Saturday, 1 September 2012

Champions #1-#3: Whatever happened to the X-Men?

Scott's stayed with the X-Men. Jean is lurking around as a member of the supporting cast. Hank is in the Avengers. What's happened to Warren and Bobby?

Marvel launched a new series, called Champions in 1975. It opens with Warren and Bobby at UCLA. They're wandering around, talking about how they miss the super-hero action, when suddenly and for no obvious reason a portal opens up in front of them, and harpies come out of it demanding the return of Venus. In the ensuing fight, Warren makes the decision to go public with his identity as Angel.

Meanwhile, at campus that day also are Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Victoria Starr (Venus), Johnny Blaze (Ghost Rider), and the incredible Hercules. There's a lot going on here, but it's mostly different sorts of punching. Eventually our six characters get together, and Venus admits who she really is. And then Pluto turns up, seeking to force our Olympians to wed Ares and Hippolyta. The story feels completely forced. There's no organic growth of the the team - they all happen to be in a particular location when the attacks happen, and then they end up deciding to team up. This is intentional mimickry of Avengers #1, but it doesn't really work here. Isabella's original plan was Angel and Iceman with new character Black Goliath, and that could have worked better. As it is Angel and Iceman are very under-served, especially in this Olympian first arc.

We are to suppose here that Venus here is the actual goddess Venus/Aphrodite. However, her history is more than a little complicated. Briefly: there was a Timely Comics character called Venus, who took the identity of Vicky Starr, and starred in her own "Venus" comics, and would later be retconned as being part of the Agents of Atlas (set during the Atlas era). This, then, would appear to be an incorporation of the Timely character into modern Marvel continuity, no different from bringing in Namor or Red Raven.

Eventually this one is revealed to be not the real Venus, but a siren. There is a "real" Aprodite/Venus who pops up in Parker and Pak's stuff, and is angry at the Timely Venus for stealing her name. But in this storyline, there's no question that this Venus is real: plenty of other Olympians meet her and would surely have called her out. So, why has she adopted the "Victoria Starr" identity which her impostor used?

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