The Champions #12 (1977)

The Champions were a bunch of losers. Okay, that was a dorky thing to say, but when the shoe fits, as they say. The Champions were made up of a slew of second-rate Marvel heroes. There was Hercules, the partying Olympian god, formerly of the Avengers, who wore a cute little mini-skirt (okay, it wasn’t a skirt, it was some sort of vaguely mythical bottom half of the body thingy). There was also the Black Widow, who not long previously was shown as incapable of supporting even half of a comic book. Angel and Iceman made the horrible career choices of choosing the Champions over the new X-Men – maybe Professor X hated Angel’s godawful costume and wouldn’t let him join. (Though, to be nice, at least the costume wasn’t as ugly as this monstrosity.) And we can’t forget the final formal member. The fifth Champion was that motorcycling madman touched by the devil and posessed by a demon. That’s right, the Ghost Rider decided to join a group of super-heroes. If you’re keeping track, the team is made up of a loser Avenger, two loser X-Men, a loser super-heroine and a mystic force of vengeance. It had sales success written all over it!

But it’s okay if the book didn’t sell. Its sales would be driven up by the two special guest stars in Champions #12. Darkstar, a Soviet super-heroine who turned from commie into dark-force wielding hero. And lastly there was the awe inspiring Black Goliath, who had recently come off of a solo comic run that lasted a grand total of five issues, perhaps because he had the ugliest costume next to Angel’s (a bare belly really strikes fear into the hearts of evil doers, don’tcha think?)

All that said, this comic doesn’t totally suck. It has some decent art work by John Byrne and Bob Layton, very early on in their respective careers. And this is exactly the kind of workmanlike, professional and light-hearted comic for which writer Bill Mantlo is fondly remembered. It’s a very nice quarter bin find. But I just have to wonder what genius put this assemblage of losers and also-rans together and expected big sales success.

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