EXCL. PREVIEW: "Avatar: Smoke & Shadow" TPB Threatens the Fire Nation
Here’s the next five!
Here is the master list!
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.
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.
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.
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.
61. Batman vs. Joker (Dark Knight Returns)
We recently discussed this very topic in a Comics Should Be Good mailbag, about 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.
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