By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
If you’re familiar with the title Contest Of Champions, it may well be because this is the name of an incredibly successful app by Kabam. The app was designed with Marvel as a brawler featuring an original story and a vast collection of superheroes and villains doing battle en route to completing all kinds of missions and quests. However, while its story content was written specifically for the game, the underlying concept has been used elsewhere.
Most notably there was an early-1980s comic series called Contest Of Champions that resembled the modern game. However, perhaps more interestingly, we’ve also seen the emergence of a new comic series modeled after the game. Having begun in 2015, Contest Of Champions is now an ongoing series by Marvel. Mainly, it’s amounted to a sort of Marvel gladiator arena, with each issue thus far bringing on new battles between seemingly random characters who are enslaved by The Collector and forced to do battle. The Maestro serves as a chief villain.
Plot-wise it’s pretty light, but the series is a lot of fun thanks to its natural ability to bring together characters who might otherwise not be involved with one another. Still, eight issues in, Contest Of Champions lacks the sort of character variety that makes the app game upon which it’s based so much fun. These few characters in particular would help to get things moving a bit.
Black Panther, aka T’Challa, is an old fan favorite who’s been around since a 1966 issue of Fantastic Four. Named for his rank in the Panther Clan of the fictional, advanced nation of Wakanda, Black Panther is a brawler with superhuman senses, strength, and healing abilities gained from various mystical connections. At one point in his comic history, he’s even made to be King Of The Dead, giving him a connection to past Black Panthers.
Having been a character in the Contest Of Champions app from day one, Black Panther would appear to be an integral part of the whole concept. Additionally, modern Marvel fans are about to see him on-screen for the first time when he debuts in Captain America: Civil War (in which Chadwick Boseman will play him). That makes him one of the most intriguing and relevant characters in superhero comics right now, and Contest Of Champions would be foolish not to take advantage. That said, there is also a new Black Panther-centered comic on the way, and The Atlantic offered a sneak peek. Perhaps that’s enough fresh comic content for one character for now.
A sort of Batman-esque vigilante empowered by the Egyptian Moon god Khonshu, Moon Knight, is an interesting case where Contest Of Champions is concerned. That’s because he was added to the app not too long after its release. That sparked some curiosity about whether he might be the subject of upcoming Marvel material, and a story by Screen Crush last October revealed that a Moon Knight series may be in development by Marvel and Netflix. However, there hasn’t been much follow-up news in that regard, and given that Moon Knight isn’t connected to The Defenders series that Marvel and Netflix are already developing, the whole idea still feels mysterious.
Elsewhere in modern Marvel, Moon Knight has remained absent. There’s no talk of him joining the MCU, nor are there casting rumors for a Netflix series. The character is also largely uninvolved in Marvel gaming though there may be a slight hint in, of all places, the online casino industry. The slot games at Gala Casino include a few different Marvel-themed reels such as games based on The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2. But there’s also a new-ish game called “Rise of Anubis” about the Egyptian god of the afterlife. It’s not a Marvel game, but Anubis has a lot of connections to Khonshu, which makes one wonder if Moon Knight content is to follow. For now, however, this character remains largely untouched by modern Marvel—and Contest Of Champions should change that.
Lastly, here’s a more mainstream Marvel character that will almost certainly appear in Contest Of Champions at some point, but who hasn’t yet. Inarguably, the most prominent member of the X-Men, Wolverine has been one of the most popular comic superheroes for multiple generations, first for his role as a yellow-clad savage in comics and then through Hugh Jackman’s portrayal in the modern films by 20th Century Fox. The strange thing is that for 21st-century fans, this iconic character has become disconnected from Marvel.
That’s largely because Jackman’s character has been stuck on the sideline from the MCU, thanks to licensing issues that make the character a property of 20th Century Fox, at least where a film is concerned. A few years ago, Screenrant revealed that Jackman wants his character to share the screen with the Avengers and a recent collaboration between Sony and Marvel Studios to rope Spider-Man into the MCU has given fans renewed hope that a Wolverine team-up could be possible. Until the day that becomes a reality, we’ll have to look to Marvel’s avenues outside of the cinema to see Wolverine alongside the other non-X-Men heroes of Marvel lore. He’s been a part of the Contest Of Champions game since day one, and an introduction to the comic series would see him alongside the likes of Iron Man, Gamora, Venom, and more.
There are many more characters still to be revealed in Contest Of Champions. But for now, these three seem to be some of the most compelling ideas for new inclusions, for all the reasons shared above.