By Steve Morris
Last week we left newly-minted billionaire Angel about to get a fist smashed through his skull, so hopefully he had enough time to name Iceman as his power of attorney. Rampage (“the recession born supervillain who could be you!” as the comic ominously intones) is ready to murder Angel right there and then, prompting Hercules to try his time-trusted strategy of yelling threats and punching. Iceman has to ice-stab the God in the back to stop him, which doesn’t go down so well. He also calls Ivan “whiskers”, which sounds like a pet name to keep for future.
The Champions all turn their back slowly on Rampage, and the villain happily drops Angel on the ground – his head smashes right into the ground, which looks rough – and prepares to leave. Iceman apologises for hitting his ally in the back, but then hits a surprise blast at Rampage at short-range, encasing the guy in absolute zero ice. The rest of the team rush over to rescue Warren, but Rampage bursts out before they can. “Stars! Yon villain has burst free!” exclaims Hercules, who is the absolute best.
Black Widow launches an attack, but is pushed out the way by Ivan so he can take Rampage’s counter – which knocks him out. Hercules punches Rampage into a car, only to then throw it back at Hercules… who punches it out the air like an absolute legend. Rampage is now just trying to make a distraction so he can escape jail-time, because he thinks he’s killed Ivan, and he flies up to nearby rooftop to go hide for a bit. He changes back into his red suit and purple tie, which is totally inconspicuous, and seems to give up on his days of villainy.
On the street, The Champions are concerned with Ivan’s health, as he’s wheeled into the back of an ambulance. One of the Doctors has his collar turned up, which is a lot more dashing than I was expecting from this issue and took me a moment. Widow is absolutely furious that her “driver” has been injured like this, and vows to get her revenge – prompting Angel to tell her off for trying to steal the Avengers’ gimmick. The Champions don’t avenge things, Widow! They… champ things! Maybe not the best time for this, Warren.
She’s pretty annoyed by that, but Angel follows up by explaining that the team need a leader – and he thinks it should be her. Hercules is delighted at the idea of being given orders by a woman, although Iceman seems less keen on it. “I’m probably a better spear-carrier than a general”, he concedes, which I will not comment on further. They mention Ghost Rider again, who is still off doing his own thing somewhere else because he’s too big for any of this.
On the news that evening they show footage of the robbery and fight, which is seen by Rampage’s ex-lawyer from last issue. He recognises the suit of armour as belonging to his former client immediately, and calls it in to the police. Remember: this could happen to you, readers. Clarke is putting away his suit forever when he hears the police outside, which leads him to panic. He puts on a jetpack and bursts out the doors, knocking over a policeman on the way and possibly killing him.
At the hospital, we learn that Ivan will make a recovery, because Rampage was pulling his punches – they’re really pouring it on thick that Rampage is a victim in all this. The radio broadcasts news of Rampage’s escape from the police, and so the heroes saddle up for another extended fight sequence. Black Widow’s first command as leader is “you lead the attack, Warren!” which… sort of defeats the point of her being team leader, but still. Hercules has given Warren a golden mace to use, so at least he won’t be useless in battle anymore.
Black Widow tries to operate as leader here, but Iceman in particular really bristles at the idea, making her second guess herself. The Champions do seem to have it in the bag this time round, though, beating the heck out of Rampage on their second attempt. They surround him and everybody gets a chance to land some kind of brutal hit on him, smashing his jetpack, breaking the suit, and leaving him with nothing but a suicide bid – as he throws the jetpack at the team with a huge explosion. Luckily, Iceman covers it all with ice, stopping the blast from hurting anyone.
With Rampage lying there, unconscious in rubble and ice, the Champions congratulate themselves and walk off, leaving everything to the authorities and/or damage control, should they exist yet. In a coda, Rampage’s ex-lawyer realises he’s still power of attorney for the company – meaning he can sell Rampage’s business off and make a profit for himself. The fat cats win again!!! Those darned republicans!!!
For a two-part storyline which is introducing The Champions as the heroes who deal with real-life issues, this sure did involve Angel hitting someone with a mace a whole bunch. It sort of holds together better than I remember, and you do get a sense of panic and escalation with Rampage which makes him work decently enough as a villain – The Champions don’t feel complete yet, though. There’s something missing from their line-up which gives them that feeling of dynamism. I wonder if next issue might help out…..
The Champions #6: Mad Dogs and Businessmen”
Writer: Tony Isabella
Artist: George Tuska and Vince Coletta
Letterer: Irv Watanabe
Colourist: Petra Goldberg
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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