Saturday, November 27, 2010

Champions #5 & #6

In the 80’s it was starting to occur to people in the comics industry that in fact, they had readers over the age of eleven and certain publishers decided to include things catering to those older readers. We see one such thing that would become a hallmark of this comic’s style when Flare comes out of the shower in a towel. With some prodding she tells Rose about her backstory.

She and her three siblings were raised by escaped Nazi scientists who bred them to have superhuman powers. Her sister Olga had electric powers, brother Thomas was super-strong, and brother Philip could change himself to look like anyone he wanted. And he became her lover. Because light hurt him and he didn’t want to have to worry about her fighting him.

And the comics want you to see her as this unspoiled paragon of glamor.
Before this can get any more disturbing they hear the explosion of “Malace” resurfacing downstairs.

Stick with being goddess of spring, goddess of proofreading isn't working out for ya.
The Champions try to fight back, but caught flatfooted by an angry goddess they’re quickly overwhelmed, with Rose, Donnah (who’s now a brunette, although at least they’ve stuck with that since) and the doctor captured and Icestar chucked out the roof. Marksman and Flare escape to regroup. And save Icestar from falling back to earth if they remember.

Donnah turns back into the DM, who proposes a partnership. Amused by his offer, Malice hands over the soul shards, allowing him to complete the Hellfire Crown at last.

The Champions retreat to their base, but Marksman has no luck calling in the reserves.

Incidentally, after moving to another publisher they later put out an expanded reprint of the original mini-series. One that showed Dove is actually a woman.

Foxbat shows up having bypassed their security with no trouble. Let’s chalk that up to the base still being a mess from the battle in the second issue and move on. Despite Flare wailing on him, he still wants to help them out, warning that DEMON has Giant’s family and probably Giant by now too. He adds that DM’s going to attack soon to prove his worth to Malice.

That's the company line, anyway.
Flare’s not happy that the others are willing to hear Foxbat out and goes for a lap, where she sees Giant but it turns out he was bait to lure her into a trap. Yeah, he’s being coerced to help DEMON in exchange for his family under the stipulation that nobody gets killed.

For being the first in the business you'd hope he'd know better.

Also like how he says "especially not Flare." Over his family, that is. The one he decided was more important than being a superhero.

Malice attacks Flare, and says she could kill the blonde bombshell like she could’ve killed Rose or Dr. Arcane.

If I did, the company would be out a flagship character!
Giant, DM and Malice attack the base but Giant changes sides when DM tries to fry Foxbat. Deciding he’s done playing around, DM unleashes the crown’s full power and enlarges into a giant as the issue ends.

This issue’s sheet is for Marksman and some of his favorite gadgets.

Nothing too mentionable other than his only real “power” being a genetic gift for longevity and the fact that he’s probably in his mid-50’s. Which will make things kind of weird when the book starts pushing him and Rose together (she's eighteen at the time of this storyline).

Wait, weren’t we promised Giant and DM in a battle to the death in this issue? Don’t you hate it when–

Oh, there we go.

The issue opens briefly on the DEMON base where Rose is thrown in with the real Donnah and Dr. Arcane after being raped and beaten by the guards.

This has the traumatic effect of Rose having short hair for a few issues.

Rose’s powers have been suppressed as a precaution, but she has just enough to spark Donnah’s latent magical potential and turn her into the new Dr. Arcane to help them bust out.

Back at the Champion HQ, Giant goes toe-to-toe with DM, and even having his wife and son around to threaten fails to get him to back off. Although Malice points out he couldn’t hear what’s going on so far away anyway. She also confirms what you were probably thinking, that DM is Flare’s incestuous shapeshifter brother. Man did this comic take a turn for the dark last issue.

Malice tries to hedge her bets by cozying up to Icestar (must not want to exert herself), which Giant is somehow able to hear in the midst of a fight with an evil wizard-god.

His wife remarks that Giant’s harness was meant for her father, so it’s not as effective on her husband for some reason. It certainly doesn’t make him any smarter as he forgets about fighting DM to grab Malice, allowing DM to grab him from behind and fry him.

Welcome back to more Great Moments in Stupidity!

Giant tells himself he has to think, but rather than thinking about a way to counterattack he thinks about how he became a hero.

And this is why you should stay focused in the middle of a super-fight. One to grow on.
Everyone’s taken back to DEMON HQ and Malice is thrown in the brig with the others with her powers blocked for trying to play both sides. Donnah promises to restore her powers if she’ll bring Dr. Arcane out of his stupor, which she does, and once out of the cell they spring Foxbat and start fighting their way out.

Upstairs DM’s wining and dining Flare, Icestar and Marksman with Giant’s harness hung up as a trophy. For her part, Flare’s had enough and blows him through a wall. She starts tearing up the base with her light blasts channeled through the crown, but it’s not until she shoots the vino DM’s trying to drink in the middle of all this out of his hand that he calls foul.

You were going to rule the world, were you?
Despite being fed up with his games she agrees to hear him out and he turns on the charm. She loses it all over again and kills him with a point-blank light blast, leaving him a skeletal husk.

As the dust settles Foxbat and Malice have gone missing, but Malice shows up again to finish off DM and retake the power she gave him. Bet we won’t be seeing her again.

The final character sheets of the miniseries are for Dr. Arcane and Donnah. Or Lady Arcane if she’s in the right mood.

Once again not a whole lot to report, except that for odd circumstances surrounding her birth Donnah has the potential to be an even greater wizard than her grandfather. It’s largely neglected potential because she thinks there are enough costumed do-gooders around that Frisco doesn’t need another one (although according to this she used to be a Champion under the name Transpower and was kicked off the team for deadifying a criminal, which might have something to do with it as well).

And she’s hunted by someone called the Black Enchantress…

That…was not a very good comic series. If anything hurts the proceedings it’s the fact that the heroes were created as the protagonists for a role playing game, not something where their adventures are seen by outside observers. The Champions game has come a long way, and looking at the characters seen in this comic it sure seems like the reason they’re motivated to fight crime is…they were player characters in a superhero RPG, and there would’ve been no game session if they didn’t. Even in the years since these comics were made, little was done to flesh out the characters. The company instead, regrettably, relying mainly on T&A and “mature” story content to sell books.

A strategy they employ to this day.

If "costumed" is the word...

And yet, it would be a lie to say the comics didn’t start to come together a little toward the end there. It was kind of gutsy of them to kill off a hero in the opening miniseries (although it helped that he was the most resurrectable). The dark turn in the last issues was also pretty unexpected after what had been a pretty standard superhero comic up to that point. Maybe that's why they did it.

Rose’s casual rape, however, was revolting. It was in-character for the lowlife scum that DEMON employs, sure, but it was unnecessary and disgusting. It seems as if it was included just so we’d be absolutely 100% percent sure these people were evil. In the next issue she's completely bounced back. Yeah, she's a superhero and probably tougher than the rest of us, but if that was the rationale than it cheapens a horrific crime even more. And it's only fair of me to say she gets raped by another bad guy down the line, and the only effect is wanting to kick his butt.

As noted this series was later reprinted with extra content they had supposedly meant to include all along. From the ones seen in the back of Flare Adventures, though, that extra content didn’t do much in the way of answering the niggling questions that arose while reading the originals. For crying out loud, the first thing they do with the extra space is have Foxbat mess around with a bunch of DEMON-supplied bathing beauties.

Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the company’s priorities.


  1. and yet I keep re-reading the series. it's a very strange "mainstream" super hero adventure with incompetent heroes who just seem to flail about without a plan or any leadership. full of nonsequiturs and references to prior events never shown. too bad we didn't get to see gargoyle because his creator had "other plans." did those plans ever come to fruition elsewhere?

    1. Not that I'm aware of, but then I didn't put a ton of effort into finding out. I do think there was plotline, or at least the beginning of one, where Madam Synn put together a villain team to capture Gargoyle, but I don't know if they actually completed it.

  2. I must say when reading the old Champions, Champs II, and Champs III books, all those references to the PCs of the original campaign make me wish there were more info available. Google searches find me nothing.

    1. I never found anything either, and even the characters in these comics are only "based on" or "inspired by" the characters from the original Champions campaign, according to the character sheets in the comics. I do believe that at one point in the early 90's they'd been planning to publish a book about the characters, the timeline, and the gaming wisdom that came out of the campaign, or so the Adventurer's Club mag would have me believe. I don't think it ever happened, either due to rights belonging to the makers of the comic alone at that point, or because they'd already made a book like that about the Strike Force campaign.

  3. Oh well...wish I could get my hands on Strike Force. It remains tantalizingly out of my price range whenever I see. Still hoping to stumble across a copy belonging to someone who doesn't realize what they have, like when I got the James Bond RPG along with the Q Manual and Thrilling Locations in one box for $2 at a yard sale.

    1. Wish I could help ya out, Matt. But I'm keeping mine, sorry.

    2. C'mon...I'll give you two dollars. Cash money. You know you want to make a deal.

      Hmm...I think it's about time to re-read's like one of those movies you know isn't good yet you watch anyway when it comes on TV.