I was buying something a bit more prosaic (socks) online the other day when a fond – yet incomplete -memory popped up in my recommendations.

Marvel Superhero Contest Champions Gallery Edition HC
| Hardcover | $ 44.99
The first-ever Marvel event series receives the extra-sized treatment it deserves! When the Grandmaster plays a game of cosmic chess against Death herself, Earth’s super heroes become the pawns! If the Grandmaster wins, his brother the Collector will be restored to life. But if he loses, Death will claim a bitter price! Each side selects twelve champions from across Earth to do battle for the fragments of the golden globe of life. But this clash of Marvel titans comes with unexpected twists and turns – and several surprising new combatants! Then, months later, the fallout of the contest leads to a life-and-death saga pitting two teams of Avengers against one another – and a truly lethal Legion of the Unliving! Collecting MARVEL SUPER HERO CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS #1-3, WEST COAST AVENGERS ANNUAL #2 and AVENGERS ANNUAL #16. Rated T

I got coverless copies of issues 1 and 2 of Contest of Champions in two different mystery packs* sometime after their initial release, but never actually got to see how it ended, as #3 eluded me.

Not that I necessarily sought it out – it wasn’t really possible for me to seek out specific back issues in those days, and I haven’t really prioritized it in the years since, especially since the first two issues were long gone – but it was something that I felt like I missed out on.

As noted in the description above, it was significant for being the first “event” comic from Marvel, one that would be followed up a few years later with Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, though that 12-issue maxi-series would pit heroes against villains rather than heroes against heroes the way Contest of Champions did.

What stood out about Contest to me was that it served as a place where I got to see entirely new characters who were created especially for the mini-series, new-to-me characters who had been around but had never popped up in anything I’d read, and some characters I knew that didn’t have their own books or make a lot of regular appearances in anything I read.

The most notable new-to-me character was Captain Britain, though there were some others who at least looked neat, if nothing else.

I believe this mini-series also led to the first edition of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, as it was kind of a prototype catalogue of at least all of the currently active heroes in the Marvel Universe.

Anyway, now I have all three issues in one convenient – yet also inconvenient, given that the “gallery” format is too tall for most of my shelves – volume, along with some additional content that I’ve never seen.

*I’ve explained them before elsewhere, but one of these days I should write a post dedicated to mystery packs that I can link to whenever I mention them.

Born and raised in the sparsely populated Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Jon Maki developed an enduring love for comics at an early age.

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