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Contest of Chaos
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Contest of Chaos’ is fun, but completely skippable

Takes part in a long legacy of low-impact Marvel annual crossovers.

The recent resurgence of the Marvel annual event (including last year’s Contest of Chaos and the upcoming Infinity Watch) have been a welcome – if largely trite – bit of nostalgic fancy.

Contest of Chaos takes part in a long legacy of low-impact Marvel annual crossovers – events created to be skippable since their late-1980s inception. Despite the rise of the comic shop, the company couldn’t be sure readers could (or would) track down their oversized annuals (which were at least double the price of normal issues); nothing ground-shaking or formative could happen in a fourteen-part series about Ghaur kidnapping women. The practice essentially died out by 1993, the year each annual introduced a new character (and came with a trading card); Marvel annuals were left by the wayside in general not long after.

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Contest of Chaos

Marvel Comics

As in all those old stories, nothing much of consequence occurs over the nine issues of Contest of Chaos, despite the narrative being firmly rooted in contemporary Marvel mythology. Like its namesake, 1982’s Contest of Champions, the book exists almost wholly as an excuse for our heroes to fight one another.

This sort of spectacle is never to be frowned upon, of course—who doesn’t want to see Ghost Rider tussle with the Human Torch – though, strangely, the most compelling moments in the book happen when our heroes refuse to fight: in the Moon Knight Annual, Moon Knight sees through the malarkey and forfeits to Taegukgi; In Spider-Gwen, Gwen and White Fox work together. Throughout the narrative, in micro-backups to the brawling, a small crew of heroes tries to uncover the mystery behind the events.

Contest of Chaos

Marvel Comics

That mystery lies, of course, with Agatha Harkness, who believes that the Scarlet Witch is an unworthy steward to the Darkhold. The event’s opening issue, Scarlet Witch Annual, features its most realized conflict between the two, something that the conclusion in Avengers Annual can do little to support.

 

Contest of Chaos

The most compelling action happens over this cup of tea.
Marvel Comics

Ultimately, Contest of Chaos is exactly what it says on the tin – chaotic brawls between big-ticket characters. It’s as uneven as any of the Marvel annual events that precede it, but that’s somehow part of the fun. Engineered to be skippable, fun throughout.

Contest of Chaos
‘Contest of Chaos’ is fun, but completely skippable
Contest of Chaos
Following in the footsteps of other disposable events, Contest of Chaos delivers on mindless fun, but does little to further the Marvel narrative.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.7
Several great character moments.
A compelling concept.
Punch-ups!
That compelling concept does not satisfy its promise.
Occasionally boring action.
7.5
Good
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