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CSBG Archive

Top 100 Comic Book Battles: 60-56

Here’s the next five!

Here is the master list!


60. Wolverine vs. Sabretooth (Mutant Massacre)

This is the second Wolverine vs. Sabretooth fight on the countdown (here is the first one).

After the Marauders slaughter a great deal of the Morlocks during the so-called “Mutant Massacre,” the X-Men show up and save a bunch of Morlocks, but suffer great casualties themselves, forcing them to retreat back to the X-Mansion. Wolverine and Sabretooth have their first tangle in the tunnels when Wolverine is attempting to save the Morlock Healer who, naturally, would come in handy in a Mutant Massacre, so Sabretooth is attempting to kill the Healer.

Wolverine manages to drop a wall on Sabretooth and escape with the Healer.

Sabretooth, though, manages to track them back to the X-Mansion. After he takes out Rogue, Psylocke (just a guest of the X-Men at that point in time) has a memorable fight where she takes on Sabretooth and acquits herself pretty well until Wolverine shows up to have a rematch of their tunnel match.

At this point the rest of the X-Men show up and Magneto could obviously end the fight pretty easily, but Psylocke asks him not to, because she can only get past Sabretooth’s mental defenses if he is distracted, which he is while fighting Wolverine. Magneto agrees, and Wolverine and Sabretooth have a memorable tussle.

The fight ends when Wolverine reveals that Sabretooth has been conned – the rest of the X-Men show up to capture him, but Sabretooth escapes by jumping off of a cliff to the lake below.

The X-Men then officially make Psylocke a member of the team.

59. Superboy Prime vs. Supermen

As established in a previous fight on the countdown, Conner Kent managed to defeat the plans of Alex Luthor and Superboy Prime in Infinite Crisis #6.

Well, while that basically took Luthor out of play, it did not take Superboy Prime out of the picture, and in Infinite Crisis #7 (by Geoff Johns and a bunch of artists, including Phil Jimenez and George Perez), Superboy Prime decides he is just going to destroy Oa, which is the center of the universe, in a fit of rage (sort of a “If I can’t have my perfect universe, no one can have a universe!”).

A whole pile of the Green Lantern Corps show up to try to slow him down, but they are mostly unsuccessful (and about three dozen of them lose their lives in the process) but we soon learn that this is part of a risky gambit.

The other two Supermen, Kal-L (Earth-2 Superman) and Kal-El (the “main” Superman), show up and drag Superboy Prime through the place where Krypton once was (essentially now a field of kryptonite) and they then go through the red sun of Krypton. The three land on a nearby planet (the Green Lantern Mogo) where the three are now all powerless.

Then it comes down to a good ol’ fashioned fist fight, with Kal-El finally being able to put the kibosh on Superboy Prime, but not before Kal-L dies from injuries sustained during the fight.

58. The remains of the JLA vs. Darkseid (Rock of Ages)

During the Rock of Ages storyline, Aquaman, Flash and Green Lantern find themselves transported fifteen years into the future into their future selves in a world that has long since been conquered by Darkseid (later, we learn, it was due to the events happening back in the present). They team up with the last remnants of the JLA, which is in a sorry state, indeed, as it consists of only Wonder Woman, Green Arrow (Connor Hawke), the Atom, the former Teen Titan Argent, a female Aztek and a reprogrammed Amazo.

Luckily, the tide is already helped a bit when we learn that Batman, who has spent the last eight years being tortured by DeSaad, has won the battle of wills between he and DeSaad, so Batman is there to help lead the attack.

The battle was getting rough, and the Leaguers were getting tossed, if not for the courage of Green Arrow and Atom, the Earth would totally be lost.

After pretty much everyone else is killed, it comes down to Green Arrow and the Atom versus Darkseid and his seemingly impenetrable force field. However, since Darkseid can SEE them, obviously light can get in. So the Atom has Green Arrow fire him on an arrow at Darkseid, then shrink down small enough where he can ride a photon on a beam of light right into Darkseid’s eye then to Darkseid’s brain, where he enlarges, frying Darkseid’s brain but killing himself in the process.

Story continues below

So yeah, Green Arrow and the Atom took down Darkseid.


57. Punisher vs. the Russian

The Russian was one of the deadliest killers in the whole world, able to take down entire Delta Force squads with ease, so when he was sent after Frank Castle, the Punisher, Castle was pretty much screwed.

The Russian showed up and proceeded to more or less mop the floor with Castle, practically beating Castle to death.

Luckily, the Punisher was at least able to move the fight out of his own apartment building and he and the monstrous Russian burst into the apartment of Castle’s neighbor, the morbidly obese Mr. Bumpo. It was here that the Punisher finally got some good luck, as Bumpo had just returned home with five pipin’ hot pizzas. The Punisher threw the hot pizza in the Russians face – the burning grease distracted the Russian long enough for the Punisher to trip the Russian and, in one of the most absurdly gross methods of killing a man, knocked the 1200 pound Mr. Bumpo on to the Russian’s face and kept him there for a half hour, smothering the Russian to death.

For good measure, the Punisher decapitated the Russian.

Of course, that, amusingly enough, was not the last we would see of the Russian, but that’s another story (a hilarious one, but still, another one), also from the same creators of this issue, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon…

56. Superman vs. the Elite

“What’s so funny about Truth, Justice & The American Way?” was a very popular issue of Action Comics back in 2001 (it was issue #775), written by Joe Kelly with art by two awesome artists, Doug Mahnke and Lee Bermejo.

The issue was a bit allegory for the great popularity of the Authority at the time, who I believe were actually out-selling Superman’s comics back then. The Authority were representative of the “modern” superhero, one willing to do whatever it takes to save the day, even if that meant killing.

In this issue, Joe Kelly introduces an Authority send-off called The Elite, led by Manchester Black (a take-off of Authority leader Jenny Sparks).

The Elite were superheroes who, in many ways, were just as bad as the villains they were after, using methods that bordered on sadistic, with little regard to civilians and friendly fire. However, the public were loving them – and Superman, in return, was being treated as though he was no longer cool, because he WOULDN’T kill.

Finally, Superman challenges the Elite to a fight, which is globally televised. At first, it appears as though the Elite have defeated Superman, but Superman then reveals that he has used his powers in sneaky manners to defeat them all, and seemingly kill most of the group.

Superman then uses this opportunity to opine about how easy it is to use great power to kill, but it is more heroic not to, to use great responsibility with said great power.

He then reveals that he actually did not kill (or even really hurt) any of the Elite, but rather that he used his powers to make it look like he did.

The issue was extremely popular at the time, even getting a second printing (very rare for a comic not tied into any crossover), and Manchester Black later returned to have another fight over Superman’s ideals (Superman won that one, too), and the rest of the Elite were later redeemed, of sorts, by Kelly and Mahnke in Justice League Elite.


Technically, the Uncanny X-Men issue was PSYLOCKE vs. Sabretooth. There was a good Logan/Creed in the prior issue ( which ends not with one of them losing, but with Logan retreating to save the Morlock Healer because his duty to his comrades was more important than a grudge match ), but in this issue it was an incidental orgy of violence.

The use of Psylocke made it a much better fight scene than a Logan/Creed match would have given; the X-Men had assumed that Betsy was just an elegant socialite useless in a battle, but facing Sabretooth alone and walking away alive is no small feat. ( This is made more remarkable because this was prior to Betsy’s ninja makeover ).

i still remember being like 14 and every month between morrison’s rock of ages storyline seeming like years… it was a self contained storyline that felt like the most epic crossover in comics, todays writers could learn from that (maybe even morrison himself!)

There sure are a lot of Superboy Prime fights on this list. Oh well. Glad to see the Rock of Ages battle make the list.

There sure are a lot of Superboy Prime fights on this list. Oh well.

I was just thinking the same thing. Maybe people just like seeing Superboy Prime getting beat down…?

Anyways, when I first read that JLA issue with the Atom riding a beam of light into Darkseid’s brain, it totally blew my mind. And I still think it’s a pretty awesome moment in a pretty cool fight.

That Superboy Prime fight had to be the worst, most wrong-headed of any Superman fight I’ve ever seen. It’s totally incongruent with what a Superman story should be about, which is highlighted further by including Kelly’s Superman vs Elite story on the same day.

It’s actually pretty depressing that SBP is getting so many votes, because the character is really crappy, and will likely be the running joke of this decade.

That issue of Action never sat right with me, because it didn’t really answer the question of why Superman’s better. It just set up a bunch of psychotic straw-man Authority stand-ins, then showed Superman ‘kill them,’ and then finish with the moral, ‘But Superman would NEVER kill someone, because he’s better than them!”

Okay, that’s fine, but what point is that arguing? “Superman’s better because he’s better”?

But regarding JLA: I think we were all very proud of Green Arrow and Atom that day.

I agree th Green Arrow and Atom taking down Darkseid was great but the best battle in Rock of Ages is the one we never sw. The eight year long psychological battle between Batman and DeSaad.

Jeff Holland, the point is that Authority-like antics create as much trouble as they solve. Violence creates more violence.

Superman, at its best, is all about not falling into that senseless trap and instead aiming for higher ideals.

Am I write that the mutant massacre battle was the first fight between Logan and Sabretooth?

Kind of funky to see IC and Prime on here so much, but, hey, it’s true.

Hey, wow, I think I still have a Marvel Masterpieces card based on that Uncanny X-men cover.

” Superman, at its best, is all about not falling into that senseless trap and instead aiming for higher ideals. ”

But since prisons in superhero comics are about as secure as a house of straw, and since characters like Lex Luthor don’t have any interest in reforming of their own accord, and since Supes isn’t exactly going to remove Lex’s free will via heat vision lobotomy, there’s no practical reason for the superhero’s ” technical pacifism “. There are plenty of external genre reasons ( most notably, the need to have popular villains survive ) which I accept, but if we’re talking about the ethics within the story itself, then the code against killing is actually a moral weakness.

Isn’t it a bit selfish that the Joker gets to murder hundreds of innocents every time he gets out of Arkham so that Batman doesn’t have to get his hands dirty? Soldiers kill as part of the job, and policemen will kill if there are no other options. The traditional Silver Agey superhero isn’t expected to, even if it’s pitting the lives of a thousand civilians against one sociopathic mass-murderer. Which makes it even more irritating when the heroes who are willing to take lives immediately fall into the bad guy camp.*

* ( Note that I said willing to do so, not interested in doing it; I don’t think a character who enjoys taking lives can be a hero. The problem with the Authority isn’t that they use lethal force, but that they fetishize it; where Jack Hawksmoor actually wept when forced to kill in Stormwatch, he jokes about beating up villains with one of their comrades’ severed head once Millar takes over. Even Hawksmoor in the Ellis Authority was portrayed as numbing himself to the shock, as opposed to damn near getting off on it… )

I dunno, Nitz — but the soldiers and cops totally won’t ever kill the Joker either, nor will courts sentence him to death, nor will grieving widows (of which there must be hundreds and hundreds by now) go out looking for him with a gun…the story contrivance here is that only Batman is allowed to be asked why he won’t get his hands dirty, it seems. Only Batman is selfish. But everybody else is all “let the Joker live!”, or something?

I don’t really buy that. What if Batman decided to retire? Whose fault would the Joker be then?

Seems like Batman’s ethical problem about whether or not to kill the Joker is as set up by genre conventions as is the inability of a jail to hold a single prisoner. In a way, they’re exactly the same thing.

Three great fights in this pack, the one from the Rock of the Ages is the best, outstanding.
karl wrote:
i still remember being like 14 and every month between morrison’s rock of ages storyline seeming like years… it was a self contained storyline that felt like the most epic crossover in comics, todays writers could learn from that (maybe even morrison himself!)
Totally true karl. Peace.

But if the Atom knew where the photon was, then how could he know it was heading towards Darkseid?

Get the hell out of my comics, Heisenberg!

Rock of Ages was a great Morrison read, that i will at some point pull out and read again, and be really satisfied. Batman vs. Desaad is a great moment, that we only see the outcome.

Action 775 is one of my very favorite issues of all time and showcases the reason that Superman is the greatest.

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