Contest of Champions #10

by H├ęctor A on July 26, 2016

Script: Al Ewing
Art: Rhoald Marcellius
Colors: Andrew Crossley
Letters: Joe Sabino
Published by: Marvel

 

Loosely based on a smartphone game by Kabam, Contest of Champions written by Al Ewing revisited the Battleworld from Secret Wars and characters such as Outlaw, Maestro, and Sentry while introducing a handful of new characters. The book followed a competition between the Grandmaster and the Collector that pitted sequestered Marvel characters against each other, the competition eventually was hijacked by the Maestro, who became the villain of the series as the rest of the champions tried to escape him. It doesn't really have the same high-concept feel of Ewing's Ultimates but it's callbacks to obscure continuity and its pure bombast made it really enjoyable.

 

Paco Medina made the first 6 issues more dynamic and his work may fit the idea of the series better but Marcellius' quieter style highlights the characters over all the action. Ewing started placing a heavier focus on Outlaw (a character who, before appearing on Contest of Champions, had only featured on a Punisher arc 20 years ago) after the first arc and Marcellius really excelled at drawing him, the expresiveness of the character here really allows him to carry this book as the protagonist and emotional centre of it all.

 

While I really like this book a lot, I wouldn't say it is flawless. I don't know how many issues Ewing had in mind for Contest of Champions but you can kind of see the seams of the story in this final book. The whole series felt like a throwback to bronze age comics, even though it didn't sell so well it always felt like readers could jump in with any issue, a downside to that is that even with the final issue, there's not really much of a conclusion to the story. At the same time, the book's ending lands because of the characters.

 

It all comes back to Outlaw in the end. Ewing's Stick might be the most likeable version of that character but he still is Stick and while Ares, Guillotine and White Fox (the latter two are new characters) were fairly ancillary characters, Outlaw's arc about rejecting violence had the most effective emotional beats and in the end he rises to the occasion and becomes the hero. Outlaw was kind of an audience surrogate as we get introduced to the Contest through his point of view but Maestro sometimes felt like the focal point of the story. He's such an interesting character, I don't really expect to see much of these characters in the future but I guess Maestro has the better chance of making an appearance as someone's antagonist sooner rather than later.

 

Al Ewing was able to make a very enjoyable series out of a mobile game tie-in. He manages to build good, interesting characters in the midst of an out-and-out action story. It's understandable that this is ending as its sales were never great but the series was always surprisingly entertaining.

Our Score:

9/10

A Look Inside