Contest of Champions was the first Marvel miniseries, and is widely hailed as the first “event” comic: Every major Marvel character, and most of the minor ones, made at least an appearance in this book–and many of them got a decent amount of screen time.

Supposedly, the book was written and penciled back in 1980, and was intended to be an oversize original book to be released when the 1980 Olympics were happening. That’s why it featured a ton of new-and-already-existing international heroes, like Captain Britain, France’s Peregrine…

…Ireland’s Shamrock…

…,Israel’s Sabra, Blitzkrieg, Native American Jason Strongbow who goes by American Eagle, U.S.A.’s Captain America, China’s Collective Man, shown fighting Canada’s Sasquatch (from Alpha Flight)…

…Russia’s Vanguard, Australia’s Talisman…

…Africa’s Black Panther, Japan’s Sunfire, the Arabian Knight, etc.

Storywise, it’s basically a sporting event where heroes are broken into teams and have to compete to obtain certain pieces of the Golden Globe of Life, not knowing that they are working for Grandmaster and Death, who are playing their own, larger game.

It’s a plot not all that different from many Justice League stories. But then the United States decided to boycott the Olympics after Russia invaded Afghanistan and the project was scrapped–until, years later, inker Pablo Marcos turned in the finished art because nobody had told him that the book was cancelled.  At least, that’s what this site says, and it sounds crazy enough to be true.

I’m not going to bother to tag all the heroes that appear in this book.  There’s far too many, and in the end it would be just about all of them.

In the end, Death’s team wins but the whole thing is kind of a copout because they’re returned to Earth and no time has passed, so it’s like it never happened.  The only reason we know it’s canon is because a few of the international heroes who first appeared in this book do in fact appear in later Marvel books.

This book served as the prototype for Marvel’s Secret Wars, a much better, much more important miniseries.

Creators: Mark Gruenwald and John Romita, Jr.
Grade: B+

For the complete history of the MU, year by year, go here.
And see my Ratings of Runs on comics here.

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