Didja Know... The Champions
Didja Know digs into downright delightful details from across the merry Marvel Multiverse!
Didja Know digs into the fun facts, strange stories, and divine details that helped build the hallowed halls of the House of Ideas!
Let’s rap a bit, heroes: You know the mighty Marvel Universe was built on foundation blocks like the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the X-Men…but what about our lesser-known collections of cavortin’ costumed crazies? Like, say—the Champions?
Maybe you’ve heard of ‘em or maybe you don’t know ‘em any better’n you know Irving Forbush, but we here at Didja Know Central just love ‘em and feel they just don’t get their due. To that end, we want to lay some Champions goodness on you at a time when we all need a champion or three in our lives. Sound good? Okay, then set ol’ Doc Doom’s time machine for 1975...and away we go!
Didja Know… no team ever featured a line-up quite like the Champions?
Listen, the Champions roster wasn’t just nuts, it was crazy nuts—and we mean that in the greatest way possible! Any other team might have a Hulk, or a Spider-Man, maybe even a Wolverine, but the Champions had ‘em all beat when it dominated the Marvel Age of Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Memberships!
So, back in CHAMPIONS (1975) #1 readers were introduced to the core line-up consisting of ex-X-Men Iceman and Angel, the deadly Black Widow, the hunky Hercules, and just for grins and giggles, the ghoulish Ghost Rider. And they made it work! Okay, sure, Black Widow took the leadership lines after a few issues to bolster the boys into a furious fighting unit, but in our humble opinion the Champions hung together out of sheer orneriness!
Later on in the title’s 17-issue run, the team added more allies like the Russian Darkstar and the ginormous Black Goliath—oh, and battlin’ bowman Hawkeye and the Two-Gun Kid helped ‘em out on an adventure—but instead of making things more muddled, it cemented the Champions place in the House of Ideas’ hallowed Hall of Fame…for loony line-ups.
Didja Know… no team ever faced a fun-fest of foes quite like the Champions?
They say a hero’s only as good as their villains, and if that’s the case then the Champions rank right up there with the rest of Marvel’s Mount Olympus of teams—because, Bunky, they fought a variety of villains like you wouldn’t believe!
We mean, right off the bat in the first two issues they went straight to heck in a playful pattycake with Pluto, the god of the underworld. Later, the team tussled with everybody from cosmic cut-ups like the Stranger and Kamo Tharn, big-name baddies like Doctor Doom, Magneto, and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and even low-level losers like Stilt-Man and…well, Stilt-Man. Throw in the likes of the Griffin and ol’ Warlord Kaa from Marvel’s monster mags and it’s a wonder the Champions survived even 17 mags!
Hey, while we’re thinkin’ of it, they also debuted two new opponents that went on to spread their blasphemous badness across other books. The exo-skeleton-wearing Rampage made his mark in CHAMPIONS (1975) #5 and much later allied himself with the Punisher, and in CHAMPIONS (1975) #14, Swarm set himself on a bee-line to evil that eventually led him to dust-ups with Spider-Man, the Avengers, and the Thunderbolts.
Didja Know… no other team ended up quite like the Champions?
As the poet pontificates, all good things must end, effendi…and the Champions, too. The team saw a nearly endless cycle of creative teams, but it did actually end—but not in CHAMPIONS. That little honor was awarded to a certain wall-crawling Web-Head of our mutual acquaintance.
So, not long after CHAMPIONS (1975) #17 came and went, the true coda for the squad played out in the very long-winded PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN (1976) #17. Ignoble? Maybe. A mercy? Possibly. But look at it this way, Charlie, at least they got a last hurrah, huh?
The story involves Spidey headin’ out to L.A. to photograph the final minutes of the Champions as a titanic team. There he finds the Angel holding down the fort—literally! We mean, Champions Tower was falling apart! Then Rampage stuck his exo-skeleton nose into the proceedings along with Iceman and, hmm, it was pretty fun, now that we think about it. So fun it carried over into—deep breath now—PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN (1976) #18. Whew!
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