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Top 100 Comic Book Battles: 50-46

Here’s the next five!

Here is the master list!

Enjoy!

50. Jesse Custer vs. Cassidy

A great deal of the plot of Garth Ennis’ Preacher deals with the deep friendship between the titular character, Jesse Custer, and his friend Cassidy, the Irish vampire. However, as the series progresses, Jesse (and the reader) learn more and more unsettling things about Cassidy – Cassidy is basically a bastard.

Jesse probably knew that deep down, he just never thought Cassidy would turn on HIM, but he did when he took advantage of Jesse’s main squeeze, Tulip, when Jesse was thought to be dead.

So in the penultimate issue of Preacher, Jesse and Cassidy meet up and have a fist fight. It’s a great brawl, mostly for the fact that Cassidy has a large power advantage over Jesse, but Jesse is skilled (and Cassidy is a drunk) and he manages to defeat Cassidy easily while insulting Cassidy and putting him down.

Ultimately, when Cassidy is defeated, Jesse can’t help but offer him a hand to help. This inspirational faith from his friend leads Cassidy to enter the sunshine and burn to a crisp.

Later, we learned that Cassidy made a deal with God right before he met up with Jesse at the end of the series.

49. Thor vs. Beta Ray Bill

Beta Ray Bill was a member of a race of people called the Korbinites, a people who were driven to near extinction when their galaxy was ravaged by the evil Asgardian creature Surtur. When Bill’s spaceship enters Earth’s orbit, Thor is sent by SHIELD to investigate. Bill’s ship detects Thor as being related to Surtur (they’re both Norse) and attacks.

Bill fights Thor pretty well, and in the melee, Thor loses his hammer and reverts back to Don Blake. Bill picks up Blake’s cane and accidentally taps it, becoming a version of Thor!

Odin then determines Bill and Thor should fight for who gets to be the wielder of Mjolnir. They have a brutal battle that ends with both being knocked unconscious – Bill wins by being the first to regain consciousness (due to his alien DNA he recovers easier in the circumstances they found themselves in – they were in Bill’s neck of the woods).

While he does not make Bill Thor, per se, Odin does create a brand NEW magic hammer just for Bill called Stormbreaker.

Bill has basically been an alien version of Thor from that point on. Walt Simonson (writer/artist on Thor at the time) felt Beta Ray Bill would be just the fresh start the book needed, so he featured Bill in his first storyline on Thor, #337-339. Fans quickly responded favorably to the off-beat new character.

48. Hulk vs. The Superheroes of New York City

The fight in The Incredible Hulk #300 is, in many ways, a precursor to more recent stories involving the Hulk. The comic was written by Bill Mantlo and was drawn by Sal Buscema, and it depicts the Hulk becoming basically what everyone always feared the Hulk would become – an actual mindless brute, as Doctor Strange’s earlier work with the Hulk to allow Banner’s personality to take over has backfired and now Banner is nowhere to be seen.

The Hulk is on a monstrous rampage in New York and the street-level heroes of New York such as Spider-Man and Daredevil show up, mostly just to keep civilians (and the SHIELD agents trying to slow the Hulk down) out of harm’s way.

The Human Torch and Iron Fist both taken down when they attempt to interfere with the Hulk’s rampage.

Ultimately, the Avengers show up – one of the new Avengers at the time, Starfox, tries to use his soothing power on the Hulk, but it is no good as the Hulk is pretty much brainless at this point.

The other Avengers have little success either, and ultimately they just get out of the way and let Thor take Hulk on one-on-one, which stalls the Hulk’s progress a bit.

Doctor Strange has been frantically trying to figure out a way out of this, and his solution is to trick Hulk into entering a dimensional gateway. In other words, basically what Doctor Strange (as a member of the Illuminati) did to the Hulk later on when he sent him to another planet to get him off of the people of Earth’s toes.

47. Flash vs. Professor Zoom (Return of Barry Allen)

Outside of a out of place and dated reference to the 1988 Vice-Presidential debates (and since the comic came out in 1993, well…), the Return of Barry Allen by Mark Waid and Greg Larocque was handled almost note perfectly.

The concept behind the storyline was a way to establish that Wally West really is THE Flash, not just A Flash, and to do so, Barry Allen “returns,” only we learn that it is actually Professor Zoom disguised as Barry.

At first, Zoom thinks he IS Barry, and acts as such, but soon his evil personality takes over and, as Zoom, he takes out the other speedsters.

Ultimately, it comes down to Wally truly embracing his legacy as THE Flash so that he can run to his highest capabilities and defeat Zoom.

It’s a delightful coming of age story by Waid, who was soon into his acclaimed run on the Flash.

46. Spider-Man vs. Kraven (Kraven’s Last Hunt)

Spider-Man and Kraven the Hunter tangled many times over the years, but none like the aptly titled Kraven’s Last Hunt.

In this story, Kraven actually SUCCEEDS in hunting down Spider-Man! He tracks Spidey down, shoots him and buries him!!

Kraven then dresses in Spider-Man’s costume and proceeds to show how he is, in his mind, better at being Spider-Man than Spider-Man himself. Part of this demonstration was the solo capture of the bizarre creature, Vermin, who Spider-Man was unable to bring in on his own.

When Spidey finally woke up from the tranquilizer dart (the gun that shot Spidey was actually a tranq gun), he was met by Kraven who told him that Vermin had just escaped – Spidey could take Kraven into custody or hunt down Vermin.

Spidey chose the latter, and in the closing of the comic for Spidey, he manages to, for the first time, defeat Vermin by himself.

That is the closing for Spidey, the closing for Kraven, however, comes via the barrel of a gun, as Kraven finally found inner peace upon “killing” Spider-Man, so he “celebrated” by ending his own life – his “last hunt” now over.

17 Comments

It’s really a shame the J.M. DeMatties doesn’t get more credit as one of the best Spider-Man writers ever. He balanced the serious and silly side of Spider-Man as well as anyone. Kraven’s Last Hunt and the death of Harry Osborn are my two favorite Spidey stories of all time.

Hmph!
Jesse Custer vs Cassidy should have been in the top ten!
Hmph!

I’m torn; should I be glad that Jesse vs. Cassidy actually placed on a list dominated by superhero genre ” grace notes “, or should I be pissed that it didn’t do better?

The whole list could’ve been about Ogami Itto … I have a feeling the Top 10 is going to be DC heavy, what with all the Crises and all …

“Special Abnormally Large Size Issue!”

I love it.

Great reading throughout the list…. the only thing missing is the writer and artist credits on some of the selections.

I sometimes wonder if it is the artist’s rendering of the battle that gives it that extra “something” that puts it in the epic category.

“Kraven’s Last Hunt” were the last Spider-Man comics I bought after reading his adventures for 11 years. University got in the way. I remember thinking to myself what a fantastic last story to read before leaving behind my childhood pastimes in 1987.

Now I’ve had the opportunity to catch up on the subsequent years….it is the last great Spider-Man story. Nothing since then comes close. That’s 21 years ago.

Got me thinking, though. “The Dark Knight” film has set a precedent for a super-hero movie with introducing a villain with no origin or back story taking up screen time and just getting on with the story.

Maybe Sony can do the same if another Spider-Man film is made. That is, adapt “Kraven’s Last Hunt” as is with no explanation or origin of who Kraven is. Would work, but might scare the kids.

Man, these are all great entries. I’ve never been much of a Spider-Man fan, but Kraven’s last hunt is one of my favorite comic book stories.

Sgt Rawk, the top 25 battles have already been posted. If you click on the link for the master list you can see them all.

I’ve never actually read “Kraven’s Last Hunt”, but I stumbled across its sequel “Kraven: Soul of the Hunter” (also written by DeMatties), where Spider Man has to deal with the trauma of having been buried alive while he struggles with whether of not he should forgive Kraven and help his soul find redemption.” Its a great deal more supernatural than what I’ve heard about KLH, but its still a really good story.

If those six Kraven/Spider-Man issues can count as one fight, then why can’t the those six dreadful Superboy Prime Infinite Crisis issues count as one fight?

Mantlo and Buscema’s epic 60 issue run on Hulk was the only top ten run of mine that didn’t make it anywhere on the runs list. Everyone should track it down and read it. It’s so damn good!, and issue 300 was such a satisfying climax (before the extended coda at the crossroads). When and where was it decided that Sal Buscema was good enough for inside pages but never for covers? The various cover artists varied in quality (Frank Miller did a quite a few nice ones) but no one could complain about that gorgeous Bret Blevins cover on #300. It’s a great one issue proto-version of World War Hulk, followed by a great 13 issue proto-version of Planet Hulk.

If those six Kraven/Spider-Man issues can count as one fight, then why can’t the those six dreadful Superboy Prime Infinite Crisis issues count as one fight?

There’s only one fight between Spidey and Kraven in Kraven’s Last Fight, while Superboy Prime has three distinct fights in Infinite Crisis with different opponents.

You should just be happy the fight between Superboy Prime and the heroes of Earth (from the SInestro Corps one-shot) did not make the list – it almost did!

I have to say: Incredible Hulk #300 has one of the BEST Thor vs. Hulk fights. EVER. The fact that it’s only 3 or 4 pages of actual story is a testament to the quality of Sal Buscema’s work.

I can’t remember how Dr. Strange was involved with helping keep Banner in comtrol of Hulk. I remember Hulk returning from Rocket Racoon’s world into Canada where he at first couldn’t transform, which was kind of inconvenent since Wendigo was nearby. Sasquatch showed and eventually Banner turned keeping his intellegence.

Black Manta –

If I remember right, Nightmare is causing Banner to lose control of the Hulk again. Doctor Strange helps Banner, and says he can’t revert what Nightmare did, but he can return Banner to the classic status quo of Banner changing into a baby-talk Hulk everytime he gets angry. Banner refuses and decides to commit psychic suicide instead.

Love Waid. Love Flash. Love Wally West. Loved the Return of Barry Allen storyline. The art isn’t the greatest, but Wally’s journey is so great, and led into the artwork of ‘Ringo!
Great stuff!

i have that comic

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