Rivalries. Arch-nemeses. The enemy that keeps coming back to haunt you is the one that your best stories tend to come out of. Usually it's someone that's your polar opposite but also hits a little too close to home. Siblings, two sides of the same insane coin, one tragic accident from going one way or another. Those are the themes you'll see on this list. <p>With this week's epic -possibly historic - showdown between Batman and the Joker in the conclusion of "Endgame" in <b>Batman #40</b>, the time is right to take a look at some of the most bitter rivalries in all of comics.
The first rivalry on our list isn't as violent or heated as the rest, but it's certainly one of the most enduring, and has inspired numerous stories over the years. <p>Betty and Veronica may be best friends there's even a comic book called <i>Betty and Veronica</i>, all about their adventures together but Archie has always come between them, and if history if any indication, will continue to come between them for many generations to come. Their decades-long fight over Archie is really more about them than it is about the Riverdale redhead, and the pronounced differences between the two rich vs. working-class, selfless vs. materialistic, blonde vs. brunette. <p>This rivalry has inspired some of the most famous stories in Archie Comics history, including <i>Love Showdown</i> where Archie had to definitely decide between the two (he didn't, natch) and the "Archie Marries Betty"/"Archie Marries Veronica" miniseries. The latter spun off into the current incarnation of <i>Life with Archie</i>, a critically acclaimed Archie series depicting two parallel futures one where Archie married Betty, and one where he married Veronica.
Two symbols of nationalism and pride were borne out of World War II. Both were children who seemed destined to fail, but rose to become powerful figures for their countries. One fought wearing the stars and stripes of his nation's flag, the other a harsh visage designed to inspire fear in all who viewed him. <p>Steve Rogers, Captain America, and Johann Schmidt, the Red Skull, had a lot in common on paper, and that helped make their rivalry all that much stronger. Factor in the two of them switching bodies (thanks to the Cosmic Cube, film fans!), Skull killing a Captain America stand-in, the two fighting to the death in 80-year-old bodies, oh, and Red Skull winding up in the body of a Steve Rogers <i>clone</i>, and you have a rivalry for the ages. The two have nearly killed each other so many times, you'd have to use magic and clones to explain oh wait.
We know, we know. Batman and Superman are best friends, right? <P>Well, would your best friend go to extreme lengths to possess the one weapon that could actually take you down? If he would, he's probably Batman, who holds a piece of Kryptonite specifically in case he ever has to kill Superman. As for Superman, well, he's hardly that paranoid. <P>Still, the pair have clashed in some of the most epic showdowns the DC Universe has ever seen, including at the finale of Frank Miller's landmark <i>The Dark Knight Returns</i>, a story that's providing a big influence for March's blockbuster film <i>Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice</i>.
"It's all your fault, Richards. It's your fault Von Doom is stuck with a mask covering his disfigured face. It's your fault he's only the ruler of Latveria and not the world. It's your fault his wife was in hell, and that he's looked upon as a villain. But Doom will have his victory. For victory is Doom, and Richards shall look upon it. After all, Doom is the superior intellect, so it's a foregone conclusion." <P>"I pity Victor, I really do. He's tried to master science, but his pride gets in the way. We should've worked side-by-side and changed the world, but he is too focused on his robots (talk about textbook narcissism). He tried to master magic, but honestly, why would anyone abandon science for such ridiculousness? And then there are his relationships; let's just say Sue and I won't ever be taking advice from Victor. After all, I <i>know</i> I'm the smarter one, I'll find a way to bring him down to size someday."
Professor Charles Xavier and the man called Magneto are two sides of the same coin. Charismatic, powerful, and full of righteous idealism, each man sees himself as the best hope for mutantkind. <P>There's just one problem; their diametrically opposed viewpoints. See, Professor X and his X-Men believe in a world where humans and mutants live together in peace, while Magneto believes that mutants - homo superior - should lord over the lesser homo sapiens. <P> While Magneto has waffled a little over the years - even teaming with the X-Men on occasion - his philosophy of mutant dominance always lives on with his Brotherhood of Mutants and their ilk. And even though Professor X may be dead (in comics, anyway - the rivalry is alive and well in the <i>X-Men</i> films) his beliefs are as alive as ever through his X-Men.
Two vicious killers, both with healing factors and bad attitudes. They've been partners, teammates, but mostly just at each other's throats. Sabretooth has killed people Wolverine loves, and Wolverine has, well, cut off Sabretooth's head. <P>Yes, these two are classic rivals, from comics to animation to live action and of course in video games as well. They fight tooth and claw literally and every time it is bigger than the last. Torturing each other, using loved ones against one another, and of course cutting large chunks out of each other's bodies. As it turns out, these two are actually long-lost brothers in some continuities, father and son in others, and connected as "lupus sapiens" in the main Marvel Universe (an attempt to explain so many "feral" mutants). That little revelation did nothing to quench their rivalry, though. If anything, it just made things worse now that Jimmy's big brother/son/father/distant genetic relative can use that against him too. <P>Of course, Wolverine is currently dead, and Sabretooth remains heroically "inverted" after Marvel's <i>Axis</i> event, so this is one rivalry that's currently dormant.
We know it's a little hard to call something that came and went a "rivalry," but dammit, this one was just too huge. The thing about <I>The Walking Dead</I> that winds up being the scariest isn't the zombies our heroes have to face, it's the other surviving humans. The worst (or is it best?) case of this was The Governor. <P>Without getting into too much spoiler material, The Governor, like Rick, led a group of survivors. Unfortunately, unlike Rick, he enjoyed zombie/human gladiatorial matches, kept a zombie child, and was prone to torturing the life out of Rick and his friends. It was a battle of wits that became a battle of gunfire and well, things don't all work out the way we want them to. <P>Nonetheless, this story provided some of the absolute best moments of <I>The Walking Dead</I> to date, and a wider audience got to experience the AMC's TV series' take on it, as the third season featured The Governor as its main antagonist, played by David Morrissey.
Norman Osborn just wants power, is that so bad? Well, when it causes him to lose his mind, put on a goblin costume, and kill Spider-Man's girlfriend, yes, yes, it is. This is a match-up that previously had us declare Green Goblin Spidey's #1 villain of all time and we stand by that here. He is a genius, like Peter Parker, able to improve himself through science. He lacks responsibility as much as Peter cherishes it. And where Peter's insecurities help him win the day as Spider-Man, Norman's overconfidence always leads to his downfall. <P>The reason this is such a great rivalry is how personal it is, something that every version of this battle always strives to do right, and it's easy to relate to Spider-Man's utter hatred of Green Goblin with how personal he's made their battle over the last 50 years.
You'd have to be <i>crazy</i> to dress like a bat, jump off buildings, and fight villains that often have tech or powers above and beyond what you do. Yes, Batman is insane, and that's part of what makes his rivalry with The Joker so perfect. While Bats constantly tries to fight the crazy, Joker revels in it as seen in stories as recent as the current <I>Batman</I> series. <p>Like so many others on this list, this is a "two sides of the same coin" type of match-up, and their best stories show that off nicely. Classics like "The Killing Joke," "Death in the Family," and yes, 2008's box office smash <i>The Dark Knight</i> show just how the two are insanely close to being one another, relying on one another, and thus will always clash. Perhaps Batman can't or won't kill the Joker not just out of ideals, but because he hopes someone <i>that</i> crazy can come back to humanity. Wouldn't that just be a laugh?
Why is this the best <i>rivalry</i> of all time? Simple: It's the Ultimate Man versus the Ultimate Man. Superman is everything a human wants to be: powerful, looked up to, a shining beacon of humanity's goals. Lex Luthor is everything a human wants to be: powerful, looked up to, a shining beacon of humanity's goals at least when he's able to spin the media to show him in that light. <p>Both think they're fighting for humanity. Both are looked at as the pinnacle of mankind. Of course, only one of them is actually human. <p>Lex Luthor isn't your typical villain. Though he <i>does</i> want to rule the world, that's more what he considers his right than some nefarious goal. And he does want humans in general to do well; he just wants himself to do best. Superman is a man without a world, who selflessly uses his powers to defend it; that does however put him into a position of making decisions on behalf of a race he is quite literally alien to and having to be a leader of men he can never truly understand. This is the ultimate yin and yang of characters, and that makes their rivalry great. <p>Well, that, and a green-and-purple power suit going against heat vision and super-strong punches. Yup, that too.