Champion Sports #2 (1974)

Champion Sports #2 (December, 1973-January, 1974)
“The Enchanted Bat”
“Street Fighter”
“The Animal”
By Joe Simon & Jerry Grandenetti
Cover Price: $0.20

Alrighty, got the Christmas out of my system… back to business as “usual”.

Our first story stars a baseball player, Mick Cooper as he attempts to find his “groove” in the game.  We open with Coop sprinting after a would-be home run, and snatching it out of the sky a split-second before it goes out of play.  He’s a hero in the field, but when it comes to the batter’s box, he sucks wind.

We watch Cooper striking out wildly and repeatedly.  He’s such a bad batter that the coach threatens to bench him indefinitely if he doesn’t improve with the quickness.

A few nights later, Mick heads to the county fair where he meets the the great magician, Roscini.  When he watches as his skeptical buddy Al Burkis is put in a trance to cackle like a hen, hop like a chicken, and grow feathers out of his mouth… he knows this magician means business!

Coop follows Roscini to his tent to see if he can work his magic on his batting.  The magician agrees, with the proviso that he will forfeit his mortal soul for the privilege.  Inside the tent, Roscini summons forth the ghost of Babe Ruth, who entrusts Mick with his enchanted bat.

Over the next several weeks, Mick Cooper becomes the greatest batter the league has ever known.  With his enchanted bat, he just couldn’t miss.  His team, the Cougars have advanced all the way to the championship game.

During the “big game”, Cooper finds that one of his teammates used his Babe Ruth-bat… and cracked it!  It is then revealed that the county fair bit was done with special effects and movie cameras… Roscini himself is just an actor.  The entire affair was done to give Mick Cooper the confidence to be the best ball player he can be… and it worked.  We end our tale with Coop heading up to plate in the at-bat that would decide the game… annnnnd, they leave us hanging.  I’d like to think that as soon as the ball is pitched, Mick’s eyes turn coal-black and he begins projectile vomiting… Roscini did actually have dibs on his mortal soul!

Our second story stars middleweight pugilist, Packy East.  Phillip Randall Eastman, aka Packy East is a privileged suburban teen who during a day in New York gets approached by a trio of mooks… and they want… a dollar?  Really?  A buck?  Okay… regardless, Phil tells them to take a hike, and one of them starts a’swingin’.  Then, for good measure, the other two join in and proceed to beat the holy hell out of this doofus.

The cops soon break up the bruhaha, and the lad Eastman is delivered back to his daddy’s suburban estate.  His Pops more or less tells him he was a jerk by not just handing over a buck.  From this point on, Phil has been appointed a crooked-nosed bodyguard/chauffeur called Herbert.

Phil notices Herb’s crooked nose, and realizes that at some point he must have been a fighter.  From there, Phillip (now Packy) trains under Herb to become a boxer himself… and surprisingly, he’s not half bad!

Later, during a day just like the one that opened the story… Packy is approached by another street person.  This one doesn’t want a buck, just a smoke.  The newly confident Packy throws the first punch this time around… and wouldn’tcha know it, still gets his ass kicked!

We end this story with Packy accepting a position at his father’s company, knowing that while he’s trained to fight, he cannot predict the offense of a common hoodlum.  All’s well that ends well…

Our (thankfully) final story features football player Chuck “The Animal” Gabowski… another crooked nosed type’a chap.  We watch as Chuck makes everyone on his team look like a million bucks by keeping the opposition at bay while they conduct plays.  One such teammate is quarterback Don Stern.

After yet another victory, praise gets heaped upon Don both in press and by the lady-folk.  We get the impression that all the attention being directed at Don is beginning to wear on poor Chuck.  After all, it’s only because of him that Don is able to be as effective in his position.

During a practice session, Chuck tells the coach that he’s tired of doing the team’s “dirty work” and wants to get his share of the glory from time to time.  At first the coach is hesitant, but Don is open-minded and willing to forfeit his position every now and again… and so, they have themselves a little scrimmage.

During the game, Chuck proved that he could be a great quarterback if given the opportunity… unfortunately, that opportunity never came… He could fill Don’s shoes, but unfortunately none of his teammates could fill his!

Ultimately, Chuck decided to return to his position of “Animal”, he gets drafted to the NFL with a $100,000 USD/1974 signing bonus, and all was right in the world.  

We end years later with Don (still with his very mid-70’s haircut) watching the Animal on his television set wondering what might have been.

Ehh… well, this was something.  I’ve read sports comics before, but they’re usually in the form of shonen manga… and I don’t like those much either.  These tales were, I dunno… just there?  There wasn’t a whole lot to these stories… they were just “a day in the life” kinda stuff with a sports-bent… fair enough, I guess.  I’m reminded of the Jim Shooter quote, that I’ll paraphrase (poorly) here… when asked by a writer if they could turn in a “day in the life” story, Shooter said something along the lines of “sure, just so long as it’s the day in the life that [the character] cures cancer”.

Not offensively bad or anything, just really boring… like so boring I can’t think of anything to even say about it!  It’s hard to even imagine that there was ever an audience for this kind of thing, though, I’m guessing there had to have been… at least for a little while.

I’m glad I read it just for the novelty value, but otherwise, I wouldn’t have missed anything if I hadn’t.  If only that first story did actually get occulty, I think it would have been a ton more fun.

I’d be remiss not to mention that this issue was Twister McCoy approved!

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