Champions #9

Issue Date: 
December 1976
Story Title: 
The Battle of Los Angeles!

Bill Mantlo (writer), Bob Hall (Artist), Bob Layton (Inker), Karen Mantlo (Letterer), Don Warfield (Colorist), Archie Goodwin (Editor)

Brief Description: 

At the inauguration ceremony for the Champions, the Crimson Dynamo, the Titanium Man and the Griffin attack Hercules and Angel. Angel tries to calm the crowd, but to no avail as the Crimson Dynamo faces off against Hercules. Johnny Blaze arrives back from the hospital and is attacked by the Griffin. He changes into Ghost Rider but cannot get clear of the crowd to attack back at the Griffin. Hercules throws him his mace, allowing Ghost Rider to use the momentum to clear the crowd and attack the Griffin. Ghost Rider returns the mace to Hercules giving him the upper hand against the Crimson Dynamo. Meanwhile, Angel hits the Titanium Man, sending him hurtling to earth, unfortunately landing on Hercules. Reacting to the events, the Ghost Rider turns towards Hercules, only to be attacked from behind by the Griffin, knocking him out. After Angel is shot down by the Crimson Dynamo, Iceman and Ivan land on the roof of a warehouse next door to where the tracking device has said the Black Widow and Commissar Bruskin are being held hostage. Iceman creates an ice tunnel, bridging the gap between the buildings, but the villains return carrying the fallen Champions. Seeing the heroes they attack. Iceman provides cover for Ivan, who runs through the tunnel to rescue the Black Widow. Inside the building, the Black Widow attempts to escape by tricking Darkstar, but is unable to defeat her in combat. Ivan crashes through the roof and attacks, diverting Darkstar’s attention long enough for Black Widow to knock her out. Before they can regroup, Crimson Dynamo comes through the roof, threatening Ivan that he will kill the fallen Champions if he does not surrender. Removing his helmet, he reveals his face to Ivan, that of his son, Yuri Petrovich, whom he thought dead.

Full Summary: 

Without warning at the inauguration ceremony for the Champions, Angel and Hercules are attacked by the Crimson Dynamo, the Titanium Man and the Griffin. As the villains circle above the heroes, Angel has doubts of how they will even survive the battle, let alone defeat these foes.

Crimson Dynamo tells the others to wait on his orders, whilst Hercules raises his fists in anger, ready for the fight. Angel tells Hercules to keep them at bay for the moment until he can get the crowd out of the way. Richard Fenster is worried that the crowd is already starting to panic and could turn into a mob if Angel doesn’t act fast. Angel hears his pleas and using the microphone on the stage to tell the crowd there is no need to panic and to clear the area as quickly as possible.

Hercules has his doubts that this will work, thinking that the crowd won’t listen. He feels the only answer is to finish the fight as quickly as possible. The Crimson Dynamo thinks that it would be impossible for the Champions to win, as his team of villains has already captured the Black Widow. Angel is riled by the comments and tells them that the Champions aren’t about to lose. Flying up at his attackers, Angel punches the Griffin with a double fist.

One of the governor’s aides tells a nearby police officer to get the governor to safety. The governor is scared and wants the National Guard alerted; if this escalates he’ll have to declare a state of emergency.

The Crimson Dynamo dives down at Hercules, ready to knock him out, but Hercules is ready for him and hits him with his golden mace, knocking him into some chairs. Richard Fenster decides he can help and rushes the fallen Crimson Dynamo, hitting him over the head with a chair. However, the Crimson Dynamo doesn’t even register the attack and is more concerned with fighting Hercules. Richard Fenster looks at the broken chair still in his hand in shock.

Meanwhile, Johnny Blaze arrives on the scene. He didn’t get back in time for the start of the inauguration, because he had to pick up a normal bike from the studio. He didn’t want to turn up on a mystic flame cycle, as it would have scared the crowd. Suddenly, he spots the Griffin, who is out for revenge after the battle at the hospital. As Johnny Blaze starts to change into the Ghost Rider, the Griffin swoops down to attack him. Luckily, Ghost Rider is able to dodge the attack. For Ghost Rider to be able to fight back, he needs to park the bike and create a flame cycle to get some mobility.

The crowd starts to panic even more on seeing Ghost Rider’s flaming skull, and Ghost Rider surmises that he can’t risk using his hellfire with so many people around. The Crimson Dynamo sees Ghost Rider in this predicament and orders the Griffin to attack him now, whilst he is surrounded by the crowd. Hercules can see the Ghost Rider is in trouble and throws his golden mace directly at the Crimson Dynamo. The Mace bounces off and the Crimson Dynamo laughs at Hercules for misjudging his throw. However this was Hercules’ plan, as the mace bounces off the Crimson Dynamo towards Ghost Rider.

As the Griffin swoops down, the Ghost Rider is able to catch the mace and use its momentum to lift him above the crowd. Once above the crowd, Ghost Rider is able to fire a blast of hellfire at the Griffin, knocking him to the ground. The Ghost Rider lands safely, a small distance from the crowd. Thankful for Hercules’ actions, he tries to see if he can repay the favor and throws the mace at the Griffin. The mace ricochets off the Griffin and back to the waiting Hercules, who is currently being hit by blasts from the Crimson Dynamo. Hercules catches his mace, thanking Ghost Rider, and smacks the Crimson Dynamo with it, knocking him off his feet.

Elsewhere, in the sky, the Angel is dodging the blasts from the Titanium Man. As Angel dodges the attacks, he taunts the Titanium Man, saying it’s getting boring and, without warning, slams his feet into the Titanium man. In doing so, he upsets the Titanium Man’s center of balance, sending him towards the ground. Unfortunately for the heroes, it’s directly towards Hercules who doesn’t have time to move out of the way.

The Ghost Rider, who is blasting hellfire at the Griffin, sees what happens and turns to aid Hercules. However, as the Titanium Man crashes into Hercules, the Griffin pounces on the unaware Ghost Rider, clawing at his back, knocking him out. With that strike, the Ghost Rider turns back into Johnny Blaze. Angel rushes at the Griffin to try and rescue his friend, but he is blasted out of the sky by the Crimson Dynamo. The villains stand over the fallen Champions and relish in their victory. With the Champions all but defeated, they can now go after the unguarded Ivan Petrovich.

Meanwhile, Iceman and Ivan, who have crisscrossed most of Santa Monica on ice slides, following the frequency of the Black Pearl, finally come to a stop on a rooftop. Ivan’s tracking device reports that the Black Widow must be in a warehouse just across from where they currently are. Ivan is ready to go straight in, but Iceman tells him to stop and think. Ivan reacts angrily to the news, telling Iceman that he has been with the Black Widow a long time, and he’d never run out on her.

Iceman calls him pig headed. What he meant was that there is a 30-foot jump between the rooftop they reside on and the warehouse. They need to figure the best way to bridge the gap. Iceman wonders whether mutants were the only ones born with brains sometimes and decides to create an ice tunnel bridging the two buildings. Iceman tells Ivan that, whilst he is walking across, he ought to think about the idea of teamwork, which he seems to have forgotten. Ivan notices something coming towards them and tells Iceman to save is speeches as they are about to be attacked.

Overhead, the returning villains, carrying the 3 unconscious Champions, spot the pair. The Crimson Dynamo is delighted that they have come to them, saving him some time in trying to find them. The Titanium Man tells the others he will deal with Iceman, firing at him. Iceman tells Ivan to go find the Black Widow, leaving him to do the super-heroing. Iceman blasts the Titanium Man with ice, freezing his armor. The Crimson Dynamo tells the Titanium Man that he was careless and then fires upon Iceman, knocking him to the ground. Ivan is running through the ice tunnel, but notices Iceman getting hit. He tells himself that he was one of the best, and he’ll pay those villains back for what they’ve done – but right now, he must find the Black Widow.

Inside the building, Darkstar opens the door to the darkened room that Commissar Bruskin and the Black Widow are being held captive in. Darkstar is bringing food for the Black Widow, but Bruskin tells her she is asleep. Darkstar is sorry to disturb her, but she must eat. She turns on the light and realizes that Bruskin was lying. It wasn’t the Black Widow lying asleep but a well-placed mop, made to look like her. From above, the Black Widow drop kicks Darkstar, making her stumble over Bruskin, who has dropped to his knees so that Darkstar will fall over him onto the floor. However Darkstar reminds Bruskin that she was also his pupil, and performs a series of cartwheels to land back on her feet, unhurt. She then blasts Bruskin with her power.

Bruskin tells the Black Widow to save herself, but she cannot and will not leave him. She attempts to attack Darkstar with her Widow’s bite, but to no avail; it is blocked by Darkstar, using her power again. The Black Widow wonders what else she can do, but Bruskin spots something above and yells at the Black Widow to move out of the way. Ivan comes crashing through the skylight and, as he lands, he fires his pistol at Darkstar. Darkstar flips out of the way of the bullets and concentrates on her new foe. However, as she attempts to hit Ivan with a blast of her power, the Black Widow kicks her against a crate, knocking the wind and the fight out of her. Bruskin asks if Darkstar is alright, which apart from her dignity she is.

An enraged Ivan grabs Darkstar and demands that she tells him who’s involved. Before he can get an answer, the Crimson Dynamo comes crashing through the same skylight, carrying an unconscious Angel. Above on the rooftop, the Titanium Man and the Griffin are holding the rest of the fallen Champions, stating not to move or their fallen comrades will be killed. The Black Widow wants to know what they want with them, but the Crimson Dynamo is not bothered with her, only Ivan and the old man Bruskin. The Crimson Dynamo removes his helmet and reveals to Ivan his face, that of his son Yuri Petrovich, whom he thought dead.

Characters Involved: 

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

Ivan Petrovich

Richard Fenster

The Titanium Man, Crimson Dynamo, The Griffin, Darkstar

Governor Brown and his 2 aides

Unnamed police officer

Large crowd of unnamed public

Story Notes: 

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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