For some strange reason, I have been obsessed with the mid-70s Marvel Comic superhero team, the Champions. I’m not sure exactly why because I came of age reading comics in the 80s, well after the Champions’ “hay day” – and hay day is in quotes because they never really had a hay day. But I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I had heard of all the members, but I never really heard of the team. This was pre-internet days and I didn’t know anyone who knew anything about them. And then they were gone only two years after they showed up.
I remember getting issue 16 in a trade with my friend* once and it blew my mind. Ghost Rider, Hercules, Black Widow, Darkstar, Angel and Ice Man fighting Magneto AND Doctor Doom, with an assist from the Beast and the Hulk? I must’ve read it a dozen times. It was bananas. The team itself was such a randomly thrown together crew: two ex-X-men, a couple of old, not-too-popular Avengers (this is before Scarlett Johanson was Black Widow), a Soviet Super Soldier and Ghost Rider? The hell was this about?
* My friend just wasn't "my friend", she was a girl for one thing and the first girl that I remember liking. This trade was made in fourth or fifth grade. I don't remember what I gave her for it, I just remember being alone in her room and making the deal.
I just wrote a few paragraphs about this team and if you’ve scratching your head wondering why you’ve never heard of them, don’t be discouraged, like I said not many people had. They weren’t that popular. When people did bring them up (in both comics and real life), they were usually the butt of a joke.
So they’re not the Avengers or the X-Men or even the Defenders, but I kept thinking about this weird team. Even when I stopped collecting comics, this was the one comic that I’d think about. Maybe I just wanted to know more about them, make some sense of this crazily constructed roster. I read as much stuff as I could find on the Internet (not a lot) and with an Amazon gift card burning a hole in my pocket, I ended up buying “Marvel Masterworks: The Champions Volume I*”. What I plan on doing over the next few weeks is to read all of those issues and write them up on this blog.
I’m sure you’ll love it, so stay tuned.
* I’m not sure why Marvel felt the need to include “Volume I” in the title. This book has literally every single appearance of the Champions in it. I don’t think that there is anything left.** And I know that Marvel just put out a new Champions team last year—this team is made up of younger heroes—but that wouldn’t count here.
** This just in, I guess the Champions were also in a Marvel Godzilla comic, but Marvel's rights to Godzilla lapsed, so they aren't included in this treasury. I guess I'll have to search for that one.