The Champions Classic—The Complete Collection

champions classic the complete collection cover trade paperback tpb
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10

Interesting characters and potential

Team just never got a chance to really develop

Comic Info

Comic Name:  The Champions (Volume 1)/Peter Parker, Spectacular Spider-Man/Iron Man (Volume 1)/Avengers (Volume 1)/Incredible Hulk (Volume 2)/Super-Villain Team-Up

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Writer:  Tony Isabella/Bill Mantlo/Chris Claremont/Jim Shooter/Roger Stern/John Byrne

Artist: Artist

# of Issues: 23

Release Date:  2018

champions #7 cover 1st darkstar

The Champions (1) #7

Reprints The Champions (1) #1-17, Peter Parker, Spectacular Spider-Man #17-18, Super-Villain Team-Up #14, Avengers (1) #163, Iron Man (1) Annual #4, and Incredible Hulk (1) Annual #7 (October 1975-December 1978).  California has a new batch of heroes.  When Pluto, Ares, and Hippolyta try to take Hercules from an LA campus, Iceman, Angel, Black Widow, and Ghost Rider find themselves thrown together in a battle against the gods.  When Warren Worthington puts his money behind the team, the Champions are born.  The Champions are about to discover that being a team is harder than they ever expected and just keeping the Champions together could be the biggest challenge they face.

Written by Tony Isabella, Bill Mantlo, Chris Claremont, Jim Shooter, Roger Stern, and John Byrne, The Champions Classic—The Complete Collection is a Marvel Comics superhero team-book.  The collection features art by Don Heck, George Tuska, Bob Hall, John Byrne, and Sal Buscema.  Issues in the collection were originally collected as The Champions Classic—Volume 1 and Volume 2 in addition to The Champions:  No Time for Losers, Marvel Universe by John Byrne Omnibus—Volume 1, Super Villains United:  The Complete Super-Villain Team-Up, and Marvel Universe by John Byrne Omnibus—Volume 2 among others.

The Champions are the classic team that wasn’t.  With an oddball assortment of characters, the Champions were essentially the West Coast Avengers before the West Coast Avengers.  The big grab of the series was that there were so few California superheroes at the time that it seemed logical…but logic doesn’t always dictate sales.

The characters in many ways feel like cast offs from other books that just no longer had a place.  The new X-Men didn’t need Iceman or Angel, Ghost Rider was a loner, and Hercules and Black Widow didn’t fit on the Avengers at the time.  Despite the weird combo of characters (and later the addition of the new character of Darkstar), the team was kind of enjoyable…but it didn’t have enough breathing time to let the characters really get to intermix.  There were already cliques like Iceman and Angel and Ghost Rider and Darkstar felt like outsiders…but it never got any down time to really explore the make-up of the team in the comic.

champions #15 cover swarm

The Champions (1) #15

With a new team, new “arch” villains were needed.  The comic spent a lot of time building up Rampage (who wasn’t very interesting) and it also had a few one offs.  Primarily the enemies were enemies of the individual team members…though I do like Swarm who was created for the comic.  You also got a few appearances by Black Goliath who was trying to establish himself at the time as well.

The series near the end started to fall into the desperate phase.  It crossed over with Super-Villain Team-Up (which also was struggling) and then it unceremoniously ended in Champions #17.  Oddly, the comic got a bit of coda in that the ending of the team was examined in Spectacular Spider-Man and the collection also reprints a mending of differences between Bobby and Warren in the Incredible Hulk Annual.

The Champions feels a lot like the Defenders (and both Bobby and Warren eventually did end up on that team).  The Defenders were always kind of the non-team, but they had a solid, long run to become the “non-team”.  The Champions never got their chance and it is too bad because I liked the characters and liked some of the muted relationships they were starting to develop.  Check out The Champions Classic—The Complete Collection to see how to build and how to destroy a super team.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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