Tuesday, September 10, 2013

365 Comics... 250: Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions (1982)

Like the later additions to DC's Super Friends cartoons, Marvel's Contest of Champions seemed to serve the purpose of introducing a host of multicultural and international heroes, though the thinly characterized additions are at times little more than crude stereotypes in ugly costumes.

This issue showcases the Russian Vanguard in a fight against the Thing, while Le Peregrine from France loses to Angel.  The West German champion of electricity Blitzkrieg tries to best Storm, Shamrock, with her luck o' the Irish faces Captain America and Collective Man from China faces the Canadian Sasquatch.  Of the characters introduced, the Collective Man is the most interesting... he can split into 5 beings and he can tap into the collective power and knowledge of his countrymen, though not without taking its toll on him.  l love when a power set has some negative implications of use.

It's also interesting to read a big 'heroes gather' book from a time before Wolverine was a mega-star.  Here Ben Grimm says "You're one of those New X-Men, ain'tcha?" to which Wolverine replies, "You knoe it old-timer. The  name's Wolverine.  And I'm as mean as it sounds." (Wolverine calling someone "old timer"...)

Logan also replies to Le Peregrine's initial statement with a "Yeah, frog, guess you're right.   Looks like you an' me are teammates."  Frog!?  Did Logan not have any francophone friends in Canada?  Oh, wait, he's from Albera isn't he?   But people are all using pejoratives in this book... Angel calles Vanguard "Red" and "Ivan" in a derogatory fashion (Cold War and all, I guess) and Le Peregrine "Frenchie".  Terms like Russkie, Blacky, Squirt, Shorty, Short Stuff, Pipsqueak, Half-Pint, Lassie, Sonny, Little Man...the Marvel Super Heroes were in some real need of sensitivity training.

Strangely enough the competition was to retrieve the four pieces of the golden globe of life but since it could wind up in a tie the heroes serving Grandmaster needed to retrieve 3 pieces in order to win while Death's champions only needed 2 to win the contest.  But something got mixed up along the way as when the 4th round begins, the Grandmaster is up 2 to 1 and the announcement is that his team consists if Captain America,  Sasquatch snd Blitzkrieg,  but when the opposing team, Shamrock namely,  retrieves the final piece, somehow the Grandmaster is crowned the victor 3-1.  I've pulled out issue 1 to see if they show the selected teams and indeed, looks like Mantlo and his editors (Gruenwald and DeFalco) alk had brain farts on that one.  Oops.

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