The Black Panther baddie enters Battlerealm!

Erik Killmonger, longtime nemesis of The Black Panther, enters “Marvel Contest of Champions” today! He threatens T’Challa no matter where the King goes—from Wakanda to the cosmic Battlerealm! To celebrate the villain’s arrival in the mobile game, we talked to Kabam Lead Character Artist Gene Campbell, Game Designer Piero Herrera, and Product Marketing Manager Vincent Huynh to get all the details.

Marvel.com: Battlerealm is getting an infusion of a classic Wakandan villain! This wouldn’t have anything to do with a certain Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” hitting theaters this weekend, would it?

Gene Campbell: Of course it does! All of us here on Contest of Champions are huge fans of the films, like you would expect. We were already hyped for the upcoming “Black Panther” movie. The team always gets super excited when we get the chance to release a build alongside a big event like this, and even more so when we can be inspired by one of the main villains of the film!

Marvel.com: How closely did you work with Marvel Studios to get all of Erik Killmonger’s costume details just right?

Gene Campbell: So much detail and thought goes into creating these amazing cinematic costumes for the big screen. It’s very important to us that we can get as close to these designs as possible. We gather all the great reference from the Marvel Studios team and keep checking in with the cinematic teams to make sure we are getting all those design points correct so we can honor all the hard work and attention to detail that went into making the costumes of “Black Panther.”

Marvel.com: And what about his abilities? Where does this character excel?

Piero Herrera: Erik Killmonger has one of the best defensive abilities in the game when you play him offensively. Whenever activating a Special 2 Attack, he will receive Indestructible Charges that enables him to withstand the opponent’s Special 3 Attack without taking damage. He also has something called Counterpunch Charges, which enables him to shrug off the impact of the opponent’s attack when he is blocking, allowing him to immediately start his own combo. Use this against Stun Immune opponents!

Marvel.com: We know that Erik wants to take T’Challa out by any means necessary, but who else is best equipped to help him survive the ravages of Battlrealm?

Piero Herrera: Put him on a same team with Winter Soldier, Black Panther (Civil War), and Void to maximize Killmonger’s power. Those synergies will provide various bonuses like Regeneration and easier ways to get True Strike, which should help a lot against Champions who Evade such as Spider-Man.

Marvel.com: And he’s available today?

Piero Herrera: Yes! Players will be able to utilize Erik Killmonger starting February 15! Check in-game messages for more information.

Marvel.com: Anything else we need to know about the character or other Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” related events?

Vincent Huynh: If you’re looking to battle the real Erik Killmonger, head to our Event Quests page and challenge Michael B. Jordan’s hand picked team of characters in his Champion Challenge! This quest will only be live until February 21, so test your skills today to get some awesome rewards!

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

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A nation rises February 7.

Long live the King.

As we near Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” film debut on February 16, the King of Wakanda brings all the royal action to Marvel Games! New content inspired by the film heads to “Marvel Contest of Champions,” “Marvel Future Fight,” “Marvel Puzzle Quest,” “Marvel Avengers Academy,” and “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2.”

Marvel Contest of Champions” unveiled Michael B. Jordan’s Challenge. In addition to Erik Killmonger being released on Battlerealm, Thanos’ threat continues to grow across the battlerealm. In a last ditch effort to buy the Illuminati, led by Doctor Strange, some time, Black Panther heads off on a suicide mission to turn the tide of war in the Rise of the Black Panther Quest! Don’t forget to reflect on the teachings of the ancient guardian of the Black Panthers, Bast, with the Trials of the King. Show your skill in the Champion Challenge and earn the rare title of “Wakandan Warrior” by February 21.

Marvel Future Fight

Marvel Future Fight” unleashes three new characters to the game starting today: Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister and head of the Wakandan Design Group; Killmonger, a new foe to Wakanda with designs on the throne; and Okoye, head of the Dora Milaje and fiercely loyal protector of Wakanda. Alongside the new players comes new costumes for Black Panther.

Marvel Puzzle Quest

Wakanda is under attack by H.A.M.M.E.R. and Ultron. T’Challa must travel to his kingdom with his allies to defend its greatest resources in “Marvel Puzzle Quest.” Play against all-new Hazard tiles in this new story event.

Marvel Avengers Academy” gets a massive update while “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2” will come chock full of characters inspired by the film. Check back next week!

Check out Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” when it hits theaters in the U.S. on February 16, and stay tuned to Marvel.com for more Marvel games news and interviews.

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Robert Reynolds' dark alter-ego leaps into Battlerealm!

The Sentry revealed his awesome might in “Marvel Contest of Champions” a couple of weeks ago—and while it’s been fun to harness the power of a million exploding suns, one must pay a price for that kind of ability.

This week, The Void comes to collect on that debt. Revealing himself in all his shadowed glory, the unrelenting alter-ego of The Sentry fights for the soul of Robert Reynolds—and will look to plunge all of Battlerealm into darkness.

We talked to Kabam Lead Character Artist Gene Campbell and Game Designer Piero Herrera about The Void and how he aims to tear the Contest apart.

Marvel.com: Uh oh…who let The Void out?

Gene Campbell: It was an accident, we swear! But seriously, The Collector has been waiting for his powerful compatriot, Sentry, to return to him for what feels like an eternity now. For what task exactly? We don’t know…but as expected, the familiar dark force that accompanies him, The Void, still hides within, ready and waiting to reveal itself. Surely The Collector—in all of his ancient wisdom and foresight—expected this. Whatever he tasked Sentry with, he must have thought it worth the risk.

Marvel.com: How did the team decide just how The Void would manifest visually on Battlerealm?

Gene Campbell: We were considering the more monstrous form of Void early on. Early development of Sentry and Void had them switching back and forth during gameplay, but we found it very challenging and confusing to have a man morph into a big tentacle covered space creature like that. The final version also made sense with our storyline. The “Marvel Contest of Champions’” version of Sentry has been to the edge of the multiverse and back, all the while looking for something. He’s older and wiser, and has a better grip on the darkness within. So when his concentration slips, he’s able to contain it better and not let the whole monster out.

 

Marvel.com: Let’s talk a little about the abilities that Bob Reynolds’ evil alter-ego has…how does he differ from The Sentry?

Piero Herrera: Void’s abilities were built around the concept of fear. All of the Champions are vulnerable to the Void’s debuffs and they do direct damage over time—even if Void does not directly land an attack. Summoners have to remove those damaging effects by constantly fighting.

Marvel.com: It looks like his gameplay centers around his Intimidating Presence. What’s going on there?

Piero Herrera: Exactly! After a delay, Void’s Intimidating Presence becomes powerful enough to inflict a debuff onto the opponent. Those debuffs are capable of not only doing direct damage over time but also enable him to deal with the opponent’s abilities—like Regeneration, Power Gain, and Evade.

Marvel.com: Dark Stinghave we seen that ability before? Or is it unique to The Void?

Piero Herrera: Dark Sting is unique to Void. After his Special 2 Attack, he will place two Dark Stings onto the opponent that can turn into Degeneration or a Weakness debuff whenever the opponent’s activate their Special Attack. Try using Dark Sting to get Void’s huge attack increase through his Special 3.

Marvel.com: Considering that The Void is already insanely powerful, who can we team him up with to make him even stronger?

Piero Herrera: Void is great with Sentry, Hulk, and Champions that are part of the Avengers team like Black Widow, Vision, Hawkeye, and Captain America. Pair him up with those Champions and Void will become even more powerful!

Marvel.com: And when does this guy get unleashed to threaten reality as we know it?

Piero Herrera: The Void will be available today—January 18! Make sure to check in-game messaging for more information.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews!

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Robert Reynolds (and The Void!) are now unleashed in Battlerealm!

Ever wanted to harness the power of a million exploding suns? Well the awesome crew over at Kabam has unearthed The Sentry from the depths of Battlerealm and starting this week players can pit Bob Reynolds against all comers in “Marvel Contest of Champions.” We talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Game Designer Erich Kohlweg about The Sentry and all his insane abilities, so keep reading gang!

Marvel.com: We’ve had a few serious powerhouses enter the Contest, but I can’t think of anyone I’d rather not have fighting under my roof than Robert Reynolds. What was the Collector thinking?

Gabriel Frizzera: The history of the Sentry in the Battlerealm is older than it seems. When the Collector came to the Battlerealm to build a new Contest of Champions under the Maestro’s patronage, he brought along a group of twelve legendary warriors, plucked from as many different universes. Among this first batch of mind-controlled Champions, one was by far the most powerful: Robert Reynolds, also known as The Sentry. In the first test-run of The Contest, Reynolds easily defeated all the other contestants, with such violence and abandon that surprised even the vicious Maestro. In time, Reynolds became the Collector’s most trusted agent, helping him in many tasks suited to his amazing powers. But in one of those missions, he got lost and never came back, until now, many years later. To learn more, check out our brand new Motion Comic!

Marvel.com: Well at least he’ll get to say he grabbed up a limited edition, very rare, bearded Sentry in great condition before the Golden Guardian brings Battlerealm down around his ears.

Gabriel Frizzera: Actually, this version of the Sentry might be even more damaged than the one we know from the comics. He spent almost 35 years lost in the depths of the Battlerealm, although his mind cannot recall much of what happened. He seems even more unbalanced than usual, his empty glowing eyes staring into the shifting horizon like twin suns. But he looks every bit as strong as he once was, maybe even more. And deep inside of Robert Reynolds disturbed psyche, The Void patiently awaits. The Contest holds its breath…

We know the Sentry is a well-loved character by our fans, so we have been thinking about introducing him and the Void to the game for some time… which turned out to be very timely since he’s also making his long-awaited return to the comics in the pages of DOCTOR STRANGE, by the capable hands of Donny Cates and Gabriel Walta! We swear this is pure coincidence, but you know, great minds think alike!

Marvel.com: What did the team need to do to bring Sentry to life in game? Both from a visual standpoint, but also in tackling Bob’s dual nature as both Sentry and the Void?

Gabriel Frizzera: Visually we did some exploration on how damaged this version of the Sentry would appear. Initially we went with a more disheveled look, with a longer beard, ripped clothes made of many alternate version of the Sentry, and even Iso-crystals growing from his armor like barnacles. But the guys at Marvel Games thought that we should go with a more classic version, since this version could be the first time a lot of fans would be introduced to the Sentry, and we didn’t want to cause any confusion. So we cleaned him up, but we kept the beard to represent his years lost in the Battlerealm. As far as his connection with The Void, we wanted to try something we’ve never done before. Beyond the unique synergy between the two characters, in his Special 3 Attack, Sentry literally becomes the Void, and vice-versa. Players will want to chase after both characters to build a truly powerful team!

Marvel.com: Ok let’s get into his kit! How is he channeling the power of a million exploding suns here?

Erich Kohlweg: For Sentry, we wanted to mix lore with mechanics. Being so powerful, yet unstable, his abilities are tied to his State of Mind. To maintain his composure and state, a combo needs to be carried on and when it’s lost so goes his State of Mind and potential abilities. However, with limitations to his strength, when he enters the optimal state, it’s sure to make an explosive impact.

Marvel.com: It seems like you can just go crazy with Sentry, because even if you drop a combo, you have a chance to go indestructible. Couple that with the Fury and Regeneration, and Sentry feels like a hero you really don’t want to mess with.

Erich Kohlweg: When Sentry gets going, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of his attacks. Not only is he able to build up his damage output through his Special Attacks, but he’s able to sustain a lot of damage. Losing a combo has a chance to trigger his Signature Indestructible, negating all damage for a short period. In addition, when Sentry’s health is low, his Special 3 Attack can provide him with Regeneration.

Marvel.com: Who does Sentry fight best with?

Erich Kohlweg: Sentry can go toe to toe with Hulk making them quite the Rivals. As a friend of the Avengers, Sentry can pair up with Black Widow, Vision, Hawkeye, and Captain America. However, there is no one else than his other half, Void. They bring the best (and worst) out of each other. While paired with Void, Sentry’s Special 3 Attack activates one of Void’s abilities. Opponent’s become inflicted with Fear of the Void which combines Agility, Fatigue, and Petrify Debuffs, as well as increasing Sentry’s Attack Rating for a period. I can’t go into detail here but don’t forget that Synergy Bonuses can go both ways, keep an eye out when Void enters the Battlerealm!

Marvel.com: When can we harness Sentry’s awesome might for ourselves?

Erich Kowleg: Sentry will enter The Contest on January 4. Look out for in-game announcements on where to obtain him!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews.

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The man who brings Drax to life forms his team and prepares for battle!

He’s big, green, knows his way around a knife, and stands as one of the toughest guys in the known universe—and now he’s drawing a line in the stardust for “Marvel Contest of Champions” players everywhere.

Dave Bautista, aka Drax the Destroyer in “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” challenges all comers to test their might against his team of cosmic combatants. We talked to Dave about what makes his crew so formidable, why it’s better than all the challenge teams that have come before it, and the reason you won’t be able to get past his boss fight.

Marvel.com: Dave are you sure you’re ready to take on millions of “Contest of Champions” players who have been training for years to bring down the biggest and baddest villains the Marvel Universe has ever seen?

Dave Bautista: The real question is, are they ready for me? I’m here to test the mettle of these Champions and I expect that many of them will be destroyed by my challenge.

Marvel.com: You couldn’t have picked a better team to face down such overwhelming odds. Tell us a little about why you got the Guardians of the Galaxy gang together for this challenge.

Dave Bautista: You’ve got to trust your friends; you’ve got to trust your family. When asked what team I wanted to use for the challenge, there was no question who it was going to be.

Marvel.com: I love that you made Drax the boss for this event. How does it feel seeing a character you played on screen make the move to “Contest of Champions” and duking it out with Marvel’s other heavy hitters?

Dave Bautista: Being part of the Marvel family is still very surreal but nothing makes me happier than seeing Drax in a mobile game. Fighting as Drax in “Contest of Champions” feels like the perfect fit for both me and the character.

Dave Bautista’s Champion Challenge in Marvel Contest of Champions

Marvel.com: Have you taken Drax for a spin in the game? What do you think of the Destroyer as a combatant in the Contest?

Dave Bautista: Drax is a beast in The Contest. His abilities and special attacks make him a fierce offensive opponent. With his Fury and Bleed abilities, he can take down even the biggest adversaries.

Marvel.com: Ok if you hadn’t gone with the full Guardians roster, are there any other heroes or villains you would have wanted on your team?

Dave Bautista: I like the Champions who can get into a knock-down-drag-out brawl like Wolverine, Beast, and Venom. And of course the other big green guy: Hulk!

Marvel.com: How do you think your team matches up against Chloe Bennet, Clark Gregg, and Ming-Na Wen’s squads?

Dave Bautista: I like where their hearts were but their teams didn’t have that one thing that brings them all together. With my team at my side, I think we can show the players what a real challenge looks like.

Marvel.com: Finally, what do you have to say to the players that will be gunning for you and your crew?

Dave Bautista: They won’t be able to get past my challenge…my reflexes are too fast. Prepare to be destroyed.

Take on Dave’s Drax and the rest of the Guardians now, and stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews.

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Howard the Duck Brings the Weird to the Battlerealm

Just when you think the Collector couldn’t make “Marvel Contest of Champions” weirder he goes and recruits a cartoon duck to handle his less-than-vital backend operations. As you can probably imagine, Howard the Duck has better things to do than be someone’s lackey. We talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Game Designer Justin Ostensen about the Contest’s first feathered fighter and how the short-tempered duck’s leaving his mark on Battlerealm.

Marvel.com: Howard the Duck is an… Interesting character. Unique. Some might even say one of a kind. Would the Collector consider him a special edition waterfowl?

Gabriel Frizzera: I think he considers Howard more of a jack-of-all-trades employee. The Collector put him in charge of endless menial tasks that the Deadpooloids are too stupid to do, like organizing his crystal collection and filing catalysts by class and rank.

Marvel.com: I gotta ask though, how is this guy going to hold his own out there with the Hulks and the Thanos’?

Gabriel Frizzera: I think Howard himself initially doubted his skills as a fighter, until he retrofitted an ISO-Loader Suit into a powerful mecha battle armor. Now he stands 9-feet tall armed to the teeth so he probably could go a few rounds against the best Champions in The Contest…that is if the mech’s arms don’t fall off first, of course.

Marvel.com: How did the team come up with the ISO-Loader? It looks absolutely perfect for Howard.

Gabriel Frizzera: I was trying to come up with the oddest combination of heroes to fight together in our holiday story quest… I already knew we were going to do Hyperion, so I challenged myself to come up with another character that would be weird but strangely fitting as his buddy. So I thought of Howard the Duck. I know there was a lot of resistance in putting what is essentially a cartoon duck in a mostly serious fighting game, so I took that as a challenge. I wanted the lovers of “badass” characters and mecha robots to find Howard the Duck irresistible. The ISO-Loader looks pretty powerful but at the same time has the giant duck bill which can break apart, so it rides that line between serious and ridiculous that makes a character attractive. By the responses we got so far, I think we convinced many haters that Howard can be pretty awesome as a fighting character, without being overly cartoony or breaking the fiction.

Marvel.com: Let’s talk about his abilities. Mash All The Buttons! doesn’t sound like the most useful of attacks.

Justin Ostensen: Well, when all of those buttons are all set to cause destruction and fix up the ISO-Loader, it can certainly be a helpful ability. Basically, whenever the ISO-Loader starts to become too badly damaged, Howard will frantically mash the buttons on the console. This can either cause the ISO-Loader to go into its Self-Repair routine and fix up some damage, or let loose a massive Thunderquack to deal a large burst of Energy Damage over time.

Marvel.com: And Howard’s breaking out the Quack-Fu right? How does that help him out in fights?

Justin Ostensen: We wanted to tie Howard’s abilities not only to his legendary Quack-Fu, but also to his infamous temper. Basically, as Howard lands hits on his opponent and he himself gets hit, he builds up his temper gaining boosts to his Attack and Critical Damage stats. But, if the player plays too defensively and doesn’t stay aggressive, Howard will cool off and lose his stacks of Quack-Fu. Gotta stay angry when you’re fighting with Howard!

Marvel.com: I love that Howard gets bonuses when he’s fighting with Rocket. Woodland creatures need to stick together huh?

Justin Ostensen: Well, not to split hairs, but technically Howard is just from another universe. I’d say their friendship in The Contest is more about small Champions wanting to be taken seriously. And with his massive B.F.G. to settle a few scores, Howard is definitely going to accomplish that goal.

Marvel.com: Is there anything else you want to tell us about Howard?

Justin Ostensen: Keep your eyes peeled on in-game messages to see when you can grab Howard and his Mech Suit in Contest of Champions!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews.

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Another Master of the Mystic Arts makes his presence felt!

Mordo brings his formidable magical powers to bear in “Marvel Contest of Champions” ready and willing to serve up mystical justice to those who threaten his dimension. Creatures from the outer dark? No problem. Supernatural zealots? Easy peasy.

To get a better feel for Mordo’s eldritch abilities we talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera, Champion Designer Piero Herrera, and Quest Designer Dominic O’Grady about the mystic arts master and what players can expect from him in-game.

Marvel.com: Out of all the characters in the “Doctor Strange” film, in theaters now, what was so compelling to The Collector that he just needed Mordo for the Contest?

Gabriel Frizzera: The Collector is always on the look for new mystics for the Contest, and Mordo is on the same level with the best of them. He’s very resourceful and disciplined, and can give one of the best Champions in the Contest, Doctor Strange, a run for his money! In fact he has the potential to be one of the best Champions in the Contest, period.

Marvel.com: Mordo’s looking fresh! From what I can see he’s wearing his bohemian mystic wanderer duds from the movie. Did the team keep it cinema-perfect or is there a little Kabam flair in there?

Gabriel Frizzera: For this character we wanted to be as loyal to the movie as we could. Of course we always tweak things here and there to adapt him to the game style, but he’s mostly the movie version. One of the main goals for us was to give him a very distinct set of moves, a sort of “martial artist meets sorcerer” style, complete with his “Staff of the Living Tribunal”, and all sorts of magic flair, including a brand-new magic shield for his blocks.

Marvel.com: As the Ancient One’s pupil Mordo had access to a wealth of mystical knowledge. What sort of things did the team focus on while figuring out how they wanted him to play?

Gabriel Frizzera: We wanted him to have an arsenal of magic tricks that are well-known staples of the Doctor Strange mystic universe, but that we didn’t have a chance to try with Doctor Strange himself. Stuff like astral bodies, mystic shields, and dimensional manipulation. His level three special is highly inspired by the movie: Mordo transports you to the Mirror Realm, where he can shape the world around you.

Marvel.com: And let’s talk about his in-game abilities. Mystical Barrier sounds like he’ll be leaning towards a more defensive style?

Dominic O’Grady: Mordo will, no doubt, be a defensive powerhouse. Particularly we imagine him shining in Alliance Wars where his stun manipulation will make him a challenging opponent to control.

Piero Herrera: Indeed! While he is getting Power over time, he gets even more defensive when controlled by the CPU. This also does open up opportunities to use a heavy attack against him, so if you encounter him in Alliance Wars, make sure to take advantage of the Heavy Attack when he is against the wall. Otherwise, Mordo will be able to get enough Power to do a Special 3, which will bring him and his opponent into the Mirror Dimension.

Marvel.com: And you’ve gotta give us more info on his other abilities: Degeneration, Mirror Dimension, and Soul Barb. Those sound awesome!

Piero Herrera: Mordo’s abilities provide lots of utility. Mirror Dimension on Special 3 gives you very powerful Fury effects, and based on how low your health is, you have a chance to trigger a regeneration ability instead. Soul Barb on Special 2 does damage over time based on how many buffs your opponent has. But one of his most awesome abilities is his Astral Evade; if Mordo is stunned, his astral form protects him from incoming attacks by breaking out of the stun and counter attacking.

Marvel.com: And when do we get to wield all of these incredible mystical powers for ourselves?

Piero Herrera: Mordo has been showing off his Mystical Powers in the Sorcerer’s Conclave and will join the Contest at 10 AM PST today!

Keep checking Marvel.com and our social channels for the latest on “Marvel Contest of Champions”!

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The Battlerealm Adds More Mystical Contenders with New Doctor Strange Event

We know you can’t get enough of magical madness, and so do the awesome folks over at Kabam, which is why they’ve prepared an eldritch energy-empowered “Marvel Contest of Champions” event to coincide with Doctor Strange’s film debut. We got to talk to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Designers Dominic O’Grady and Tiep Bui all about the upcoming supernatural shenanigans.

Marvel.com: What do we have going on in the Contest of Champions world? Halloween was last week, we have the Doctor Strange film dropping this week, what do you have for us?

Gabriel Frizzera: This event is called “the Sorcerer’s Conclave” and it’s probably the most important event of the year, in many ways defining the future of “The Contest of Champions” storyline. Everything starts innocently enough with the Collector introducing his new “Arcane Arena” challenge to his Summoners, where all the best mystics in the Battlerealm will be competing. But things become a bit more complicated when Doctor Strange shows up as the bearer of dark omens…

Entering Marvel Contest of Champions: The Sorcerer’s Conclave

Entering Marvel Contest of Champions: The Sorcerer’s Conclave

Marvel.com: An all-new story event with Battlerealm’s ever-expanding number of mystical contenders sounds awesome! I’m guessing heroes like Doctor Strange and Magik will be a big part of the melee?

Gabriel Frizzera: All mystics will be part of it. But the “Sorcerer’s Conclave” title alludes to a small group of extremely skillful masters of the mystic arts (Mordo, Scarlet Witch, Doctor Voodoo and Loki) capable of performing a very specific spell, the “Arcane Door of Augur-Tendash”. What’s the goal of this spell? Only Stephen Strange knows, but the very survival of The Contest might be connected to it.

Marvel.com: And this is all coming on the heels of a build release right? Is anything else due out with the release? Balance rejiggering or anything like that?

Tiep Bui: Auto fight! This is a feature that we’ve had a lot of requests for so we are very excited to release this to our players. It’s a great way to help players get through more content.

We’ve also added in Dimensional Rifts! These are short, time limited, high difficulty, high reward quests. Complete the highest Tiers of Dimensional Rifts to earn rewards like 5-star Shards, Tier 2 Alpha Catalysts, and 5-star Awakening Gems. While the Dimensional Rifts accompany the events surrounding Doctor Strange, these quests are something we will be looking to keep up with in the future.

Finally, we’ve made some updates to improve your user experience within the game. The Champion Info Screen has undergone a revamp to show players greater details on their Champion’s stats and abilities. The Champion Upgrade Screen has also gone through some improvement to allow for more than six ISO-8 to be selected at one time.

Marvel.com: Those sound like some simple but impactful quality of life improvements with the HUD. Me likey. With regards to the event, when can we start slinging magical energy around? And when does it end?

Gabriel Frizzera: It started on November 2, Steve Ditko’s birthday! Which means it’s live now!

Dominic O’Grady: The Sorcerer’s Conclave will run for the rest of November, until December 7 at 10AM PST.

Marvel.com: Are there any juicy secrets the team wants to clue us in on for the future? What’s the next big thing for the Contest?

Gabriel Frizzera: As our long-time players must know, The Contest of Champions is turning 2 years old! After the Doctor Strange event ends, we’ll have a special anniversary build and a completely unexpected buddy holiday road trip. The two brand-new Champions involved in that story are a surprise, but let’s just say the Collector had to search beyond the boundaries of our own regular Earth to acquire them… Keep your third eye open for more details!

Play “Marvel Contest of Champions” now and stay tuned to Marvel.com in the coming days and weeks for the latest on Doctor Strange in other Marvel games. Marvel Insiders also earn points for checking out each of these articles. To become a Marvel Insider, join here: marvel.com/insider

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The Mad Titan enters the Battlerealm!

Thanos the Mad Titan makes his Marvel NOW solo series splash in Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato’s THANOS sporting an all-new look. The new threads come courtesy of the awesome team over at Kabam and their version of Thanos in the “Marvel Contest of Champions” mobile fighting game. We talked to Mike about using Kabam’s version of the character and to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera about what it means to see their work in comics.

Marvel.com: Hey Mike, Thanos is look really good in this book. I’ve heard that the new costume comes from Kabam’s “Marvel Contest of Champions” mobile game. How’d you learn about the outfit and what about it spoke to you enough to use for the comic?

Mike Deodato: I was Google searching a good reference for Thanos when I found this amazing image created by Kabam. They really nailed it. It’s the best version I’ve ever seen of the Mad Titan. The proportions are exactly as I would draw him, a heavy, blocky type with big hands.

Marvel.com: And Gabriel, as a mobile game based on a comic universe, obviously the Kabam crew is adapting characters and costumes and events for the digital space. How does it feel to have some of your team’s work actually influence the source material?

Gabriel Frizzera: We are very proud every time that happens! We have lots of “Omega Level” Marvel geeks here at the studio, so we try to be very respectful of the source material; but at the same time we are confident we understand the language of Marvel well enough to add our own humble contributions to this gigantic creative tapestry being created by so many awesome artists and writers. Thankfully we have great partners at Marvel that support us every step of the way!

On a more personal note, I’ve been a fan of Deodato’s work since I was developing as a young artist in Brazil (I still own some of his early independent stuff!). To have a fellow Brazilian create such great work for the major publishers was always a great inspiration for me, and to have him use my own work as inspiration for his art is a great honor!

Marvel.com: And Mike to take a step back, when you’re designing new looks for characters, new costumes, where do you draw your inspiration? 

Mike Deodato: I usually go back to my early influences that include all those great artists from Metal Hurlant magazine, like Moebius, Caza, Druillet and many others.

Marvel.com: Same to you Gabriel but maybe a little deeper, what is your philosophy on translating some of Marvel’s most recognizable characters to the game? What kind of things do you think about before bringing them to Battlerealm?

Gabriel Frizzera: Our philosophy is “Always Look at the Comics.” They are the source and the purest expression of these characters. We aspire to be an extension of the Marvel Universe, not only being authentic to it, but also expanding its reach to new fans. If we do our job right, players who never read a Marvel comic before will be interested in following the stories, and when they do, the experience will be as seamless as possible.

 

Marvel.com: Mike the costume looks a lot more technological than the standard blue and yellow cloth-looking material we’ve seen him wear for so many years. Are there any story implications for the upgrade, or was it based purely on aesthetics?

Mike Deodato: Aesthetics alone, I was just blown away by Kabam’s design.

Marvel.com: High praise indeed! Gabriel can you talk to me a little about Thanos’ “Contest of Champions” design? What was important to keep from Thanos’ original iconic look, and how did you guys make it your own?

Gabriel Frizzera: Thanks Mike! Well we started, as always, picking a favourite version from the comics. We loved Jim Cheung’s Thanos from “Infinity”, and that was our departure point in this case. But as in any character we adapt, we try to make it our own. First I changed the proportions of the body in a very simplified concept piece. That helped us visualize how the character will look in one of our character skeletons (in this case the XL skeleton), which has a bigger torso and arms, and smaller legs and head.

Then I “blockified” some of the details like the hands, muscles and face. The Contest of Champions characters inhabit a “sweet zone” between realism and comic stylization, and for Thanos wasn’t different. Finding the character’s main shapes and details and exaggerating them to make the character even more iconic is one of the things that makes our characters so popular. I also finished out some of the details that sometimes are only implied in comic illustrations, to help the modellers know what’s going on in all angles of the body. Cheung drawings are very “3D” already, so in this case it was not so hard.

Then, our lead character artist Gene Campbell took the concept and pushed to the next level. Our team of 3D modellers are very accomplished in 3D sculpting, so every step of the way the character becomes more and more tangible. Usually at this point I let then add their own interpretation of what makes the character work in 3D, only coming in to course-correct every once in a while if necessary. They’re pretty talented, so that makes my work much easier.

Then the final model comes to life with the textures and materials. The comics can take us only so far in that regard, so we took inspiration from the movies. Thanos’ nice golds and shimmering cosmic metals look very nice in Guardians of the Galaxy, so that was our main reference. But with a twist: we like to bring it all back to comics by stylizing the colors. Every character needs to be recognizable at a glance, and Marvel characters have very iconic 2 or 3 colors schemes. We pay a lot of attention to that.

Marvel.com: Is there anything else we need to know about Thanos’ outfit or the THANOS title dropping on November 16? Mike anything you want to say to the fine folks over at Kabam?

Mike Deodato: Collaborating with Jeff Lemire has been an absolute pleasure and I think it shows in my art. Readers are going to see some of the best work of my career. As for the Kabam folks, thanks a lot for the inspiration, keep up the wonderful work guys!

Marvel.com: Gabriel, how ready are you to go pick up Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato’s new THANOS title and see the team’s outfit in action?

Gabriel Frizzera: Hell yeas! As I said, I’m a big fan of Deodato’s work, and Jeff Lemire is one of my favourite writers out there… his voice is unique and I’ve been following his independent work before I saw his Marvel stuff. His Moon Knight is one of my favorite current books. I can’t wait to see where he takes the Mad Titan! And I just wanted to give a huge shoutout to the team that helped bring Thanos to life in-game: Luke Takeuchi, Melany Hamill, Cuz Parry, Gene Campbell, and Derek Ng-Cummings! Great work gang!

Watch out for Mike and Jeff’s THANOS when it drops on November 16 and stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews.

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Johnny Blaze makes a fiery entrance to the Battlerealm!

Ever dreamed of burning rubber and bad guys’ souls all while wearing an awesome leather jacket? Well the good people at Kabam have heard you friends! They’ve unleashed the Ghost Rider on Battlerealm and now every hero needs to beware Johnny Blaze’s fiery gaze. We talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Game Designer Justin Ostensen about the Ghost Rider and everything he brings to “Marvel Contest of Champions.”

Marvel.com: Can the Collector and the gang really hope to harness the Spirit of Vengeance on Battlerealm? As usual, he’s playing with some seriously volatile energies.

Gabriel Frizzera: He had little choice in the matter, since it was the Grandmaster who brought Johnny Blaze to the Battlerealm under false pretenses, just to stir some trouble. All the Collector could do was try to beat his brother in his own game and capture Ghost Rider for his roster, before he causes too much damage to The Contest.

Marvel.com: Ok, I’m skipping right over everything else to get to the really important question: are we going to get to hit people with a motorcycle?

Gabriel Frizzera: How did you guess? That’s exactly his Special Move #3. He runs you over with his Hellcycle (in fact he push-kicks the Hellcycle over you), then does his famous Penance Stare to make sure you’re extra-dead. There’s also lots of flaming chains to the face, and even some fire-breathing.

 

Marvel.com: Let’s talk about his kit. Spirit of Vengeance seems like the linchpin of all his abilities. How does it play with Judgement?

Justin Ostensen: Judgments are a pretty unique and powerful ability, with Spirit of Vengeance acting as a more powered up version. Basically, as the player performs different actions during the fight, they’ll place these Judgment effects on the opponent, which each come with their own powerful effect. Everything from Fate Seal to Life Steal to Bleed are in Ghost Rider’s Judgments. But, the thing that makes Judgments extremely powerful in the hands of a skilled player is that each Judgment gets multiplied for each other Judgment already active. Placing these effects in the right order can allow Ghost Rider to deal with any type of threat in The Contest in brutal fashion.

Marvel.com: Bleed Immune sounds pretty self-explanatory, Ghost Rider being a burning heap of leather and bones and all, but how does Evil’s Bane work into everything?

Justin Ostensen: We really wanted to tie into Ghost Rider’s “hunting down the wicked” routine by making him more effective when he’s fighting against villains in The Contest. His Evil’s Bane ability grants him increased Armor and Critical Hit Chance whenever he’s facing off against a villain such as Abomination or Ultron, and his chance to place Judgment effects also rises.

Marvel.com: Ghost Rider’s had a ton of different leather getups since his inception. Where did you guys pull his looks from? Comics? Nicolas Cage movies?

Gabriel Frizzera: Ghost Rider is one of those characters that has a lot of different interpretations throughout the years: the classic blue jacket, several different versions of the leather costume, variations on the bike, from a normal “daredevil” light motorcycle to a crazy twisted metal monstrosity, etc. When it comes to characters like that, we always ask: “when I say the name of blank, which version comes first to mind?”. Sometimes the answer is clear-cut, but sometimes is a composite of many different versions. In the case of Ghost Rider, we knew we wanted to use Johnny Blaze, but the truth is some of the visual traits that people want to see when they think of Ghost Rider are not from Johnny, but from the Danny Ketch version.

So we used Johnny as a base, but pulled some details from other incarnations of Ghost Rider (like more exaggerated metal spikes), to create a “prototypical” version of the character, one that would satisfy fans from the comics, the movies and even the ones that know nothing about the character but love the visual of the crazy flaming skull dressed in black with lots of chains.

Marvel.com: And who are we playing Ghost Rider with? Who are his ideal teammates?

Justin Ostensen: You’re going to want to grab up Ghost Rider’s old teammates, Wolverine (X-23), Elektra, and Deadpool to increase Ghost Rider’s defensive capabilities. Putting him on a team with his rival, The Punisher, will also increase Ghost Rider’s offensive capabilities as well.

Marvel.com: And when do we get to rip up the road with Ghost Rider?

Justin Ostensen: With the Summoners’ help, the Collector has been able to temporarily subdue the Spirit of Vengeance and he should be roaring into The Contest at any moment. Keep an eye on in-game messages and arena announcements to know when you can finally add Ghost Rider to your roster.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews.

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