The Original Secret Wars: Marvel’s Contest of Champions

by Jason Short

Secret-300x157 The Original Secret Wars: Marvel's Contest of ChampionsEveryone knows all about Secret Wars.  It was the series that launched a popular toy line and gave Spider-Man a brand new suit.  But what about Contest of Champions?  Let’s take a look at Marvel’s first limited series.

When Heroes Gather… CoC1-195x300 The Original Secret Wars: Marvel's Contest of Champions

A lot of recent attention has been placed on Marvel’s Secret Wars limited series.  Books like Secret Wars #1 and Secret Wars #8 have seen steady gains over the last year.  GoCollect’s own Norman Robinson III even gave the series a closer look recently.  But what about Contest of ChampionsContest of Champions #1 features a great cover with a ton of heroes facing an unknown threat.

This book has a lot of the same things going for it that Secret Wars #1 has, at a fraction of the cost.  Lots of heroes who don’t normally interact with each other are thrown together by a couple of cosmic beings.  Sound familiar?  In this instance, instead of the Beyonder, it’s the Grandmaster playing a game against a mystery antagonist.  At the time of this writing, CGC 9.8s of Contest of Champions #1 have a fair market value of $260, compared to the Secret Wars #1 fmv of $725 (and climbing).

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Everyone Loves a First Appearance

Imagine being able to write a story using any Marvel hero ever.  Seems like a no-brainer that you would use some of the most popular characters of all time.  Spider-man, Thor, and the Hulk are all featured on the cover of the first issue.  In fact, every major superhero team of the era appears in the book.  Alpha Flight, the Avengers, the Defenders, the Fantastic Four, the Inhumans, the X-Men all show up.  Heck, even the Eternals make an appearance.  But instead of focusing on known heroes, Contest of Champions #1 debuts several new heroes for the titular contest between the Grandmaster and his mystery opponent.

There are a whopping seven new characters introduced in issue one.  The new heroes include Blitzkrieg, Collective Man, Defensor, Peregrine, Shamrock, Talisman, and Titanis.  It might be worth noting that Titanis is an Eternal, although there is no current mention of her appearing in the upcoming movie.

A Blueprint for Future Crossovers CoC3-195x300 The Original Secret Wars: Marvel's Contest of Champions

Nowadays crossovers are a yearly happening, with King in Black being the latest of the bunch.  Prior to Contest of Champions, large-scale crossovers were contained in monthly titles.  In fact, this series is a direct continuation of one such story, the “Korvac Saga”.  The Korvac Saga ran for almost a year in the Avengers as it started in Avengers #167 and ended in Avengers #177.  In Avengers #174 the Collector is killed.  Contest of Champions is a game played between the Grandmaster and Death with the prize being the revival of the Collector.  It’s pretty clear that this limited series is the inspiration for Secret Wars.  It’s amazing that this series only came out two years before Secret Wars.  With as little notice as this series has gotten, you would think it came out a hundred years ago.

A Look to the Future

It’s easy to see these books climb from their current levels.  The closest comparisons are obviously the first Secret Wars series, and those books have climbed steadily.  As far as this series goes, issue one is the cream of the crop.  It has the best cover of the three and has numerous first appearances.  If you’re interested in these books, now is the time to grab them.

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Footer_LevelUp_12.3.2020 The Original Secret Wars: Marvel's Contest of Champions

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