Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7: And They Shall Call Him... Champion!
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Penciller: Ron Wilson
Inkers: Camp, Esposito, Giacoia, Green, Gil, and Stone
Letterer: Jim Novak
Colorist: George Roussos
Editor: Jim Salicrup
The Guest Star:
There is no titled guest star. The following, as combatants, could be considered the major guest stars: Colossus, Hulk, Wonder Man, Submariner, Doc Samson, Sasquatch, Thor
Vision; Scarlet Witch; Mr. Fantastic; Invisible Girl; Professor X; Cyclops; Storm; Wolverine; Nightcrawler; Kitty Pryde; Human Torch; Iron Man; Hawkeye; She-Hulk; Wasp; Captain America
The Set Up:
Ben is posing for one of Alicia's sculptures when an alien pops into the studio. He introduces himself as Proja, an interstellar fight promoter, and says that he's come to arrange a fight between Ben and the universe's most accomplished fighter (Proja's appraisal of Ben: "You might even last a round!"). Ben declines, and the alien asks to shake hands in goodbye. When he does, Ben and the alien disappear with a 'bamff.'
The fight promoter soon appears to similar strength based heroes all over the globe, disappearing with them in similar fashion (though dismissing the Vision as being an artifical life form and thus not eligible to fight). The vanished super heroes (see the Guest Star list above, plus Ben) find themselves in a gymnasium located in some starless void. Very soon they are joined by someone who calls himself the 'living spirit of competition', The Champion. He tells them he recruits the best fighters of every world he comes to to engage him in competition, and that no one has ever lasted past the first round with him. The eight agree to fight (fearing what his powers could do to earth if they don't go along), and begin training for the big bout...
No Clobberin' Time in this issue. I don't think it needs it, do you?
Things of Interest:
This issue is a classic in its showing Ben's true spirit, and showing us what sets him apart from the rest of the world's heroes. The image of a beaten, battered, and bloodied Ben crawling back for more time and time again...
The Champion is one of the Elders of the Universe. This is his first appearance. He later plays a major role in the Silver Surfer series, helping the other Elders in a plot involving the Soul Gems, in which he holds the Gem of Power. He eventually loses it to Thanos, and is pretty much ineffective from there on out. Its hard to believe any of the stories he tells here based on how much trouble he later has with Thanos and, in particular, Drax the Destroyer.
This story was reprinted in July of 1994 in a trade paperback format with several other stories as Marvel's Greatest Super Battles.
In 2010, this was voted as number 2 / 1 in the "Greatest Thing (Ben Grimm) Stories Ever Told!" poll at Comic Book Resources.
Someone else's reviews of this issue can be found at http://leaderslair.crosswinds.net/marveluniverse/2in1an7.html and http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2008/01/29/this-comic-is-good-marvel-two-in-one-annual-7/.
I would love to read this magazine, however...
The last issue / next issue links below for each Annual will take you not to the last / next Annual, but rather to the last / next issue chronologically, as determined by the Marvel Chronology Project.