To take full advantage of the fact that Marvel Unlimited is only 99 cents for the first month if you sign up by March 14 — which, sadly, is now in the past — Nick is trying to see how much use of the service he can get for just under a dollar. Every day, he’ll share what he read. See the previous day here.
When this column started, I knew life would ensure some days would be light reading days. This was one of them, but at least I came up with a better way to tie a theme into Day 5 and still explore a part of Marvel history that I had never seen before.
Before I get to the comics, I’ve got another small gripe with Marvel Unlimited itself that I forgot to mention during yesterday’s visit to the Milligan/Allred X-Force era. Usually, consecutive issues within a particular title are recognized as such by the app, meaning all you have to do is tap one button and you can flow easily from the end of one issue into the beginning of the next (after a short download, that is).
However, every once in a while, you come across a run that is mysteriously out of order. That happened about halfway through the X-Statix issues, forcing me to use a multiple-step process to get back out to the screen with all of the issues of X-Statix so I could pick up at the right place. Like the other technical issues with Marvel Unlimited, it’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s something that hopefully will be corrected in future updates.
Without further ado, let’s move on to the power of five, which means …
The Champions #1-12
Why I read it: While I’m a big Avengers fan, I also enjoy learning about the lesser teams of the Marvel universe. It’s hard to get much lesser and still have your own ongoing book than this team. With five heroes that literally find themselves randomly thrown together and a power structure that made the Defenders look organized by comparison, the Champions kept the West Coast safe for 17 whole issues.
What I thought: A team that was 60 percent editorial mandate, undistinguished art and wanna-be topical writing make for a poor mix. The members of the Champions band together after their first adventure just happens to find all of them — Angel, Iceman, Black Widow, Hercules(!) and Ghost Rider — on or near the campus of UCLA during a time of crisis. Hey, it worked out pretty well for Brian Michael Bendis when he first cooked up the New Avengers.
Much bickering and distrust ensues, which at first glance seems right out of the old school Marvel playbook of having the characters act like “real” people. Angel discovers he’s the heir to the family fortune, so he bankrolls the team while deferring to Black Widow for leadership. Yet Warren isn’t above acting like he thinks he’s calling the shots, and he spends at least as much time undermining or ignoring Natasha as he does following orders. Hercules is his lovable, hot-headed self, and no one really knows what to make of Ghost Rider.
Yet that’s kind of realistic for a pupu platter of a team like this one. Meanwhile, Iceman plans to quit right from the start, and Darkstar and Black Goliath just kind of show up. Also, for a group that supposedly wants to fight for the “common man” — and you have to love those references to the real life recession of the mid-70s, complete with the armored villain Rampage using it as his primary motivation — the Champions spend much of their time fighting gods, Sentinels, and even the Stranger, whose cosmic status is about as far from the day-to-day concerns of average people as you can get.
My favorite story is a multi-parter that features some Russian political intrigue and a team of villains that includes Iron Man foes Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man. Darkstar makes the obligatory face turn right after that’s over, and the book kind of limps to its demise after that. I didn’t get past issue 12, but I don’t feel like I missed too much.
There’s not much to discuss on the art side save for some very early Marvel work from John Byrne. He was just a year or two away from becoming a household name on The X-Men, but he’s already the best person in this series’ rotating team of four pencillers.
To sum up, not a complete waste of my time, but not essential reading either.
‘Til tomorrow …
Day 5 issues read: 12
Total issues read to date: 87