By Steve Morris
Given the cliffhanger that saw Hercules and Venus abducted at the end of the last issue, you’d expect the rest of the team imminently to be called “The Champions” might want to get involved and rescue them. Instead, they’re sunbathing, with Angel and Black Widow both wearing pretty tight swimwear whilst Iceman dances by himself on a dancefloor made of ice. Um. Welcome back.
Angel watches his pal dancing round on his own private dancefloor, as Black Widow suggests that the stigma faced by mutants is similar to the stigma faced by women and by ex-Russians, confusingly. The perspective changes to Iceman, where we find out that he’s not just dancing – he’s rage-dancing. It’s brilliant. He has a series of thought bubbles where he fumes about all his failures, refers to himself as “Mr Drake”, complains about Polaris and then recaps the whole of the last issue. It’s a cathartic session for him, clearly.
He’s snapped out of his rage dance by Ghost Rider, who shows up and is understandably pretty pissed that everybody’s just lazing around while he’s apparently found a way to rescue Hercules. Angel calls him “a bad penny”, which is an insult that only works when Angel says it. Ghost Rider claims he can get them all to Olympus, after cycling through the university campus in what must have been another angst-ridden period of time. These heroes sure do mope a bunch – I bet Steve Ditko loved this comic.
Ghost Rider points out that the literal mountain which Iceman created previously is still there, which means they can defrost it and use the portal still buried inside it to get to the home of the Gods. Angel, who has spent this entire sequence standing shirtless and useless in the background, leads the team over.
On Olympus, the pretty impotent Zeus is trying to get some moral support from Dionysus – interesting choice in confidant, Zeus. Of course, the weddings are designed to stop Pluto from invading Olympus with all the force of hell – and of course, Pluto is lying to Zeus about this and is actually trying to take over Olympus through politicking and marriage, which is pretty contemporary of him really.
We can see that Hercules still isn’t pleased by the prospect of a wedding, and calls Zeus a “coward and cur”. Venus is appalled at such language, and calms the situation down before Zeus rips off another balcony in distress. Outside, the Huntsman goes on patrol – with a spot of angst, of course – before getting caught out by the arrival of the Champions to Olympus. “I’ll bet I’m the first angel who ever had to bust into heaven!” yells Angel, which is cute but ignorant of Lucifer. Whatever.
Huntsman calls Black Widow “female”, which isn’t cool.
Angel tries to call the shots, but clearly the series is positing Black Widow as the true leader of the team, and she splits them into two groups. She and Iceman take on the mutants who arrive, whilst Angel and Ghost Rider are sent after Hercules. Iceman is delighted to get to team up with a fierce diva like Natasha Romanov, who gives him a compliment. Aw! The first person to ever compliment Iceman!
In the… wedding room, which looks like a nightclub, Ares taunts Venus and says that her fate is the worst thing he can imagine. I love that his taunt is more of an attack on himself than it is on her? That’s pretty classic Ares. The reception is broken up by Huntsman, who runs in panicking before Angel grabs his staff and chucks him head-first into a stone wall. Ouch. Everything devolves into a fight, leading Hercule and Ares to square off. This comic is highly homoerotic.
Hippolyta goes off after Venus, who shoots a telekinetic beam from, well, her area and it turns Hippolyta’s sword into some kind of wheelbarrow (actually a plough) which falls on her face and knocks her out. It’s amazing. The rest of the team all arrive at once, as Hercules looks on like a proud father. No time for that though, because Pluto then goes on the offensive. None of the Champions want a piece of that fight, except for Ghost Rider, who walks past Pluto – which really annoys him, so is quite a good tactic by itself – and goads Zeus into fighting instead. He rips the absolute piss out of him, mate, it’s legendary.
Zeus tells Pluto to go away, and Pluto… just does. So that’s the end of that villain!
Venus then asks that everybody forgives everyone else for the battle that’s been going on, which Zeus agrees to. This comic is very cordial all of a sudden? Everyone shakes hands and is happy and Steve Ditko must have been furious when his lovely angst comic turned into this… nice finale. Zeus sends everyone home before heading off to get smashed on “enchanted mead” with Dionysius. The Champions fly home all excited, as the title card announces that the next issue will be called “Murder at Malibu”. Oh.
So there’s your first arc of The Champions in the books! For all that people make fun of the book for not having a concept – it does, really, in that every character is stranded with nothing to do because their storyline has “ended”. This is quite a neat way of tying random characters together and sending them off to find their own destiny, and it does give you the idea that they’ll now have to make their own way and aggressively look for new adventures to go on. It’s weird that it apparently took sixty days for the next issue to come out, though.
But: it’s going to be written by Chris Claremont! By the white wolf itself!!
The Champions #3: Assault on Olympus”
Writers: Tony Isabella with Bill Mantlo
Artist: George Tuska
Inker: Vince Coletta
Letterer: Karen Mantlo
Colourist: George Roussos
Steve Morris runs this site! Having previously written for sites including The Beat, ComicsAlliance, CBR and The MNT, he can be found on Twitter here. He’s a bunny.
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