Preview THE YOUNG ELDERS TALE by Gabriel Frizzera and Luke Ross!

Marvel Contest of Champions” gets back to its comic book roots with a comic of its own, THE YOUNG ELDERS TALE, by Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and artist Luke Ross. We reached out to the dynamic duo to chat about their new comic and to figure out what the Collector and Grandmaster got up to during the formative years of their immortality.

Marvel.com: Gabe what is going on with this new comic, THE YOUNG ELDERS TALE, you created with Luke Ross?

Gabriel Frizzera: This is a very special initiative for us. Around 130 million people have downloaded MCOC, and millions of these come back every single day to play, and follow our storyline. As our little “Contest of Champions Universe” becomes more complex, we are always looking to create more avenues of storytelling for the game beyond the in-game dialogue, cutscenes and motion comics we create every month.

The first of these avenues is called THE YOUNG ELDERS TALE, a short comic written by myself and drawn by Marvel artist Luke Ross, and integrated to our January quest. Now that the “MCOC” universe is established, it’s a good idea to bring outside collaborators to add their voices to the mix, as it’s the modus operandi of successful fictional universes like the Marvel universe, Star Wars, and others. It’s also part of our mission as Marvel geeks to convert more players into comic readers, and make them invested in the beautiful tapestry of Marvel continuity!

Marvel.com: The team has packed quite a bit of story and lore into “Marvel Contest of Champions,” especially for a mobile game. Where do you see narrative fitting into the “MCOC” package?

Gabriel Frizzera: Contest of Champions has always been strongly focused on story. Three years into the game, we have developed our own continuity, creating monthly one-shots focused on different characters. We also have a “mainline” story that started in 2014, and continues to this day. We collaborated with Marvel to create the Contest of Champions comic, and characters that exist in both the comic and game universes. Part of the job is to look to the past and future of this universe, and fill the narrative gaps. “Young Elders Tale” goes back millions years back in time to tell an origin tale for both the Battlerealm and the cosmic Elders running the Contest of Champions.

Marvel.com: And let’s talk a little about THE YOUNG ELDERS TALE. Where did it come from? What are you trying to do through exploring the relationship between the Collector and the Grandmaster?

Gabriel Frizzera: The plot of the story basically follows the beginnings of the relationship of the Collector and the Grandmaster, when they were young and were still looking for their Elder “vocations”, i.e. they didn’t have “jobs” as Collector and Grandmaster yet. They had a brotherly relationship, and explored the Battlerealm together, along the Collector’s daughter, Carina. But something tragic happens that makes them have a falling out. It’s a tale never fully explored in the main 616 continuity, so I felt it was story worth to be told… and we’re in a unique position to do it, since we’ve been using these character as part of our game for some time now.

The Elders of the Universe are a fascinating bunch to me. Official lore says they are immortal and dedicate eternity to one single pursuit, and that keeps them alive. It all seems very cosmic, but in fact I think it relates to regular people’s lives. When we’re young, we usually have every step of our future planned; but then life happens, and we often end up becoming very different people, with different professions and pursuits. When we look back, it almost looks like we had no choice at all in the matter. As you’ll see in the story, the Collector and the Grandmaster are very naive people when they enter their adventure together, before their journey forces them onto different paths.

Gabriel Frizzera’s original concept of the young Collector and young Grandmaster

Marvel.com: It had to be a blast working with Luke Ross. What was it like seeing him turn your words into pictures?

Gabriel Frizzera: I have always been a fan of Luke’s works, as an artist and fellow Brazilian. He was one of the pioneers in my country, showing to an entire generation of developing comic artists that we could realize our dreams of drawing our favorite comics for Marvel. His drawings are so effortless, and improved my words in every way. Luke makes the characters slowly evolve, from innocent explorers to jaded Elders, by making them more realistic, page by page, which I thought it was a genius move. The collaboration was so fruitful that we are considering creating more cool stories in the near future!

Luke Ross: Thank you for your generous words, my friend! Working together on a comic was something that we both were eager to realize, I am very glad that we finally could make that happen. I am very satisfied with the great comic our partnership resulted, and I also have to say that a big part of the success is due to the superb work you did on the colors!

Marvel.com: And Luke, this comic doesn’t give you quite the same dimensions as a full book might. How’d you adapt to the smaller space you had to work with, especially knowing this would be read on player’s mobile devices?

Luke Ross: Since the time Gabriel invited me to join him on this comic, I thought this as a regular comic book. I didn’t give too much importance to the dimensions, actually. Only later when he sent me the specs that I realized it would be much smaller than the comics I usually draw. I suggested to Gabriel we work on a size that could allow us to have a printed version as well. He approved the idea, and this way I could work on the same size and resolution that I do on a regular comic, permitting it can be reduced to fit the proper mobile resolution. The only difference that I had to get used to quickly was the orientation of the pages. The history itself was easy to draw, it was pure fun. Gabriel gave me freedom to play with my style according to the events that lead up to the final page.

Marvel.com: I gotta ask then, are these kinds of comics the new normal for “Contest of Champions”?

Gabriel Frizzera: We sure hope so! Since this initiative was so well-received by the fans, we’re already planning the next in-game comics. There are many corners of the Contest of Champions universe that we want to shine a light on, and these short stories are the perfect complement to lighter narrative tools like in-quest dialogue and regular cutscenes. Our plan is to invite a roster of talented people to play in our playground, and see what crazy ideas and visuals they can come up with!

Marvel.com: Is there anything else that we need to know about the Elders, the comic, or what’s coming next for “Marvel Contest of Champions”?

Gabriel Frizzera: The Elders storyline is the beginning of the end of our first major story arc, which started in 2015. We’ll cross it over with our massive Infinity War event, wrap all that up in Act 6, then there’ll be a major change in status quo for the Contest of Champions… that’s all I can reveal for now!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews and follow us on Twitter @MarvelGames!

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Gerry Duggan gathers details on the eccentric cosmic being for All-New Guardians of the Galaxy!

In ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2 on May 24, our heroes find themselves caught in a war between The Collector and The Grandmaster!

With the collection-obsessed Elder of the Universe causing trouble for Star-Lord and company, we take a look back at the character’s history. Although some may consider him just an interstellar hoarder, ALL-NEW GUARDIANS writer Gerry Duggan emphasizes the danger he poses to the team:

“His mind is operating on a plane far above our characters, and it makes ‘defeating’ a cosmic elder almost impossible, so I jumped at the chance to put our heroes between Taneleer and another cosmic entity, his brother The Grandmaster,” the writer relates.

The Collector debuted way back in 1966 with AVENGERS #28 by Stan Lee and Don Heck. That issue brought The Wasp and Hank Pym, in his Goliath identity, back to the team to join up with Captain America’s “kooky quartet.” Hank reached out to them after The Collector along with The Beetle—an oddball team-up for sure—kidnapped Wasp for his collection. Pym and the Avengers stopped the devious duo, and they escaped via a time machine.

His obsession with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes didn’t end there. He attempted to “collect ‘em all” in the years after that, running up against Iron Man, Hulk and the team as a whole. In AVENGERS #172174, we learn The Collector has once again kidnapped members of the group, past and present, in an effort to protect them from Korvac, a powerful being from the 31st century. His efforts in that story appeared altruistic, despite his devious methods.

“Well, it’s hard for us to apply our morals to a cosmic elder,” Duggan shares. “It’s not his immense collection that gives him power; it’s the knowledge he’s acquired—and that strength can be a weakness, too.”

In his upcoming GUARDIANS appearance, Duggan explains that The Collector may be willing to help the team in return for more knowledge: “Early in our first story, Gamora makes a gesture to The Collector that has unintended consequences for their relationship. It’s one of my favorite scenes that [artist] Aaron [Kuder] has drawn. I’m so grateful to have Aaron and [colorist] Ive [Svorcina] on this journey. Their work has been spectacular.”

Whatever his motives in corralling the Avengers, the Collector’s plan didn’t work as intended. His own daughter, Carina, posed as Korvac’s wife to spy on him for her father, and as The Collector tells the heroes about the threat, Korvac uses his cosmic powers to reduce him to ashes.

But that would not be the end of his story.

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #2 cover by Aaron Kuder

In 1982, Marvel’s very first limited series, the original CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS, saw Earth’s heroes “collected” by another Elder of the Universe—The Grandmaster! The master gamesman had challenged Death herself to a competition, with the life of his Elder “brother” as his prize. Each contestant chose a team of heroes who fought three-on-three, with Grandmaster ultimately winning—and losing his own life in the process. Well, not really. Later we learned Grandmaster tricked Death in order to steal her power, resulting in the lady banishing all Elders from her realm.

The Grandmaster and The Collector would appear together over the years, sometimes as allies, sometimes at odds, like any good family.

“Family strife is the key to a lot of wonderful stories,” Duggan explains about why he chose to use both Elders in ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2. “What do your characters want? What are they willing to do to get it? I’m speaking about both the antagonists and protagonists in this first story. The Grandmaster does seem to be the more aggressive entity. He’s also leaning on the Guardians a bit more than they would like—all in good fun, if you’re a cosmic Elder. It’s less fun to be a Guardian marching to someone else’s beat.”

The Silver Surfer and Galactus may know something about that. In the third volume of the former’s title, circa 1987, writer Steve Englehart and artist Marshall Rogers introduced several more Elders of the Universe, with Contemplator, Astronomer, and Obliterator joining the likes of The Gardener, Champion and, of course, Grandmaster and Collector. The Elders wanted to kill Galactus and recreate the universe, but the big guy doesn’t die easily. With help from Silver Surfer and the Frankie Raye version of Nova, the World Devourer consumes several Elders, including The Collector and Grandmaster. Instead of dying, though, they give him a case of cosmic indigestion and eventually escape his wrath.

The Collector would go on to run afoul of the Avengers, Silver Surfer, and Galactus again, and continued to play games with The Grandmaster. One competition saw Collector gather the original Defenders—Hulk, Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, and Namor—and pit them against the Grandmaster’s “Offenders,” villainous counterparts to the heroes: Red Hulk, Baron Mordo, Tiger Shark, and Terrax. Following the 2015 Secret Wars event, the two Elders took over a leftover portion of Doctor Doom’s Battleworld, once again using it to collect heroes and villains, and make them fight in a new CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS.

In his most recent appearance, The Collector showed up in the pages of UNWORTHY THOR, wanting to collect the hammer of Ultimate Thor. He had already claimed Asgard itself, so why not? Odinson, Beta Ray Bill, and their allies managed to defeat him, restoring Asgard and destroying the Collector’s army.

While ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2 will likely add another “greatest hit” to the collection, Duggan shares that another appearance by the character could possibly top the list:

“Not to redirect the conversation back to my own work, but The Collector has a pretty interesting appearance in DEADPOOL #30. That issue is an [original graphic novel] essentially—and it has very important threads coming out of it for the next year. The Collector has an important part to play. Wait until you see what [artists Mike] Hawthorne, [Terry] Pallot, and [Jordie] Bellaire have cooked up.”

ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2, from Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder, reveals the Collector’s latest move on May 24!

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The heroes join Spider-Man's fight in a clip from 'Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors,' airing Saturday night!

The mightiest heroes in the Marvel Universe join Spider-Man in the conclusion of the Contest of Champions in “Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors”! Watch the clip above and tune in to an all-new episode of “Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors” this Saturday at 9:00 PM ET on Disney XD.

Spider-Man will face his toughest challenge yet when the Contest of Champions concludes! Grandmaster pits his toughest warriors against the Wall-Crawler, but Spidey has a few friends to lend a hand in the epic battle. See who comes to Spider-Man’s aid by watching the clip above!

Check out a brand-new “Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors” this Saturday at 9:00 PM ET on Disney XD! Stay tuned to Marvel.com for all the latest news and updates on your favorite Marvel animated series.

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The Asgardian aids the Web-Warriors in this week's 'Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors,' airing Saturday night!

Thor lends Spider-Man some Asgardian assistance in a clip from this week’s “Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors”! Tune in to an all-new episode of “Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors” airing Saturday at 9:00 PM ET on Disney XD.

The Contest of Champions continues and Grandmaster sends Annihilus, Attuma, and Terrax to take down Spider-Man, Agent Venom, and Iron Spider! The Web-Warriors need all the help they can get in this powerful conflict so the Collector sends Thor to their aid. See how Thor helps Spidey battle his fearsome foes in the clip above!

Check out a new “Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man: Web-Warriors” this Saturday at 9:00 PM ET on Disney XD! Stay tuned to Marvel.com for all the latest news and updates on your favorite Marvel animated series.

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The Grandmaster makes the warrior battle in 'Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy,' airing Saturday at 9:30 PM ET!

Drax returns to his bloodthirsty beginnings in a clip from “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy”! Check out the clip above and tune in to a new episode of “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” this Saturday at 9:30 PM ET on Disney XD.

When the Guardians crash land on a space station run by the Grandmaster, he begins to mastermind a way to get Drax back in the arena of battle! Rocket Raccoon urges Drax to take part, due in large part to the money Rocket thinks he can make, until Grandmaster reveals Drax’s surprise opponent: Gamora! See the reveal in the clip above.

Watch an all-new episode of “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” this Saturday at 9:30 PM ET on Disney XD! Stay tuned to Marvel.com for all the latest news and updates on your favorite Marvel animated series.

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