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CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Battles: 95-91

Here’s the next five!

Here is the master list!


95. Ogami Ittō vs. Yagyū Retsudō (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 Ittō and his arch-nemesis, YagyÅ« Retsudō.

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

Tragically, though, Ittō’s legendary sword was tampered with, leaving Ittō to fight a group of ninjas (sort of the appetizer to the main course of revenge against Retsudō) 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 Retsudō, which was made painfully evident when Ittō dies during the middle of the fight – his sense of vengeance just could not make up for the ravages to his body.

Daigurō, however, finishes the battle by picking up Retsudō’s spear, and attacking him.

By this point, Retsudō 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, Retsudō COULD have lived and raised Daigurō 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 Ittō and Retsudō 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.

Story continues below

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!


Umm, I hate to point out, there’s no evidence that Retsudo actually died by Diagoro’s hand.
Yes, Diagoro stabbed him, but placing where he stabbed him, Retsudo could have survived. Adopted Diagoro as his grandson and then raised him.

This may or may not be explained in the sequel.

It is impossible that we’ll see Wolverine vs. Hulk in Jackman’s new vehicle, but wouldn’t that be sweet?

Well, Diagoro stabbed him IN THE HEART which is normally fatal plus the epic final line “grandson of my heart” is there for a reason.

Plus, Silver Surfer issue 4 is probably the most iconic cover Marvel ever made.

Silver Surfer #4 was in my top ten, almost for the cover alone.

There is no evidence and the ending of LW&C is deliberately open-ended. I like to think it’s up to the reader to decide – did Retsudo die, Daigoro following shortly after? Did Retsudo live, train Daigoro, make him the head of the Yagyu clan? Did Daigoro then disband the clan that killed his father? Did Retsudo strangle Daigoro himself, after he was stabbed? At one point or another, all of these things or none of these things is true. When you decide for yourself, then your truth is revealed. That’s the beauty of this series (AND THIS BATTLE SHOULD HAVE BEEN FARTHER UP THE LIST ), like Watchmen, it continues on beyond the last page.

I’ve heard of a sequel, never seen it. (Loved Samurai Executioner, enjoyed the Assassin one, both by the same creators) There was a Dark Horse sci-fi update-thingie that I avoided. Any word on said sequel, o manga knowing ones?

I misremembered an epilogue with Daigoro as a monk writing about his father- that was the ending to LW&C tribute Road to Perdition. I like to think that Daigoro renounced violence, and lived out his life raising falcons (he loved falcons in an earlier story).

I’m pretty sure the sequel doesn’t follow that particular plotline.

I wish I’d remembered to vote, because the New Frontier and Spider-Man fights would have likely been my top two.

Lone Wolf & Cub only covers 4 years, but the first volume says the Yagyu clan disappears in 25 years, not 4. And at the end, Retsudo is the last of the Yagyu.

They foreshadowed the story’s ending rather nicely with the seemingly nonsensical sequence where Ito trains him by allowing Diagoro to hit him with a stick and try to catch Ito by surprise. After a while, Ito preemptively knocks him down by throwing a piece of firewood without even looking at him, and Diagoro has to keep from falling apart and renew the attack. Ito knew how the battle would end. Wonderful.

Didn’t Koike say he’s about to release a sequel featuring Diagoro?

“Wolverine: The World’s First AND Greatest Canadian Hero.”

As a Canadian, I’ve always loved that sell.

Does anyone know the story behind why Stern and Romita Jr. left Amz. Spider-Man right in the middle of a storyline, not to mention a fairly successful run on the title? I had heard there was editorial meddling, and the editors clearly had no idea who Hobgoblin was (it’s a real pity that such a great character was destroyed so completely). I tried to ask JR Jr at a con once. He was amazingly nice, but he didn’t really answer the question.

Cej, check out Christopher Priest “why I never discuss Spider-Man” article on his site:


Not only is it a decent account, (and keep in mind, its filtered through the perceptions of one of the players- something Priest is very careful to specify) its a truly entertaining read about how Marvel worked in those days (and how it didn’t).

That was a great read, on Priest’s site, but while it recounted how Tom Defalco and Ron Frenz left, I’m still curious about Stern/Romita Jr. left in the middle of the story.

Pfft, Daigoro was not killed by Retsudo. He let him wound him with the spear, to show that he had no fight with Daigoro any more, and that he respected both him and his father in the end.

The line “grandson of my heart” shows that – because, in the end, Itto was the son of his heart, too. He had proven himself superior to all of Yagyu’s heirs and, though they were still mortal enemies, Itto had won Retsudo’s absolute respect. They were kindred spirits, after all, and if the Yagyu’s hadn’t weakened Itto’s sword, he would’ve won the fight without a doubt.

I am 100% certain that Retsudo took Daigoro in and raised him in nobility. I didn’t think anybody could’ve read it any other way and I’m kinda shocked now that I see a lot of blogs and forum posts from people who think Daigoro killed him!

Tim from Jersey

February 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm

I don’t know what comic whoever wrote the summary of TIH #181 was reading but wolverine did “NOT” knock out Hulk in this book, read it again.

The Hulk didn’t win this fight! He’s dirty! He sockd Wolverine when Wolv’s wasn’t even looking. That’s why he was knokd unconscious!

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