The being that would become known as the Challenger was one of the original Elders of the Universe, a group that consisted of the last survivors of the first sentient species made immortal. Each Elder turned to a hobby in order to fill their immortal lifespan. The Challenger shared his hobby of playing games with En Dwi Gast, with whom he grew closer since they were constantly opponents.
When each Elder decided to adopt an alias based on their interest, the Challenger decided to adopt the alias of "the Grandmaster." This choice didn't sit particularly well with En Dwi, who became to yearn for his friend's mantle. Since there could only be one Grandmaster, the stakes of their games became higher and their friendship turned into rivalry. One day, the Grandmaster reluctantly took part in En Dwi's "greatest game of all," after which the loser would be barred from existence until the end of reality. The Grandmaster lost, and he was instantly exiled despite his pleas. In the aftermath, En Dwi Gast took on his alias of Grandmaster for himself.
The former Grandmaster spent the following eons alone in the Far Shore waiting for everything to die. Following the destruction of the Multiverse due to incursions and its eventual restoration by the hands of Reed Richards, the former Grandmaster found an opening and returned to his universe. He eventually approached the Grandmaster for a rematch, and became known as the Challenger.
To this end, the Challenger and the Grandmaster each assembled a team of warriors to fight in a contest on their behalf, the Black Order and the Lethal Legion, respectively. The battleground chosen for this contest was the Earth, with the purpose to have its heroes, namely the Avengers act as obstacles. Additionally, the entire planet was teleported from the Solar System to a distant galaxy that could serve as a neutral space. In each round, the gamemasters deployed a pair of Pyramoids somewhere in the planet. Whoever managed to enter in contact with a Pyramoid scored a point for their respective team. Whenever a player touched a Pyramoid, they were teleported to the Grandmaster's Cosmic Game Room in such a way it seemed like they were disintegrated, and were placed in stasis inside crystals. The first point was scored by the Black Order's Black Dwarf. The second Pyramoid was unexpectedly seized by the Avengers' Human Torch, ending the round. One of the Pyramoids of the second round was claimed by the Lethal Legion's Ferene, and the other by the Avengers' Red Wolf.
For the final round, the Challenger made use of his ace-in-the-hole, and resurrected the Hulk. The Hulk rampaged to the Avengers Auxiliary Headquarters, where Avengers infiltrator, and the Grandmaster's own secret agent, Voyager had teleported the final Pyramoid. She was to teleport the device to the Grandmaster, but she had rebelled against him, and even sided with the Avengers. Even though the Hulk managed to make his way to the vault where Voyager was hiding the Pyramoid, Wonder Man convinced him that the Challenger was as much at fault as the rest of humanity of not leaving him alone. When the Pyramoid was within his grasp, the Hulk destroyed it instead, costing the Challenger his victory. Before the Grandmaster could exile the Challenger, they both observed as Voyager confessed to the Avengers of her involvement with the Grandmaster. Enraged by the Grandmaster's deception, the Challenger disintegrated him and went on a rampage on Earth after sabotaging the World-Engine in the Cosmic Game Room that maintained the planet's conditions. He was pummeled by an irate Hulk before sending him flying with a punch into Earth's orbit and then fought off Rogue, Wonder Man, and Falcon until Voyager arrived with an army of Avengers to confront him. When the heroes started growing weary, a morale boost provided by Voyager combined with a power augmentation spell cast by the Scarlet Witch gave the heroes the strength necessary to defeat the Challenger and knock him out for good.
After the Earth was returned to its location in the Solar System, Voyager took the Challenger back to the Far Shore in hopes to rekindle the kindness he had before being driven mad by his rivalry with the Grandmaster. Va Nee had him shackled observing the Avengers' subsequent adventures, in hopes they could inspire him like they inspired her. The Challenger vowed that he would eventually break free, but would play along and watch the heroes until then.
Powers and Abilities
Power Primordial: The Power Primordial is residual energy left over from the Big Bang that created the current Marvel Universe. The Challenger is the last member of his race and he, like all other Elders, maintains his powers and himself through his obsessions, with his being games.
- Superhuman Strength: Challenger possesses vast superhuman strength of unknown levels. He was strong enough to send Hulk flying from Earth into Earth Orbit with one blow.
- Superhuman Durability: Challenger possessed extraordinary durability. He has withstood blows from an enraged Hulk and an assault from numerous heroes.
- Immortality: Through the channeling of the Power Primordial, the Challenger is immortal in the sense that he no longer ages and is immune to disease and illness. He also doesn't require food, water, or even air to breathe and can survive indefinitely in a complete vacuum.
- Resurrection (possibly): The Challenger has demonstrated the ability to resurrect the dead as he did with the deceased members of the Black Order and the Hulk. It hasn't been shown, though, if this is a true power of his or if he resurrects beings through technological means.
- Energy Manipulation: The Challenger is capable of projecting potent blasts of energy from his hands.
Master Strategist: Like the Grandmaster, it can be presumed that the Challenger's obsession with games has given him a great deal of knowledge in tactics and strategy.
Telepathic Resistance: The Challenger is able to resist telepathy to an extent.
Like all Elders of the Universe, the Challenger's continued life and vitality was dependent upon his personal obsession of games. If he were to have willingly given up his obsession, it could have proven fatal.
- Writer Al Ewing envisioned Challenger in the past scenes when he was the Grandmaster acting like Jeff Bridges.
- 12 appearance(s) of Challenger (Elder of the Universe) (Earth-616)
- 5 minor appearance(s) of Challenger (Elder of the Universe) (Earth-616)
- 2 mention(s) of Challenger (Elder of the Universe) (Earth-616)
- 13 image(s) of Challenger (Elder of the Universe) (Earth-616)
- 2 quotation(s) by or about Challenger (Elder of the Universe) (Earth-616)