Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions

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.

Contest of Champions
Cover of Contest of Champions #1 (June 1982).
Art by John Romita Jr. and Bob Layton.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
FormatLimited series
Publication dateJune–August 1982
No. of issues3
Main character(s)
  • Daredevil
  • Talisman
  • Darkstar
  • Invisible Girl
  • Iron Fist
  • Sunfire
  • She-Hulk
  • Captain Britain
  • Defensor
Creative team
Written byMark Gruenwald, Bill Mantlo, and Steven Grant
Artist(s)Bob Layton
Letterer(s)Rick Parker, typeset

This series was significant as it was Marvel's first published limited series.[1] Contest of Champions brought forth the idea of a major event affecting the Marvel Universe; it introduced crossovers before the concept of multi-title crossovers was even conceived.[citation needed]

An unrelated five issue limited series published in 1999, Contest of Champions II, is a sequel in title only.[2]

Publication historyEdit

The story was intended to be a celebration of the 1980 Summer Olympics held in Moscow, and depicted Marvel superheroes engaging in competitions. The plan was scuttled when the United States refused to participate in the summer games, as a protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in late 1979. The comic was already mostly-complete, so Marvel published Contest of Champions two years later, with a reworked storyline that avoided any connection to the Olympics.[3]

Plot summaryEdit

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).[4] 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]

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.[5]

Contest of Champions (2015)Edit

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.[6]

In other mediaEdit



  • 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.[7]

Video gamesEdit


Collected editionsEdit

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


  1. ^ Bickham, D. R. "Contest of Champions: Marvel's DEADLIEST Games, Explained: Over three titanic series, the greatest heroes of the Marvel Universe have come to blows in several Contests of Champions," CBR (APR 01, 2020).
  2. ^ Contest of Champions II #1–2 (September 1999); #3 (October 1999); #4–5 (November 1999)
  3. ^ Brevoort, Tom; DeFalco, Tom; Manning, Matthew K.; Sanderson, Peter; Wiacek, Win (2017). Marvel Year By Year: A Visual History. DK Publishing. p. 208. ISBN 978-1465455505.
  4. ^ Avengers #175 (September 1978)
  5. ^ Avengers Annual #16 (1987)
  6. ^ Contest of Champions vol. 2 #1–10
  7. ^ Trumbore, Dave (18 April 2017). "'Thor: Ragnarok': Director Taika Waititi's Cameo Revealed".
  8. ^ "Marvel's Contest of Champions Comics and Games – A History". 24 July 2016.
  9. ^ Sherr, Ian (29 June 2015). "Marvel's Contest of Champions leaps from video game to comic book". cnet. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  10. ^ mahalodotcom (17 September 2011). "Ask Scott Lobdell, DC Universe Comic Book Writer, Anything!" – via YouTube.