Champions #8

Issue Date: 
October 1976
Story Title: 
Divide and Conquer

Bill mantlo (writer), Bob Hall (Penciller), B. Patterson (inker), k. Mantlo (letterer), D. Warfield (colorist), Archie Goodwin (editor)

Brief Description: 

Rampage arrives at the Champions Headquarters, delivering photos of the Black Widow being defeated by the Titanium Man. When Ivan demands to know where the Black Widow is, Rampage explains she is being held captive by the Outcast. His message delivered and deciding to have some fun, Rampage presses a stud on his outfit, which to his own surprise explodes. Outside, Darkstar and the Griffin see the fire and turn to leave knowing that the ‘message’ has been delivered. Iceman stops the fire with a snowstorm and the team find Rampage still breathing. Ghost Rider doesn’t think they can wait for the ambulance and picks up Rampage to take him to the hospital himself. Back at HQ, Richard Fenster tells the others that they need to clean up the headquarters and themselves in time for the inauguration later that day. Ivan turns and leaves to try and figure out how to find the Black Widow. Iceman decides to help him, leaving Hercules and a disillusioned Angel to tidy the mess. In an abandoned warehouse, the Black Widow wakes from unconsciousness to be greeted by her jailer, Darkstar. Darkstar leaves the room with the Titanium Man and talks about their plan with the Griffin. The Titanium man tells the Griffin to wait until they give the word, but he is hit by the Crimson Dynamo, who says tells them that he gives the orders. The Crimson Dynamo lifts his mask, revealing himself to be Yuri, the Outcast. On the roof of the Champions’ headquarters, Ivan explains his tracking device to Iceman. The device detects the frequency of a black pearl that only Bruskin would carry. Iceman creates an ice slide for the pair to follow the trail. Ghost Rider gets Rampage to the hospital but is unsure if he will survive. Back at the headquarters, Richard Fenster has supplied Angel with a new suit, which looks similar to his old X-Men outfit. The three of them head down to the stage for the inauguration and, after meeting Governor Brown, Angel Gives a speech about the birth of the Champions. However, before the celebration can get underway the Titanium Man, Crimson Dynamo and the Griffin arrive to kill them.

Full Summary: 

Hercules, Angel, Iceman, Ghost Rider, Ivan, Emerson Bale and Richard Fenster look in shock at the photos that have been delivered to them at the Champions Headquarters. Each of the photos displays an image of the attack by the Titanium Man on the Black Widow.

As Ivan looks at the photos, he wonders how much it will have hurt the Black Widow to have failed in combat. Hercules slams his fist down on the desk in anger at seeing the photos and confronts the man who delivered them: Rampage. Rampage is not scared by Hercules’ threats, especially as he feels that he holds all the aces. Ivan tries to calm Hercules down, before demanding that Rampage tell them where the Black Widow is. Rampage doesn’t want to be rushed into giving up the answer or the reason why she was kidnapped. This enrages Ivan, but Rampage who reminds him that it wasn’t long ago that he almost killed him.

Iceman warns Ivan that he doesn’t stand a chance but, as Ghost Rider states, he is not listening. Ivan doesn’t believe Rampage has the brains to come up with this scheme; he thinks that he has just been hired to deliver the message. Ivan thinks it something to do with Mother Russia. Rampage has no idea who is responsible. All that he can tell them is that the person running the show is really interested in Ivan and goes by the name of The Outcast. Ivan is shocked to hear that name and calls Rampage a liar, punching him in the face. Hercules is impressed by the power of the strike, and Ivan tells him that it almost broke his hand but it was worth it. Ghost Rider points out that it doesn’t seem to have affected Rampage that much, who has shook it off as if it was nothing. Angel tells Rampage that he thought he was misguided but now realises that he is just plain nuts.

The Champions surround Rampage who picks up a bust of a horse’s head, crushing it in his hand. Rampage thinks that he can have some fun fighting the Champions but, before he can do that, he must deliver his final message. Rampage tells the Champions that, once he presses the stud on his chest, they will have audio contact with his employer, the Outcast. However, things do not work out as expected for Rampage. On pressing the stud an intense energy starts to burst from it causing Rampage extreme pain and then blowing him up. Hercules protects Ivan from the blast and Iceman creates an ice screen to protect the rest of the team. Angel thinks that Rampage must be mad to do blow himself up, but Ghost Rider surmises that it was unexpected, as he looked as stunned as they are.

Flying outside the building, Darkstar and the Griffin look at the flames billowing from the window. Knowing that the ‘message’ has been sent, they turn and leave. The Griffin laughs at Rampage’s misfortune, and jokes that it was a shame he never got time to spend the money he was given for delivering the message. Darkstar, on the other hand, tells Griffin that she is not as cold as him and believes that someone should only be killed if it is absolutely necessary. Darkstar tells the griffin that there master, Yuri, may command her obedience but not her conscience. For all the good it does her, it belongs to her.

Back inside the office, which is burning, thanks to the explosion, Ghost Rider tells the others to leave before all the exits are blocked by fire. He alone will recover Rampages body. Iceman tells him to hold his horses because he doesn’t want the building to turn into a towering inferno, and starts to create a snowstorm to put out the flames. With the immediate threat taken care of, Hercules cannot believe how powerful the blast was; the oak furnishings in the room where blown around like leaves.

Richard Fenster and Emerson Bale come out from behind the cover of Angel’s wings. Ghost Rider reaches Rampage and is surprised to find that he is still breathing. Iceman instructs Richard Fenster to phone for an ambulance, whilst Angel removes Rampage’s helmet to help him breathe. There is nothing else the team can do and these five powerful beings stand around in silence, totally helpless, as Rampage lies dying. But an enraged Ivan wants to know what has been done to the Black Widow and who this Outcast is, demanding a barely conscious rampage to tell them.

Rampage thinks that he is finished and that the Outcast double-crossed him, so he tells Ivan that he only knows that the outcast said he was close to Ivan from a long way back. An upset Ivan lashes out at the wall, knowing that they have no answers, only riddles. Angel tells Ivan to relax and Hercules tries to console him, telling that they will rescue the Black Widow no matter what. Ivan thinks that just because they’ve known her for a few weeks that they have the right to care, but Ghost Rider reminds him that caring is part of the job description for heroes.

Ghost Rider doesn’t believe that Rampage will live if they wait any longer for the ambulance, so decides that he will take him to the hospital on his bike. When he gets back they will all go and find the Black Widow. Angel thinks that he could get Rampage there faster but Ghost Rider dismisses him; they’ll have a race another time. As Ghost Rider leaves, a shocked Richard Fenster realizes that unlike the others Ghost Rider isn’t wearing a mask and that is actually a flaming skull. Emerson Bale tells him that is why he had to sit down.

After Emerson Bale has left, Richard Fenster tells the remaining champions that, as their public relations man, they have an appointment in 2 hours, for their inauguration, and both the team and their temporary headquarters look an absolute mess. Angel thinks they should cancel, seeing as two of the team are not with them. Ivan is upset with this remark. He knew the Black Widow believed in this group and can’t believe that Angel wants to throw in the towel. With that, he storms out. Iceman feels like a leper at seeing Ivan leave, but Hercules points out that Ivan is feeling helpless and that’s why he has left upset. Richard Fenster thinks that Ivan needs some time alone, to cool down and figure out how to track the Widow. Whilst he is doing that the rest of the team can start getting the headquarters cleaned up.

They start to tidy up, but Iceman tells Angel that he would like to go and help Ivan out; he isn’t interested in the press conference. Angel lets him go, and shares his doubts over the whole inauguration, thinking that the press will smell trouble as soon as they turn up. Hercules is not so down hearted and believes that, even with just the pair of them, no one will give a thought to anything other than the magnificence of their presences, especially the ladies.

In the older, seaside section of Los Angeles known as Venice, the Black Widow wakes from unconsciousness in an abandoned warehouse with her former teacher, Alexi Bruskin. They are both tied up, unable to move. Darkstar enters and asks if the Black Widow requires anything as she has been made their temporary jailer. The Black Widow wants to know who the others are. Darkstar explains that they are herself, the titanium man, the griffin and Yuri and she will meet them soon. The Black Widow is worried about Commissar Bruskin and whether he was hit too hard. However the titanium man enters the room and tells her it was only as hard as was necessary. Darkstar asks him if there has been any news. The Titanium man tells her that everything is going according to plan, but doesn’t want to talk about it in front of their ‘guests’. Darkstar thinks the Black Widow should know what is to become of her and why she is wanted back in Russia but leaves with the Titanium Man. The Titanium Man detects concern in Darkstar’s voice, and knows that Yuri would not be pleased. Darkstar believes there is more to this attack than just getting the Black Widow back into the service of mother Russia, The Griffin thinks that all they do is talk and is eager to fight especially with Angel. The Titanium Man tells him to be patient and wait till they give the word. However on saying this, the Titanium Man is hit in the back with an energy blast coming from the Crimson Dynamo. The Crimson Dynamo tells him that it is only when he gives the order, no one else. Lifting up his mask it is revealed that the Crimson Dynamo is Yuri Petrovitch, the Outcast. He has been given the honor of returning the three defectors, The Black Widow, Commissar Bruskin and his father, Ivan Petrovitch.

Meanwhile on the rooftop of the Champions headquarters, Ivan is demonstrating to Iceman his new Tracking scope device he has built. He shows him the black pearl they found inside the missile that had attacked them earlier and explains that they are only carried by one man, Alexi Bruskin. He thinks that he will more than likely have another black pearl on him and by using the tracking device they will be able to follow the pearl’s energy signature. Using the scope, Ivan identifies the pearls frequency which provides a trail for them to follow. Iceman tells him there is no time to lose and creates an ice slide for them to get where they are going faster. Ivan apologises for his earlier outburst and tells Iceman that he’ll keep him in popsicles for a year if he can get him to the Black Widow. Iceman thanks him, but he’d appreciate it if he stopped calling him a kid.

Across town, Ghost Rider is racing on his hell cycle through the traffic to get the injured Rampage to Los Angeles hospital. Ghost Rider is worried as he lost track of Rampage’s pulse 10 minutes ago and might not make it in time.

On arriving at the hospital Ghost Rider asks for help, but the hospital porter is angry, stating that he can’t just drop off dead bodies without explanation. Ghost Rider snaps back that there isn’t time to explain because the delay would surely cause Rampage to die. Ghost rider tells the porter to make sure he is cared for other wise he will be held accountable when he returns. With that Ghost Rider turns and speeds off.

Back at Champions headquarters, Richard Fenster has supplied Angel a new costume for the one that was earlier damaged. Angel is surprised to find that the outfit is identical to his old x-men uniform except for the color, where his X-Men uniform was Blue this new suit is Red. Richard Fenster apologises but Angel can live with it. Richard explains that it is too late to worry as outside the building. everyone has arrived for the inauguration. Angel, Hercules and Richard Fenster head down to the stage to meet the adoring public and the press reporting on the event. Hercules can taste the adoration, but Angel thinks it’s all too much. Angel and Hercules wave at the crowd, and Governor brown comes onto the stage to greet them. He asks one of his aids how many members are there in the Champions, as he believed that there was 5. The aid starts to tell him that there are rumors, but before he can finish Richard Fenster comes across to greet them. Moments later Angel gives a speech, that written by Richard Fenster. Angel tells the crowd that this day is the start of a dream and the emergence of a group of individuals dedicated to fighting for every individual’s right to be free. Angel announces the Birth of the Champions, but before any celebrating can get underway The Crimson dynamo, The Titanium Man and The Griffin swoop out the sky ready to let the crowd witness their death.

Characters Involved: 

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

Ivan Petrovich, Richard Fenster

Emerson Bale


Darkstar, The Griffin, Titanium Man

Alexi Bruskin

Crimson Dynamo aka The Outcast, Yuri Petrovich

Two unnamed hospital porters

Large crowd of unnamed members of the public

Governor Brown and two aids (one is referred to as Pierre, the other unnamed)

Story Notes: 

Rampage almost killed Ivan in Champions #6.

Governor Brown seems to be true-life Governor "Jerry" Brown, who was governor of California at the time of the issue's publication.

Issue Information: 

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