Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I don't know what's more dated here, the Rocky references, or the boxing references...

I got a replacement copy of Marvel Two-In-One Annual #7 over the weekend; and while it's not a great issue overall, it has it's moments, mostly the Thing's, since it's his book. Briefly: the Elder of the Universe known as the Champion roams the universe looking for a fighter that can give him even a moment's challenge, and sets his sights on earth's strongest heroes...for a boxing match. It was big then.

(The only time I watched boxing regularly, was in Mike Tyson's heyday; when he had a string of easy victories over opponents who had no business getting in the ring with him, and before he got lazy...then crazy.)

The Champion's promoter gathers up the Thing, Thor, Colossus, Sasquatch, Namor, Doc Samson, and Wonder Man; and gives them a brutal twenty minutes of training; before the title bout in Madison Square Garden.

Doc Samson is the first contender eliminated, sucker-punched by an automated training-bot. And because he sucks. Namor follows shortly thereafter, since even with the entire world threatened by annihilation, he won't play. Dick...

Thor is written just terribly in this one, which is weird, since Tom DeFalco would go on to write Thor for some years after Walt Simonson...and I didn't like a lot of DeFalco's run. Huh. Anyway, here he treats Thor like he's got his hammer glued to his hand and won't let it go, even for a fair fight. Seriously, the way he's written here, you'd think Thor would eat a bowl of ice cream with Mjolnir.

Hercules would've been a better choice, but the downside is; to establish the Champion as a big bad, he would've had to pummel down Herc or Thor or both. Fans of the characters wouldn't approve, and more importantly, it would've taught them both humility far too early. (And really, no one wants to read about humble Hercules...not completely humble, anyway.)

The Hulk had Bruce Banner's intellect at the time...mostly. Getting his rage on, he shreds his gloves and prepares to tear the Champion apart...before getting teleported away, since the Champion won't deign to sully his fists on a mindless brute. A mindless brute that would've torn his head off...

Wonder Man, having incredible strength and virtually no skill, doesn't give a great showing; Sasquatch little better. Colossus gives a good effort and is mercilessly beaten, but he gives a better showing than his teammates: Cyclops and Wolverine sneak up to the force-field surrounding the boxing ring to try and break their friends out, and fail miserably. Which is just as well, since it was a stupid idea anyway: even if they got everyone out, the Champion's underling alone was able to gather them up from around the world easily via teleportation. If you're going with this plan, why not use your teleporter Nightcrawler to get the captives out? Oh, yeah, tactical genius, right...

In the end, the main event, the Thing, fights the Champion, and receives a savage ass-kicking. But he never quits, earning the Champion's respect and saving earth.

The Champion wouldn't be seen again for several years, until the Elders of the Universe made a big push in Steve Englehart's Silver Surfer. She-Hulk handed him a beating some time back, and just recently, he made an appearence in Deadpool Corps. But he's never had another good bout: I'd almost like to see him go the MMA route, perhaps versus Iron Fist, Shang-Chi, and others. If any of those guys could do enough damage to take him down...

Scans from "And they shall call him...Champion!" Written by Tom DeFalco, pencils by Ron Wilson, inks by Camp, Esposito, Green, Gil, and Stone. Maybe not a great one, but a classic one.


nyrdyv said...

Thor almost looks more muscular than Hulk. Hmmm...


Steven G. Willis

~P~ said...

Hey googum,

It's been a while since I popped over here.

THIS story was turned into one of the BEST animated spoofs/homages ever!

From "Dexter's Laboratory" a tangential "spin-off" called "Dial M for Monkey".
One of the Monkey episodes replicated this story right down to the final speech by the Champion.

You GOTTA see it.

Here's someone's YouTube copy.