Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Here’s the next five!
Here is the master list!
45. Heroes vs. Villains (Secret Wars)
I got some general votes for Heroes vs. Villains in Secret Wars, but I’m going with the specific battle that got the most votes (and counting all the votes for that as representative of “Heroes vs. Villains”), which is the fight in Secret Wars #8, which also was the first appearance of Spider-Man’s black costume!
Earlier in the War, the Wasp was killed. The Avengers want to go take on the villainous murderers, but Captain America does not think they can stop monitoring Galactus, who appears ready to devour the Battleworld they’re all stationed on.
She-Hulk goes it alone, then, and obviously gets beaten badly (I mean, duh, one She-Hulk < a bunch of villains). The heroes want to go rescue her, but Cap still can't agree to leave. However, the X-Men show up and say they'll watch Galactus. That allows Cap to lead the heroes on an assault on the villain compound, and the heroes proceed to destroy the villains. Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck handled the creative duties, and there are some notable scenes, but probably my favorite is the bit where Hawkeye takes down Piledriver of the Wrecking Crew (or was it Bulldozer? One of the loser duo of the group) with an arrow. After the battle, the heroes used a machine to repair their costumes, and Spider-Man uses a machine he THINKS is the clothing repair machine but is actually a (bear with me here) prison holding an evil symbiote that attaches to Spider-Man and becomes his new black costume. 44. JLA (mostly Batman) vs. Hyperclan
So these new superheroes show up on Earth called the Hyperclan.
They proceed to pretty much end all suffering on Earth – fixing droughts, taking care of all the supervillains, etc.
They make the Justice League more or less obsolete.
Of course, they’re secretly totally evil (there’s this big execution scene where they kill all the villains they’ve rounded up).
The Justice League then takes them on, and early on, there’s a great scene between the Flash and the speedster of the Hyperclan, Zum. Here, writer Grant Morrison vibes the Silver Age perfectly with Wally narrating about the “Flash Facts” that his Uncle Barry used to tell him, and Wally then uses one of them to take out Zum. Great scene. Artist Howard Porter does a great job there (and the cover above is really good, isn’t it?).
Finally, though, the League is in big trouble, and it appears Martian Manhunter may even have turned on the League! Superman is captured and held under kryptonite control and Batman is seemingly dead.
Of course, the thing about Batman is – he prepares for everything.
Batman survives the plane crash that the bad guys think kill him (there’s even a great explanation for why they do not examine the fiery wreckage to confirm his death) and he breaks into their headquarters and figures out their secret – they’re actually White Martians!
In one of the coolest scenes ever, Batman takes out on of the Hyperclan and leaves a note for the rest on the unconscious villain – “I know your secret.”
Later, he is surrounded and seemingly screwed, but that’s when he reveals he knows their secret and then lights a match and drops it on the gasoline he’s spread all over the floor.
Once he frees Superman (and Martian Manhunter reveals he never actually turned on the League), they mop the floor with the Hyperclan really easily and then hypnotize them all into becoming humans.
43. We3 vs. Government
We3 was a group of three animals who were turned into assassins by the government. They were a dog (1), a cat (2) and a rabbit (3). Well, while they were quite effective as killers, the government decided to upgrade the program, and kill off these test subjects (or “decommission” them).
Their trainer could not abide by this, so she freed the three, who then went on a incredible journey to find their “home,” something they do not know if they ever will actually find (2 is fond of telling 1 this).
Well, the government naturally does not want these killing machines on the loose, so they send loads and loads of soldiers after them, but We3 kills them all fairly easily.
This leads to a confrontation with the animal that was to replace them – We4 (a bulldog).
4 kills 3, but in the end, 2 and 1 combine to take him out.
It is such a brilliantly executed fight scene by Frank Quitely (hell, the whole book is brilliantly executed by Quitely) and Grant Morrison comes up with some marvelous character moments mixed together, including 2 and 1 coming together as a team in these adverse times.
And of course, the trap for We3 also involved using their trainer, leading to perhaps the saddest comic panel this side of that panel with the grape in Y the Last Man (probably even sadder than that Y scene).
42. Batman vs. Bane (Knightfall)
You really have to give Bane some credit – if your sole purpose is just to beat the crap out of Batman, Bane did it perhaps the best way you could go about doing it.
First, Bane tested Batman for a little while, just gauging what kind of shape Batman was in, etc.
Then he broke almost all of Batman’s Rogues Gallery out of Arkham Asylum and forced Batman to capture them all within, like, a week’s time.
Then, when Batman was roundly exhausted by these battles, Bane shows up and takes on Batman.
Now, you certainly don’t have to admire the fact that this is not honorable in the least bit, but hey, if all you want to do is beat up Batman – this is the way to go.
So in Batman #497, by Doug Moench and Jim Aparo (whose eyes probably popped out of his skull when he saw the royalties from this issue), Bane does just that – beat the hell out of Batman.
And, for the coup de grace, he breaks Batman’s spine over his knee.
But as Batman mentioned just this past issue of Batman – that didn’t stop Bruce Lee, and it didn’t stop Batman (okay, his super-powered girlfriend, Ms. MacGuffin, certainly helped as well).
41. Batman vs. Joker (Killing Joke)
This is the fight that is most notable for something in the fight that had nothing to do with fighting at all.
In this one-shot by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, the Joker breaks into the home of Commissioner Gordon and his daughter Barbara (who had just recently retired as Batgirl). When Barbara answers the door, the Joker shoots her in the torso, paralyzing her for life. He then kidnaps and tortures Gordon for hours in an amusement park, all in an attempt to drive Gordon insane. Part of the torture involves showing him pictures of his bleeding daughter in various states of undress. Twisted stuff.
Batman shows up, and saves Gordon, and Gordon shows that he has not been broken by the Joker. He tells Batman to bring the Joker in by the book, to show that their way works.
Batman then goes in and, naturally, beats the Joker up and takes him into custody.
Before he turns him over to the police, though, he tries to break through to the Joker and try to get him to stop his madness. The Joker (throughout the story, Moore has been giving the readers a possible origin for the Joker) tells him no, and points out that he and Batman are basically just opposite ends of the same coin – two men turned based on one bad day – basically what he was trying to recreate with Gordon.
Finally, right as the book ends, Joker tells Batman a joke, and the book ends with both men laughing.
The joke, for the record:
See, there were these two guys in a lunatic asylum…and one night…one night they decide they don’t like living in an asylum any more. They decide they’re going to escape! So like they get up on to the roof, and there, just across the narrow gap, they see the rooftops of the town, stretching away in moon light…stretching away to freedom. Now the first guy he jumps right across with no problem. But his friend, his friend daren’t make the leap. Y’see he’s afraid of falling…So then the first guy has an idea. He says “Hey! I have my flash light with me. I will shine it across the gap between the buildings. You can walk across the beam and join me.” But, the second guy just shakes his head. He says…he says “What do you think I am, crazy? You would turn it off when I was half way across.”
So yeah, this fight is more known for the fact that it was the one where Batman and Joker laugh together more than anything else.
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.