Champions #7

Issue Date: 
August 1976
Story Title: 
The Man Who Created the Black Widow

Tony Isabella (writer), George Tuska (penciler), Vince Colletta (inker), K. Mantlo (letterer), Phil Rache (colorist), Marv. Wolfman (editor)

Brief Description: 

At the Champions temporary headquarters Iceman and Hercules are attacked by a missile. With teamwork, Iceman and Hercules disable the rocket, and afterward Ivan and the Black Widow take the missile away for examination. Meanwhile, a mysterious figure watches from a nearby rooftop, hoping that Ivan can figure out who sent it. At the hospital, Angel’s lawyer, Emerson Bale, is disappointed that Stuart Clarke won’t accept the Champions’ aid, though Ghost Rider himself is suspicious. Suddenly, Stuart is abducted out of the window by the Griffin and Darkstar. However, they are attacked by Angel’s tossing of a gas canister, causing them to drop Stuart, who Angel manages to catch and land on a nearby rooftop. However, Stuart punches Angel, using one of his Rampage gloves; Stuart wanted to go with the villains. Shocked, Angel knocks him to the ground, but is struck by Darkstar’s darkforce, knocking him out. Ghost Rider follows the villains on his bike, but is attacked by Darkstar firing more bolts, causing him to crash, though he is luckily saved by Angel. Back at the headquarters, Iceman, Hercules and Richard Fenster are checking the building for traps; Richard wants the following day’s ceremony to run smoothly. The Champions enter a room where the Outcast, on a scouting mission, is hiding. He thinks he will need to cause a diversion but, before he can, the Champions are distracted by a small child looking for help, allowing the Outcast to escape. Ivan and the Black Widow have dismantled the missile that attacked them and found a Black Pearl, the calling card of Commissar Bruskin, who contacts them using an audio device implanted in the missile. Before Ivan can stop her, the Black Widow heads out the window, wondering why he would contact them now. After Landing on a rooftop where she spotted Bruskin, she cannot find him. A gun is pointed at the back of her head and instinctively she turns and disables her opponent; Bruskin. They are ecstatic to see each other but before they can talk properly, Bruskin is hit by an energy blast from the Titanium Man.

Full Summary: 

A missile crashes through a window of the Champions’ temporary headquarters, a plush suite in a twenty-three story, top-dollar office building in Los Angeles. Hercules, Iceman and Richard Fenster, the Champions’ business manager, witnessed the missile’s entrance and are unsure what to do as it circles around them. Hercules tries to catch it, but the missile is too fast, and Iceman points out that it might be better that way, as the missile could be set to explode on contact.

Hercules doesn’t listen to the warning and tries to smash the missile. It’s too fast, though, and Hercules’ fist strikes the wall instead. Iceman now wants to try his luck and creates an ice ramp for himself, to go after the missile from above. However, the missile suddenly reverses its direction and shatters the ice Bobby was standing on. While Hercules catches his teammate, Richard Fenster observes the missile’s flight pattern, only to find its heading their way again.

Iceman tells the team’s business manager not to worry, as he now has a handle on the situation. Apparently, the missile was programmed to avoid anything that it can’t break through, which is why Bobby creates a thick, hard cylinder of ice, leaving the missile with only one way to go... right towards Hercules, who’s waiting at the exit of the ice-tube. As the Black Widow and Ivan arrive, the missile flies straight into Hercules, knocking him to the floor. However, Hercules is unhurt and has caught the missile. He hands the missile to Ivan so that he can shed some light on why it was fired at them. Iceman is worried about Ivan handling such a device, but the Black Widow tells him not to worry as Ivan has been handling ‘toys’ like that since Iceman was born. The Black Widow explains that Ivan will be able to find out why the missile was fired at them and who sent it.

From a nearby roof, a mysterious figure is watching the Champions and is counting on Ivan’s skills to solve the puzzle he has sent them. However, he is sad that, when he next meets Ivan and the Black Widow, it will be in a desperate struggle for survival.

At a Nearby Hospital, Emerson Bale confronts Stuart Clarke aka Rampage. Stuart doesn’t want to be defended in court by Angel’s lawyer. Disappointed, Emerson leaves the room and talks to Warren Worthington and Johnny Blaze, explaining that Stuart won’t accept their help. Warren fills Johnny in on the details of what happened whilst he was away, explaining that Stuart was a sick man that needed their help. Angel wants to help Stuart, as helping those less fortunate is why they formed the Champions in the first place. Johnny agrees but thinks that something else is going on, because it would be unusual for someone to turn down the offer. He decides to confront Stuart, not as Johnny blaze, but as the Ghost Rider.

Just as he enters the room, the Ghost Rider sees the two guards, who were watching over Stuart, hit by black energy bolts, knocking them to the ground. As he looks further into the room, he sees Stuart being ushered out of the window by Darkstar and the Griffin. Ghost Rider is about to attack with a hellfire blast, but the Griffin is quicker and lunges at Ghost Rider, punching him and then whipping him with his tail. Ghost Rider is down and the Griffin wants to finish him off, but Darkstar reminds him that Stuart Clarke is their only objective for the moment. Carrying Stuart between them, Darkstar and the Griffin attempt to escape, flying out of the window, but they are hit by a gas bottle that explodes on contact.

The pair drop Stuart, but out of nowhere Angel catches him and carries him to a nearby roof, unaware that Stuart wanted to go with the villainous pair. Angel asks if he is okay, only for Stuart to spin around and punch him in the stomach. Stuart is wearing one of the gloves from his Rampage suit that Darkstar had smuggled into the hospital. Angel, upset that he had given Stuart the benefit of the doubt, knocks him over with a gust of wind from his flapping wings. Before Angel can press home the advantage, Darkstar uses her power to create black energy bands around Angel, making it hard for him to breathe. Angel falls unconscious, but Darkstar decides not to let the Griffin know that Angel is still alive, because he would surely kill him ruining their plans.

Their leader, Yuri, wants the Champions to all die at the same time, except for Ivan and the Black Widow, whom he has plans for. The Griffin lands on the rooftop and the pair turn and leave for their base, carrying Stuart between them.

The Ghost Rider sees them escaping and follows in hot pursuit on his bike. The Griffin spots him, but Darkstar decides that she will stop him and the Griffin should continue to take Stuart to their base. Darkstar dives towards Ghost Rider and fires multiple, black energy bolts into the ground, forcing Ghost Rider to swerve and dodge between them. Darkstar intensifies her assault, making the bolts get closer together. Eventually Ghost Rider realizes that he is not going to swerve between them anymore, and slides into one of the bolts, causing his bike to explode. Ghost Rider is surprised when Angel pulls him out of the blast at the nick of time. Angel carries Ghost Rider back to the Champions headquarters, knowing that it will not be the last time they see those villains.

Back at the Champions headquarters, Iceman, Hercules and Richard Fenster are searching the building, top to bottom, to make sure there are no traps set for the dedication ceremony the Champions are having the following day. Hercules and Iceman both protest at having to do this, but Richard is adamant that the ceremony must run smoothly, so that the Champions organization can do the job it wants to achieve. Hercules wishes for simpler times and Iceman is worried that the organization will forget about the ordinary Joes they are supposed to be helping.

The Champions enter another room and a mysterious figure hiding behind a cabinet is worried that he will be spotted by the approaching Champions. He thinks that he’ll need to create a diversion. However before he needs to, Richard spots someone running into the corridor. Hercules, rather than using the doorway, rips the wall from the office open, so that they can get to the escapee, much to the exasperation of Richard Fenster. Iceman creates a small icy patch, causing the stranger to fall over. Hercules grabs the stranger and is shocked to find out that it is a small child. The child apologies for sneaking in but, after seeing the Champions on TV, he came to them because he is in a lot of trouble. The child throws his arms around a shocked Hercules, who looks at his friends in shock.

The mysterious figure, which was hiding behind the cabinet, uses the opportunity to escape via a window. Referring to himself as the Outcast, he is happy that his scouting mission was a success and his plan to have revenge on the Champions and the man he knows as father, Ivan, will soon bear fruit.

Elsewhere in the temporary headquarters, the Black Widow and Ivan are investigating the missile that was fired upon the Champions earlier. Having carefully dismantled it, Ivan finds an audio device and a storage unit, which holds a black pearl. The Black Widow, surprised, knows that only one person in the world would have sent this device.

At that very moment the figure that was standing on the over looking rooftop communicates to them via the audio device, telling them that he is waiting for the Black Widow to join him on the roof top. Without hesitation, and before Ivan can stop her, the Black Widow jumps out of the window and swings across to the rooftop, wondering why Commissar Bruskin would try to contact her and Ivan now. The Black Widow wonders why one of the highest ranking soviet intelligence chiefs would come to America now to see the two people who used to be his agents, especially as they do not want to return to Mother Russia. They have even told agents who have come after them since they defected to the west.

As the Black Widow moves across the rooftop, she realizes that Commissar Bruskin has ducked out of sight. Creeping up behind her, he points a gun to her head, but on pure instinct the Black Widow swings around and knocks the gun from his hand, much to the approval of Bruskin. Commissar Bruskin is ecstatic to see the Black Widow and is delighted at how she has grown into a beautiful woman. The Black Widow wants to know what he wants with her and Ivan, stating that they do not want to go back to their previous lives. Bruskin tells her that he considers them more than agents and is glad to see her again.

Before Bruskin can explain properly, he is hit by an energy bolt from the Titanium Man. He tells the Black Widow not to worry about Commissar Bruskin, as her troubles are only just beginning.

Characters Involved: 

Angel, Iceman, Hercules, Black Widow, Ghost Rider (Champions)

Ivan Petrovich, Richard Fenster, Emerson Bale


Darkstar, the Griffin, Outcast, Titanium Man

Commissar Alexi Bruskin

Two unnamed guards

Story Notes: 

The Griffin was last seen in Amazing Adventures (2nd series) #15 and Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #38.

The Soviets only attempted once to return the Black Widow to Russia in Avengers (1st series) #16. However, she has had some altercations between then and this issue with other Soviet ‘masters’ [Avengers (1st series) #44]. It is unclear if there are any others, as this is the only one mentioned in the issue.

It is unknown why the child appeared or what trouble he was in. The child did not appear in any of the subsequent issues.

Issue Information: 

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