The Marvel Crossover Event Whose Ending Was Just False

In their latest spotlight on comic book plots that can't really be explained, CSBG takes a look at how the ending of Contest of Champions is wrong.

Today, we look at how a Marvel Comics crossover just had the wrong ending by mistake. I had covered this is a Comic Book Legends Revealed in the past, but it fit here so well that I figured I'd feature it here, as well.

So "Contest of Champions," Marvel's first miniseries crossover, came out in 1982, written by Mark Gruenwald and Bill Mantlo (working off of an original, unrelated story written by Gruenwald, Mantlo and Steven Grant) and drawn by John Romita Jr and Pablo Marcos (with significant artistic edits done by Bob Layton, who did one hell of a JRjr impression on his edits).

The concept was that the Grandmaster has a deal with "The Unknown". They explained the rules and then they each picked their teams in "Contest of the Champions" #1...

Look very carefully as to what heroes were on which teams!

Okay, now let us skip ahead and see who won each round.

The Grandmaster's team struck first...

Then Death tied it up...

Then Grandmaster took a 2-1 lead...

Finally, Death's team ties it up....but wait, it is assigned to the Grandmaster's team instead!!

So Grandmaster won despite it actually being a tie! And no hero is, like, "Uhmmm...what happened?

As it turned out, winning was a bit of a bittersweet thing for him, as for the "Unknown" (who was secretly Death herself) to bring his brother back, Grandmaster had to give up his own life in exchange. He accepted the deal and died. But he never should have died! There was no "tie goes to the Grandmaster" rule and clearly, even if that was the case, there still is no explanation for why the fourth win was given to the Grandmaster in the first place. It was just a silly mistake.

Tom DeFalco and Steve Englehart later brought Grandmaster back in a story because they felt that it was unfair for him to die in a story where he shouldn't have (while trying to make it sound like this was all Grandmaster's plan in the first place to take control of Death's domain right out from under her).

Note how even that later story doesn't explain why there wasn't a tie called. All in all, it was just a pretty funny mistake.

If anyone else has any other seemingly inexplicable comic book plots that you'd like to see us feature here, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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