Ladies and Gentlemen: the Winner and Next big Marvel Bronze Age book is….

by Blaise Tassone

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Rumors are Hercules will make an MCU appearance soon. The super-natural direction, heralded by an upcoming Blade movie and the ongoing Doctor Strange films, means Ghost Rider may also make an MCU appearance. Although it’s too early for a best of 2020 prediction (still five months to go till January), here’s a book that may start to climb its way onto the movers and shakers lists eventually.

I’m talking about Marvel’s Champions.

Champions #1 is that rarest of things today: an overlooked and undervalued Marvel Bronze Age book.

This is, of course, pure speculation, but bear with me.

What does the Champions have going for it right now other than somewhat decent groups or potential group titles do not?

For one thing, the MCU is going through a shake up and its established teams: like the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, will be transformed, perhaps radically, in the coming years. The Defenders was given a small screen tryout; the X-Men and Fantastic Four will be their own franchises and are already widely anticipated and so their keys are already high in price and are watched by everyone.

In the meantime, this smaller team of misfits is an overlooked classic.

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Champions #1 (October 1975) – The origin of The Champions; First appearance of The Champions

This book features the first appearance of the junior Defenders- well, at the time it was more like Ghost Rider and his band: Black Widow, Hercules, Angel and Iceman. When this comic premiered in 1975, only Ghost Rider was a successful and popular character. Marvel, of course, is famous for team up books that bring together misfits and contrasting personalities. From the Avengers, to the X-Men to the Defenders, and so, in 1975, they added the Champions to that roster.

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Titled “The World Still Needs… The Champions!”; a more appropriate title would have been “Crisis On Campus!” (but that had already been used in Amazing Spider-man #68).

The Champions get together when Warren Worthington III (aka the Angel) and Bobby Drake (aka Iceman) are interrupted on their UCLA campus by green skinned harpies. It just so happens that Natasha Romanov (Black Widow) and Hercules are also on campus that day to give lectures (sure, why not), and then when Johnny Blaze arrives and is himself attacked by the super-natural Cerebus, the result is a problem that only these newly assembled heroes can stop.

Long term returns on this comic are strong in higher grades (9.0 and up), but mixed in grades below 9.0. Short term returns (over the last 3 months) have looked mixed and down on most grades, with only 9.2 showing real life: positive +169.7% after two eBay sales (05/29/2019 = $33.00 and 08/15/2019 = $89.00). That said 9.6 copies are still selling for a crazy low $160.00 FMV.

Currently there are 831 copies of the Champions #1 on the CGC census and a 9.8 has a FMV of $450.00 after a sale for that price on 06/22/2019 (eBay). Since that was a strong sale, obviously the trend on 9.8 is moving upwards. If anything happens with the book (like an MCU connection), expect lower grades to follow suite. In other words, now is the perfect time to scoop up a copy of the Champions. If you don’t think the Tony Isabella story is that good, buy it for the excellent and iconic Gil Kane and Don Adams cover.

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