soon to be dubbed “Rampage” by the media, decides to rob FDIC-insured banks, that way the only loser will be the government he blames for his economic woes….

Warren meets with Hercules, Black Widow, and Ivan at a classy restaurant to outline his plans for a permanent team of Champions. Meanwhile, Bobby “Iceman” Drake is on his way to the meeting and he is debating whether he wants to be a superhero at all, planning to leave the Champions at the earliest opportunity. Walking past a bank, he spots Rampage inside, ripping the vault door off its hinges. Changing into Iceman, he slips in and Rampage punches him through the window and into the street. The villain means to follow up but the other Champions, alerted by the nation’s only instantaneous news report, arrive on the scene. Rampage holds his own versus Hercules and can quickly shatter a giant ice cube Bobby forms around him. The melee continues until Rampage seizes the unconscious Angel and threatens to ram his fist through the hero’s skull….

John Tartaglione
John Tartaglione
Janice Cohen
Rich Buckler (Cover Penciler)
Frank Giacoia (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: Don Heck. Letterer: John Costanza.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Warren Worthington III)
Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Ivan Petrovich
Ivan Petrovich

(Ivan Petrovich Bezukhov)

Plus: Champions, Rampage.

> Champions, The: Book info and issue index

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