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With 'Contest of Champions,' Marvel turns the digital into the physical

Worlds collide! Marvel's effort to craft comic books from video games hits store shelves on Wednesday.

Marvel's new "Contest of Champions" comic is inspired by a video game. Marvel

Ever wanted to see Iron Man square off against the Hulk? You can pick up Marvel's "Contest of Champions" but be prepared to turn pages.

Marvel released on Wednesday its first series of comics based on a video game. Called "Contest of Champions," the series will tell the story of popular superheroes, such as web-slinging Spider-Man and inventor-genius Iron Man, who are kidnapped and pitted against waves of foes by a mysterious figure known as the Collector.

The saga began as a 2014 video game created in partnership with San Francisco-based Kabam. The eponymous mobile game frequently sits near the top of Apple's highest-grossing lists in its App Store. The game was inspired by an ancient parchment: a three-issue comic from 1982.

The evolution from mobile game to comic series marks a reversal for Marvel, a founding member of the modern age of comics and a subsidiary of Walt Disney. The company typically takes its most popular stories, like those of the X-Men and Avengers, and turns them into video games, television shows or movies.

Marvel isn't the only company trying this approach. Warner Bros. and Fox have created limited-run comics to accompany high-profile games and movies. DC Comics, the home of characters such as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, also joined the trend with a regular series based on the 2013 game, Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Fan favorite Joe Fixit, from the Hulk storylines, will appear in "Contest of Champions." Marvel

Marvel hopes to make "Contest of Champions" an important series in its comics universe. Whatever happens to characters will affect the other comics they star in, for example. So far, Marvel has only identified a couple of characters who will appear in the series, including Spider-man villain Venom.

"The creators feel like they can own and control their destiny," said Bill Rosemann, a creative director at Marvel's games group. "We didn't want readers to feel like they didn't get a complete story."

The company is working to introduce characters into the comics at the same time they appear as playable characters in the game. One such character is Guillotine, a new character Marvel created for the project and announced in June.

Marvel is also reaching back into its archives to bring in fan favorites, such as Joe Fixit, a morally ambiguous version of Incredible Hulk, who at one point worked as an enforcer in Las Vegas. In some comics, he has represented a different personality of the Hulk, which struggles with the bad things he does.

"He's our most violent character right now," said Gabe Frizzera, an art director at Kabam working with Marvel.