Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions
|Contest of Champions|
|Publication date||June–August 1982|
|No. of issues||3|
|Written by||Mark Gruenwald, Bill Mantlo, and Steven Grant|
|Letterer(s)||Rick Parker, typeset|
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.
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). 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.
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.
In 2015 Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars revealed that alongside the main contest a bonus round occurred featuring lesser-to-unknown characters. The Grandmaster's team consists of Rocket Racer, She-Man-Thing, The Vile Tapeworm, and Frog-Man. Death's team consists of Deadpool, Howard The Duck, Doop and The Pink Sphinx. Death's team wins, the prize being a 'participant' trophy.
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.
Contest of Champions (2015)
In the aftermath of Secret Wars, the Collector and Grandmaster put in motion another Contest of Champions. They use the remnants of Doom's Battleworld as their base of operations which becomes known as the Battlerealm, with the prize being an artifact called the Iso-Sphere.
In other media
- A version of the Contest of Champions storyline was adapted in Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes. In this version, the Grandmaster pits the Fantastic Four against their worst enemies: a group consisting of Ronan the Accuser, Impossible Man, Annihilus, and the Super-Skrull. In the end, the Thing defeats Ronan the Accuser and saves Earth from destruction.
- A variation of the Contest of Champions was adapted in its self-titled four-part season 3 finale of Ultimate Spider-Man. As opposed to the comic book storyline, Spider-Man teams up with the Avengers, the New Warriors, the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., and Collector to save Earth from the Grandmaster.
- In Part 1, Spider-Man, the Collector, Iron Man, and Hulk battle the Grandmaster, Wendigo King, Molten Man, and Kraven the Hunter.
- In Part 2, Spider-Man is joined by 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 and Black Widow, Power Man, and Skaar battle Zzzax, Doctor Octopus, the Absorbing Man.
- In Part 3, Spider-Man, Agent Venom, Iron Spider, and Thor battle 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. Unfortunately, the Grandmaster's team of Annihilus, Terrax, and Attuma defeats Earth's remaining heroes (notably Hawkeye, She-Hulk, A-Bomb, and Thor).
- In Part 4, Spider-Man convinces the Grandmaster to have a winner-take-all rematch. Ultimately, Spider-Man defeats the Grandmaster and saves Earth from destruction.
- In Thor: Ragnarok, the Contest of Champions is the name of the gladiatorial event the Grandmaster runs on Sakaar. In the film, Thor is forced to do battle with the Hulk in the contest.
- The comic book was adapted into a 2014 fighting game for Android and iOS with a similar title, Marvel: Contest of Champions.
- Scott Lobdell began submitting stories for Marvel, based on these characters for short stories in Marvel Comics Presents.
- Avengers: The Contest (Contest of Champions #1–3, West Coast Avengers Annual #2, Avengers Annual #16 Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars #1)
- Contest of Champions II #1–2 (September 1999); #3 (October 1999); #4–5 (November 1999)
- Avengers #175 (September 1978)
- Avengers Annual #16 (1987)
- Contest of Champions vol. 2 #1–10
- Marvel's Contest of Champions Comics and Games – A History
- Ask Scott Lobdell, DC Universe Comic Book Writer, Anything!