Three issue limited series
published by Marvel Comics
from June to August
1982. The series was written by Mark Gruenwald
, Steven Grant
and illustrated by John Romita, Jr.
, and Pablo Marcos
A frequent topic amongst comic book fans is which hero could beat which
other hero to a pulp. The debate often rages as to who is the strongest or
fastest. To this end, comic book writers have often had their characters
go toe-to-toe in their comics to see who is the best. This deep desire to see
heroes fight is the basis for the mini-series Contest of Champions.
Captured by the Elder of the Universe , the Grandmaster and his mysterious
opponent, the heroes of the Marvel Universe are swept off to an orbiting
high school gym, mainly to allow for some character interaction and
for the plot line to be laid out. These two cosmic level beings have frozen
the Earth in time and are going to engage in a game of hide-n-seek with the
world being the boundries and the heroes being the seekers. The things they
are seeking are four sections of a sphere that when found will allow the
Grandmaster to resurrect his "brother," the Collector, from the grave.
Representatives are chosen by each entity and then sent to far-flung areas
of the world to search for a section of the orb. The team that brings back the
most sections wins for their entity. The heroes chosen are a mix of well-known
Marvel heroes (Captain America, The Thing, Angel, etc.), but also a
group of international heroes created for this comic (The Shamrock from
Ireland, Defensor from Argentina, Talisman from Australia). Most of these
new heroes were never seen after this brief three issue series.
The battles between the heroes were not memorable, with the two teams
eventually returning to the gym. The Grandmaster's opponent wsa revealed
to be the incarnation of Death (not much of a surprise to most readers) and
the Grandmaster sacrifices his own life energy to bring the Collector back. The
Collector swears revenge, stating he will collect all the heroes in an effort
to defeat Death and bring the Grandmaster back. Some people never learn.
The comic itself was uninspiring, but it did introduce a new concept. At the back
of each of the three comics was a listing of the heroes, their real names and
their abilities. This concept was the precursor to the Official Handbook of
the Marvel Universe that was released the next year.
Never happy to use an idea only once, Marvel Comics came out with
Contest of Champions II, a five issue limited sereies, a couple of years ago. The new Contest was
more of a slugfest, run by the alien Badoon. The heroes were being
manipulated by nanotechnology to heighten their desire to fight. The
matches continued until only the finest remained.
Only at the end was
the real villain, the alien Brood queen (an old X-men villain), revealed as
the threat. Taking control of the X-man Rogue, the Brood queen absorbed
all of the powers of the winners becoming incredibly powerful. She was
handily defeated by a rag-tag group of heroes who had figured out the
the queen's plans.