As a Champions story, this wasn’t too bad. As an Avengers story, this wasn’t too good.
We open the action with Iron Man hurtling himself towards the Championcar. As Black Widow said, “He’s diving at (us) at missile speed!” Since I just finished reading Iron Man Annual 4 where the Champs help ol’ Shell Head, to see him attacking his new/old buddies was a bit confusing. Writer Jim Shooter, who was a terrific writer back in the day and has a better handle on the Champions than the team’s regular writer Bill Mantlo, doesn’t give a lot of clues as to why Tony Stark is doing this.
Iron Man starts beating the shit out of Hercules. When Black Widow and Ice Man help their Olympian friend, they get a pretty nasty beat down too. Herc, BW and Ice Man are the only Champions that appear in this book because the others are all off doing something. It literally took Iron Man two pages to take down Ice Man and Natasha. And he did it in a douche-y way too. He crumbled a building on Black Widow, when there were a ton of bystanders around –don’t worry about collateral damage, Tony! And after Bobby encased him in ice, he used his chest beam to drill him in the back.
For the rest of the issue it was a slugfest between Hercules and Iron Man. They took turns trading punches. Hercules would punch Iron Man in the chest, IM would gasp about how he almost just died. Iron Man would punch Hercules in the mouth and Tony would wonder why Hercules wasn’t dead. Every other panel would center around Hercules asking Iron Man if he had lost his mind. Why was he attacking him? WHY?
Turns out Iron Man and the Beast were chilling at the Avengers Mansion—most of the other Avengers were still in the hospital after their recent fight with Ultron—when an Olympian Titan named Typhon came out of nowhere and captured the two Avengers. Seems as if Typhon has a score to settle with the Lion of Olympus and he heard that this was Hercules’ last known address.
Iron Man has to explain to Typhon that Hercules doesn’t live there anymore, but he’d be happy to get him. Typhon tells Stark that he better get Hercules and kill him otherwise he’s going to turn Hank McCoy into a furry blue pancake. In a wonderful moment, the Beast tells Iron Man not to do it, he doesn’t care if Typhon kills him and that he doesn’t want to be a pawn. You know what Iron Man says?
“Shut up, McCoy.”
("Fuck you, dude." That's what I would have said.)
See Tony Stark was always a dick, it wasn’t just the movies.
Typhon tells Iron Man that when Hercules makes it to New York, he has to fight him and if he sees him screwing around, he’s going to kill the Beast. By the way, Typhon is doing all of this because he’s trapped in Hades. Pluto, the ruler of Hades, said if Typhon can kill Hercules, he can leave the underworld. You may remember Pluto from Champions 1, 2 and 3. Typhon is down with that because Hercules clowned him a few years back so he can get revenge AND escape from eternal torment.
That’s win-win, in the bad guy business.
So now Iron Man has to go toe-to-toe with a demigod and his plan of telling the Black Widow is out the door because she’s knocked out thanks to falling debris. Debris, that Iron Man, made fall on her. Bad plan one.
He doesn’t want to tell Hercules what’s going on because “Typhon forced me to set up a monitor for him! He’s watching every move I make.” Okay, I know that people were kind of tech stupid back in the 1970s, but c’mon. Who’s filming this? How is the monitor that Typhon is watching picking up everything that these two guys are doing? I mean, they’re literally fighting over all of Manhattan. It’s a pretty big place. Iron Man couldn’t have whispered to Hercules his problem?
By trying to explain the holes in his story, Shooter just digs more.
Finally, Hercules and Iron Man fight their way to Avengers Mansion. Despite being glued to “his monitor”, Typhon doesn’t realize this. Maybe he’s never been to New York City before and doesn’t know where the Mansion is in relationship to where the fight was.
“Mid-town, I thought that the Mansion was downtown! Oh, fiddlesticks,” Typhon could have said. But he didn’t.
Hercules and Iron Man have pretty much exhausted themselves beating the shit out of each other. But guess who’s awake and followed their teammate to the Avengers Mansion? Ice Man and Black Widow! They try to attack the titan, but are getting the short end of the stick. All of a sudden, the Beast gets free and kicks Typhon.
Then he says, “Rottsa Ruck, Cluck!”
(Kinda concerning? BTW, that image of Typhon is ghastly.)
I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds kind of racist. I may be a little on edge after all of the shit that went down in Charlottesville this past week, but WTF Hank? Seriously? You’re doing a fake Chinese accent. And Typhon’s not even Asian, he’s Greek. You couldn’t have thrown a “Cheebugger, Cheebugger, Cheebugger!” John Belushi thing at him? Your’re better than this, man.
Anyway the Beast kicks Typhon into the air and Ice Man freezes him solid, just like they did in the X-Men days. He breaks out, but Typhon is now facing Ice Man, the Beast, Black Widow, Iron Man and Hercules. Pluto calculates the odds and realizes that Typhon isn’t going to win and brings him back to Hades. Before he goes, Typhon vows vengeance! Vengeance on the Avengers, I like that.
Iron Man apologizes to Hercules. Our Greek buddy is a stand-up dude and tells him not to worry about it. Hercules likes trading fists, so I’m sure that he was not bothered by it at all. The last panel shows the Beast having a crisis of confidence, but we won’t find out about that because that’s an Avengers’ problem, not a Champions’ problem.
A few things:
- If you’re Ice Man and you find yourself in the Avengers Mansion, do you walk around and check stuff out? I would. How many times has Bobby been invited to the Mansion? Once maybe twice? I’d walk around, go to the bathroom (number two, just to say I did it), nose through the silverware, maybe have Jarvis make me a sandwich. That would be cool (no pun). What’s Iron Man going to do, kick you out? You just saved his ass. I’d probably sprawl out on the couch, let out a big yawn and loudly say, “I could get used to a place like this! I really could!”
- Jim Shooter really is a hell of a writer. I wish that he wrote a couple of issues of the Champions. I better they’d be really good. BTW, another issue with no petty bickering between teammates. I like the Champions better when they’re in another person’s book. If I was reading this book as an Avengers fan, I don't think I would have loved it. For one thing, there was really only one Avenger: Iron Man. Beast was locked up for 95% of the book and this was a flimsy plot. Plus, it seemed like a fill-in and a favor. Like they could have printed this thing any time they felt like it. And the favor comes from getting some eyeballs on a book (The Champions) that no one is reading. Bleh.
- The cover art is great. I love George Perez, he can really draw. In fact, I think that I might like him more than John Byrne. That’s saying something. I also enjoy that the Beast calls Iron Man "Shell Head" when he's in the middle of kicking the shit out of Hercules. George Tuska’s comic art was fine. It wasn’t anything great. He does a workman’s job. Nothing awesome, but nothing terrible either.
This was a pretty good Champions story, I’d give it three disco Angels out of five. However, it was not a very good Avengers story. I’d only give it only one one-legged Wasp pants suit.
I know that it was the 1970s and the Wasp was supposed to be fashion-forward and everything, but what the hell was she thinking? Like WWIII, she's rich. Why is she flying around in a costume that looks like it was designed by a blind guy? Comics.