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The Wrong Side: Daredevil vs. Spider-Man

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In this feature, I examine comic book fights that were particularly notable in the wrong side winning (or at least that the fight wasn’t won the “right” way). This really isn’t a big deal, of course, as it doesn’t really matter if the “wrong” person won a fight. But it’s fun to talk about!

If you want to suggest a fight for future inclusion in this feature, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com. Don’t suggest a fight in the comments!

Today, we take a look at the time Daredevil defeated Spider-Man in a punching fight!

As always, the first page spotlights their power levels and the second page examines the fight itself.

And as always, the first question we need to ask is…

How did these people do when they fought Spider-Man?

First off, let’s look at Daredevil. In Amazing Spider-Man #287 (by Christopher Priest, Erik Larsen and Art Nichols), they tussle and while Spider-Man is clearly the winner of the fight, DD holds his own…

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There are a couple of important things to note in that fight, though. One, the only way Daredevil has a serious shot is if Spider-Man is out of it, which he is in this instance. Second, Spidey’s Spider-Sense is a huge advantage with a fight with a guy like Daredevil, and again, it is not working correctly at this point in time. Third, Daredevil is barely fazing Spider-Man with his punches. That’s important, too. So yes, under a very specific set of circumstances, Daredevil sort of holds his own. Which is impressive on Daredevil’s part, while still making it clear that Spider-Mn would normally win this fight.

As for Spidey, when he fought his clone in Amazing Spider-Man #149 (by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito), you would figure such a clash would have caused thunder in the skies, but in the end, they were just pretty evenly matched, but that, of course, says a lot about Spider-Man, as if he can be evenly matched against SPIDER-MAN, then Spider-Man must be pretty darn tough!

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Now if Wasp ever fought a clone of herself, then WATCH OUT, universe!

Okay, on to the fight!

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48 Comments

Good one. How long have you been waiting to use ASM 149 for ‘How did Spider-Man do against Spider-Man?’

How long have you been waiting to use ASM 149 for ‘How did Spider-Man do against Spider-Man?’

Quite a while. :)

The death of Jean DeWolfe is a great story, but DD beating Spidey like that always bothered me. He uses the justification that Spidey was too angry to concentrate, but as we have seen in many stories Spidey is much more of a threat when he is pissed off. One need look no further than Firelord, or The Grim Hunt or Origin of the Species amongst other stories to see a pissed off Spidey is much more dangerous.

I know you’re just foolin’, but offhand I can think of at least one instance where the Wasp fought herself. It’s a miracle the universe survived!

Alaric Shapli

March 5, 2016 at 1:47 pm

buttler- AVENGERS SPECIAL #2- the Scarlet Centurion story, right?

Brian- Brilliant. Although, while I’m still personally enjoying the Spider-Man gag, I feel like it’s going to start feeling overused pretty soon.

Alaric: Yeah, that’s the one that leapt to mind. Wouldn’t be surprised if it happened again, though!

The fight works if we assume that DD got through to Spider-man and Spidey just gives up and lets DD beat him. Based on my recollection angry Spider-man has been shown to be more dangerous not less.

I don’t know. I can accept this win.

For Spidey being emotionally worked up, you have a few things to consider. First, Spider-Man might know that he is in the wrong, which can be throwing off his game. There might even be an effect similar to the idea that Banner holds back the Hulk during rampages, where Spidey can’t stop himself but might also not exactly be putting his all into stopping Daredevil from stopping him. Second, Daredevil does point out earlier that Spider-Man’s anger has made him sloppier, and Spidey *is* making mistakes. That is believable, even if the trade-off is that it makes Spider-Man a deadlier opponent (as an out-of-control Spider-Man is more likely to use potentially lethal attacks.) Third, Daredevil’s statistic comment shows that Daredevil *knows* that he is truly risking his life in the attempt to stop Spider-Man, and thus can’t hold back.

Daredevil admits that he was lucky, even with his planning, to land that first hit on Spider-Man. So you’ve got logical backing for Daredevil connecting a hit against a Spider-Man who is not his normal self and is making mistakes.

Daredevil immediately follows that club hit to the back of the head with a punch. He says he can’t let up else Spidey will immediately beat him, and delivers another ten or so punches off-panel to finally knock Spidey unconscious. If you can accept that Spidey can be stunned by attacks to the head from a professionally trained fighter, and Spidey *has* been stunned such, then it is believable. Even the multiple blows is believable, as getting hit once can leave you open to get hit again, and again, and again, with the damage mounting until you either get out or get knocked out. (Comic book characters, including Spider-Man, have used that approach as well.)

PAD tried to explain this away in Spectacular Spider-Man 115 by suggesting that Matt might have been able to knock Peter out because he was under a bad luck hex from the Black Cat.

PAD tried to explain this away in Spectacular Spider-Man 115 by suggesting that Matt might have been able to knock Peter out because he was under a bad luck hex from the Black Cat.

And that just highlights how “wrong” the fight is, as that’s on top of him throwing in tons of stuff in the actual story where it’s like, “Yeah, this shouldn’t normally work.” If you have to throw in that many qualifiers and then toss in ANOTHER explanation of how the fight turned out that way five issues later, maybe the fight just shouldn’t have ended up that way. Perhaps the editor made him do it and he was just making the best of it. That could be the case.

@Brian Cronin,

I don’t see your email. Have you ever covered “that time when…” Black Cat beat Sabretooth? It predates his full fledged entry into mutantdom and and the X-Drama.

I don’t see your email.

It’s at the beginning of every installment.

I know you’re just foolin’, but offhand I can think of at least one instance where the Wasp fought herself. It’s a miracle the universe survived!

Wasn’t that a specifically less-powerful version of Wasp, though? That’s the only way the universe survived.

I don’t recall her being less powerful, just less experienced. Which I guess amounts to the same thing.

DD vs spiderman = stupid really. spiderman is suppose to be SUPER human, super strength. DD has ZERO of that. DD punches would equal a NAT compared to punches spiderman has taken many times.

I don’t recall her being less powerful, just less experienced. Which I guess amounts to the same thing.

Early Wasp’s stings were less powerful. They weren’t even “bio-energy blasts” yet.

Alaric Shapli

March 5, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Yes, both the Wasps in that battle were substantially less powerful than the Wasp who fought the X-Men in SECRET WARS. That comic came out in 1968; she didn’t receive her power boost (including, but not limited to, her bioelectric sting) until MARVEL TEAM-UP 59-60, almost 10 years later. Before that, she had a series of far less powerful artificial stings (the first was just a needle she used as a sword!).

Ah, BOTH Wasps were less powerful. That makes sense. Because in that battle it was pretty much down to experience.

Ah, BOTH Wasps were less powerful. That makes sense. Because in that battle it was pretty much down to experience.

Yeah, it wasn’t until the mid-to-late 70s that she got her power upgrade. Now if she fought her clone since the upgrade, holy shit, it would be like Ragnarok.

Actually, wouldn’t Wasp have likely fought an evil version of herself during the Infinity War?

It’s a weird sort of fight. I can definitely buy that DD might knock him off balance, but beat him? Hard to believe. Even a distraught and sloppy Spider-Man is still Spider-Man. DD may have the speed, skill, & reflexes of a ninja, but Spider-Man operates on levels that are quite literally superhuman.

Unless DD is hitting some never clusters or something, DD’s punches are going to barely put a dent in Spider-Man. In a sense, DD is to Spidey as Batman is to Superman. DD would have to pull a Karnak. He’d have to find and exploit some physical weakness in order to actually lay him out.

This really goes to show one thing, imo. The writers make the rules. =)

Actually, wouldn’t Wasp have likely fought an evil version of herself during the Infinity War?

Oddly enough, although she was present when a bunch of dopplegangers attacked the collected heroes, they never showed a Wasp doppleganger during Infinity War. I think we all now know why.

Maybe DD’s thought balloon is supposed to read, “Incredible. A dozen punches (and I had to choke him out for 10 minutes) and he’s barely out.”

I’ve long wanted to write a miniseries that looks at the relationship between Spidey & DD through the years, in the vein of Dan Slott & Ty Templeton’s Spier-Man/Human Torch mini. Especially around the time post Civil War when Peter voluntarily unmasked and Matt was doing everything he could to deny his double life. Then OMD threw a big ol’ monkey wrench into it. It would be tougher now, but not impossible.

Interesting how this column has a running joke about how unbeatable Spider-Man is constantly written, yet when it’s time to show how a character did against Spider-Man as a reference point, most of the time the fight with Spider-Man was a draw or the character in question beat Spider-Man. This column kind of undermines the premise of its own running joke.

I’m confused by Spider-Man’s dialogue “You’re twisting everything! You should be a lawyer.” Didn’t Spidey know DD’s secret ID at this point in time?

favorite line: “Oh, Great! I’m beating up a blind man.” … LOL
I think that tells us Spidey was trying his best not to hurt him, but just put him down.

John Trumbull: he found out at the end of this exact storyline.:)
So it was a good gag by PAD.

I’ve long wanted to write a miniseries that looks at the relationship between Spidey & DD through the years, in the vein of Dan Slott & Ty Templeton’s Spier-Man/Human Torch mini. Especially around the time post Civil War when Peter voluntarily unmasked and Matt was doing everything he could to deny his double life. Then OMD threw a big ol’ monkey wrench into it. It would be tougher now, but not impossible.

It’s funny, DD just recently also wiped his identity from everyone’s minds (except Foggy Nelson), presumably through magic. And no one seems to care. Just like no one cared when Iron Man used Mentallo to wipe his identity from everyone’s mind.

favorite line: “Oh, Great! I’m beating up a blind man.” … LOL
I think that tells us Spidey was trying his best not to hurt him, but just put him down.

Agreed, which is another reason why I think that that fight is okay.

Would a clone of Wasp be called WWasp? That’s badass. Or badwassp. Badwwasp. (I hear the fabric of reality tearing.)

Haha! liked the how did Spider-man do against Spider-man gag!

Of course the real multi million dollar question is:-How would a Secret Wars era Wasp do against Spider-man? Maybe it would be a stalemate? And would the X-men be lining up to watch? LOL!

I always saw the DD/Spidey fight as Spidey being so enraged that he just didn’t give a damn about dodging and flipping and all the usual Spider-Man stuff. He hit, he got hit, and DD was able to use that to his advantage and beat him.

David Spofforth

March 7, 2016 at 11:07 am

@John Trumble
“I’m confused by Spider-Man’s dialogue “You’re twisting everything! You should be a lawyer.” Didn’t Spidey know DD’s secret ID at this point in time?”

He finds out DD’s secret at the end of that very same issue.

I have no problem with this fight. He is hit on the head by a steel reinforced billy-club. That’s got to do SOME damage. Particularly since I can remember Spidey-being knocked unconscious by Aunt May hitting him over the head with a vase! (ASM 113, or thereabouts)

I can’t believe BC had material for Spidey fighting himself.

So Daredevil beat Spidey and Wolverine yet all three of them have trouble against a man named FISK!

When I saw the title, I was hoping you’d use the Spider-Man clone fight instead of skipping that part of the analysis. Thanks for not disappointing.

I don’t see that big a difference between the two fights, in that DD gets to land punches and the lack of the Spider-sense is equated with him being angry. Maybe angry Spidey is clouded, but enraged Spidey goes on instinct? I think it might have needed a little more back up, but could happen. I think Spider-Man takes a bit more impact than the average person, and recovers faster, but still is basically human to damage. So if you hit him in the back of his head you can make him a bit loopy. Not getting into whether superheroes need CTE scans, but in the old RPG’s you could always “stun” your opponent momentarily, so it is a comic book “thing.”

But in any case the whole column was worth it just for Spider-Man vs. Spider-Man.

It kinda works. I think Erich makes the relevant point above, that angry Spidey (and let’s be honest, overconfident-in-facing-Daredevil Spidey) doesn’t bother dodging like he did against Firelord and instead just wants to punch DD’s head off (as proxy for actually being mad at himself).

If you let DD hit you, with all his knowledge of vulnerable nerves, ninja-training, and hyper-senses to know exactly how to do it…it’s gonna hurt.

I don’t see that big a difference between the two fights

Besides him winning one and not winning the other? ;)

But really, there isn’t a big difference in the scenario, which is the problem. Spidey gets tagged repeatedly in the ASM #287 sequence and doesn’t react, while he gets knocked out in the SSM #110 one, to the point where David A. has Daredevil repeatedly talk about how weird it is that it is happening, B. doesn’t even show the knockout punches on panel and C. spends an issue five issues later explaining how Spider-Man was under a bad luck spell at the time of the fight. In other words, the fight itself basically concedes that it doesn’t work.

Spidey is hit in the back of the head with a club by a trained fighter. That leaves him stunned enough to be clocked hard in the face by a trained fighter. That leaves him stunned enough to be beaten unconscious off-panel by repeated blows delivered by a trained fighter.

Even without the club to the back of the head, that kind of scenario happens in boxing and MMA matches. And Spidey *has* been rocked by blows in the past. Spidey isn’t automatically invulnerable to human-level damage just because he can benchpress a car. And super hero comics have long been inconsistent on just what kind of damage both people and objects can take and deliver, so it doesn’t mean Spidey is automatically invulnerable to all human-level physical blows even if he can take being knocked through a brick wall. (Heck, MJ as a regular human should have been severely injured if not outright killed by the blow Spidey nailed her with. Comics allow even regular humans to take such hits, but that doesn’t mean that Daredevil wouldn’t be able to knock out MJ with a single punch, much less a club to the back of the head followed by a beatdown.)

And Daredevil doesn’t really talk about it being weird. He does the typical comic book “explain the action” narration, particularly to help carry things that do not automatically come across in pictures. Spidey is angry, which makes him sloppy. If this were animated, then you could show Spidey making mistakes, over-committing, venting and the like. In limited space still art, that is harder to convey, so Daredevil tells the reader. If Spidey weren’t being sloppy, then Daredevil wouldn’t have much of a chance. The latter part is being honest to the power levels and established past, while the former part is reiterating that a sloppy fighter isn’t fighting at full potential. Daredevil explaining how he circumvented Spidey’s spider-sense is again typical comic book action narration/explanation, no different than Spidey explaining how being grounded protects him from electricity or some character explaining that they’d set up a trap in advance or whatever. Daredevil saying it was lucky that his plan worked is being honest, because his plan wasn’t guaranteed to work. He didn’t know that he could trick Spidey, even if Spidey was being sloppy. He probably also didn’t know for certain that he could peg Spidey well enough to do the necessary follow-ups.

The “dozen punches” bit was really the closest part to overselling the power level gap, and probably wasn’t necessary. But heck, people are still complaining that Daredevil was able to knock Spidey unconscious with a club to the back of the head followed by a dozen blows. Just imagine how they might complain if we only saw the club followed by a single punch…

As for why the dozen blows are off-panel, I wonder if that was more for ratings reasons, or to not confuse people over whether Daredevil was a hero. It is one thing to have Daredevil say that he hit Spidey a lot. It is another thing to show Daredevil repeatedly punching (and probably clubbing) a seemingly defenseless Spider-Man (as the whole reason it works is that Daredevil is keeping the pressure on Spidey). Even if Daredevil is doing it for the right reasons (at least as far as “right” works in comic books), such a scene risks painting Daredevil as the dangerous one and Spidey as a victim.

@Billy

That was kind of beautiful.

Spidey is hit in the back of the head with a club by a trained fighter. That leaves him stunned enough to be clocked hard in the face by a trained fighter. That leaves him stunned enough to be beaten unconscious off-panel by repeated blows delivered by a trained fighter.

Again, he was clocked hard in the face by a trained fighter repeatedly in ASM #287 and it didn’t matter. Hence it being a problem here that it did matter. And again, the writer revealed that Spider-Man was under a bad luck spell a few issues later to explain how poorly Spidey did here.

But yes, sometimes writer incorrectly show how much damage Spider-Man can take. If everything was always consistently applied, there would be no “Wrong Side.” :)

Besides him winning one and not winning the other? ;)

Does he win the fight…or does he just not lose it? It looks like they’re going back and forth, when DD ends up saving his life. If DD really wanted to win the fight all he had to do was just stand by and watch, uh, hear him get shot.

But even before then in the first sequence you have Spider-Man on the ground, dazed, after taking a bunch of punches from Daredevil. If DD doesn’t just stand there, and starts pounding him before he could recover, he could probably knock him out just the same. The motivations in the story are just a little bit different.

I mean, it just as easily could have been where the first story (which came before or after the second story?) could be the one where the wrong side one, where anyone who takes that many blows to the head and isn’t invulnerable shouldn’t just be shrugging it off. It could go either way, that’s why they’re close. And on a given day and in a given fight, one more lucky blow or not or greater determination could make the difference in something so close.

Everyone’s kinda burying the lede here in how DD caps off the fight by DRAGGING AN UNCONSCIOUS SPIDEY INTO A TREE AND LEAVING HIM THERE.

“Interesting how this column has a running joke about how unbeatable Spider-Man is constantly written, yet when it’s time to show how a character did against Spider-Man as a reference point, most of the time the fight with Spider-Man was a draw or the character in question beat Spider-Man. This column kind of undermines the premise of its own running joke.”

Or that is also a running joke.

I guess DD knocking out Spider-man makes as much sense as Spider-man knocking out Firelord :D

As the author of this article noted earlier, “If everything was consistently applied, there would be no ‘Wrong Side'”. So true. Indeed, If Spidey fought DD in the same manner that he fought the Green Goblin or Venom, DD would (rightfully) stand no chance. Regardless of DD’s ninja training and knowledge of nerve clusters, he has no business knocking Spidey unconscious by hand. Even with the aid of his steel billy club, DD can’t hope to generate the superhuman levels of force needed to bring even an angry, “sloppy” Spiderman down. Spidey’s regularly shrugged off blows from Doc Ock’s tentacles, Venom, Carnage, Sandman, Green Goblin, and other superpowered foes/weapons.

However, applying such logic to a clash like the one above would make for a boring read, so writers often opt instead to employ a little PIS or some other convenience(s) to level the playing field. Of course, that’s fine–money has to be made. I only hope that people come to see these conveniences for what they are–mere conveniences. The truth of the matter is that a character as powerful and battle-tested as Spidey should easily dispose every time they fight, but the truth can be a hard-sell. Hence, DD beats Spidey, Spidey beats Firelord, and comics remain interesting.

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