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THE CHAMPIONS #1
“Because the World Still Needs…!”
Written by Gregarious Great Boos Up
PAGE ONE (SPLASH)
Bobby Drake in casual civilian clothes flies the Champscraft, a rather unimaginatively designed transport that looks a bit like an old convertible with wings. Flying behind him is Warren Worthington, the Angel, shirtless. They are communicating via headsets.
BOBBY: Are you sure you’ve got all your memories back, Warren?
BOBBY: Because you don’t seem to remember what a total disaster the Champions were the first time around.
Through the course of a conversation, the Champscraft tools around over the skies of downtown Atlanta.
WARREN: I told you, Leonard Samson1 himself checked me out! My personality’s been completely reintegrated.
WARREN: I’ve been through a lot of changes recently, with the re-emergence of the Archangel persona, the Death Seed, the Life Seed, having my mind wiped, thinking I was a real Biblical angel there for a while…2
WARREN: But I’m straightened out now. I’ve got my company back. I’m the Warren you remember, and I worked hard to get this way.
WARREN: I’ve been given a second chance, and I started thinking…maybe the Champions deserve a second chance.
BOBBY: So what makes you think it’ll be different this time?
We see a flashback to the original Champions.
WARREN: You, me, Black Widow, Hercules, and Ghost Rider came together by chance all those years ago,3 and I tried to reverse-engineer us into a team. Thinking it was destiny or something.
WARREN: This time, I’m making a plan, getting our building up and running before we start, and hiring the best people available for the job.
Warren flies closer to Bobby.
BOBBY: Okay, and here’s the other thing: how am I “the best people”?
WARREN: You sell yourself short, Bobby. Always have, just because you were “the kid” in the original class of X-Men.
WARREN: But to a new generation of heroes you’re a seasoned pro, and it’s time to start thinking of yourself that way. I have every confidence you’ll be an effective leader.
The Champscraft sets down on the roof of a very modern-looking steel and glass tower; very out of keeping with the older buildings surrounding it.
BOBBY: But like…this is your baby. Maybe you should lead the team.
WARREN: In a sense, I am going to lead. From my office.
WARREN: The other problem we had last time is that I tried to run a freelance peacekeeping and relief organization and go out in the field at the same time. A good manager needs to delegate.
Bobby steps out of the Champscraft as Warren lands.
BOBBY: Can you…run a superhero team like a business?
WARREN: I’m going to find out.
They enter the building through an access point on the roof. We follow Bobby as Warren leads him through the “office space” living quarters, a kitchen, a training facility. Eventually we get to a door with Warren’s name on it, an enormously spacious old-school executive’s office. (Warren’s tastes, we’ll see, run towards the old-money old school, rather than the sort of T-shirt-and-jeans, minimalist office kind of tech bro thing.)
WARREN: Bobby, when I was Archangel, I did…terrible things. Doc Samson says I shouldn’t hold myself responsible but…I can remember it. Killing for X-Force.
WARREN: I need to do something to try to make this right, and this is what I’ve landed on. I’m going to make it work, and I’ll do it without you if I have to.
WARREN: But what I’d like is my best friend by my side for this.
BOBBY: Unh. Look, I’m here, right? I’m just…trying to make sure you’ve thought of all the angles on this.
BOBBY: Why’d you have to pick Atlanta, though? I’ve been out for about, like, five minutes now, I don’t know that the first thing I need to do is move to a red state.
WARREN: Atlanta’s a great town, Bobby. You’ll like it, you’ll see.
WARREN: But there is a reason. During the Fifty-State Initiative, the government put a team called the Cavalry here to defend Georgia. They stuck it out even after the Super Hero Registration Act was repealed. They did good work.
WARREN: But for one reason or another, they’re all gone now. Except for Ultragirl. We’ll meet her later today.
WARREN: Also, The Champions, Inc. can create some badly needed jobs, and…well here, Zachary will tell you.
They meet a middle-aged man in an expensive suit sitting in Warren’s office. Warren introduces him as Zachary Saxony, the famous real estate developer, the man whose firm developed, designed, and built the new Champions Center. He’s there to ask how the launch and landing pad on the roof is doing; Warren’s enthused. Saxony tells Bobby about how Champions Center is designed to be the cornerstone of a new neighborhood revitalization effort. Saxony tells Warren the building is all his now, free and clear, and he takes his leave.
Still a little uncertain, Bobby takes a seat in a chair and Warren sits on his desk.
BOBBY: Okay…so who are the Champions going to be?
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. There’s a panic: two jets are on a collision course. One person inside the airport, a woman wearing baggy clothing and glasses, steps into a bathroom and emerges as…Ultragirl! (All of this reminding us perhaps a bit of a certain Kryptonian.) She flies herself under one of the planes, and under great effort is able to lift it just high enough to miss the other. The crowd cheers.
Among them are Warren and Bobby.
WARREN: You’ve already got the job, you know. No need to show off.
ULTRAGIRL: I’m just glad you wanted to meet at the airport.
WARREN: Bobby and I have to catch a ride on my private plane to go pick up your new teammates.
WARREN: Ultragirl, meet the Iceman, Bobby Drake.
They chat a bit and we get a glimpse of what Ultragirl is like. She was a leading light of the Initiative, and she’s all in on the Champions concept. She tells Bobby that she’s a Kree who was raised as human until her powers developed. All she’d ever wanted to do was be a professional model, but now that she’s experienced being a superhero, it’s the greatest thing in the world. She’s done her homework, reading the files she had access to through the Initiative, and will be the team’s leading expert on the superhuman community.
She also fills them in about what’s been going on in Atlanta lately. There’s been a rash of criminals using old villains’ equipment. The Masked Marauder—based on an old Daredevil villain—seems to be the ringleader. She’s also fought a new Melter, a new Blue Streak and a Senor Muerte.
Bobby and Warren take off.
ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA:
A diner in Minnesota, where they’ve arranged to meet Delroy Garrett.
BOBBY: So what’s a “3-D Man”? He was an Avenger at one point, wasn’t he?
WARREN: He was called Triathlon then. He’s got what he calls “triple power.” Basically, anything Captain America can do, he can do three times better: strength, speed, reflexes, senses.
In the diner, they meet Delroy, out of costume. He’s a little resigned, a little deflated. He explains that he was last hanging out with the Skrull Kill Krew looking for Skrulls remaining after Secret Invasion. They got too extreme and obsessed for him, so Delroy quit.
DELROY: I’m a guy who needs a mission, you know? Something to shoot for.
DELROY: First it was training my body for the Olympics. Then it was training my soul with the Triune Understanding.4 My spirit with the Avengers and the Initative. Even chasing after Skrulls, I did for a sense of purpose.
DELROY: I don’t know what the Champions can give me, but I think I wanna find out.
The headquarters of the Rangers, Texas’ superteam. Warren asks Bonita Juarez, Firebird if she’s sure she wants to leave the team she helped build. She says yes.
FIREBIRD: I go where I’m called. I always have.
FIREBIRD: So when, just as I feel it’s time to move on, I get a message from a literal angel, I knew what I had to do.
In the private jet flying home, Warren calls Hobie Brown, alias the Prowler, on Skype.
WARREN: You sure I can’t swing by New York and pick you up? We still need a tech guy, and the offer still stands.
HOBIE: And I appreciate it. Maybe one day I’ll take you up on it. But I got a life here and a wife here, I can’t just pack up for Atlanta.
HOBIE: If you ever need some consulting work done, though…you got the number.
Hobie hangs up and Bobby asks Warren a question over the seat.
BOBBY: Did you call anyone else from the original team?
WARREN: I wouldn’t even begin to know how to contact Natasha. Blaze…I don’t think wherever he’s at now, he’d be interested. I did call Hercules.
BOBBY: And what did he say?
Exterior shot of the plane.
WARREN (from inside): His response, in total, was, “Ha ha! No.”
LATER: Establishing shot of the Champions Center at night.
Inside, Warren starts going into how the Champions is going to work and how they have a public debut tomorrow morning.
Warren is showing the team around. Ultragirl comes up and gives Delroy a big hug; they knew each other from the Initiative and are happy to see each other again. Bobby thinks, in good old-fashioned thought bubble, that a public debut tomorrow seems awfully rushed. They can’t take a week to get to know each other? Suddenly an alarm goes off. Warren checks his phone (the danger scanner’s all mobile): fire in a densely populated block of apartments in the Vine City5 neighborhood. They rush off determined to help.
The team arrives at the fire in their Champscraft. Warren stays behind, as promised. Bobby ices up and takes a somewhat awkward lead, working out the evacuation plan: Ultragirl will fly to the higher floors and grab the people up there. Iceman will prepare ice slides to take people from the middle levels. 3-D Man will enter on the ground level and get people out that way.
Ultragirl flies off right away. Iceman meets with Firebird and 3-D Man. 3-D Man asks if Bobby can’t just put the fire out, being made of ice; Iceman says there isn’t enough moisture in the air and it doesn’t work like that. Iceman thinks Firebird will be a liability if she can’t actually control fire, just generate it, but she assures Iceman her skin doesn’t burn and she can go in to help evacuate people.
We see Ultragirl crashing through windows, grabbing people, and flying them out.
We see Iceman generating ice slides leading from the window to the ground. People are understandably reluctant, but he tries to keep a clear head about it.
In the lower levels, 3-D Man and Firebird are running down a hallway. 3-D Man says they should split up, and they do. He kicks down a door to grab some people he hears yelling from inside. Firebird turns a corner, and–
In the middle of the hallway is, apparently, the Beetle! Firebird instantly recognizes the armor/costume and attacks.
BEETLE: Who are you? The guy with the red face’s partner?
They fight, but Firebird’s at a disadvantage because she can’t really use her flame powers without making things worse. She notes that the Beetle acts pretty uncertain in the armor. He shoots some electrostatic “bug bites” but also doesn’t seem to want to cause much damage.
Suddenly, 3-D Man bursts in and pins the Beetle down. He asks him what his plan is with starting the fire.
BEETLE: Y—you idiot! I’m trying to get people out! There’s an old man still on the second floor!
They race up the stairs and Beetle directs them to the right apartment.
They burst through the door. Firebird lifts a flaming beam that was keeping the old dude boxed in, and Beetle grabs him and turns to 3-D Man.
BEETLE: Hey, Goggles! You jump through the window, I’ll fly this guy out, okay?
And they do!
Several minutes later. The fire department is putting out the blaze, but the block of apartments is pretty much a goner. Beetle, 3-D Man, Firebird, and Ultragirl watch the smoldering from a distance.
BEETLE: Dammit. They torched the whole block!
FIREBIRD: Who did?
BEETLE: The bad guy. I thought you were working with him. Shoots fire, yellow and red suit. Red face, black circle on his chest with a picture of a fist in it.
ULTRAGIRL: I’ve read the file on pretty much every supervlilain ever. That sounds like Firebrand. But there isn’t supposed to be anyone using that name or that armor currently.
ULTRAGIRL: There are a couple of people in Beetle armor running around. Which one are you?
BEETLE: Nobody you know. I…found this suit.
Iceman rejoins the group and says the firefighters have verified everyone’s evacuated, and several people say the Beetle helped them.
ICEMAN: Look, I’d have to run it by the boss, but I’m kind of the team leader here, and I’d like to offer you a spot on the new Champions.
Beetle looks at him.
BEETLE: Champions, huh? You’re the guys who built that big tower downtown? I know people who got pushed out of their homes to make way for that thing.
The Beetle flies off.
BEETLE: I’m not a superhero. I’m just a guy with two little girls trying to make this city a little safer.
Elsewhere…we see Firebrand holed up in a warehouse, where he’s on the phone.
PHONE: This is the Salamander.
FIREBRAND: Firebrand. Job’s done.
PHONE: Did anyone see you?
FIREBRAND: Just that guy in the Beetle suit they’ve been talking about, the one who stopped that liquor store hold up last week? But I slipped away while he was rescuing people.
The Salamander warns Firebrand there’s a new group of superheroes in town and that for any future jobs, he and the rest of his “team” will have to be careful.
CUT TO: Zachary Saxony, the real-estate developer who built the Champions Center we met earlier in the issue, sitting on the phone.
SAXONY: Very good, Firebrand.
SAXONY: This is the Salamander. Over and out.
NEXT! Meet the Lark Brothers! They’re determined to bring a finer class of criminal to Atlanta. Case in point, the all-new Mirage, who’s determined to ruin the Champions’ big public debut. But things aren’t going to go quite the way he—or the Champions—planned! Be here in two weeks for action! Drama! Public relations mishaps!