I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got five new comics:

  • X-O Manowar – 1
  • Epic Kill −1
  • Stormwatch – 9
  • Supreme – 64
  • Avengers vs X-Men Round One Variant Edition (I bought this one just so I could draw my own cover. It’s one of the blank covered ones you can draw on.)
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read recently.

    ”The Champions” #s 11-15 by Bill Mantlo and John Byrne

    I wasn’t planning on reading these issues but I pulled them down off the shelf to lend to someone so I thought I’d give them a read first. I probably haven’t read them since my high school days in the early 80s but these issues are from around 1977. I used to have the complete run of “The Champions” from issue one until this final issue fifteen but I got rid of the others years ago. I don’t remember them being very good.

    I kept these ones because of the John Byrne art. Back in those days his art could lift even a mediocre story into the category of good story. I usually liked Bill Mantlo’s writing back in the day and it’s okay here but the art is the real treat. The Champions were a weird team, Angel, Iceman, Hercules, The Black Widow, and Ghost Rider, and the writers on the book never had a good handle on what to do with them. These issues were a cut above the rest of the series but still not anywhere near memorable. Except for the villain, Swarm, who is made out of bees I didn’t remember anything of these issues.

    They have the hallmarks of 1970s Marvel comics. A near omniscient third person narrator, thought balloons, and lots of action. The writing might seem old fashioned to some but it’s well crafted. There are even cliffhangers within the book as they change scenes. Since we live in a world of decompressed storytelling I haven’t seen that in a while. It was fun to read.

    Even as a kid I thought “The Champions” should have been a better book than it was. I liked all the characters and wanted it all to work but somehow it never did. Even way back when it was a forgotten book soon after it was cancelled. These Byrne drawn issues were certainly the strongest of the lot and solid comics but even they missed the mark a little bit. Still the strongest story was the last one, the two parter with Swarm, so maybe Mantlo and Byrne could have pulled it together if they had a few more issues to work with. But they didn’t. If you’re in the mood for a little late 70s Marvel nostalgia these aren’t bad books to pick up.