The very mention of the word triggers an adrenaline rush within any serious comic book collector. Why? Well, to a real fan of the culture, the word “versus” is synonymous with an iconic and/or rare matchup between comic characters. Sometimes its hero versus hero, or villain versus villain, in the world of versus, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean a “one on one” battle; it could be a “one on many”. One thing is for certain, versus battles draw attention and spark debates among comic fans that could last a lifetime.
There are so many legendary battles that have taken place in comics throughout the last few decades…so, it’s impossible to cover them all in this article. However, I’ll share some of my personal all-time favorites, in random order, somewhat.
I’ve always enjoyed villains facing off against other villains. In Astonishing Tales #5 (April 1971), the second story featured in the issue was Doctor Doom versus the Red Skull.
Easily, they are two of the most notorious Marvel villains in this or any era of Marvel. So, just on name alone, this was a battle I had to see. Their personalities would demand it. In the end, I agree with who the winner was.
There are times when the greatest of heroes don’t come out on top. In Batman Vol. 1 Issue #497 (July 1993), Batman was broken, in mind, body and soul thanks to the help of Bane.
Batman was put to the test for weeks against various enemies before facing Bane alone. So a worn out Batman was physically no match for Bane by the time they were ready to duke it out. As a Batman fan, it wasn’t the physical aspect of the story that moved me, but the mental aspect. Batman was not going to put up much of a fight; he felt that he did all he could ever do as a crime-fighter after so many years of putting his life and body on the line. My opinion was Batman beat himself…Bane capitalized and certainly finished things off with an exclamation!
Spider-Man versus Wolverine, arguably the two most popular characters in the Marvel Universe, their battle in the Spider-Man versus Wolverine one-shot (Feb 1987) was one for the books; no pun intended.
In Silver Surfer Vol. 1 #3 (Dec 1968), it was the Surfer versus Mephisto. This book is a classic in itself – it has it all; great art, great story and a great matchup between the epitome of good vs. evil.
This issue marks the 1st appearance of Mephisto. It was the Surfer’s pure heart that Mephisto sought to corrupt by endangering Shalla Bal, Surfer’s beloved.
Surfer was literally put to the test.
But in the end, everyone lost.
Sometimes it’s the fans that lose. For example, in Justice League of America Vol.1 #137 (Dec 1976) Superman faces off against Captain Marvel.
Or so we think…
When it comes to these two, I consider their battle in the Justice League Unlimited animated series episode “Clash” to be their best battle to-date.
Speaking of the Man of Steel, how could I not mention Superman Vol. 2 #75 (Jan 1993)?
This issue was the conclusion of Superman’s 1st battle with Doomsday. The amount of splash panels throughout the book truly accentuated this epic head-on fight.
OK. Are you ready? My favorite battle(s) of all-time – Thor vs. the Hulk.
Thor and Hulk have battled numerous times. In Avengers, Vol. 1, #3 (Jan 1964) Thor tackled the Hulk, although he had help from the original Avengers….Hulk had assistance from Namor; but Hulk didn’t really aid Namor much.
Together, they rushed Thor in an attempt to go after his hammer, smart plan but a bad outcome.
Unfortunately, Hulk transformed back into Banner and Namor needed some more water in what they otherwise thought would have all but secured their inevitable victory over the Avengers.
In Journey Into Mystery Vol 1. #112 (Jan 1965), Thor shares more details about his battle with the Hulk that took place in Avengers Vol 1. #3.
What was not included in Avengers, Vol. 1, #3 was Thor asking Odin to grant him 5 minutes of his normal power without his hammer, while preventing him to turn back into Don Blake before engaging the Hulk. Odin obliged and the rest was history.
So, they went at it again for a bit, in Defenders Vol. 1. #10 (Nov 1973).
Still, there was no clear winner…
In Thor Vol. 1 #385 (Nov 1987), Thor learns of chance to take on the Hulk.
What I love about this issue (other than being inexpensive) was that it didn’t waste time – it was straightforward. Thor found the Hulk…and it was on. Panel after panel displayed the raw power each opponent had to offer. It even showed us that the Hulk had more than just air in his brain when he convinced Thor to throw his hammer away so that they could fight on even terms.
Hulk then took it up a notch after Thor tossed his hammer, but was still not able to defeat him.
So who would really win? Thor or Hulk? They would go on to face each other more times, not just in books, but on the small screen, big screen and animated features, some with outcomes at least temporarily, but most with no clear winner.
Realistically, I would choose………nah, I’m not going to go there!
Lastly, I will leave you with a battle that resembles an old Mike Tyson bout – Galactus versus Ultron. Separately, these two villains have appeared in countless tales throughout various issues….but, of all of their appearances…well, you get the picture!
The 13th Crusader
Photo Edits by Al Mega