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Saturday’s Virtual Fisticuffs

Normally I am a reasonable, easygoing person. Today, though, not so much.

My schedule is…. well, mostly it’s work. We work a lot. I have several different teaching jobs and then also some print and graphics things, Julie works a daunting schedule at the juvenile rehab where she is employed as a counselor– in fact, she pulled a double shift today because someone called in sick and they couldn’t get it covered. Generally when I write this column it’s Friday night or Saturday morning, because that’s all the spare time that’s left; Sunday is usually my day to deal with the other freelance writing and perhaps even spend some time with my wife.

So this morning I figured with Julie still being at work, I would take care of some household chores beforehand, including straightening out a billing problem with the cable company. Without boring you with all the details, suffice it to say we canceled our cable television but kept our phone service, and they keep trying to bill us for the TV along with the phone, though we don’t have cable TV any more. Since this is the second month in a row they’ve tried to collect for a service they’re not providing, I needed to deal with it. You know, just tidying up some office crap before settling in for the column. It seems so long ago and far away as I write this.

My mistake, you see, was attempting to use the online interface. “Chat with a representative!” I thought it would take fifteen or twenty minutes. Back when I was young and foolish.

That was this morning. It’s evening now.

I was on with the guy for hours. After waiting for half an hour for him to show up. I kept my temper, because swearing at an online flunky gets you nowhere, but after patiently explaining for the fourth time what my problem was …I finally cracked. I was still polite but I stopped pretending he was being helpful. It didn’t matter. His painfully-courteous obstructionism was almost admirable in its inevitable circle back to the beginning of the conversation.

(Cut-n-pasted; I am not embellishing.)

Representative: That is a good question sir. I will try and find the answer for you. I totally understand your frustration. I apologize for your inconvenience. When I am not here I’m a customer as well and these problems it can be extremely frustrating.

Me: I appreciate these sentiments, truly. Your customer interactions and politeness are a credit to your entire profession. But this is the fourth time you have apologized and yet I am still here, my question still unanswered. I don’t need soothing, I need you to find out what the actual dollar amount it is we owe you, and explain why we are charged late fees this month for a service canceled the month before last. It is your PROBLEM-SOLVING skills I need to call on now. Perhaps if the tools to properly administrate this issue are not available to you, you can direct me to someone with the authority to actually make a decision regarding the billing.

Representative: I am doing my best to help you sir. Yes, the service was canceled. That means there should be no more fees.

Me: That is a comfort, but I’m talking about THESE fees right here on the October bill. After we canceled. Why are those there?

Representative: I understand. I am doing my best. I apologize for this inconvenience.

Me: Your graciousness in this matter is admirable. I understand that you are doing your best. That was never in question. My concern is that your best is not adequate to the task. If you are actually not authorized to take action, can you please at least find me someone who is? If you are not empowered to adjust or correct the billing, I do not understand why you are the representative I was directed to.

Representative: That is a good question sir. I will try and find the answer for you.

And on. And on. And on. I ask for an answer and he promises to find one and then comes back and assures me he understands. I ask for the answer to the original question and he assures me he will do his best. Rinse and repeat.

Story continues below

Now, part of the problem was me being stubborn, because their entire system is designed to make you so irritated you’ll give up. After a while I got the bit in my teeth and swore I was going to hang in there until it was handled to my satisfaction. Captain America and Superman and Batman never give up. I would by God live up to their example. There would be justice.

This was probably dumb, in retrospect.

Well, we went the distance. The rep dithered, he swore up and down there was no problem, we went over the dates again, the service period versus the billing period, he didn’t understand his computer record’s disparity on the dates but he certainly agreed there had been a problem…. it was like being in some kind of feedback loop. I was grimly, politely relentless.

I won, I guess. He finally got whatever authorization he needed from his bosses and fixed it and removed the fees and the cancellation was noted properly. The end. And all I lost was a day’s work.

Since it took most of the work day and left me in such a foul temper, the column I was going to do for this week is going to have to wait. My eyes are grainy and I have a horrible headache and my back hurts. The last thing I want to do is try to write coherently about comics. I am tired of typing and I hate all humanity and really I want to hit things.

So here are a few of my favorite panels of comics characters hitting things.

Art by Scott McCloud, from DESTROY!

Brian Bolland with the greatest Judge Dredd panel ever done.

It’s always fun to see Guy Gardner getting his ass kicked. Here’s a Bart Sears page from Justice League Europe.

A Kubert classic. You have to admire the Atom’s thematic improvisation there.

Jim Aparo shows us Aquaman was a badass long before Geoff Johns made it his mission to prove it.

John Byrne with a vertical smash.

Walt Simonson gets his Kirby on.

And of course Kirby himself.

More Kirby, with bonus hair-pulling.

But really the best face-hitter in comics was Sal Buscema, it was his go-to move. (There’s even a regular feature about it here on the 80-Page Giant blog.) Here’s a classic Sal Buscema Hulk shot.

Here’s one with a little philosophy for the villain to consider as he goes hurtling into intensive care.

And here’s a DOUBLE shot!

…okay. Whew.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I feel a little better. Looking those up was actually sort of cathartic.

I think I’m going to fix a sandwich and go watch this, because it always cheers me up. Meanwhile, feel free to post some links to your own favorite comics beatdowns below in the comments if you like.

See you next week.


I wish more people knew about the brilliance that is DESTROY!

Man, Kirby sure knew how to choreograph a fight…

I’m with you on the cable thing, by the way. I just recently had to deal with something like that. Calling Comcast is like inviting the devil in to your life.

Yep, Simonson is a master of well-choreographed beatdowns and thunder punches, but Sal B. is the all-time king of the power punch. Love all of these and the others shown on that 80 Page Giant page. Another of my personal favorites is from Marvel Team-up #38, in which Spidey and the Beast do one of those double whammies on the Griffin: Ka-plow!.

“Gaze into the fist of Dredd” is so awesome. I wish I could work it into conversation every single day.

You know where some bitchin’ punches were thrown? At the climax of the Hulk/Abomination story arc by Jones and Deodato.

And…that is why I’ve procrastinated dealing with my cable company for over a year now. I just need to suck it up and get it over with.

Still, a very entertaining article this week. I can see how therapeutic it had to have been for you.

I feel your pain. Hell, we ALL feel your pain when it comes to dealing with a cable/communications company. I recently switched, and had to call and cancel our old one, and I thought the representative was going to burst into tears.


Nevertheless, your pictures of Smashing ARE quite lovely. And have to be calming, in a weird sort of way.

“Aparo style!”

Well, Alan Davis style, anyway!

“Aparo style!”

Well, Alan Davis style, anyway!

I always thought there’s actually a lot of Aparo in Alan Davis’ Batman. And yeah, I should have had a Batman shot in there but I couldn’t think of a favorite. Maybe the Neal Adams panel of Batman putting down Ubu for the count way back in “Daughter of the Demon.”

Anyway, I just liked the Aquaman shot and I got to make a Geoff Johns joke so I went with it as the Jim Aparo entry. However, it’s not truly “Aparo style” unless the head actually explodes.

sorry you had a bad time trying to get the cable company straighten out greg but that is why they are really not well liked in customers eyes. at least you were dealing with a poor human it could have just been the computer voice.as for characters hitting. got to go with my fav the batman one punch flattening guy gardner. in jli. and the king pin beat down of daredevil in born again.

Other satisfying hits in superhero comics:

— Thor striking the Midgard Serpent dead and liquefying himself all in a single blow in Simonson’s Thor #379.

— Batman decking Prometheus after giving him the physical skills of Stephen Hawking in JLA #39.

— Gladiator punching the Thing across two double-spread pages in Fantastic Four #249.

— Kalibak wailing on Orion in New Gods v.1 #8.

— The Hulk caving in about half of the Abomination’s face with one very angry punch in Hulk #25 (1999 series).

— The Flash walloping Hatchet about sixty times in one second during the “Three of a Kind” crossover in an issue of Chuck Dixon’s Green Arrow

— Iron Man absolutely destroying Blizzard in a few panels of Iron Man v.1 #124, just after knocking the Melter through several floors of a casino.

— The Flash punching an evil alien into orbit from Morrison’s JLA #3.

— Thor and the Thing knocking Thanos across a room in Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2.

— The Flash punching Professor Zoom all the way back to the 24th century on the cover of Flash #153 (Silver Age series).

Here’s that Hulk/Abomination punch. Ouch! (The story’s quite good, too, a meditation on the cost of vengeance.)

…… I do chat and email support for a cable company as my day job. It’s not one of the big shitty ones. But I often feel like this, only from the other side.

Don’t forget Gil Kane when discussing panels with PUNCH!
One blog whose name escapes me had a regular “Gil Kane Punch of the Week” feature – awesome!

Let’s not forget Cap’s famous hit circa Tales of Suspense #92: one of us is walking out of here…”AND IT WON’T BE ME!!”

@Pete Woodhouse: I was thinking the exact same thing. The blog was Dr. K’s 100-Page Super Spectacular. Here’s a link to the Gil Kane Punch tags:


Since I just mentioned it on the latest “Top 100 Storylines” page, and it’s fresh in my mind: The Galactus Vs. In-Betweener fight (Silver Surfer 1st ongoing, #18) is one I never see referenced, even though it’s too cosmically-powered beings larger than some solar systems punching each other into planets for an entire issue (drawn by Ron Lim). It’s more of a a whole fight than a single hit, but here’s one of them anyway:


Also, some guy apparently Youtubed the entire battle (set to some horrible nu-metal), so that’s awesome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXw9a3Vo-Ts

These weren’t single panel shots, but two examples from DC I’m fond of:

Solomon Grundy and Blockbuster whaling on each other so hard in a JLA/JSA crossover they “beat the evil out of each other” and became best buds.

In his Silver Age revival, the Spectre super-sizing himself and battering foes on the head with random planets.

Omar, good call on Iron Man taking down Blizzard and Melter in IM #124. However, just a few issues later (#127) he did pretty much the same thing with a whole contingent of baddies. You just know when you see that awesome punch delivered on the cover that it’s going to be a really satisfying beat-down (sorry, couldn’t find a better image – just click it to enlarge).

Well, if the cable companies hire Bill, then right there’s the problem… ;)

No panels of Cable getting punched. I recall a particularly strange one after a recently regurgitated and unscarred Wade Wilson congeals from a pile of Nate’s vomit and punches him in the face for swallowing him.

Now there is a future “best of”. Best knock you off your feet punches.
They need to all resemble the last three you chosen.

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