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Top Five Month continues (check here to see an archive of all the top five lists featured so far) with a guest bit from my buddy Brad, who wrote this one for me a couple of years ago, but I’ve never had the chance to share it with this blog’s audience, so here ya go! The top five Marvel superhero heroic stands against insurmountable odds, as determined by Brad Curran!
One of the reasons why I like Marvel’s superheroes more than DC’s is that they have a real tenacious streak in them. It feels like they have to work for their victories. I don’t get the same feeling from the DCU’s pantheon of gods. Superman and Batman never seem like they’re really in danger, while there’s always a possibility Spider-Man will get the shit kicked out of him in a given fight. Of course, none of these characters are ever in any danger, what with that revolving resurrection door and all, but I can suspend my disbelief a lot better with the Marvel characters. Here are five of my favorite reasons why:
5. Spider-Man vs. the Juggernaut
This is referring to the “Nothing Stops the Juggernaut” two parter by Roger Stern and John Romita that Wizard mentions a lot, from what I’ve seen in between bouts of ignoring them. They’re right about this one. This is pretty much the only time that I can remember the Juggernaut living up to his unstoppable reputation, as he methodically destroys everything in his path on the way to kidnapping Madam Web, and only Spider-Man can stand in his way. It’s a titanic battle that ends heart wrenchingly, with Spider-Man taken to his limit but vowing revenge. And that’s just part one. Spidey’s last ditch effort to deal with Juggernaut’s threat doesn’t use the cop out I remember from most of his X-Men appearances (ie, get his helmet off!), and this really feels like an epic, life or death struggle. This, along with “The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man”, are the two best reasons why Stern deserves to be remembered as one of the best Spider-Man writers in the history of the strip.
4. Daredevil vs. the Hulk
This is from an issue that Frank Miller and Klaus Janson drew, which was written by Roger McKenzie. What is it with hornhead and getting nearly beaten to death in order to do the right thing? He does it very well. He’s like John Cena, except most of the audience doesn’t hate him. Maybe Cena needs to be turned in to a broody ninja with an evil Greek ex-girlfriend.
Anyway, wrestling wankery aside, this another damn great story/horrific beating for Daredevil, who tries very hard to lend Bruce Banner a hand, and winds up having to try to and stop a rampaging Hulk single handedly. The ending, the Hulk leaping off, a tormented look on his face, still resonates with me to this day.
(Picture courtesy of Jason Sacks)
3. Daredevil vs. Namor
Stan Lee and Wally Wood doing widescreen fight comics about 30 years before they were in vogue. Well, not really, but this is easily up there with the most intense fight scenes that the subsequent 30+ years have produced. This is also up there with anything Frank Miller ever did with the character. Because, in a single issue, Daredevil shows an amazing amount of tenacity in his attempt to stop Namor from declaring war on the surface world (again); so much so that old point ears comes to respect him and calls the whole thing off, showing a good deal of nobility on his part. Of course, being a Daredevil comic, Matt Murdock winds up being Namor’s lawyer, too, which leads to a great scene where Lady Dorma shows up in court wearing a fish bowl on her head. But never mind that; this issue is all about the fight, and what a fight it is.
2. Captain America, shieldless, against Thanos, who was wielding the Infinity Gauntlet
This stands out to me as the ultimate in defying the odds. Cap knew he was going to die. He had no defense. Thanos had godlike powers, with which he slaughtered every other superhero who had stood against him. But Cap still wouldn’t back down, no matter what the cost, because it was the right thing to do. Now, his noble sacrifice wound up being meaningless in the grand scheme of things, since Warlock got the gauntlet eventually and hit the reset button, but that is still one damn powerful scene, isn’t it?
(Picture courtesy of Chris Sims)
1. Spider-Man lifting the machinery to save Aunt May
Yes, it’s a Spider-Man sandwich. Or Spider-Man bookends.
Anyhow, Duh. The single greatest “overcoming insurmountable odds” scene in superhero comics ever, Steve Ditko rendered Spidey’s struggle in the intensely operatic way that only he could, and Stan provided matching dialogue. The zenith of one of the best superhero runs in history.
That’s the list!
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