Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions

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Contest of Champions
Cover of Contest of Champions #1 (June 1982).
Art by John Romita, Jr. and Bob Layton.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Limited series
Publication date June - August 1982
Number of issues 3
Main character(s) See Text

Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions is a three-issue comic book limited series published from June to August 1982 by Marvel Comics. The series was written by Mark Gruenwald with art by John Romita, Jr. and Bob Layton.

Publication history[edit]

This series was significant as it was Marvel's first published limited series. An unrelated five issue limited series published in 1999, Contest of Champions II, is a sequel in title only.[1]


An Elder of the Universe, the Grandmaster, challenges a hooded female called the "Unknown"—eventually revealed to be Death—to a game for the life of his fellow Elder, the Collector (killed by the cosmic being Korvac in the title Avengers).[2] The pair decide to use various superheroes from Earth as pawns, the goal being to collect the four pieces of a prize called the "Golden Globe of Life." A victory for the Grandmaster's team means the Collector may be resurrected, while a loss indicates the character must remain dead.

The Grandmaster's team consists of Captain America, Talisman, Darkstar, Captain Britain, Wolverine, Defensor, Sasquatch, Daredevil, Peregrine, She-Hulk, the Thing, and Blitzkrieg.

Death's team consists of Iron Man, Vanguard, Iron Fist, Shamrock, Storm, Arabian Knight, Sabra, Invisible Girl, Angel, Black Panther, Sunfire, and the Collective Man.

Although the storyline depicts a tie and the Grandmaster's team is written as being successful, Death advises that the Collector can only be resurrected if the Grandmaster takes his fellow Elder's place in the Realm of the Dead, with the character agreeing to the terms. International heroes Blitzkrieg (Germany); Collective Man (China); Defensor (Argentina); Peregrine (France); Shamrock (Ireland); and Talisman (Australia) debut in the series, and each issue contained a catalogue of all featured heroes and was the prototype for the publication the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.[citation needed]

An Avengers Annual eventually reveals that this was a ruse perpetrated by the Grandmaster as he is able to steal Death's powers and then via another deception forces the entity to banish all Elders from her realm, effectively making them immortal.[3]


  • Contest of Champions Vol. 1 #1-3
  • West Coast Avengers Annual #2
  • Avengers Annual #16

In other media[edit]


  • A variation of the Contest of Champions will be featured in its self-titled four-part season three finale of Ultimate Spider-Man. As opposed to the comic book storyline, Spider-Man teams up with the Avengers, New Warriors, the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., and Collector to save Earth from the Grandmaster. In "Contest of Champions" Pt. 1, Spider-Man teams up with the Collector, Iron Man, and Hulk against the Grandmaster, Wendigo King, Molten Man, and Kraven the Hunter. In "Contest of Champions" Pt. 2, he teams up with Captain America, Red Hulk, and Iron Fist to battle the team of Blastaar, Sandman, and Ymir in a game of capture the flag. Later in the episode, Spider-Man teams up with Black Widow, Power Man, and Skaar against Zzzax, Doctor Octopus, the Absorbing Man. In "Contest of Champions" Pt. 3, Spider-Man teams up with Agent Venom, Iron Spider, and Thor against Annihilus, Terrax, and Attuma in a subway. Spider-Man conspires with Agent Venom and Iron Spider to create Life Model Decoys to fool the Grandmaster whilst the three head to his ship and save the trapped superheroes. In "Contest of Champions" Pt. 4, the Grandmaster defeats the remaining heroes and threatens to destroy Earth. Spider-Man convinces him to have a winner take all rematch. Spider-Man defeats the Grandmaster and saves Earth from destruction.

Video games[edit]

  • A version of the Contest of Champions storyline was adapted as an online MMORPG in December 2014.


Collected editions[edit]

  • Avengers: The Contest (Contest of Champions #1-3, West Coast Avengers Annual #2, Avengers Annual #16)


  1. ^ Contest of Champions II #1 - 2 (September 1999); #3 (October 1999); #4 - 5 (November 1999)
  2. ^ Avengers #175 (September 1978)
  3. ^ Avengers Annual #16 (1987)
  4. ^