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Comic Book / Contest of Champions

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The first Contest.

Contest of Champions is the name of three Marvel Comics Mini Series that featured superheroes being forced to fight against each other.

The first series, published in 1982, was the first limited series produced by the company as well as the precursor to the concept of the Crisis Crossover. It was originally conceived as a tie-in to the next Olympic Games. Although the deal fell through, Marvel still published the story without any sports-related material. It was written by Mark Gruenwald, who included pages describing the various heroes in each issue, which began the concept of the "superhero encyclopedia" that would later be expanded into the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

In its story, an immortal alien called The Grandmaster gathers all of Earth's superheroes and chooses some of them as pawns in a game with a mysterious hooded woman with the resurrection of his brother, The Collector (who was killed during the events of The Korvac Saga), as the prize, and all of humanity as hostages.


The story was adapted as an episode of the animated series Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, but using only characters from that series.

In Contest of Champions II, Earth's heroes are abducted by aliens who organize a friendly tournament, or so they say. In fact, they have the surrounding areas full of nanites that cause the violent tendences to rise, leaving only Iron Man (due to sealing his armor) and Shadowcat (due to her intangibility) with a clear mind. Eventually, the aliens reveal themselves to be the Brood, who use the tournament as a way to pick the better hosts among the heroes. The Brood Queen uses Rogue's powers against herself to possess her body, and then takes the powers of the tournament champions. Some of the losing heroes oppose her until she loses most of her powers, and then Warbird confronts the queen-in-Rogue's-body until the queen leaves Rogue's body. Then the heroes return to Earth.


Contest of Champions II was written by Chris Claremont, with issues 1 to 3 penciled by Oscar Jimenez and inked by Eduardo Alpuente, issue 4 penciled by Michael Ryan and issue 5 penciled by Jimenez and inked by Ryan.

A third series called Contest of Champions, which is a tie-in to the video game Marvel: Contest of Champions, launched as part of All-New, All-Different Marvel in 2015. The series was written by Al Ewing. It lasted ten issues before being cancelled, although it did mark the debut of the Korean superhero White Fox as a Canon Immigrant from the Korean webcomic Avengers: Electric Rain. Set after the end of Secret Wars (2015), the Collector and the Grandmaster have set up a death-match tournament on the shattered remains of Battleworld, where the heroes and villains of different worlds fight for their cause. The prize itself is nothing less than power over every reality.

The first series was also loosely adapted as the multi-part Season 3 finale of Ultimate Spider-Man.

The Contest appears in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Thor: Ragnarok. After being stranded on the junk planet Sakaar, Thor is taken prisoner by The Grandmaster and forced to fight as a gladiator against The Hulk, who ended up there after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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     Volume One 

Tropes used in Contest of Champions (1982)

  • Ambiguously Brown: Talisman is supposedly an Australian Aborigine, but is drawn as if he were a bald white man and colored brown.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Death.
  • Balancing Death's Books
  • Blatant Lies: The Grandmaster promises Earth's heroes that he would never use them as pawns again if they won for him. He (or more likely, the writer) seems to have forgotten about this since.
  • Captain Ethnic: Some of the International Heroes used can be seen as this.
  • The Chessmaster: The Grandmaster. Not so much for his acts here, as for the later revelations of his true plan. (See Thanatos Gambit below.)
  • Cosmic Entity: Both The Grandmaster and Death.
  • Excuse Plot: It was all a means to show off Marvel's International Superheroes (for once).
  • Honor Before Reason: The Grandmaster apparently.
  • A House Divided: None of the heroes worked together, not even with their own teammates. This may have been just so they would be free to fight their rivals one-on-one.
    • Some of the ethnic heroes refused to work together because of their national conflicts; e.g., the Egyptian Arabian Knight and the Israeli Sabra.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The heroes needed very little provocation to fight each other. The matches were:note 
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Every superhero on Earth, in fact, though only 24 (12 on each side) actually participated in the "game" and six of them were all-new heroes.
  • Multinational Team: The playing teams can be seen as this, though the American heroes outnumbered the non-American ones. The latter were:
    • Blitzkrieg (Germany), Collective Man (China), Defensor (Argentina, though erroneously indicated to be from Brazil), Peregrine (France), Shamrock (Ireland), Talisman (Australia), Sunfire (Japan), Darkstar (the Soviet Union), Vanguard (also Soviet), Sabra (Israel), Arabian Knight (Egypt) and Sasquatch (Canada).
      • Wolverine is from Canada, but most of the time works in the United States with the X-Men.
      • Also in the X-Men, Storm grew up in Africa but was born in New York.
      • Black Panther comes from his own fictional African country, Wakanda.
      • The Black Knight inherited the identity of a British medieval hero but was born in Massachusetts and is active in America.
      • Iron Fist is also an American raised in a Chinese mystical land, but now lives in America.
  • Original Generation: The heroes Blitzkrieg, Collective Man, Defensor, Peregrine, Shamrock and Talisman all were created for this series. (The other international heroes used had been introduced before.)
  • Plot Coupon: The Globe of Life, whose four parts were hidden on four different parts of the Earth for the heroes to find. It was needed to resurrect the Collector.
  • Redhead In Green: The Irish superheroine Shamrock has a green costume and flowing red hair.
  • The Reveal: Death kept her identity secret until the last issue, though fans of the Adam Warlock series might have recognized her earlier.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The unknown rival tried to entice her team by offering to extend the existence of Earth's sun by a million years if they won. Unfortunately for her, the sun has still about a billion years left so a million would be an insignificant addition. Not to mention that humanity might not even exist by the time it winks out.
  • Series Continuity Error: The plot got resolved only because the writer forgot who was on whose team: It would have resulted in a draw otherwise.
  • Thanatos Gambit: It was later revealed (perhaps retconned) in an issue of The Avengers that the Grandmaster knew what the price for reviving his brother was all along; in fact, that was his true plan: to die so he could be allowed into Death's realm—to take it over! Then it's inverted. After the Grandmaster was defeated by the Avengers, Death exiled him from her realm forever, thus giving him what he really wanted from the start: true immortality.

     Volume Two 

Tropes used in Contest of Champions (1998)

  • All Your Powers Combined: The Brood Queen takes Rogue as a host so that she can absorb the powers of the winning heroes, which includes Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Gambit, and Spider-Man.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The combination of Cable's time-travelling nature and Scarlet Witch's hexes create temporal rifts that draw Lockdown and Rosetta Stone into the conflict from their own dimension.
  • As You Know: Arguably applies as Psylocke has to brief Iron Man on the nature of their enemies once she realises they’re facing the Brood, but justified as the X-Men dislike talking about their confrontation with the Brood due to how close they came to death and the team's own issues with sharing their secrets.
  • Badass Normal: Black Widow manages to take down X-Force single-handedly.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: A lower-key example, as the heroes are just 'provoked' by the nanites infecting them so that they don't stop to consciously think about the holes in the scenario that’s been presented to them, making them more focused on winning their fights rather than realising what's wrong.
  • Brought Down to Normal: After losing their matches, the contestants are teleported to another part of the ship and the nanites they were infected with suppress their powers, until Iron Man arrives and can modify the nanites to do the opposite.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Of all the battles depicted, this definitely describes Deadpool and Black Widow being pitted against the Hulk and Thor respectively; Thor barely needs to tap Widow with Mjolnir to win his bout and Deadpool spent most of his trying to get away from the green goliath.
  • Disability Immunity: May apply to Shadowcat, who is unable to be taken as a host by the Brood as she is currently stuck in a partly-intangible state where she requires a conscious effort to stay solid, preventing her being infected by the nanites or used as a host.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Depicted confrontations include;
    • Iron Man VS Psylocke
    • Wolverine VS Hercules
    • X-Force VS Iron Man
    • Human Torch VS Spider-Woman
    • Hulk VS Mister Fantastic
    • Human Torch VS She-Hulk
    • Storm VS Human Torch
    • Scarlet Witch VS Cable
    • Spider-Man VS Beast
    • Domino VS Power Man
    • Daredevil VS Firestar
    • Phoenix VS Justice
    • Hawkeye VS Wasp
    • Iron Fist VS Colossus
    • Gambit VS Quicksilver
    • Black Panther VS New Warriors
    • Black Widow VS Wonder Man
    • Deadpool VS Generation X
    • Invisible Woman VS Iron Fist
    • Thor VS Storm
    • Deadpool VS Daredevil
    • Black Widow VS X-Force
    • Thor VS Black Widow
    • Phoenix VS Thing
    • Hulk VS Deadpool
    • Spider-Man VS Domino
    • Captain America VS Black Panther
    • Gambit VS Wolverine
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The fact that so many heroes are willing to dive into the fight is one of Iron Man’s many clues that something is wrong with this situation.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: With some battles reduced to just single-panel shots identifying which hero won, this certainly applies to Black Widow managing to defeat experienced fellow Avenger Wonder Man and the entirety of X-Force with nothing but her own training.
  • Only Sane Man: When all of the abducted heroes are infected by mood-altering nanites to ensure they focus on the contest, Iron Man is the only one immune as his armour sealed itself off completely when he was abducted to protect him from a potentially hostile environment, allowing him to analyse the aliens’ claims and notice the flaws in their story.
  • Ragtag Band of Misfits: The initial opposition to the Contest organisers is led by Iron Man, Psylocke, and the displaced heroes Lockdown and Rosetta Stone; none of the four have worked together before and the latter two are from another dimension altogether.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: The Human Torch loses his fight with Storm because the only way he could win against her current hurricane attack was to hit her with a Nova Flame blast that could have killed her, even the fight-happy Torch refusing to go that far.

    Volume Three 

Tropes used in Contest of Champions (2015):

  • Adaptation Expansion: The comic has a much more concrete storyline, in contrast to the Let's You and Him Fight Excuse Plot of the game.
  • All Just a Dream: When Tony is dismissed by the Collector, everyone thinks he was vaporized, leaving only his damaged suit behind. Instead he was returned home, where he wakes up in bed and convinces himself it was all just a dream.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Venom's right hand is sliced off by Ares, but it doesn't phase him much.
  • And the Adventure Continues: How the series ends. The Maestro may be gone, but scattered Iso-8 fragments still litter Battleworld, drawing in opportunists and scavengers, leaving the Avengers to fight them. Meanwhile, the former champions gather together to form a new team of international heroes.
  • Anyone Can Die: Ewing says that unlike the game, characters can (and will) die on Battlerealm.
    • In issue 5, Joe Fixit, Stick and the Sentry are killed.
    • In issue 7, Eddie Brock is executed by Gallows.
    • And in issue 8, Madame Hydra's head explodes.
    • In issue 10, Penance is killed by a sai to the throat by Bullseye. She is killed by Thunderstrike, who gets mauled open by an axe by Ares. Captain America is killed by Iron Patriot, whose head is crushed by the Maestro. Jake Gallows is shot in the head by Frank Castle, who gets killed by the Maestro. All of the deaths are of non-616 Characters.
  • Arc Welding: Iso-8, established to be neutronium over in the concurrently published Ultimates, is also established here to be a conduit of the Power Primordial, from which the various Elders of the Universe get their power.
  • Back for the Dead: The Sentry from Earth-1611 - who first appeared in 2008's Age of the Sentry #1 - is killed by Punisher 2099.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Ares makes his return after having been killed by the Sentry during Siege, only as issue 2 reveals without actually having come back in the first place (he was dragged out of the afterlife to fight).
    • Daredevil's mentor Stick is also resurrected as one of the Maestro's fighters.
    • In issue 3, the Maestro brings back Night Thrasher. Though Issue 4 kinda of averts this as they reveal that he never really died in the Stamford incident due to the Collector's intervention. Dwayne was less than pleased that Collector took away his ability to at least die with dignity alongside his teammates after the colossal screw-up which caused the first Civil War event.
    • Issue 10 has Rick Jones turn out to be Stick, disguised. He then helps the Sentry come back, and purify the Void from himself in the process.
  • Badass Cape: Venom wears the shredded remains of Spider-Man's costume as a cape. Maestro takes it as an indicator that this incarnation of Eddie Brock was Ax-Crazy enough to go through with killing Spider-Man, and considers recruiting Carnage to oppose him.
  • Batman Gambit: Issue 6 reveals the entire series is one on the part of the Maestro. Having been part of the Elders of the Universes' first attempt at a tournament, when he and Jake Gallows were the last men standing, he refused to fight, suggesting the Grandmaster and Collector start a new tournament, knowing their respective manias would never allow them to pass it up. They agreed, allowing Maestro to get a chance to nab the Iso-Sphere and take over.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: In the center of the symboid's mind, between the Maestro and Madame Hydra, with the Void and Sentry watching on. Maestro wins.
  • Beyond the Impossible: The crystals warriors are kept in are meant to keep them out until they're needed. Ares manages to wake up and break out of his, something the characters thought was impossible.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Collector and the Maestro on one side, The Grandmaster and Punisher 2099 on the other. Come issue 6 The Maestro outs the Collector and the Grandmaster, with him as the Big Bad for the remainder of the series and Gallows as The Dragon.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: The Collector may put on a lot of talk, and he may have the Iso-sphere, but it's pretty clear from the outset he's not the real big bad of the story.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Ultimates attempt this, but only get Night Thrasher by accident when Maestro sends them back. An AU Thunderbolts team comprised of Steve Rogers, Peter Parker, Susan Storm, Frank Castle and Bill Foster are sent in on a suicide mission to rescue their team of Avengers, lead by a President Tony Stark.
  • Bling of War: In issue 10, The Maestro uses the Iso-Sphere to upgrade his armor into a much gaudier version.
  • Blood Knight: Ares' reaction to being attacked by the summoners is joy, right up until he notices his enemies aren't bleeding or begging for mercy.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The Avengers the Maestro takes in issue 9 are zapped with the Iso-sphere, so they don't realize they're on Battleworld, and are convinced their opponents are Skrulls.
  • Bullying a Dragon: White Fox attempting to arrest the Grandmaster.
  • Call-Back: The fact Infinity Gems / Stones don't work outside their respective universe becomes a plot point in issue 10, just at the worst possible time for Iron Patriot.
  • The Cameo: Phobos of Secret Warriors makes a brief appearance in the Elysian Fields with his father in issue #2.
  • Canon Immigrant: Contest of Champions marks the official debut of White Fox, a heroine from South Korea. She made her first appearance in Avengers: Electric Rain, a Korean-only web manhwa launched to promote the South Korean release of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
    • Guillotine is a unique case. She was created for the video game, but technically appeared in the comic first since the first issue was released before she was added to the in-game roster.
  • Category Traitor: Jake Gallows hates Outlaw, because Outlaw retired, something Gallows takes as a "betrayal" from a fellow Punisher.
  • C-List Fodder: When choosing fighters from the mainstream Marvel Universe, the Maestro and the Collector purposefully go for lesser known characters whose disappearances won't garner a lot of attention. The first confirmed fatality is Gun-R, a Korean superhero who had never appeared before this series.
  • Clones Are People, Too: In issue 9, the Maestro points out Thunderstrike is just a clone of Thor. He murmurs that while it is true, he didn't have to say it so rudely.
  • Composite Character: A number of the alternate universe fighters are combinations of two or more Earth-616 characters. Examples include a Bullseye that is Elektra Natchios, an Iron Patriot who is Tony Stark, an Iron Spider who is Natasha Romanoff and a Hulk who is Rick Jones.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Tony Stark mistakes The Maestro for a different future Hulk he's met, the one from the opening arc of Avengers Vol 4.
    • The Grandmaster states in issue #2 that he swore a long while back not to interfere with Earth-616 anymore, as happened way back in the first competition, which is why none of his choices are from there.
    • When Phobos appears, the narration notes his involvement in the events of Secret Warriors.
    • In issue 3, the two teams are sent to a universe based on Ultimate End.
    • The fight in issue 4 takes place in The Wastelands.
    • During the opening part of issue 6, the Maestro notes the first part of The Contest took place in what remained of Arcade's Killeseum.
    • In issue 7, Night Thrasher brings up his old company, and how before he took over it had been engaged in some very illegal business practices (as seen all the way back in the first volume of New Warriors).
    • After getting kicked out of Battlerealm the Collector apparently started obsessing over a duck. It's a reference to the events in the concurrent Howard the Duck book.
    • The cover for issue 9 serves as one itself, borrowing the style used for Civil War and its tie-ins.
    • In issue 9, the few contestants left end up in the Warzone, as part of the issue's theme of Civil War related references.
  • Cool People Rebel Against Authority: Rick Jones Hulk has this attitude, complaining to Venom about "the Man" always trying to control him.
  • Cool Sword: Guillotine's blade is capable of cutting through pretty much anything, including the near-indestructible shield of Captain America. It can also uses the spirits of its previous owners to attack anyone it doesn't want to touch. The only setback is that it's alive, bloodthirsty, and wielding it means the owner's soul is bound to it forever.
  • Covers Always Lie: The first issue depicts several superheroes on the cover who are not involved in the contest at all. Several early issues also depict White Fox as being involved, even though she doesn't actually end up in the contest until the second half of the series.
  • Cross Through: In issue 6, White Fox's investigation into Gun-R's death leads her to ask the Ultimates for help.
  • Cultural Posturing: Guillotine, a Frenchwoman, gets in a bit of this in issue 9 when Outlaw, a Brit, says he only speaks English, remarking on how British this is of him.
  • Dead Alternate Counterpart:
    • Bullseye murdered her reality's Daredevil, and Foggy Nelson for good measure.
    • Before the story began, the Maestro murdered an alternate Tony Stark, one who'd became the Hulk instead of Bruce Banner, and stole his armor. He also has a version of Captain America's shield, taken from a version of the captain who was also the Red Skull.
    • Madame Hydra had her world's Night Thrasher personally executed, and is shocked to see his Earth-616 counterpart alive and well. Night Thrasher kicks her in the face on the behalf of his late alternate self.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The elderly Rick Jones.
    • As well as the Maestro, who snarks at everyone and everything.
  • Death Is Cheap:
    • Usually averted. Most of the deaths on Battleworld are permanent, though there are a few exceptions.
    • Iron Patriot had been using his world's Reality Stone to resurrect dead heroes, among other things. His belief in this trope backfires when he puts a hole through Captain America, then tries to resurrect him... only for nothing to happen.
  • Did Not Think This Through: A humourous version in issue 9; Bullseye starts complaining about everything in Greek. In front of Ares, the Greek god of War. And Guillotine and White Fox, the daughter of a diplomatic and a spy, respectively, who therefore have fluency in languages besides their own.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": As can be imagined, The Maestro is very insistent he is no longer Bruce Banner.
  • Enemy Mine: Stick and the Sentry arrange a secret alliance to betray everyone. They're one-upped by Maestro and Punisher 2099, who kill them and reveal they arranged an alliance even earlier.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In the All-New, All-Different Marvel Point One one-shot that serves as a prologue, the Maestro rejects Carnage as an option, for being too crazy for him.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Devil Dinosaur appears in the first issue. A Hydra Devil Dinosaur. Then Gamora kills it.
  • Evil Smells Bad: Gamora remarks that the Venom they're up against smells much fouler than the one she's comrades with.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: For the same reasons listed in C-list fodder, prominent Marvel Universe heroes are off-limits as anything other than ringers. To work around this, the Grandmaster instead kidnaps alternate universe versions of prominent characters like Venom and the Hulk.
    • The Grandmaster's team is entirely killed off (with the exception of the Sentry) and several of the alternate universe Dark Avengers and Thunderbolts die, but the Collector's team - who all hail from Earth-616 - all survive, including those who were dead to begin with (Ares, Stick and Night Thrasher).
  • Expy: The team of Thunderbolts sent to retrieve the Iron Patriot's team of Avengers are more than a little bit inspired by DC Comics' Suicide Squad, especially with the bombs strapped to their necks.
  • Fantastic Racism: Guillotine's blade refuses to strike Venom, since it regards alien blood as "unclean".
  • Fish out of Water: Nigel Higgins is a street-level person, not an international superhero. He's way out of his depth, something he tries pointing out in issue 9.
  • Five-Man Band: The Collector's team of heroes from Earth-616 end up as this:
    • The Leader: White Fox, the one who pushes the Ultimates into intervening and who ends up calling most of the shots.
    • The Lancer: Guillotine, who acts as White Fox's right hand fighter.
    • The Big Guy: Ares, the strongest member of the team.
    • The Smart Guy: Stick, who allies with the Sentry and successfully fools the Maestro.
    • The Chick: Outlaw, who acts as The Heart of the team, as well as The Hero.
    • Sixth Ranger: Night Thrasher; though he's not the last to join the team, he's the last to be introduced, and the first to leave the team permanently.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • Most of the Grandmaster's fighters are from alternate universes that are similar to the mainstream universe, but with some very significant divergences. For instance, Venom managed to kill his world's Spider-Man, while The Incredible Hulk never evolved out of his Joe Fixit persona from the 1980's.
    • The alternate Earth in issue 9 seems to have not undergone the Skrull Invasion, or Dark Reign, or Siege, or if it did it happened very differently, given Tony Stark is still a figure of authority, and the Registration Act is still in full force. Also, Bill Foster is still alive. Issue 10 implies that the Skrull invasion did happen, based on what Steve says to Tony... but it did happen differently: The significant difference between the history of 616 and the universe Iron Patriot comes from is that when the Illuminati split the Infinity Stones between them, he received the Reality stone instead of Black Bolt. Tony used the Reality Stone to alter the course of the Civil War and rig his election to the US Presidency.
  • Fusion Dance: Venomoids, the result of what was left of Venom and the Void merging.
  • The Gadfly: When Gallows tells the imprisoned fighters not to drink from the toilets, apparently a punishable offense, Outlaw murmurs "now he tells us" loud enough for Gallows to hear. He quickly explains he was lying to mess with him.
  • Genre Throwback: One of the contestants is The Sentry from "Age of the Sentry", so he talks like a Silver Age superhero, and acts like one too.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal:
    • Venom's symbiote grants enhanced healing abilities. Which is useful when one's been impaled by the deadliest woman in the universe (though Eddie does complain about the pain afterward).
    • In issue 6 The Maestro beats on the Grandmaster, but doesn't manage to kill him, so while the Maestro makes his power-play, the Grandmaster just lies there and lets his spine heal back into position.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Underneath his symbiote, all Eddie Brock has on is his Spider-Man boxer shorts.
  • Groin Attack: Ares tries one of these on The Maestro. It actually works.
  • Hearing Voices: Venom has auditory hallucinations of Peter Parker, and acts as though they're best friends.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • Gun-R, a Korean superhero who'd been violently killed in the games, was supposedly one of South Korea's most famous superheroes.
    • Despite this comic being White Fox's first appearance, she apparently has a history of super-heroics to her name already, including a few dealings with alternate realities.
    • And Guillotine, who also has a "history" with the main universes' T'Challa.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Used with gratuitous Lampshade Hanging when Night Thrasher starts using it on the Maestro's prison systems. Bullseye tries pointing out that it doesn't work that way... only for him to do just that.
  • Hope Spot: White Fox eventually gets the Ultimates involved, and brings them to Battlerealm to put an end to the Maestro's scheme. The Ultimates are soon sent home without any memory of what occurred, and White Fox ends up trapped in Battlerealm as one of the new fighters. The only one who actually has anything good happen to them in all this is Night Thrasher, who is sent back to Earth-616 with the Ultimates.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Void, the Sentry's Superpowered Evil Side slash Enemy Without. He's killed by Gallows, but his essence combines with remnants of the Venom symbiote to form the Symbioids.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Maestro's armor stores weapons he's taken from the champions of other universes, and allows him to teleport them in on command.
  • Idiot Ball: The Maestro, who previously argued against kidnapping prominent superheroes because someone would notice, decides in issue 9 to kidnap one universe's Avengers. Sure enough, the people of that universe don't take their mightiest heroes being abducted too well, and send the Thunderbolts after them. Maestro's conversation with Rick Jones implies he did this because he was bored.
  • Irony: According to Word of God, at one point, the Contest of Champions video game was going to be a loose adaptation of the original Secret Wars (1984) crossover. Though this was abandoned, the new series is now connected to the 2015 Secret Wars series.
  • Ironic Death: Jake Gallows, Punisher 2099, constantly displays deep contempt for Outlaw for giving up on being the British Punisher, claiming he's not a true Punisher and that he doesn't deserve to wear the skull. In issue 10, Jake Gallows is unceremoniously killed off by the Civil War-verse's Frank Castle.
    Outlaw: Frank-
    Frank Castle: Wearing the skull. Didn't approve him.
  • It's Personal:
    • Ares is still miffed about having been torn in half by his realities' Sentry, and is itching for a chance to get revenge, even on a Sentry from another reality.
    • Issue 6 has a brief moment that shows a young White Fox interacting with Gun-R, implying her hunt for his killers is at least partly personal.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Outlaw is awestruck when he meets Night Thrasher.
  • Knight Templar: Bullseye describes her reality's Stick as one of these, dismissing anyone who didn't measure up to his standards.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em:
    Stick: You can't fight 'em. You think nobody's tried. She tried-
    Guillotine: Oui. I tried, and wound up right back in my crystal. While you stood and watched.
    Stick: 'cause I'm not a damn idiot. You fight someone you're not ready to fight, you lose. Every time. Be smart, you heroes. Keep it in your damn pants for a change.
    • In issue 7, the Void drags himself and the Sentry down into the recesses of the symboid mindscape rather than try fighting the Maestro or Madame Hydra, even though the Sentry proclaims there's a chance they might never resurface.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Bullseye tries to be the Only Sane Man, pointing out that despite what Night Thrasher says, he can't just "hack" the Maestro's systems like that. Then he goes and does it anyway.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia:
    • The fate of any Ringer sent home, so as to prevent them from telling about the contest.
    • Also what happens to the Ultimates and Night Thrasher, when The Maestro gets rid of them.
    • Iron Patriot had also been using his Reality Stone to wipe people's minds, making some of them forget things like their own death.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The Maestro, once the Iso-sphere is taken from him, gets sent to the Collector, stripped of all his weaponry and armor, and locked up in an inescapable cage. The Grandmaster and Collector share a drink at his fate.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Like most of the All-New, All-Different Marvel titles, this series gives away the ending to Secret Wars (and that Battleworld was abandoned after whatever went down there), due to that series not having ended before this one started.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Pretty much all of Outlaw's explanation for why he quit being a vigilante in Issue 10.
  • Legacy Character: Guillotine is one, going all the way back to the French Revolution. Not by choice, though. The cursed sword her family has wielded insists on it's wielder continuing the line. Some of her ancestors have been heroes, some decidedly not.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The whole plot, as with the prior Contests of Champions, revolves around the Collector and the Grandmaster plucking heroes and villains from across the Multiverse to fight in a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena-style tournament.
  • Living Legend: Night Thrasher is lauded by Outlaw as Captain America + Black Panther + Iron Man. But with a skateboard!
  • Macguffin: The Iso-8 (or Neutronium, if you like), a whole sphere of which grants it's wielder reality-warping power. The Collector has almost a whole sphere, and The Grandmaster has the remaining chunk. The whole contest is to see who gets to keep all of it (and naturally, The Maestro wants it for himself).
  • Mind Rape: Madame Hydra's specialty.
  • Multinational Team: White Fox (South Korea), Guillotine (France), Outlaw (England), and many more.
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table: Venom keeps part of his universe's Spider-Man's uniform tied around his neck, and talks to it as though it were the real Peter Parker. Strangely, he seems to think he and Spidey are best friends, despite the fact that he killed Spider-Man in the first place.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The universal designation for the "Ultimate End" reality is Earth-61610, a mix of the Marvel U's Earth-616, and Ultimate Marvel's Earth-1610.
    • Bullseye's comments regarding Guillotine are inversion of what regular Bullseye said to Elektra when he killed her, all the way back when. Added irony for it being an Elektra saying it to someone else.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • The Maestro and the Collector think that using D-list heroes will prevent anyone outside of Battlerealm from realizing what is happening. Instead, the death of an obscure Korean hero named Gun-R is what causes White Fox to begin investigating the disappearances.
    • Maestro thinks this way about the Collector picking Night Thrasher as a champion rather than White Fox. Fox is actively investigating them on Earth, drawing unwanted attention, and Night Thrasher proves to be too cunning to keep in line on Battleworld.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: The Collector. Justified, as without the Iso-8 Sphere, he's a somewhat fragile immortal. He has to resort to threats, bluffs and aforementioned sphere to keep everyone doing what he says.
  • The Nothing After Death: What Stick experienced after dying, as opposed to going to some manner of afterlife.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Issue 3, Stick manages to defeat The Sentry while the action is focused elsewhere, and refuses to say how. Issue 4 reveals he convinced the Sentry to take a dive.
    • In issue 6, the Maestro's fight with the Grandmaster for his Iso-sliver:
    Maestro: How long since you've fought your own battles? Hm? I've fought every day of my life. And I'm the strongest one there is. This is going to be fun.
    Narration: Four and a half minutes later.
    Maestro: All right. That wasn't fun.
    Grandmaster: Thank you.
    Maestro: I think you broke my arm. And some ribs.
    Grandmaster: Glad to hear it. I'm just going to lie here and let my spine reattach for a while...
  • Off with His Head!: Ares kills Joe Fixit this way in issue 4.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Maestro is an even stronger future version of the Hulk, so the fact that Guillotine's spur of the moment attack in issue 2 actually causes him to stutter speaks volumes.
    • Ares in issue 9, when he sees the Iron Patriot and realises it's Tony Stark, in full-on fascist mode.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, thanks to the magic of alternate universes. There are two different versions of the Hulk (Maestro and Joe Fixit), and by issue 7, two versions of Rick Jones.
  • Only Mostly Dead: The Void and the Sentry survive being killed by Gallows... sort of. Given the sort of punishment their Earth-616 counterparts survived, this is hardly surprising.
  • Original Generation: The comic introduces a French heroine named Guillotine.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Issue 9 introduces the Iron Patriot, a zealous pro-registration version of Tony Stark, who's locked up most of his fellow superheroes, and conscripted them as Thunderbolts.
  • Patchwork World: Battlerealm is composed of bits and pieces of what was once Battleworld.
  • Plot Armor: Enforced Trope. The creators have said that while big time heroes like Iron Man, Hawkeye, Captain Marvel and the new Captain America can show up, they only do so as "ringers" that get mindwiped and sent back home after their fights.
    • This is stated in-universe in the All-New, All-Different Marvel Point One one-shot. The Collector and the Maestro steer clear of kidnapping prominent heroes like the Avengers or the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. out of fear that their absence will be noticed and bring unwanted attention to Battlerealm.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The comic adapts the events of the game for the mainstream Marvel Universe canon, tying it to the fallout from Secret Wars.
    • The video game is outside of Marvel canon, and as such, has a mixture of current outfits/identities (such as Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel) and classic ones (such as Venom being Eddie Brock instead of Flash Thompson). In order to make sense of this in the comic (which takes place in the Marvel Universe and is explicitly canon), Al Ewing made it so that one team largely consists of Alternate Universe characters instead of the current, mainline Marvel characters. Thus, we get the modern versions of Iron Man and Captain America fighting alongside the classic versions of other heroes and villains without any resulting Continuity Snarls.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • After losing his fight with Guillotine, the Rick Jones Hulk is unceremoniously removed from the Collector's team.
    • Night Thrasher is sent back to Earth-616 with the Ultimates after proving to be too much trouble, and doesn't reappear for the rest of the series.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The Maestro gives the Collector one as he steals the Iso-Sphere from him.
    The Collector: I am The Collector! I want! - I take - I collect! That is my function - my very being! And I say the Iso-Sphere is mine!
    The Maestro: Wrong! Your desire is small and petty - the hoarder's need for junk, piled high in disused rooms! All you want is another trinket - another keepsake, a cosmic figurine for your mantel. - And I! WANT! EVERYTHING!
  • Retired Badass: Nigel Higgins, aka Outlaw, the British Punisher. Or he was, until he gets dragged into the contest.
  • Retired Outlaw: It's in the name.
  • The Reveal:
    • In the one-shot that introduces the series, the Silver-Age style Sentry from Age of the Sentry appears briefly. Issues 2 and 5 reveals that he can turn into The Void, like his Earth-616 counterpart once could.
    • Issue 2 reveals the Grandmaster's partner in the game. The Punisher 2099.
    • Issue 4: The Maestro and Gallows are working together.
    • Issue 10, being the finale, has a few: Like Rick Jones actually being Stick, for example.
  • Revenge: Ares wants revenge on The Sentry for tearing him in half and strewing his guts across Asgard, either not knowing or caring that he's not the same Sentry as the one who did that to him.
  • Running Gag: People mistaking Outlaw for a pirate Punisher.
    • The villains mocking Night Thrasher for his Fad Super gimmick only for him to immediately and completely upstage them with said gimmick.
  • Sanity Slippage: Issue 9 makes it pretty plain the alternate Tony Stark isn't in his right mind. Issue 10 shows that use of the Reality Stone has driven him right over the edge.
  • Shattered World: The remains of Battleworld. Come issue 6, The Maestro uses the Iso-Sphere to restore it.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Superpowered Evil Side: The Void briefly takes over the Sentry twice, knocking out most of the other combatants the second time.
  • Super Senses: White Fox has astoundingly good smell, able to distinguish what reality something is from (or isn't, in some cases).
  • Tautological Templar: The Iron Patriot claims he doesn't make mistakes "anymore".
  • Technical Pacifist:
    • Outlaw has sworn off killing, but that doesn't mean he won't shoot your ass with his non-lethal ammunition (which still hurts like hell).
    • The Sentry doesn't want to fight, because if he does he risks the Void coming out. He will fight if he has to, but he won't kill.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The Maestro isn't exactly happy about working for the Collector.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • The Rick Jones Hulk is from an old issue of What If?.
    • The Sentry is explicitly stated in issue 4 to be the one from the Age of the Sentry miniseries.
    • After The Maestro gets a hold of the Iso-Sphere, he inadvertently brings back the elderly Rick Jones of his reality. Except he hasn't. It's Stick in disguise.
  • The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Back home, Guillotine had to deal with a Parisian inspector who wanted nothing better than to remove her bloodline's influence on his city, unaware the woman he was chasing was his own fiancée.
  • Time Crash: The remains of Battlerealm, according to the opening narration of the prologue.
  • Totally Radical: The retro-60s Rick Jones Hulk mixes this with Hulk Speak for a strange effect.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Maestro doesn't use Hulk Speak, always speaking in an eloquent fashion. So during the last battle, that he briefly refers to himself as "Hulk" shows he's really beginning to lose it.
  • Wham Episode: Issue 6. The Maestro takes the Iso-sphere from the Grandmaster and the Collector, and takes over Battlerealm.
  • Your Head Asplode: The fate of Madame Hydra, after she loses her Battle in the Center of the Mind with the Maestro.


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