This week, I ditch the regular format in an effort to take us back to, well, FIGHTS! And yes, while that still happens today, I wanted to talk about some of my favorites from years past. (Why did I bold my? Inevitably in a list like this, someone will say, “You forgot so-and-so!” Actually, I didn’t forget it; it just wasn’t one of my personal favorites.) So, after I delve into a few of my favorite slugfests in comics, please drop by below and talk about some of yours. Let’s start with . . .
Wolverine vs. The Hellfire Club (1980): During the “Dark Phoenix Saga” in 1980, Wolverine got zapped by Harry Leland’s mass increasing abilities as the X-Men invaded the Hellfire Club. The increased heaviness caused Wolverine to crash through all of the floors in the building and down into the sewers below New York City. As the X-Men were systematically taken down (the last of whom by a Mastermind-controlled Jean Grey), all hope seemed lost. Not so. Wolverine was alive and pissed off. In issue #133, he emerged and began taking out the soldiers of the Hellfire Club. This beatdown led to a standoff with Wolverine facing one of the lackeys who stood pointing a rifle at Wolverine from across the room; Wolverine tries to goad the guy into firing, and ends up talking so much trash that the guy just drops his gun in quaking fear. Eventually, Wolverine breaks into the room where the Hellfire Club is holding the rest of the X-Men; the punchline is that Wolverine is covered with guards trying to stop him. Wolverine’s character arc within that larger story is really what established him as the best there is at what he does.
Batman vs. the White Martians (JLA #3-4, 1997): When a group of mysterious super-powered beings arrive on Earth, naturally the reforming JLA is suspicious. It’s not long before the aliens destroy the JLA satellite and begin to pick off the members of the team. Batman is believed killed when his jet goes down, but he’s really taken the opportunity to sneak into the opposition’s base. Eventually, Batman is surrounded by contingent of the invaders . . . and they’re actually vicious shape-shifting White Martians. No matter. Bats was prepared, and has ringed the room with accelerant. A quick lighting later, and the vastly more powerful Martians are surrounded by their weakness: fire. Though we don’t see the remainder of the fight, we later see Batman dragging all of their unconscious Martian asses into the room. First Rule of Friday Flashback Fight Club? Do Not F--- with Batman.
Batman vs. Prometheus (JLA #36-41, 1999-2000): Lex Luthor’s new Injustice League picked the worst time to attack. The massive threat Maggedon was tearing up the cosmos and Earth was going crazy (literally). Amid this chaos, the IJ pantsed the JLA by compromising the Watchtower and nearly killing several team members. Villain Prometheus took the opportunity to recover his original helmet, a device that he programmed with the abilities and fighting styles of others to make him an ultra-badass. After trying to kill Oracle, Prometheus found himself facing Batman, whom he’d once managed to best. However, Batman anticipated Prometheus attempting the steal the helmet back and reprogrammed it so that it contained the physical characteristics of only one man: Professor Stephen Hawking. Whacked by motor neuron disease, Prometheus goes down. Hard. Second Rule of Friday Flashback Fight Club? Do NOT F--- with BATMAN.
The Legion of Super-Heroes and Allies vs. Darkseid and Three Billion Daxamites (Legion of Super-Heroes #294, 1982): The conclusion of the Great Darkness Saga is just wall-to-wall action. The Legion, the Wanderers, the Heroes of Lallor, Dev-Em, the Substitute Legion and the Legion Reserves (including Superboy and Supergirl) take on Darkseid, his mind-controlled army of the entire population of the planet Daxam (each as powerful as Mon-El), and Darkseid’s Servants of Darkness. Literally every page of this is soaked in action, leading up the Legion getting soundly thrashed by Darkseid. Superboy and Supergirl (with a little magical head) make some headway, but ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Darkseid isn’t going down. Then, he realizes the impossible: he’s lost control of the Daxamites, and the Legion’s allies are leading them to Darkseid. Understanding the futility of the situation, Darkseid withdraws. He does leave the Legion with a curse, that the purest among them will be the first to fall. In the original continuity (before the 1994 Zero Hour reboot), this meant that Darkseid covertly swiped one of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad’s twins as it was born and transformed him into Validus in the Legion’s past. (They did eventually discover this and restore/save the child; this explains the Darkseid connection in recent issues of the Legion that revisit the original continuity.)
The Saint of Killers vs. The U.S. Army (Preacher #34-37, 1998): This one is best summed up the Saint himself. After walking through a tactical nuke strike in Monument Valley, he says, “Not enough gun.” If your nuke doesn’t stop your opponent . . . run.
I could go on and on here. I can think of moments from The Elementals, Pantheon, The Punisher vs. The Russian, The Boys vs. just about anybody, Superman vs. Nuclear Man (just kidding) . . . how about you? Which slugfests stand out for you? Which stand the test of time? Is there an actual canon of the best battles? Talk, readers.What are your favorite comic book fights?