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The Champions
Glen Davis
post Nov 3 2008, 02:37 PM
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The Champions are a name filled with controversy and cult love.

The first hero named The Champ was a Frank Merriwell type super athlete who just happened to run into a lot of gangsters and crooks and went on whacky adventures.

And there's the immortal figure The Champion of the Universe at Marvel who roams the cosmos looking for fights.

But the real subject of the topic is the two groups known as the Champions. The 1970s Marvel supergroup, and the 1980s to now comic based on the role playing game.

The Marvels Chamions got started because Marvel decided that group books were hot. Tony Isabella gathered together some of the most eclectic heroes in the Marvel U. Hercules, Angel, Iceman, Black Widow, and The Ghost Rider. Unfortunately, the members had nothing in common, and no real reason to be together.

The raison d'etre of the team was that they were to be the "team of the common man" but no one really knew what that meant, not even the team members.

The team saw multiple creative teams, and with each change, the direction of the feature veered off. There was a detente style espionage superhero adventure, a cosmic type adventure, and a weird menace type adventure and in each one, at least one member did not fit at all. They kept adding members, like Darkling, because the team needed more Russians, I guess, And then they had multiple guest stars like Black Goliath, Hawkeye, The Two Gun Kid, all perceived as potential new members. The only orignal villain created was a nonentity called Rampage, a man who lost his job due to the recession and created a supersuit to hire out for money. Billed as the Super Villain who could be YOU, the letter pages filled with letter protesting.

The weirdness and wild changes of direction made the team unique, and they are fondly remembered, even though the series itself was shortlived.

The other Champions were based on the role playing game of the same name.

The members were Flare, Rose, The Marksman, Giant, Icestar with some other additions. As you can tell by their names, most of the members were fairly derivative. Published first by Eclipse (Who also published another RPG superhero comic Villains and Vigilantes, which I've never seen), then by Heroic, the series suffered some fairly major problems, like bad writing and art, and the seemingly inevitable distribution and time problems. Somehow, the comic survives even to the present day, even though the only true breakout character is a villain, FoxBat, with his pop gun.

A couple of years ago, the time seemed right for a return of the Marvel Champions, but due to a trademark controversy with Heroic, it never came to pass. In this case, Heroic publing won, but the consumers lost.
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G-Man
post Nov 3 2008, 07:56 PM
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THE CHAMPIONS



HERCULES, PRINCE OF POWER



THE LOVELY, BUT DEADLY BLACK WIDOW



JOHNNY BLAZE....THE GHOST RIDER



THE HIGH FLYING ANGEL



THE ONE AND ONLY....ICE MAN



THE MYSTERIOUS DARK STAR

Man....I loved me some Champions. I have every issue of that series plus every guest appearnce they ever made(that I remember)...in books such as the Avengers #163..



....Iron Man Annual #4 ....



....Super Villain Team Up #14 .....



.....Godzilla #3...



...the disbanding of the team and the return of Rampage in Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man #17 and #18 ....





....and even the "flashback" stories in Giant Size Hulk #1(2006)...



and Incredible Hercules #114.




The Champions wasn't a team just thrown together by Tony Isabella as many people believe....a lot more thought went into the membership of that book than many people know. At first the book was only supposed to be a book that featured just the Angel and Ice Man....two old friends from the original X-Men line up that Marvel thought could carry their own title. Marvel decided at the last minute that perhaps those two characters should be the core of group built around them....and other members were considered.

Hercules and the Black Widow were suggested to bring in ties not only to the X-Men book but the Avengers as well. During the time Herc and Natasha were members in the Champions they got "really close" which made every appearance that the two of them made in the Avengers book, after the Champions disbanded, all that much better. Natasha also got her first trial by fire as a leader while in the Champions....which was a stepping stone to later leading the Avengers with Hercules a member in that Avengers line-up.

(Last of the good Avengers stories from Vol. one of that book written by Bob Harras and art by Steve Epting and Tom Palmer).

Tony was also writing the Ghost Rider at the time the Champions was launched so Tony brought Johnny along for the ride. Pun most definitely intended.

True the Champions didn't last long as a team or a book...but they were getting so much better right when the book got cancelled when Bill Mantlo and John Byrne was on the book.....and although Rampage was the only villain created for the team the villain I think of the most when I think of the Champions is Swarm.



As Glen did hit upon...the team did lack a common thread...and I thought that could be achieved. It just so happened that time ran out on them and the book was cancelled with issue #17.

I tried my very best to resurrect the Champions and give them that common goal in a six issue story I submitted to Marvel during their doomed Epic Comics launch a few years back. The story was called "This Evil Rising" and featured Rasputin as the main villain and I also tossed in Omega Red.

If anybody is interested that script for my version of Champions #1 and plotlines for issues #2-6 can be read by clicking on the following link.

http://www.zonetrooper.com/index.php?optio...ry=2&type=0

I also added another favorite Marvel character of mine who I thought needed to appear more in their comics somewhere. Anywhere. Brian Michael Bendis must have thought the same thing....he would later make her a member of the New Avengers.

Keep in mind when reading this that this story was for Epic....an offshot of Marvel.....so the story doesn't exactly fit perfectly into the Marvel timeline. There are references to the rumor that started when Morrison was writing Uncanny X-Men that the Beast was gay, Jean Grey was still alive, Ice Man was wearing that ridiculous purple leather trench coat, Warren was bankrupt and orphaned at an early age, Johnny Blaze was free of the curse of the Ghost Rider....and everybody knew that Tony Stark was Iron Man.

I actually had the first twelve issues of this thing plotted out and upcoming issues would have revealed that Cain and Abel wre the first mutants on Earth. William Shakespere and Christopher Columbus were also mutants, and would have featured future guest appearances by Daredevil and Spider-Man in a story that Warren learned a company that he owned but had forgotten about was actually distrubuting underground porn films....some of which featured Dardevil's murdered girlfriend...Karen Page.

I also had a Ghost Rider solo issue that had him face off against the villain Speed Freak last seen in Incredible Hulk #430.



And had plans for an original villain that I created to battle Angel and Ghost Rider called Moto Pyscho.

For whatever reason....I was shot down.

An interesting side note.....a Marvel intern named Amanda working in the Marvel offices in fall of 2004 came across the Champions material and liked it so much she called me. (I still remember the day September 13th). She wanted me to write the new Moon Knight series that Marvel was about to launch. She asked me to send her a page or two that detailed what I would do with the character if I got the chance to write the book and she was going to use whatever leverage she had to "get it in the right hands."

I wrote out a detailed two page story idea and mailed it to her. Unfortunately....it appeared that as an intern...Amanda didn't quite have the same clout that a certain Mr.Claremont did.

God Bless you for trying, girl.

So needless to say....the Champions....and Moon Knight will also have a special place in my heart.


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"Reality is only for those who lack imagination" don't know who first said that....but it works for me!
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Glen Davis
post Nov 3 2008, 11:03 PM
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Not bad.

Bet they told you to get to the action quicker, though. I think they told that to over 90% of applicants.

My rejection slip says the same thing.
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G-Man
post Nov 4 2008, 07:24 AM
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What did you submit?

And actually....I think my rejection said something like the story didn't represent what they wanted in the Epic line....the same line of comics that only got an one-shot antholgy book before the entire idea was folded.


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"Reality is only for those who lack imagination" don't know who first said that....but it works for me!
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Glen Davis
post Nov 5 2008, 01:11 PM
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My pitch was about Johnny Storm street racing.
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G-Man
post Nov 5 2008, 04:52 PM
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That sounds awesome!!Too bad they didn't pick that up. That's a side of that character that we rarely see (saw more of it in the movies than in the comics in recent times).....and supposedly the exact type of story they were looking for.

That whole ordeal left a really sour taste in my mouth.

Bill Jemas.....what a pumpkin head!!! mad.gif


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"Reality is only for those who lack imagination" don't know who first said that....but it works for me!
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Glen Davis
post Nov 5 2008, 07:38 PM
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I sent it in the first week they took submissions, Got a rejection slip, then fixed it according to their specifications. To be fair, I think the criticism helped me to craft a better story.

Then I sent it back in and never got anything back. Oh well. At least I learned something.
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G-Man
post Nov 6 2008, 10:22 AM
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I was working with a local artist (Chris Metzger) on the Champions project.

Find out more about Chris here.

http://www.comicrelated.com/commentary/lif...ors_080829.html

I'm hoping to be able to get some of the artwork he did for the Champions on the site for everybody to check out....His Dark Star was incredible...as was Herc and Angel.

Anyway Metzger was sure Marvel nixed our project because I used Rasputin in the script as the main villain. He was just used as the villain in the Hellboy books and upcoming (at that time) movie.





I knew nothing about that when I wrote the script...and even if I did I would have changed nothing....my Rasputin is totally different than Mignola's version of the character. Actually I wanted the visuals for our Rasputin to take some hints from the animated version that appeared in the Anstasia film that featured the voice of Meg Ryan.



Chris did a great job of taking elements from that version and mixing it with real life photos of the "Mad Monk", which I always thought were quite eerie.



I still think the script got the "no go" treatment because the first issue had too much exposition concerning the Russian Revolution.



Mainstream comics tend to shy away from stories that make readers think . You would think that the success of Alan Moores League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell, and V For Vendetta books would be enough to say you can incorporate history and comics and make it work.

Other projects that have done a good job with that.....Neil Gaiman's 1602, and a lot of small press books like the Serial Squad, Pistolfist, and Blackbeard Legacy have done an excellent job of this as well.

Oh well....as mentioned....Epic became history as well and it looks like niether of us really missed out on anything.

On to bigger and better things.


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"Reality is only for those who lack imagination" don't know who first said that....but it works for me!
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