EXCL. PREVIEW: "Avatar: Smoke & Shadow" TPB Threatens the Fire Nation
Here’s the next five!
Here is the master list!
95. Ogami IttÅ vs. YagyÅ« RetsudÅ (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 IttÅ and his arch-nemesis, YagyÅ« RetsudÅ.
The only surviving member of IttÅ’s family was his infant son, DaigorÅ. Father and son proceeded to live the life of the ronin (the masterless samurai). Over time, IttÅ killed off all of RetsudÅ’s sons (and clashed with RetsudÅ, as well, in a dramatic battle) until it was finally time for the final battle between the two – one final duel.
Tragically, though, IttÅ’s legendary sword was tampered with, leaving IttÅ to fight a group of ninjas (sort of the appetizer to the main course of revenge against RetsudÅ) 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 RetsudÅ, which was made painfully evident when IttÅ dies during the middle of the fight – his sense of vengeance just could not make up for the ravages to his body.
DaigurÅ, however, finishes the battle by picking up RetsudÅ’s spear, and attacking him.
By this point, RetsudÅ 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, RetsudÅ COULD have lived and raised DaigurÅ 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 IttÅ and RetsudÅ together.
94. The DC Heroes vs. the Center
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.
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.
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.
91. Wolverine vs. the Hulk (First Battle)
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!
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