Avengers: The Contest

avengers the contest cover trade paperback
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10

Fun to have all the heroes together, obscure heroes used

Dull fight sequences

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions/West Coast Avengers/Avengers (Volume 1)

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Writer:  Mark Gruenwald/Bill Mantlo/Steve Grant/Steve Englehart/Tom DeFalco

Artist:  John Romita Jr. Al Milgrom/Bob Hall/Keith Pollard/Marshall Rogers/Jackson Guice/Ron Frenz

# of Issues:  5

Release Date:  2010


Contest of Champions #1

Reprints Contest of Champions #1-3, West Coast Avengers Annual #2, and Avengers (1) Annual #16 (June 1982-October 1987).  The Grandmaster wants his brother the Collector alive again…and he’s willing to go to any means to do it.  Gathering the heroes of Earth in a massive arena, the Grandmaster and his opponent are playing a dangerous game and Earth’s heroes are the pawns.

Avengers:  The Contest is a collection of two storylines.  The first storyline is Contest of Champions (sometimes known as Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions) which was written by Mark Gruenwald, Bill Mantlo, and Steven Grant and is considered the first major comic book limited series.  The second storyline is a follow-up story by Steve Englehart and Tom DeFalco which ran in the 1987 Annuals of West Coast Avengers and AvengersContest of Champions (minus the second storyline) was previously released as a stand-alone graphic novel.

I started out with Secret Wars when I was reading comics and the idea of all the superheroes crossing over was very exciting.  When I started going to a real comic bookstore, I quickly found Contest of Champions and got to see all the heroes once again working together in teams.  In addition to the story there was a great index which listed where characters first appeared (which before internet and if you didn’t have the Handbook to the Marvel Universe, was rather important).

The first storyline is rather typical of old style comics.  You get a bunch of heroes together and have them “compete” in three or four page face-off competitions.  The competitions are quite weak at points and leave you debating whether the “winning” hero really could win a fight.


Contest of Champions #3

The series smartly also used the comic to highlight that the Marvel Universe just doesn’t include the United States and introduced multiple characters of different nationalities.  Most of these characters never really took off (where’s my Shamrock limited series?), but the series also marked early appearances for preexisting international characters like the Soviet Super Soldiers, Alpha Flight, Sabra, Arabian Knight, and Captain Britain.  It is a bit forced, but I do like seeing “other” superheroes besides the typical Spider-Man, Avengers, and X-Men stuff.

The second storyline from the Avengers and West Coast Avengers annual feels like more of the same but lacking a lot of the fun.  This storyline allowed Marvel to tap, dead heroes for battle so you get to see Captain Marvel meet her namesake and other battles…I just wish that they had used the opportunity to bring some of the heroes back to life.

Avengers:  The Contest is a nice throwback collection.  Modern readers might not like the simplicity of the tale, but it is a fun and quick read.  I much prefer the first part of the story to the annuals’ story, but it does help spin a complete tale.  A five issue follow-up series Contest of Champions II was released in 1999.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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