Who the Clix? is a series of articles featuring information on comic book characters that have been made into figures for the popular tabletop game Heroclix. These articles are meant to help Heroclix players learn more about the characters behind their favorite pieces.
Today we look at that game loving Elder of the Universe: Grandmaster
Appearances in Heroclix: Avengers Black Panther and the Illuminati, Thor: Ragnarok, Age of Ultron SLOP, Infinity Gauntlet
First Appearance: Avengers #69
Team Affiliations: Squadron Sinister, Elders of the Universe
Created By: Roy Thomas, John Buscema
The Grandmaster’s exact origin is unknown, though he is one of the oldest living entities in the universe. He is supposedly a part of one of the first intelligent races to evolve after the Big Bang. He is a cosmic game master that enjoys playing for high stakes (though it has occasionally cost him, such as when he lost the Mind Gem to Thanos). He has used the Squadron Sinister, Daredevil, the Defenders, Avengers, Ultraforce and even the Justice League of America as pawns in his many games.
The Grandmaster plays against Kang the Conqueror for the power to resurrect Ravonna or to destroy Kang’s planet. Kang is eventually thwarted by the Black Knight, causing Kang to sacrifice his resurrection power for power to kill the Avengers. Even this ploy is thwarted, however, as the Black Knight is not a current Avengers member and therefore cannot be killed by Kang’s power.
The Grandmaster then challenges Death to a game for the power to resurrect his friend and fellow Elder of the Universe, the Collector. He promises that if he wins, he will never use the heroes of Earth as pawns again. The Grandmaster wins but Death informs him that the power is a trade; for the Collector to live, another must die. Death tempts the Grandmaster with using the heroes’ lives in trade but the Grandmaster refuses to break his word and trades his own life.
The Grandmaster returns from beyond the grave to attack the Avengers, explaining that he feels free of his vow because he is no longer alive. The attack is actually a ploy to capture Death and usurp her powers for himself, creating a Legion of the Unliving to battle the Avengers. With only Captain America and Hawkeye left alive, Clint Barton challenges the Grandmaster to one last game of chance. He tricks the elder by rigging the competition but buys Death enough time to free herself and reassert control of her powers. She banishes the Grandmaster from her realm to avoid such trouble in the future and effectively makes him immortal. As a reward to the Avengers, Death returns the fallen Avengers to life and expands the banishing to all the Elders of the universe.
Soon, the Grandmaster and ten other Elders decide to attempt to kill Galactus and restart the universe. They believe that because they are now immortal, they will be able to survive from this universe to the next and have a brand new playing field to deal with. Their coup is unsuccessful and they flee Galactus’ vengeance.
The Grandmaster is a key player in the team up of the Avengers and the JLA against the villain Krona. Krona seeks the origins of creation and Grandmaster offers him the identity of a being that have survived through a Big Crunch and then Big Bang, if Krona’s team of heroes (the Avengers) can win in a scavengers hunt. Krona loses but turns on the Grandmaster and is able to defeat him, learning the identity of the being that survived – Galactus. Krona also handily defeats Galactus before the Grandmaster is able to use the items found on the scavenger hunt to merge the two universes long enough for the JLA and Avengers to join together and defeat Krona.
The Grandmaster later recreates his Squadron Sinister to battle Baron Zemo’s Thunderbolts. The two battle each other for some time until Zemo seemingly kills the Grandmaster after stripping him of his powers. He then offers the Hulk the return of his long lost love Jarella if the Hulk will participate in a team battle against a number of foes chosen by the Collector. This again seems to end with the death of the Grandmaster and the Collector simply leaving.
The Grandmaster somehow returns once more with a childish crush on Dazzler. He stages a roller derby pitting her and two friends against dozens of super-villains hoping to endear himself to her. This only infuriates Dazzler because it is insane to think that romance involves putting the person you care about in danger.