Over the past few weeks over at my other site I’ve been looking at a comic miniseries from Marvel called Marvel Super Heroes Contest Of Champions. Once I was finished with the individual comics that made up the trade I had planned to review the collection itself here. I hadn’t planned on doing the mini-comic review I did last week so that’s why you’re getting two comic reviews in a row. I’ll link to the individual reviews at the end of the article.

Contest Of Champions

Marvel Comics (August, 1999)

COVER ART: Pepe Moreno
DESIGN: JG & Comicraft’s Eric Eng Wong
dedicated to the memory of Mark Gruenwald

DeFalco’s intro tells the history of Contest Of Champions. Intended as a team-up contest of Marvel Super Heroes to tie in with the Olympics, it happened on the year that the US pulled out of the Russian-hosted games protesting the Soviets messing around in Afghanistan. However, nobody told inker Pabolo Marcos that the special had been cancelled, just that he could take all the time he wanted. So they ended up with a finished comic but by the time it was complete costumes and team rosters had changed. So with a little tweaking Marvel Super Hero Contest Of Champions became a three-part miniseries.

The story goes like this: The Grandmaster, a near-godlike immortal known for his contests, makes a deal with a mysterious entity who can restore to life his brother, the Collector. (Cosmic immortals aren’t easy to restore to life, even in the Marvel universe.) The game involved gathering all of Earth’s superheroes, which was pointless because only a handful were chosen for their teams, to collect pieces of an orb. The winning team was each given a prize that would benefit the world but if they didn’t everyone would remain frozen in time forever. That kind of made things hard to ignore.

Unfortunately, the ending (no spoilers here,  but they are in the reviews linked to below) was a bit screwed up. And so they planned to fix their plothole in West Coast Avengers Annual #2 and Avengers Annual #16, both of which are included in the trade. However, while you can make the case that it ended on the right result, it did nothing to fix the plothole and simply declared the winner the events dictated (due to the writer forgetting who was on which team I imagine) rather than the desired result. That makes the inclusion of the two Avengers titles rather pointless to the trade except to pad things out. Thus they feel tacked on and unnecessary. Otherwise, pitting the two Avengers teams against each other was interesting, especially when everyone was dead. Again, no spoilers here.

The trade itself, is well done although I would have liked if they had put the original covers in there somehow instead of the rather uninteresting marker pages to let you know where the next issue starts. The credits were also kept on the page so you knew who worked on what issue without running back to the front of the book.

The main story, barring the plothole ending, was a good tale. Had they not screwed up, it would have been a good story. The two-parter is unnecessary but a perfect Marvel story…which is why it doesn’t do anything for me personally but it’s well done enough that Marvel fans might like it. The original story, though, is the reason I’m planning to hold on to this, at least for a second reading. Who knows what will happen in the future.


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