Monday, December 29, 2008


51. X-Men vs. Magneto (Fatal Attractions crossover)

So Colossus, ever a bowl of laughs before, gets even more morose when his sister dies of the Legacy virus (his parents were also recently killed, as was his brother - damn, harsh luck). So when Magneto shows up at the funeral and asks for X-Men to join him, Colossus actually gets up and leaves with Magneto.

Later on, Magneto decides to make a big show of force to let the world know not to mess with him (as the world’s powers were developing an “anti-Magneto force field around the Earth”), so he smacks around Earth’s electro-magnetic fields, killing a bunch of people (but really, while his actions murdered a bunch of innocent people, Magneto is just misunderstood - really).

So the X-Men and particularly Professor X, feel that this has gone on long enough, so Xavier and a small group of X-Men sneak on to Magneto’s Asteroid headquarters with the intention of taking him out. You know how you’re not supposed to bring a knife to a gun fight? Probably not supposed to bring a dude made out of metal to a fight with a guy who controls metal.

Magneto shows why this is such a bad idea when he yanks the metal off of Wolverine’s skeleton, almost killing him in the process.

Xavier has had enough, and uses his vast telepathic power to wipe Magneto’s mind clean - a lobotomy, of sorts.

The X-Men leave with their wounded teammate, and Colossus stays behind, dreading the sponge baths that await him in the future.


52. Superman vs. Muhammad Ali

Remember the Champion from earlier on the countdown? Well, that is basically the plot of Superman vs. Muhammad Ali.

Some aliens want to have Earth’s best fighter fight THEIR best fighter or else they will invade and destroy Earth.

Both Superman and Muhammad Ali volunteer to do the fighting, and the alien leader determines that the two will fight on a planet with a Red Sun to determine who will fight the alien champion.

Well, naturally, Ali beats Superman badly (I mean, duh!), and he takes on the champion. Meanwhile, Superman (now recovered due to his healing powers) heads out and wipes out the alien invasion fleet while Ali takes care of the alien boxing champion.

However, the alien bad guy (Scrubb something) decides to back out of his word and still order an invasion, but his own champion turns on the leader for being dishonorable, and the bad guy is overthrown!


53. Fantastic Four plus Friends vs. Galactus (FF # 243)

So Galactus’ herald at the time, Terrax, shows up on Earth and actually transports the island of Manhattan into orbit. The Avengers help out those who are left behind in tunnels and such when the island is lifted while the Fantastic Four deal with Terrax. Apparently, Terrax no longer wants to work for Galactus, and Galactus is not having any of that, so he pursues Terrax to Earth to destroy him, well, Terrax figures that if he holds the island of Manhattan hostage, he can get the Fantastic Four to destroy Galactus FOR him.

The next issue, Fantastic Four #243 (this storyline was part of John Byrne’s classic run on Fantastic Four as writer/artist), has the Fantastic Four and some of their New York friends (Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and Doctor Strange) taking on Galactus, who is in a weakened state, and actually defeating him!!!

However, Reed Richards realizes that they can’t let Galactus die - he is too important to the universe, so the next issue, they actually SAVE Galactus’ life! In the process, Terrax is stripped of his powers and the Human Torch’s girlfriend becomes the new herald of Galactus, Nova!

But for one shining moment, the heroes of the Marvel Universe took on Galactus - and kicked his big purple butt!


54. Colossus vs. Juggernaut ( Uncanny X-men # 183 )

You can just imagine the mood Colossus was in after Secret Wars. If you need to remember one thing about Colossus, it is this - if you leave him in any sort of different location than he normally is in, he WILL hook up with one of the natives. That is why the X-Men never take him to the Caribbean, as there would be little Caribbean Rasputins up and down the islands. Well, Kitty Pryde did not know this, so she and Colossus ended their (fairly age inappropriate) relationship when she found out that Colossus had made time with an alien girl during Secret Wars. And this was not long after Kitty was willing to marry Caliban of the Morlocks so that Colossus would get some help from the Morlocks (CALIBAN, PEOPLE!).

So Wolverine wanted to take Colossus out to talk some sense into him in Uncanny X-Men #183 (Chris Claremont handled the words and John Romita Jr. did the pencils), and Nightcrawler came along to make sure it did not become a fist fight. While at a bar, Colossus accidentally bumps into Juggernaut, who happens to be at the same bar just trying to pick up a lady at the bar. Juggernaut may have been willing to let it go, but Colossus was in a foul mood, and so they brawl (Wolverine, of course, was aware that Juggernaut was there the whole time).

Colossus actually holds his own pretty well in the fight, but Juggernaut probably was not trying TOO hard. Ultimately, Juggernaut just quits, compliments Colossus on his skills, pays the bar for the damage and takes off, pissed that he can’t get away for one night.

Colossus, meanwhile, is pissed off that Wolverine and Nightcrawler didn’t get his back - then Wolverine gets right back in his face and tells him off about how lame he’s being - about how he did not even THANK Kitty for being willing to marry Caliban (CALIBAN, PEOPLE!) and the Colossus was being a big ol’ egotistical baby.

Good times.


55. Nova vs. Annihilus ( Annihilation crossover )

Annihilus has always been a rather unpleasant individual, but for the most part of his history, his bad attitude has been restrained to the Negative Zone, and really, who cares about the Negative Zone?

However, in the major Marvel cosmic event called Annihilation, Annihilus gathers that the universe is expanding into the Negative Zone, so therefore, the universe is fair game as far as he is concerned, so he launches the so-called “Annihilation Wave” a large armada of Negative Zone battleships that can reduce a planet full of people to carrion within an hour (maybe faster - I forget).

Annihilus teams up with Thanos (who might have his own motives - we shall see) and along with some other powerful bad guys, he captures Galactus himself!

Annihilus is planning on using Galactus to fuel basically a “Power Cosmic Bomb” which will destroy both the universe AND the Negative Zone, leaving only Annihilus alive.

He is such a little creep, that Annihilus!

Luckily, Galactus is freed by Drax and the Silver Surfer (who had also been a prisoner of Annihilus), and Galactus flips out and, well, annihilates the Annihilation Wave. Only a few beings are left alive in the whole area of the destruction, and that includes Nova and Annihilus. Now, earlier on, Nova was saved from an attack by Annihilus by the heroic intervention of Quasar, who was killed by Annihilus with the cosmic bands being taken in by Annihilus.

Now, dazed by the battle, Phyla-Vell was able to procure the quantum bands from Annihilus, leaving him vulnerable enough for Nova to finish him.

Nova did so, delivering the killing blow - basically just sticking his hand down Annihilus’ throat and tearing out his internal organs, killing him (for now).

Cool ending to a cool series.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


56. Superman vs. the Elite

“What’s so funny about Truth, Justice & The American Way?” was a very popular issue of Action Comics back in 2001 (it was issue #775), written by Joe Kelly with art by two awesome artists, Doug Mahnke and Lee Bermejo.

The issue was a bit allegory for the great popularity of the Authority at the time, who I believe were actually out-selling Superman’s comics back then. The Authority were representative of the “modern” superhero, one willing to do whatever it takes to save the day, even if that meant killing.

In this issue, Joe Kelly introduces an Authority send-off called The Elite, led by Manchester Black (a take-off of Authority leader Jenny Sparks).

The Elite were superheroes who, in many ways, were just as bad as the villains they were after, using methods that bordered on sadistic, with little regard to civilians and friendly fire. However, the public were loving them - and Superman, in return, was being treated as though he was no longer cool, because he WOULDN’T kill.

Finally, Superman challenges the Elite to a fight, which is globally televised. At first, it appears as though the Elite have defeated Superman, but Superman then reveals that he has used his powers in sneaky manners to defeat them all, and seemingly kill most of the group.

Superman then uses this opportunity to opine about how easy it is to use great power to kill, but it is more heroic not to, to use great responsibility with said great power.

He then reveals that he actually did not kill (or even really hurt) any of the Elite, but rather that he used his powers to make it look like he did.

The issue was extremely popular at the time, even getting a second printing (very rare for a comic not tied into any crossover), and Manchester Black later returned to have another fight over Superman’s ideals (Superman won that one, too), and the rest of the Elite were later redeemed, of sorts, by Kelly and Mahnke in Justice League Elite.


57. Punisher vs. the Russian

The Russian was one of the deadliest killers in the whole world, able to take down entire Delta Force squads with ease, so when he was sent after Frank Castle, the Punisher, Castle was pretty much screwed.

The Russian showed up and proceeded to more or less mop the floor with Castle, practically beating Castle to death.

Luckily, the Punisher was at least able to move the fight out of his own apartment building and he and the monstrous Russian burst into the apartment of Castle’s neighbor, the morbidly obese Mr. Bumpo. It was here that the Punisher finally got some good luck, as Bumpo had just returned home with five pipin’ hot pizzas. The Punisher threw the hot pizza in the Russians face - the burning grease distracted the Russian long enough for the Punisher to trip the Russian and, in one of the most absurdly gross methods of killing a man, knocked the 1200 pound Mr. Bumpo on to the Russian’s face and kept him there for a half hour, smothering the Russian to death.

For good measure, the Punisher decapitated the Russian.

Of course, that, amusingly enough, was not the last we would see of the Russian, but that’s another story (a hilarious one, but still, another one), also from the same creators of this issue, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon…


58. The remains of the JLA vs. Darkseid (Rock of Ages)

During the Rock of Ages storyline, Aquaman, Flash and Green Lantern find themselves transported fifteen years into the future into their future selves in a world that has long since been conquered by Darkseid (later, we learn, it was due to the events happening back in the present). They team up with the last remnants of the JLA, which is in a sorry state, indeed, as it consists of only Wonder Woman, Green Arrow (Connor Hawke), the Atom, the former Teen Titan Argent, a female Aztek and a reprogrammed Amazo.

Luckily, the tide is already helped a bit when we learn that Batman, who has spent the last eight years being tortured by DeSaad, has won the battle of wills between he and DeSaad, so Batman is there to help lead the attack.

The battle was getting rough, and the Leaguers were getting tossed, if not for the courage of Green Arrow and Atom, the Earth would totally be lost.

After pretty much everyone else is killed, it comes down to Green Arrow and the Atom versus Darkseid and his seemingly impenetrable force field. However, since Darkseid can SEE them, obviously light can get in. So the Atom has Green Arrow fire him on an arrow at Darkseid, then shrink down small enough where he can ride a photon on a beam of light right into Darkseid’s eye then to Darkseid’s brain, where he enlarges, frying Darkseid’s brain but killing himself in the process.

So yeah, Green Arrow and the Atom took down Darkseid.


59. Superboy Prime vs. Supermen

As established in a previous fight on the countdown, Conner Kent managed to defeat the plans of Alex Luthor and Superboy Prime in Infinite Crisis #6.

Well, while that basically took Luthor out of play, it did not take Superboy Prime out of the picture, and in Infinite Crisis #7 (by Geoff Johns and a bunch of artists, including Phil Jimenez and George Perez), Superboy Prime decides he is just going to destroy Oa, which is the center of the universe, in a fit of rage (sort of a “If I can’t have my perfect universe, no one can have a universe!”).

A whole pile of the Green Lantern Corps show up to try to slow him down, but they are mostly unsuccessful (and about three dozen of them lose their lives in the process) but we soon learn that this is part of a risky gambit.

The other two Supermen, Kal-L (Earth-2 Superman) and Kal-El (the “main” Superman), show up and drag Superboy Prime through the place where Krypton once was (essentially now a field of kryptonite) and they then go through the red sun of Krypton. The three land on a nearby planet (the Green Lantern Mogo) where the three are now all powerless.

Then it comes down to a good ol’ fashioned fist fight, with Kal-El finally being able to put the kibosh on Superboy Prime, but not before Kal-L dies from injuries sustained during the fight.


60. Wolverine vs. Sabretooth (Mutant Massacre)

This is the second Wolverine vs. Sabretooth fight on the countdown (here is the first one).

After the Marauders slaughter a great deal of the Morlocks during the so-called “Mutant Massacre,” the X-Men show up and save a bunch of Morlocks, but suffer great casualties themselves, forcing them to retreat back to the X-Mansion. Wolverine and Sabretooth have their first tangle in the tunnels when Wolverine is attempting to save the Morlock Healer who, naturally, would come in handy in a Mutant Massacre, so Sabretooth is attempting to kill the Healer.

Wolverine manages to drop a wall on Sabretooth and escape with the Healer.

Sabretooth, though, manages to track them back to the X-Mansion. After he takes out Rogue, Psylocke (just a guest of the X-Men at that point in time) has a memorable fight where she takes on Sabretooth and acquits herself pretty well until Wolverine shows up to have a rematch of their tunnel match.

At this point the rest of the X-Men show up and Magneto could obviously end the fight pretty easily, but Psylocke asks him not to, because she can only get past Sabretooth’s mental defenses if he is distracted, which he is while fighting Wolverine. Magneto agrees, and Wolverine and Sabretooth have a memorable tussle.

The fight ends when Wolverine reveals that Sabretooth has been conned - the rest of the X-Men show up to capture him, but Sabretooth escapes by jumping off of a cliff to the lake below.

The X-Men then officially make Psylocke a member of the team.


61. Batman vs. Joker (Dark Knight Returns)

The notion that superheroes, by existing, help create super-villains by being the action that draws the natural reaction. It’s a popular notion nowadays, but it wasn’t so much back when Dark Knight Returns came out, and Frank Miller played with this idea dramatically.

In Dark Knight Returns, the Joker has been catatonic for a decade - the same amount of time Batman has been out of the picture. Once Batman returns to the spotlight, so too does the Clown Prince of Crime.

The Joker fakes sanity so that he could be released - he then gets himself on to a popular talk show where he very publicly kills the entire studio audience (Batman tries to get there in time but is stymied by the police).

He escapes the studio and goes on a killing rampage at a local amusement park, killing a number of Cub Scouts and planting a bomb. Batman defuses the bomb and, in a fit of rage over their continuous dance the two have, Batman snaps the Joker’s neck - but stops short of killing him.

In one last attempt at getting at Batman, the Joker twists his head until the rest of his spine snaps, killing him and thereby framing Batman for his murder - one last piece of revenge.


62. Supergirl vs. Anti-Monitor

The times were looking pretty bleak for the heroes of the multiverse about mid-way through Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Monitor, the big guy that was helping the heroes against the Anti-Monitor, was now dead.

In his death, however, he managed to protect five Earths (coincidentally, the ones with all the coolest superheroes on them). However, that respite did not appear to be lasting too long, as the Anti-Monitor was beginning an assault on these last five Earths and if the heroes did not so something quick, they would not even have a chance to come up with any counter-attacks against the Anti-Monitor.

The situation was getting rough, and the relatively tiny heroes were tossed, if not for the courage of Supergirl, the heroes would all be lost.

Luckily, Supergirl decided to make a stand and take on the Anti-Monitor all by her lonesome, and in doing so, she allowed the other heroes to escape and plan for another day. She did not manage to KILL the Anti-Monitor, but she sure managed to make him know that he had been in a fight. Sadly, he also killed her in the ensuing battle.

The epic fight, masterfully executed by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, led to one of the most iconic covers of the past twenty-five years.


63. Batman vs. Ra’s Al Ghul (First Duel)

An interesting aspect of the first stories involving Ra’s Al Ghul by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams (besides the fact that there really wasn’t a “first story” by O’Neil and Adams, as Irv Novick shared the art duties on the first few Ra’s stories almost evenly with Adams) is the fact that the Batman within these stories is barely recognizable to the super-competent Batman of today. The Batman of the first Ra’s story really needs the help of other practically ordinary people to help bring down Ra’s.

Ra’s and Talia had been around for a little while before the famous first duel between Batman and Ra’s took place.

Batman fakes Bruce Wayne’s death and takes on the identity of Matches Malone for the first time (Malone is introduced and is killed in these issues, leaving the identity available for Batman to use). He teams up with a scientist who had worked with Ra’s (not of his own volition) and they race to stop Ra’s and Talia from unleashing a deadly plague. Through the story, Batman gets aid from some unlikely sources, like a famous skier!!

Ultimately, Batman tracks them down only to discover Ra’s dead. He takes Talia into custody but is then confronted by Ra’s - this is the first time we see the use of the Lazarus Pit. Batman is quickly subdued and Ra’s and his daughter take off.

This is probably the first “wow, Batman is tough” scene, as Batman manages to catch up with them and confront them again in the desert. Ra’s is suitably impressed. They proceed to have a sword duel in the desert that Batman perhaps would have won, but a scorpion stings Batman.

As he lies dying, Talia’s love for Batman outweighs her daughterly fealty, and she gives Batman an antidote. He then captures Ra’s and takes him into custody, winning their first battle, but not in the ultra-capable way we’re used to Batman winning battles nowadays.


64. Superman vs. Batman (Hush)

One of the hallmarks of the Hush storyline by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee was that each issue would guest star a notable character from the Batman mythos, and one of the most memorable early stories of the year-long storyline was Batman #612, where Poison Ivy brainwashes Superman into going after Batman.

Loeb plays about as fair as you’re going to get when it comes to Superman vs. Batman fights, as he stresses the fact that Superman is fighting the control of Ivy the whole time, which is why he doesn’t just kill Batman right away, and Loeb also has Superman overpower basically every idea Batman comes up with. In fact, the main idea of Batman’s fight is that he is just trying to stay alive for a few minutes while he comes up with a way to free Superman from Ivy’s control, and he tries every trick in the book to do so (and Superman deals with each trick pretty easily) until Batman endangers Lois Lane’s life in an attempt to shake Ivy’s hold on Superman - and it works, but that shows just how dirty Batman is willing to play - he’s willing to endanger an innocent for the good of the rest of the innocents out there.


65. Thor vs. Iron Man

After the events of Civil War (heck, DURING Civil War, even), there appeared to pop up a bit of a cottage industry of comic books devoted just to trashing Iron Man, as a good deal of comic book fans had some real issues with Iron Man after Civil War, so Marvel creators seemed to take that interest in seeing Iron Man “get his” by, well, having comics where Iron Man is either dressed down or, in the case of Thor #3, dressed down AND beaten down.

Thor, of course, has slightly more of a beef with Iron Man than others do, as while Thor was seemingly dead, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic and the Skrull pretending to be Yellowjacket got together and made a clone of Thor that went a bit nuts and killed the superhero known as Goliath (Bill Foster).

So when Thor came back from the dead and brought back Asgard as a floating city in the middle of the American midwest, Iron Man came a-callin’ as a representative of the United States government, and Thor was none too pleased.

Thor #3 consists of Thor basically taking Iron Man apart while at the same time expressing his displeasure with the decisions of Tony Stark.

Artist Olivier Coipel did a marvelous job drawing writer J. Michael Straczynski’s story.


66. Swamp Thing and Friends vs. The Soul of Darkness (American Gothic)

The conclusion to American Gothic deals with the “Soul of Darkness” which is basically a Primordial Shadow, which threatens to change the status quo in Hell by marching upon Heaven.

John Constantine puts Swamp Thing into the position where he can help stop this, in a two-front battle.

Swamp Thing and a host of notable DC magic users (like Phantom Stranger, Dr. Fate and Etrigan the Demon - who is leading an army of demons who don’t WANT the status quo to change) into battle with the Shadow and his army of demons.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Constantine leads a group of the most notable magicians in the DC Universe to also stop them. In the ensuing magic battle, both Sargon the Sorceror and Zatara are killed.

Ultimately, it all comes down to Swamp Thing (as Constantine planned it), who convinces the Shadow that evil and good are not necessarily at odds with each other - the Shadow then strikes up a balance with the Light of Heaven, and all is right with the world (except for the casualties, of course).


67. Magneto vs. Apocalypse

The Age of Apocalypse was based on the idea of what would happen if a powerful mutant killed Professor X in the past before he could create the X-Men? The power display would waken Apocalypse, who would attack the world before it had the proper superhero defenders to stop Apocalypse, and Apocalypse would soon rule the world.

However, with Professor X dead, Magneto would have to be the one who started the X-Men, and in the Age of Apocalypse, we see that Magneto and Apocalypse have had quite a few battles over the year through Magneto’s X-Men and Apocalypse’s forces of evil.

Magneto had been captured by Apocalypse’s forces earlier on in the storyline, and in the final issue of the crossover, X-Men: Omega (by Scott Lobdell & Mark Waid with pencils by Roger Cruz), Magneto has been tortured and is in bad shape. Meanwhile, nukes are falling all over the place in an attempt to destroy Apocalypse. Magneto and the X-Men, however, need to get Bishop enough time so that he can travel back to the past to stop Xavier from having ever been killed. To do so, the X-Men break into Apocalypse’s headquarters to free Magneto.

They do so, but suffer heavy casualties.

The weakened Magneto takes on Apocalypse, and things are not going so well, but in one last heroic gesture, Magneto uses all of his power he can muster and TEARS APOCALYPSE IN TWO!

That dramatic scene gives them the opportunity for Bishop to make his move (with a few stowaways from the Age of Apocalypse universe) and Magneto can stand happy as the nukes fall knowing that he has saved the day.


68. Doom vs. Beyonder

When the Beyonder called a bunch of Marvel heroes and villains to Battleworld to battle it out for the “ultimate prize,” he did not take into consideration the fact that Doctor Doom was not one for taking orders. Doom is all about taking power for himself on his OWN terms, like the time he took the Silver Surfer’s Power Cosmic.

Doom decides to do the same to the Beyonder, and confronts him in Secret Wars #10, in a devastating battle where the Beyonder puts Doom through quite a beating - however, Doom knows that if he can just hold off long enough to absorb the power, he can fix himself. And if there’s one thing Doom has going for him - it’s willpower.

And ultimately, Doom succeeds! He beats the seemingly unbeatable! He has the power of the Beyonder! Of course, the Beyonder secretly puts some of his essence into Klaw to protect himself from Doom, but still, Doom did quite an impressive feat.


69. Spider-Man vs. Morlun (First Battle)

J. Michael Straczynski began his run on Amazing Spider-Man with artist John Romita Jr. by both introducing the idea of the Spider-totem (did the radioactive spider give Peter powers due to it being radioactive, or was the spider already a super spider?) and also introducing the poweful villain Morlun.

Morlun is drawn to Spider-Man because he needs to feed on Spider-Man and the pure energy within him.

The fight between Spider-Man and Morlun is a great one because it also manages to work in the whole “Spider-Man never backs down from a fight” routine that makes other Spidey stories so good (and, of course, John Romita Jr. is a great artist).

Although, it’s interesting that this is a fight where Spider-Man actually DOES try to flee, but he can’t because Morlun starts killing civilians until Spider-Man will fight him again. Spidey only gets a respite when an explosion ruins Morlun’s clothes. Morlun’s powers work in a way that he can always find Spider-Man again, so he leaves to go get new clothes and find Spider-Man again.

Morlun is very powerful, but even worse, every time he hits Spider-Man, he drains some energy from him, making the blows that much worse.

Spidey is in bad shape, and he is only saved from the man, Ezekiel, who told him about Morlun recently. Ezekiel manages to draw blood by a punch to Morlun’s nose, but Morlun is able to absorb Ezekiel’s energy, leaving him sated for now.

Spidey uses this time to examine Morlun’s blood and come up with a way to stop him - when next they meet, Spidey has injected himself with radiation - so when Morlun tries to absorb Spidey’s energy - it is no longer pure - it s now “tainted” with radiation!!

This weakens Morlun to the point where Morlun’s assistant takes the opportunity to kill Morlun.


70. Wolverine vs. Sabretooth (Right before the Age of Apocalypse)

This fight (written by Larry Hama) is probably most notable for the fact that it was perhaps the first time Wolverine actually popped the third claw after doing the bit where he puts his two side claws around a person’s head then says something like “Don’t make me give you the third claw” (the third claw being in the middle, so it would go through the person’s head, naturally). He used to do that a lot during the 90s, but never actually popped the third claw.

Well, in this fight, he actually popped the third claw!!

In any event, at some point around 1993 or 94, Professor X took Sabretooth in in an attempt to rehabilitate him. Wolverine was away from the team at this point, going through some issues due to his adamantium being pulled out of his body by Magneto. So in Wolverine #90, when Wolverine returns to the X-Mansion, well, as you might imagine, he is displeased at seeing Sabretooth there.

Sabretooth, meanwhile, also wants to fight Wolverine but can’t because he is held back by a force field. However, being extremely tough, Sabretooth manages to get past the force field - but Logan is waiting for him.

They tussle, and Sabretooth is talking all sorts of trash.

The comic came with fold-out pages, letting artist Adam Kubert really cut loose on the fight scenes.

Finally, Wolverine had Sabretooth at his mercy with the claw routine, and Sabretooth is mocking him about how Wolverine better kill him, because if he doesn’t, Sabretooth will kill someone Wolverine loves (as he has done so many times in the past).

The book ends as Wolverine pops the third claw to the awesome sound effect “SCHLIKT!” as reality falls apart and the Age of Apocalypse begins (we later find out that Wolverine basically lobotomized Sabretooth, but as he has a healing factor, Sabes gets better eventually).


71. Avengers and Justice League vs. Krona

Really, the how and the why of the team-up in JLA/Avengers, the cross-company-crossover written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by George Perez, is not really all that important.

It’s the who and the what that is happening, and that you can see for yourself (click to enlarge the image, by the way) on that above cover.

Kurt Busiek and George Perez team up ALL of the Avengers with ALL of the Justice League to fight against Krona and some bad guys. You are not going to screw up an idea that cool!

That said, while it is not important, the HOW of the story is actually handled really well, as we see the Leaguers and Avengers merged together into a “perfect” world by Krona that they have to break free of for the sake of the universe, and that they do so is a testament to their integrity and heroism, because they know that by defeating Krona that they set into motion some awful events (Barry Allen’s death, Hal becoming the yellow fear monster, etc.). However, they know that a merged Earth means that some people won’t make it - so for those innocents, they must fight Krona!

Of course, not JUST Krona, for the finale is a lot like Busiek’s Avengers Forever #12 - there are a LOT of characters mixed in there!

It’s hectic - it’s frantic - it’s frenetic - it is quite cool.

One last image to convince you…

You know you want it.


72. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vs. Martians

After first introducing the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in the first series, Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill return to tell a massive epic detailing the invasion of Earth from Mars.

In typical League fashion, Alan Moore was extremely detailed in his combination of the various fictional takes on Martians and had a unified race attack London.

There were three main plot points in the battle against the Martians…

1. The Invisible Man’s betrayal of the rest of the group to the Martians (which he is punished by being raped and murdered by Mr. Hyde, but his death comes a long time after Hyde is finished with him, as Hyde wants his last moments to be agony.

2. Mina and Quartermain visit Dr. Moreau for a certain device that will help win the war.

3. Captain Nemo and Mr. Hyde single-handedly keep the Martians at bay via the Nautlis and Hyde’s brute strength (they are undone when the Invisible Traitor shows the Martians how to take away the water advantage of the Nautilis).

Once Mina and Quartermain return, they need a way to deploy the device against the Martians. Hyde volunteers and personally delivers it to the Martian tripods. They kill him but the device works - it is a mutated virus that is much deadlier than anthrax and it kills all the Martians and a good deal of people in the area, as well.

The cover story was that it was the common cold that defeated the Martians.

Captain Nemo is outraged and vows never to work with the rest of them ever again (Mina leaves, as well). They won the battle, but this incarnation of the League did not survive.


73. Superboy Prime vs. Superboy (Final Fight)

This cover is actually for their first fight, but I couldn’t find anything good to use for the second fight, so I went with the first cover!

So Superboy (Conner Kent) and Superboy Prime had a fight earlier in Infinite Crisis, but Superboy needed all the Titans and all the Flashes to make it out of that one alive, as he is severely out-classed by Superboy Prime’s power levels. And Superboy Prime made Conner think that he (Conner) really WASN’T worthy of being called Superboy.

Now, later in the series, Alex Luthor and Superboy Prime are working together to merge various Earths into one “perfect” Earth, and to do so, they’re using a special Tuning Fork Tower thing that is working off of energies from heroes and villains from the various Earths.

Nightwing, Conner and Wonder Girl make their way to the secret headquarters where Luthor is doing this (Superboy Prime is not there), and they try to stop them. They release the prisoners but then Superboy Prime shows up and starts handing out some serious beatings!

He mocks Nightwing by saying when Prime wiped out the Titans, he wasn’t even TRYING. Conner shows up and shouts that neither was he!

Now Conner takes on Prime and their battle is pitched but Conner still is not in the same class as Prime, so he likely is not strong enough to defeat Prime outright, but instead, he manages to hang strong long enough to force the pair to crash into the Tower, ruining Luthor’s plan to destroy the various Earths in his endeavor to find one “perfect” Earth and instead creates on merged “new” Earth (of course we later learn that there are more Earths out there).

As Superboy lies dying in the arms of his girlfriend, Wonder Girl, he tells her how Prime made him doubt that he was the “real” Superboy, but he showed him. She tells Conner about how he saved the world, and Conner replies with his dying words, “I know, Cass. Isn’t it cool?”


74. Batman vs. Cops in Year One

Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli were practically in another world with their work on Batman: Year One, telling a brilliantly detailed look at the early days of Bruce Wayne as Batman, with special attention paid to how poorly the corrupt Gotham Police Department takes the involvement of a do-gooder vigilante.

Really, in many ways Batman: Year One is about Jim Gordon just as much as it is about Batman, so it makes sense that the police interaction with Batman takes such a major role.

The conflict with the police has its spotlight moment when, after many failed attempts to catch Batman in a trap, Batman shows himself to save an old woman from getting hit by a truck. Gordon’s partner, Sarah Essen, has Batman cornered in the street, but loses him when she checks to see if Gordon is all right (Gordon tried to stop the truck by jumping inside, but he was in it when it smashed into a wall).

Batman escapes into an abandoned buidling where the police commissioner orders destroyed by a bomb. In the explosion, Batman’s belt catches fire and he has to discard it. He is also shot twice. Luckily, he makes it to the basement which is secure, so he survives the explosion.

Now armed only with a blow gun and three darts, Batman has to take on the Gotham SWAT team that is entered the remains of the building. Batman, naturally, kicks their collective asses, but to aid in his escape, he uses a device to call in a swarm of bats that cover his escape.

He jumps out of the building (carrying a cat he saved) and escapes on a police motorcycle.

Rarely has there ever been a Batman action sequence quite as cool as this one.


75. Wonder Woman vs. Superman (Sacrifice)

Maxwell Lord had himself a very difficult subject to work with when he attempted to control Superman’s mind. It was not so much the taking control of Superman’s mind that was the issue so much as it was the “getting Superman to do the things Lord wanted him to do when he had control” thing, as Superman’s moral compass is pretty darn strict, so to get him to kill, Lord had to go to some extreme measures.

That was the point of Sacrifice, a 4-part crossover taking place in the middle of the OMAC Project, where we see Lord run Superman through various horrific scenarios in his mind until he finds one where Superman was willing to use lethal force.

Of course, the villains Superman is attacking is actually Batman, who Superman nearly kills.

Wonder Woman has to step in and fight Superman, who thinks she is Doomsday (and has just killed Lois, natch). Her goal is to keep both herself AND Superman alive.

After a brutally vicious battle, Wonder Woman figures that the only way to stop Superman is to stop Maxwell Lord, who gloats that even if she stops him NOW, he’ll just come back later to take control of Superman - so she figures the only way she can safely stop Lord is by killing him, so she snaps his neck, ending his threat and his life.


76. Captain Britain (and friends) vs. The Fury

The Alans, Moore and Davis, respectively, introduced the Fury in the pages of Marvel UK’s Marvel Superheroes #387 in 1982, but soon brought him over to a brand-new title called Daredevils (which was mostly designed to reprint Frank Miller’s classic Daredevil run).

The Fury is basically an unstoppable killing machine. In one of its first appearances, it wipes out the entire superhero population of an Earth (one of the many Earths of the multiverse - the “regular” Marvel Universe is 616).

Captain Britain travels to confront the Fury, and the Fury (as shown above) KILLS HIM!

That’s how tough the Fury is. Luckily, Captain Britain is revived by Merlyn and sent back to the 616 Earth.

But here’s the thing about the Fury - it always adapts to whatever it needs to do to kill someone. Well, when it senses that Captain Britain is still alive, it actually adapts itself to inter-dimensional transport!!! So it travels to Earth-616.

Captain Britain puts together a group of super-humans (the inter-dimensional mercenary group, the Special Executive) to fight the Fury.

The battle was fierce and many heroes lost their lives but the Fury was seemingly immobilized at the end of the battle.

That did not last long and the Fury soon returned, but after another fierce battle, the Captain Britain Corps member Captain UK (each dimension has their own version of Captain Britain) finally succeeded in (seemingly) destroying the Fury after Captain Britain severely weakened the beast (Captain UK struck before it could repair itself, because each time it repairs itself, it upgrades itself and makes itself even deadlier!)


77. Mr. Fantastic vs. Doctor Doom (Timeslip)

This story was one of the last ones that Walt Simonson told during his Fantastic Four run (in fact, was it the very last?) and it was perhaps his best one!

Fantastic Four #352 is a battle between Doctor Doom and Reed Richards, only it takes place through the time stream (the story is called Timeslip), so they are constantly going back and forth through time in the issue, so what Simonson does is tell the story by having small notations telling the reader where they are in time. You have to go all throughout the issue to different pages to follow the fight as they leap around in time.

It’s an absolutely fascinating idea, and Simonson even works the cover into the fun, as well (note the time stamp on the cover) - that cover counts as one of the fight scenes in the book.


78. Thing vs. The Champion

I guess this is another notable entrance!

The Champion showed up in Marvel Two-in-One Annual #7, by Tom DeFalco and Ron Wilson, and declared that he was going to fight the best of Earth in a boxing match, and if they beat him, he would spare Earth - otherwise, he would destroy it!

He collected the most powerful heroes of the world, but most of them are disqualified for one reason or another (Thor, for instance, can’t box when he has a hammer at all times, lest he turn back into Don Blake).

Eventually, all of Earth’s heroes are eliminated except for the Thing, who, while quite strong, is nowhere near the Champion’s league.

However, unlike the others, Ben Grimm knows how to box, and he manages to stay in the game for a couple of rounds while taking a gruesome beating. The Thing, though, refuses to quit and just keeps plugging away until the match is called.

The Thing will have none of it and mocks the Champion. Though the Thing can barely stand, he says he will never stop fighting until he can’t fight anymore!

The Champion is so impressed that he declares Earth saved!

The world rejoices as the Thing collapses and enjoys one of the nicest horrible hospital experience you could ever imagine.

GarBut wanted a shot of the Champion getting punched by the Thing, but I don’t think that’s really what this comic is about - it’s not about Thing punching his problems away, it’s about his perseverance!

That said, how about a wicked shot of the Thing getting ready to rumble by Ron Wilson?


79. X-Men vs. Cassandra Nova

While Venom made a notable entrance, Cassandra Nova was even more impressive, as she first showed herself by tricking a relative of the original Sentinel makers to give Nova access to the Sentinels. At which point Nova launched an assault on the mutant haven of Genosha. The small island nation had 16 million mutants. When the Sentinel attack ended, it had about 100.

And that was not even the most dramatic of Nova’s plans!

Her next step was to take control of the body of Professor Charles Xavier, who it turns out, was the twin brother of Cassandra Nova! She died in the womb, but managed to survive as pure malevolent energy, until finally becoming corporeal.

Now in control of Xavier’s body, after a bit of mischief at the X-Mansion (like breaking Beast’s spirits completely) she travels to the Shi’Ar Empire, where she quickly takes over the entire empire and lays waste to most of it and sets her sights on Earth!

Luckily, the X-Men are able to defeat the invasion as well as trap Nova in a body where she can (seemingly) do no more harm.

A great storyline by Grant Morrison and various artists (most notably Frank Quitely).

Saturday, December 27, 2008


80. Spider-Man vs. Venom ( Amazing Spiderman #300 )

Talk about making an entrance!

Both Todd McFarlane (who had just become the regular artist on Amazing Spider-Man with Amazing #298) and Venom made quite the impression on readers in Amazing Spider-Man #299, when Mary Jane came home to find a sinister looking monster wearing what looked to be Spider-Man’s black costume!

In Amazing Spider-Man #300, David Michelinie and McFarlane gave readers the full scoop on this dastardly new villain of Spider-Man’s - it was made up of the alien symbiote that Spider-Man had brought over from Secret War. It made the user (Eddie Brock) extremely powerful and undectable by Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense. Most importantly, the symbiote and Eddie (calling itself, collectively, Venom) knew Peter Parker’s secrets from having bonded with it!!!

So Peter’s family were in danger from this new monstrous villain who quickly became one of Spider-Man’s most prominent baddies. While Venom did nothing to Mary Jane in #299, he left with the clear threat that he COULD have, just like he COULD do bad stuff to Aunt May, as well.

In their first battle, they fight it out in an abandoned building where Spider-Man learns of how Eddie became Venom, and after being fooled into thinking he knocked Venom out, Spider-Man finds himself blindsided and captured.

He awakes webbed up to the bell of the church where Spider-Man first got rid of the symbiote. Venom’s plan is to kill him with the deadly sound of the bell. The clapper begins and only Spidey’s super-strength is able to keep from being killed the first two rings - but it is clear he can’t last very long. So he hold on to the bell and lets it rip him from the webbing and he continues the fight.

The key is when he discovers that Venom’s webbing comes from the symbiote itself, so he forces Venom to use up enough webbing that it is weakened and cannot produce any more, at which point Spider-Man knocks Venom off of the roof to the ground below - victory, Spider-Man!

Spidey gets the Fantastic Four to come by and take Venom into custody.


81. Deathstroke and Terra vs. the Teen Titans (The Judas Contract)

In the first issue of the New Teen Titans, a villain named the Ravager is given the assignment of killing the Titans. He fails, so the next issue, his father, Deathstroke the Terminator, takes the assignment. He, too, appears to fail.

Instead, after his initial failure, Deathstroke decided to place a sleeper agent within the Titans, in the form of the junior grade sociopath, Tara Markov, otherwise known as the superhero Terra!

The Titans eventually open their arms to Terra and she becomes a member.

The famous Judas Contract storyline by Marv Wolfman and George Perez details Terra’s betrayal of the Titans, as Deathstroke finally delivers on the contract his son took in the first issue, by delivering to the villainous H.I.V.E. organization the Titans (save Dick Grayson, who escapes).

Dick meets up with Deathstroke’s ex-wife, who has with her Deathstroke’s OTHER son, the heroic mutant known as Jericho. Dick teams up with them to rescue the Titans. In the process, Dick takes on a new superhero identity (he had just recently quit being Robin), becoming the new hero known as Nightwing.

Nightwing, Jericho and Deathstroke’s ex-wife help free the Titans from the deadly grasps of H.I.V.E. Eventually, Jericho saves the day by using his mutant ability, which allows him to possess other people’s bodies, and possesses his father and frees the Titans. Terra sees this and not being too bright, decides that Deathstroke has turned on her, so in one last sick move, she brings down the entire H.I.V.E. facility that they were at down to the ground, killing herself in the process (the Titans survive, though, natch).


82. Flash vs. Zoom (First Battle)

The new Zoom was Hunter Zolomon, a criminal profiler who, due to a poor judgment resulting in his wife’s father’s death, lost his wife, his father-in-law and the full use of his legs. Now in Keystone City behind a desk as a profiler, Zolomon became friends with Wally West, the Flash, as the two interacted often.

Later, Zolomon was attacked by the villain Gorilla Grodd, and in the resulting fight, Zolomon was left fully paralyzed. He turned to his friend Wally to ask Wally to use the Cosmic Treadmill to go back in time and stop the attack before it happens. Wally refuses, saying he is not allowed to mess with time like that.

Infuriated, Zolomon tries it himself - it backfires, but the resulting explosion puts Zolomon out of place within the timestream. He can now alter the effects of time around him, giving him the illusion of super speed.

The now clearly insane Zolomon figures that Wally’s problem was that he just wasn’t a good enough hero to help out Zolomon. If he was a better hero, he clearly would have done Zolomon the favor he asked. So he tried to think - why WASN’T Wally a good hero? Then Zolomon “figured” it out - Wally had not had a personal tragedy!

Now calling himself Zoom, Zolomon figured he’d fix that by killing Wally’s pregnant wife, Linda!

Ultimately, Wally was able to borrow speed from other speedsters to match the effect of Zoom’s time travel, and he managed to save his wife, but not before Zoom caused Linda to miscarry the twins she was carrying!

While Wally and Linda grieved, Zoom was trapped in one of the rifts in time and space that he created from his powers - he was forced to re-live the moment where his father-in-law was killed - over and over again.


83. The Ultimates vs. Thor

There was an air of mystery around Thor for much of the first series of Ultimates which was only intensified in the second volume. Was he really a Norse god or was he just a super-soldier with a fancy hammer designed by the government?

Loki, disguised as a representative from the European Defence Initiative convinced the Ultimates it was the latter, especially as the team was already distrustful of Thor - thinking he was the traitor in their ranks who revealed to the world that Bruce Banner was the Hulk (forcing the Ultimates to kill Banner to avoid bad PR). In fact, he had already quit the team, figuring that they would begin to get involved in foreign countries - something he was firmly against.

Once Loki convinced the team Thor was nuts, they traveled to bring him into custody - the following battle in Ultimates 2 #5 by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch is quite a sight to see.

Thor takes on the entire team and things only get worse when they make him mad. He totally holds his own until Quicksilver manages to jump 50 feet into the air and snare his belt, which supposedly is where his strength came from, artificially.

Surprisingly (including to Thor) this gambit works (all part of Loki’s plan), and Thor is taken into custody.

Eventually, he will be freed and help the team beat down Loki.


84. Punisher vs. Barracuda (Punisher MAX)

People really did not specify which Punisher/Barracuda battle they meant, so since they were so close together, I’ll just count it as one fight with two rounds!

Barracuda, introduced in The Punisher MAX #31, is basically what the Punisher would be if he were a big black psychopath.

Barracuda is ruthlessly efficient and able to survive all sorts of terrible situations, at the same time, he also manages to have a sick sense of humor about things, as well.

He was a successful gangster who the government enlisted for special ops when they saw how efficient he was at killing people.

While fighting the Punisher, Barracuda lost an eye and all the fingers on his right hand - but that did not stop him none!

Barracuda was so popular that he was given his own mini-series, filled with violence and mayhem. He then returned to get his revenge on Frank Castle in a storyline where he kidnaps the Punisher’s child (who Castle did not even know existed) to lead Castle into a trap. What follows is issue upon issue of maniacal violence as two men who just don’t know how to quit lay into each other over and over again.

Garth Ennis and artist Goran Parlov (who handled the art on all Barracuda stories, including the mini-series - save one issue by Howard Chaykin) manage to make Barracuda, through all his insanity, a pretty lovable sociopath, really - in a horrible, twisted way, of course.


85. Authority vs. Kaizen Gamorra

If you’re going to go about things a bit differently, you usually need one major moment to draw people’s attention to your comic, and the Authority’s initial battle against Kaizen Gamorra was that event.

Kaizen Gamorra had been a major part of the Wildstorm universe basically ever since it began. His island of Gamorra was a major spot for both genetic engineering, cybernetics and, oh yes, terrorism.

When Warren Ellis took over Stormwatch, he revealed that the Kaizen Gamorra we had seen was not the REAL Gamorra, and when Ellis installed the real one, things got even worse.

The first strike by Gamorra was when he used a virus to mutate and kill 233 passengers on an airplane. Stormwatch retaliated by invading Gamorra and killing exactly 233 citizens of Gamorra.

Later, after Stormwatch disbanded, Gamorra revealed he had been spending his time building an army of superhuman clones. He planned to unleash them on the world, destroying three major cities. His first victim was Moscow, which his army of superbeings razed to the ground. The newly-formed Authority, however, managed to stop Gamorra’s crew in London, with only minimal casualties.

In the third battle, there were NO casualties - other than the evil clones.

Gamorra hid on his island behind his super powerful force field that no superhero could burst through - not even Majestic!

And it was here that Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s Authority really began to stand out. Recently, the Authority had gained a gigantic inter-dimensional craft called the Carrier. Well, the Authority member Midnighter decided what they had to do was to just crash the entire thing on the island of Gamorra!

Widespread superhero action had never been THIS vivid before!

Gamorra’s last words as he and his cloning plants were destroyed were “I only wanted to have some fun.”


courtesy of the CBR

86. Spider-Man vs. Firelord (Amazing Spiderman # 269 )

The former herald of Galactus, Firelord, is visiting Earth for some Earth cuisine when he is attacked by some construction workers who think he’s a mutant. As he is about to kill the worker for the affront, Spider-Man shows up, and spends the rest of Amazing Spider-Man #269 and 270 fighting Firelord throughout New York.

Writer Tom DeFalco and artist Ron Frenz handle the tale, which is very reminiscent of Spider-Man’s battle against the Juggernaut, in that Spider-Man does everything he can to stop Firelord, but Firelord basically shrugs it all off.

Spidey actually tries to steer the battle towards other heroes he feels better suited to stop Firelord, like the Fantastic Four and Avengers, but that does not work out for him.

Ultimately, Spider-Man tricks Firelord into exploding a gas station. The gigantic explosion softens Firelord up enough for Spider-Man to finally really go on the offensive, and begin pummeling the herald with blows until eventually, all of Spider-Man’s punches begin to have an effect. Spider-Man won’t quit and just keeps at it, constantly punching Firelord until a hand stops Spidey. He turns and sees it is Captain America. The Avenges are here just in time to have seen Spider-Man pummel Firelord into unconsciousness!!

See what you can do when you put your mind to it, kids?


courtesy of the CBR

87. Captain America vs. Red Skull (T.O.S #80 vol 1)

The Red Skull, Captain America’s greatest enemy, returns from seeming death as well in the 1960s in the pages of Tales of Suspense #79-81, which is also the first appearance of the Cosmic Cube.

The Cosmic Cube gives the bearer of the cube basically absolute power, and the Red Skull possesses the Cube (for the first of a few times he’s handled the item).

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby tell the tale demonstrating just how heroic Cap is (and this is early Silver Age Cap, too!) that he is able to take on a villain with absolute power and still beat him!

A lot of that comes from the fact that Captain America just does not know how to quit - even though the Skull out-powers him tremendously, Cap keeps at it, and eventually he causes the Skull to doubt himself long enough for Cap to separate the Skull from the Cube, saving the day (and really, the whole world!).

It was one of the earliest classic storyline for Captain America - you could really tell how much affection Kirby had for his co-creation in this tale.

Most of the tale is Cap trying to keep Skull from getting the Cube, but when the Skull gets the Cube finally, the disorientation of the great power is the best asset Cap has, which is how Cap is able to trick the Skull long enough to knock the cube from the Skull’s hand (the battle takes place on Red Skull’s own island!).

Okay, yeah, there really should have been no way for Cap to last this long with a Cosmic Cube-holding Skull, but darnit, it was still awesome!


courtesy of the CBR

88. Avengers vs. Nefaria (Avengers # 166 vol. 1)

Count Nefaria was one of the earliest Avengers villains, attempting to take them on sans powers. That did not work out so well for him, and he was a minor character the next decade or so.

He came to preeminence again in Avengers #164-166, a dynamite three-parter by Jim Shooter and John Byrne, where Nefaria reformed the Lethal Legion with the villains Power Man, Whirlwind and the Living Laser, whose powers were increased by Nefaria to fight the Avengers.

We soon learn, however, that Nefaria experimented with their powers only so he himself could gain their powers! He has a scientist do so and once he is powered, he fatally wounds the scientist and takes on the Avengers!

He handles them easily, in a series of great panels by a young John Byrne. What’s especially cool is the battle between Nefaria and Thor, where he man-handles Thor (who, to his credit, never gives up) including the awesome scene where he just stops Thor’s hammer mid-swing.

Eventually the dying scientist catches up with Nefaria to tell him that the energy transfer is quite unstable (and it is aging Nefaria rapidly), and Nefaria is clearly losing some power, so ultimately, the Avengers just pile on him with all they have until he is very weakened, at which point Vision flies high into the air, turns as hard as diamond and then drops to the ground, crushing Nefaria and finally takes out the man who took on the entire assembled Avengers!


courtesy of the CBR

89. Superman Prime vs. Ion

During the Sinestro Corps War, Daxamite Green Lantern Sodam Yat is given control of Ion, a powerful energy source that the Guardians trust to special Green Lanterns to guard. In return, Ion gives the user powerful energy powers.

Also during the War, Superman Prime made his way back to Earth for the first time since Infinite Crisis, and this time, it is not just the Teen Titans waiting for him, but pretty much every DC hero there is! Their plan was to take him out before the sun comes out, but they were unable to do so, so Sodam Yat shows up to try to stop him.

Their battle is a fierce brawl in Green Lantern Corps #18 by Peter Tomasi and artist Patrick Gleason (Jamal Igle draws some flashbacks during the issue) that leaves Yat, the most powerful Green Lantern of them all - a bloody mess by issue’s end.

Still, he gave a villain who took on the entirety of DC’s superheroes a run for his money!


courtesy of the CBR

90. Spider-Man vs. Sinister Six (Amazing Spiderman Annual #1 vol. 1)

What a notion for the very first Annual in Spider-Man history! For Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, Spider-Man faced almost all of his (at that point) solo villains as a team!!! Doctor Octopus, Kraven, Electro, Sandman, Mysterio and the Vulture combine forces to take on Spider-Man!

The Sinister Six were such a major point in Spider-Man history that they did not even show up again as a team for almost 30 more years!!!

The plan in the issue was not exactly brilliant, but the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko issue made up for the villains’ fairly silly plan with the gusto in which Lee/Ditko executed it - especially Ditko, who did a marvelous job on this Annual.

The villains’ plot was that each one of them would fight Spider-Man one by one at a location best suited for each of the villains. The hope would be that after facing them all in a row, eventually he would tire and one of the villains later in the line would be able to take him out. Probably not as smart as actually using their numbers advantage to crush him, but hey, at least it is a plan!

The motivation for Spider-Man to follow their plan is that Aunt May and Betty Brant have been kidnapped. He is told he must defeat each villain and if he does, pick up a card telling him which one he has to face next and where.

Of course, complicating matters is that Spider-Man loses his powers early in the issue (he gets them back really quickly, but still - he begins the battles powerless!).

Each of the fights include one splash page by Ditko of Spider-Man fighting each of the villains.

Naturally, Spidey proceeds to beat each one of the villains and save the day, but at the end of it all, the novelty of six of Spider-Man’s villains getting together proved so popular that even though it was their only appearance for almost 30 years, people still remember it quite fondly.


courtesy of the CBR

91. Wolverine vs. the Hulk (HULK # 181 vol. 1)

When Wolverine came flying out of nowhere at the end of Incredible Hulk #180, while readers probably did not realize they were seeing the introduction of one of the most popular characters of all-time, they did likely realize that this Wolverine character was a lot different than most heroes.

In Incredible Hulk #181, we discover that Wolverine has been sent by the Canadian government to deal with the Hulk AND the creature known as the Wendigo. After first attacking the Hulk, Wolverine then determines to trick the Hulk into helping him stop the Wendigo. Once that is done (where Wolverine stabs Wendigo in the neck!), he turns on the Hulk.

Wolverine’s brusque manner of acting and the rather lethal powers he had (what hero had CLAWS back then?) really stood out, as did the fact that here was this tiny guy with not exactly thrilling powers, and he was totally hanging with the Incredible freakin’ Hulk!!!

The first fight ends in a draw, as Wolverine manages to knock the Hulk out, but not before the Hulk does the same to him.

After they both wake up, the fight begins anew. This time, Hulk delivers a deadly blow - only Wolverine’s great skill allows him to roll with the punch and rather than being killed, is only knocked unconscious.

The Hulk is the winner!


courtesy of the CBR

92. Silver Surfer vs. Thor (Silver Surfer #4)

For years, this was probably THE most famous Marvel comic book battle. Heck, I believe it was included in a trade collection Marvel did in the late 70s (when they did very few collections) called Marvel’s Greatest Superhero Battles.

In this issue by Stan Lee and John Buscema (inked by Sal!), Loki is looking for someone he can use to attack Thor. He considers Hulk, Hercules and the Thing, but ends up on the Silver Surfer. After first attacking the Surfer to test his mettle (nice pun, no?), Loki convinces the Surfer that Thor is an evil lout who is threatening the safety of Asgard - in exchange for the Surfer defeating him, Loki will grant Surfer the ability to leave Earth (where Galactus had stuck Surfer back in Fantastic Four #50) and travel in Asgard.

Surfer agrees, and travels to Asgard, where Thor tries to convince him he’s not a bad guy. But after some machinations by Loki (boy, is Loki good or what?), Surfer attacks Thor - and soon finds that he has more power than normal, as Loki has poured some of his own power into the Surfer.

The battle is fierce, but ultimately, Surfer is convinced Thor is not a bad guy and the battle ends.

Loki then sends Surfer back to his Earthly prison.


courtesy of the CBR

93. Spider-Man vs. the Hobgoblin (Amazing Spider-Man #249-251)

This is one of the oddest battles on this list, if only because it is one of, if not the only, battle that was begun by one creative team and ended by another.

The story begins in Amazing Spider-Man #249, by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr., where the Hobgoblin, the mysterious villain first seen in #238, tries out his most audacious plan yet - to blackmail at a club a large deal of city leaders with information the Hobgoblin obtained from the files of Norman Osborn (who is where the Hobgoblin got his gear from).

Spider-Man attacks the Hobgoblin at the club, but the Hobgoblin has developed a gas that can eliminate Spider-Man’s Spider Sense (the Green Goblin used it in the past), leading to the Hobgoblin defeating Spider-Man. Spider-Man is saved, however, by the Kingpin, who was one of the club members being blackmailed.

The next issue, Spider-Man strives to find the Hobgoblin without the use of his Spider Sense, and ultimately figures out a way, leading to the discovery of one of the Hobgoblin’s lairs and for the first time, it is Spidey that has the element of surprise! Spider-Man attacks, and in the melee, the lair explodes.

This leads into Amazing Spider-Man #251, which is the first issue by incoming creative team Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz.

Their battle continues throughout the issue (the explosion luckily destroyed all of Hobgoblin’s blackmail materials) and throughout the city, even! THe Hobgoblin’s gas wears off, and with his Spider-Sense return, Spider-Man re-gains the advantage, but ultimately, another explosion leaves Spidey stuck with nothing to show for his battle of the Hobgoblin, except, of course, the destruction of the blackmail materials.

DeFalco and Frenz begin strong in their follow-up to one of the better Spider-Man runs ever.


courtesy of the CBR

94. The DC Heroes vs. the Center (DC: NEW FRONTIER)

All throughout Darwyn Cooke’s instant classic, New Frontier, there is an alien presence making itself felt on Earth.

Ultimately, at the end of issue #5, the Center makes itself evident to the world as a malevolent, island-sized bad guy. Superman goes to deal with it, and he gets taken out with extreme prejudice, leading the rest of the heroes to consider the scope of the situation they’ve gotten themselves into where they have to take out a creature who just easily beat Superman with ease.

So that is the set-up for the last issue of New Frontier, where pretty much the entirety of the DC hero lineup of the 1940s, 50s and 60s combine to attack the Center.

One of the very coolest parts of the battle is the fighter jets in the battle, as there are a LOT of DC characters who were pilots (Ace Morgan, Hal Jordan, Larry Trainor, Nathaniel Adam and the Blackhawks).

The issue also has an awesome “slow walk” where all the heroes walk slowly together, The Right Stuff/The Wild Bunch style.

It was a great conclusiveness battle to a great series.


courtesy of the CBR

95. Ogami Itto vs. Yagyo Retsudo (Final Battle)

Once a guy slaughters almost your entirely family and then frames you for treason, well, let’s just say that you are not going to be a fan of that fellow, and that was, indeed, the case for Ogami Itto and his arch-nemesis, Yagyo Retsudo.

The only surviving member of Itto's family was his infant son, Daigoro. Father and son proceeded to live the life of the ronin (the masterless samurai). Over time, Itto killed off all of Retsudo’s sons (and clashed with Retsudo, as well, in a dramatic battle) until it was finally time for the final battle between the two - one final duel.

Tragically, though, Itto’s legendary sword was tampered with, leaving Itto to fight a group of ninjas (sort of the appetizer to the main course of revenge against Retsudo) without a sword, and while he was victorious, he was so injured that he was not nearly in good enough shape to face off against Retsudo, which was made painfully evident when Itto dies during the middle of the fight - his sense of vengeance just could not make up for the ravages to his body.

Daiguro, however, finishes the battle by picking up Retsudo’s spear, and attacking him.

By this point, Retsudo was sick of all the bloodshed, as well, so he offered up no defense, and appeared to die fairly happily - the circle of violence finally complete. Of course, Retsudo COULD have lived and raised Daiguro himself (also thereby ending the circle of violence between the two clans). Commenter Tom Fitzgerald is correct to note that the original ending was left unclear.

A grand finale for Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s epic tale.

Has anyone got a good scan of the fight from Volume 28? I had to go with the cover of 26, which has nothing really to do with the last fight - it’s just a cool shot of Itto and Retsudo together.


courtesy of the CBR

96. Thanos vs. Warlock, Captain Marvel, Avengers, Thing and Spider-Man

Jim Starlin was given the chance to wrap up his Warlock/Thanos storyline in two Annuals of other books, Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2.

In the first story, Warlock is still attempting to defeat the mad god, Thanos, who is trying to destroy the stars to please Death, who Thanos loves. Thanos’ armada is right outside of Earth, so the Avengers and Captain Marvel show up to help out Warlock.

While the Avengers battle Thanos, Warlock meets his demise by basically merging with the Soul Gem that he carried on his forehead. At the end of the Annual, while Thanos appears triumphant, Warlock is actually pretty happy in the afterlife with his friends Gamora and Pip the Troll (who both were killed earlier, as well, and had their souls enshrined in the gem).

The Marvel Two-in-One Annual involves Spider-Man and the Thing getting involved in the action, freeing the Avengers and taking the fight to Thanos, for an amazing couple of full-page spreads by Starlin of all out brawling.

Ultimately, Spider-Man frees the Soul Gem from wherever Thanos had it being held, and Warlock (through the Soul Gem) takes out Thanos once and for all (well, so we thought at the time), turning him to stone.

And the day is saved, and Jim Starlin’s cosmic epic was an end - for now!