Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What WAS the Comic Battle of the 20th Century? Part 11 - DC Versus Marvel!

Continuing my 12-part series reviewing comic books that claim The Battle/Fight/Bout/Showdown of the Century on their covers. Today's battle---

DC Versus Marvel! Presented in DC Versus Marvel/Marvel versus DC #1 - 4, 1996. Written by Ron Marz and Peter David. Penciled by Dan Jurgens and Claudio Castellini. Inks by Josef Rubinstein and Paul Neary.
This is the big one! Comics fans had long wanted to see their favorite, iconic characters, from the two biggest comic companies, take on each other! The unfortunate thing is, this was the 90’s. There was a crazy trend of constantly changing popular characters to increase sales. Soooo, our story opens with a Spider-Man, who is Peter Parker’s clone, Ben Reilly, in a variation of the iconic costume.


Later in the story, he asks people to call him “Peter.” Nice try Marvel.

I won't point out every time a weird character variation shows up, but is this Thor iconic to anyone?

Anyone?

WHY ARE THEY FIGHTING?
In the first issue, we begin to see various characters from Marvel and DC appearing in each other's universe. Some characters fight. Some characters team up.


This catches the attention of both universes’ cosmic guardians, the Spectre and the Living Tribunal. Something is terribly wrong!


This series is, of course, is a joint venture between DC and Marvel. The issue ends with a page asking readers to vote on the outcome of certain battles, such as Superman vs. the Hulk. It’s American Idol before American Idol!


The results will play out in issue #3!

In issue #2 we find out why the realities are crossing. The two Universes are shown personified as “brothers”. They weren't aware of each other until now! I've had that happen. “Whoa! How long have you been standing there!” It can be quite a shock.


Their awareness is causing each reality to seep into the other. Both “brother” considers themself superior and wishes to be the only reality to exist. Selfish realities. Instead of fighting it out themselves, they pick champions from their universes to do the fighting.

The losing side’s universe will VANISH FOREVER, so the stakes are pretty high. The combatants only have to immobilize each other, not kill. We want to keep it a friendly fight, right?

HOW EPIC IS THE BATTLE?
Due to page count restraints, each fight only last three or four pages. There are eleven battles. I’ll go over them very quickly—

Thor vs. Captain Marvel. When Captain Marvel changes to Billy Batson (to crawl out from some wreckage) he shouts’ “Shazam” to change back. But Thor controls lightning. Thor wins by conquering a powerless child. He's still rockin' that costume though!


The Sub-Mariner vs. Aquaman. While they’re standing on the beach, Aquaman wins by having a whale jump and land on Sub-Mariner. WAM!


The Flash vs. Quicksilver. Com’on, the Flash is much faster. He wins by speed-punching Pietro into unconsciousness.


This takes us into issue #3, where Jubilee’s diary gives us a recap.


I looked at this page quite awhile. It appears Daredevil is the only character without a partner. Is this a hilarious blind joke?

The story continues as Robin and Jubilee fall in love and then fight. Robin wins because he’s Robin.



Ah, young love. Sweet and creepy. Next up…

Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) vs. Silver Surfer. Surfer wins. The only explanation we get is this panel with a green burst in it.


Catwoman vs. Electra. Electra drops Catwoman off a building. Wins.


Lobo vs. Wolverine. Hey! Didn’t I already cover this? Oh, wait, that was Loco vs. Pulverine. My mistake.


Wolverine wins, but it’s unclear how. I guess he immobilizes Lobo by removing his innards?


Wonder Woman vs. Storm. I would have counted on Wonder Woman to win, but this is the result of public voting and the X-Men were super popular at the time. The bout goes to Storm.


Spider-Man vs. Superboy. Spider-Man wins by tricking Superboy to crash into an electrical panel. Ugh. I wanted Spider-Man to win, but is there ANY more cliché way to beat an opponent stronger than yourself?


Superman vs. Hulk. This is the “smart” Hulk, who still has the brain of Bruce Banner. I've never considered him as strong as the “limitless rage” Hulk. Superman wins by hitting harder.


Last up! Batman vs. Captain America. Now here’s a battle! They are very evenly matched in fighting ability. As the battle takes place  inside a sewer, water comes unexpectedly rushing in, and Batman takes Captain America out with a batarang to the head.


This was the result of the fans' vote. I've always wondered if the penciler, Dan Jurgens, was expecting Cap to win. To my eye, these pre-drawn character poses don't match the added dialog.


WHO WINS?
Thanks to the public votes, the Marvel Universe wins, 6 to 5! I guess it’s bye-bye DC Universe.

Or is it?

As one universe is about to be wiped out of existence, the Spectre and the Living Tribunal attempt to stop the obliteration by combining forces!


The little guy in the above panel is called Access. He can travel between universes and dimensions, more on him later. The Spectre and the Living Tribunal effort leads to the two universes combining into one, creating an Amalgam Universe!


This lead to a whole set of books starring composites of DC and Marvel characters. Older comic fans remember it. It was quite the event! One of my first posts on this blog was to talk about an obvious character they could have made. I also wish they would have combined The Human Torch and Aquaman. Then, we could have thrilled to the adventures of The Human Man! I digress.

The character Access has hidden the essences of the original universes and uses them to separate the realities once again. The cosmic “brothers” decide to fight it out on their own instead of relying on their chosen champions.

As they fight, everything is destroyed! But in that destruction, the “brothers’ see glimpses of two unique characters, one from each universe.


They realize that there is nobility and uniqueness within each of them. They should happily co-exist together. Or something like that. Read it yourself down below—


Essentially, the essences of Batman and Captain America save the comic universes! Yay!

IS IT THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY?
Lots of battles happening here. I suppose we should call the DC Universe vs. the Marvel Universe the Battle of the Century. The magnitude of it makes it an easy winner.

Come back Friday for Part 12! The Conclusion!



Monday, November 24, 2014

What WAS the Comic Battle of the 20th Century? Part 10 - Guy Gardner vs. Blue Beetle, plus Loco vs. Pulverine!

Continuing my 12-part series reviewing comic books that claim The Battle/Fight/Bout/Showdown of the Century on their covers. Today's battle---

Guy Gardner vs. Blue Beetle! Presented in Justice League America #52, 1991.  Written by Keith Giffen and  J.M. DeMatteis. Art by Tevor Von Eeden and Randy Elliott.


WHY ARE THEY FIGHTING?
Our story opens with the title amusingly backtracking on its claim, while an upset Ted Kord is looking in a mirror.


Ted has put on too much weight to fit into his Blue Beetle costume! He decides to go to the Justice League’s gym to work out. You gotta start somewhere, right?  Guy Garner and Major Glory are already there. Guy starts giving Ted fat grief.


I have never liked Guy Gardner. I don’t know if it’s his stupid haircut, or the fact that he’s always a total douche, but I’m not a fan. Maybe I’ve never read the right stories. He doesn't seem like Green Lantern material to me.

Major Glory stops Ted and Guy from fighting, and suggests they settle their differences with a fight.


HOW EPIC IS THE BATTLE?
Hey! Batman shows up, so you know this is going to be good!!! What? He’s here by accident? Oooooh.


The bell rings, and it turns outs that Ted is the better boxer.


Between round one and two, Guy notices his nose is bleeding, whispering, “NOBODY bleeds Guy Gardner…”


Yep, he sucker punches Ted between rounds. Everyone intervenes, and Martian Manhunter kicks Guy out of the Justice League.


You’re not improving my opinion of you, Guy.

WHO WINS?
I’m calling Blue Beetle the winner.

IS IT THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY?
No. I just found it depressing.

Of course, it may be because I did something similar to a friend in college. He was totally getting the best of me, and I sucker punched him between boxing rounds. True story. (However, he was facing me.) It was one of the few times when I’ve been truly, lividly mad. Perhaps this is Karma’s way of telling me to take a hard look at myself.

Or, I could merely move on to the next comic review...

____________________________________

Loco vs, Pulverine! Presented in Loco vs, Pulverine, 1992. Written by Fred Schiller and Steve Donnelly. Art by Gary Yap.


In the early 90’s, DC Comics had bad-ass Lobo as their very popular tough guy, while Marvel had mean-butt Wolverine as theirs. Along comes Eclipse Comics to settle who’s actually the toughest, through the sophisticated art of parody.

WHY ARE THEY FIGHTING?
Loco wants to prove he’s the baddest of the bad! Here he is finishing a fight with a Sabletooth parody, Snaggletooth, not to be confused with Snagglepuss.


But Loco actually wants to fight Pulverine!


Pulverine, however, is nowhere to be found. Screw the 18 pages of suspense, I’ll jump ahead and tell you why—

Pulverine has an exclusive contact with Marble Comics, and only they can tell him who to fight. Loco, however, keeps taunting him until finally Pulverine snaps!

HOW EPIC IS THE BATTLE?
Soon the battle is raging. The art has its appeal, but some of it takes a little effort to decipher.


Fortunately, the fight is so incredible it breaks into other, simpler, comic realities!


And into very 90’s realities.


The realities don’t like being messed with, so some characters decide to put an end to it.


Hey look! Star-Lord is in there. I bet the artist thought he was adding an obscure character into this scene. Not so obscure anymore, eh world?

WHO WINS?
Here’s something I’ve yet to mention. There’s a reporter who has constantly, unsuccessfully tried to cover this story. He finally catches up with the battle.


It ends with our fighters visiting our reporter in the hospital.


It’s comedy! I laughed at some bits. I guess I don’t really need to see a winner.

I guess.

IS IT THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY?
It was quite the ruckus, but it lacked the name recognition to be the Battle of the Century.

As of 1992, the title still belongs to 1976’s Superman vs. Spider-Man.

Come back Wednesday for Part 11! It's a big one!

Friday, November 21, 2014

What WAS the Comic Battle of the 20th Century? Part 9 - The X-Men vs. Alpha Flight (or maybe Loki).

Continuing my 12-part series reviewing comic books that claim The Battle/Fight/Bout/Showdown of the Century on their covers. Today's battle---

X-Men and Alpha Flight and Loki! Presented in X-Men and Alpha Flight #2, 1985.  Written by Chris Claremont. Art by Paul Smith. Inked by Bob Waicek & friends.


WHY ARE THEY FIGHTING?
First things first, who is fighting whom? As with most Chris Claremont written X-Men books, there are lots of characters, dense dialog, and interweaving stories. I’ll summarize to the best of my humble ability.

As members of the X-Men and Alpha Flight investigate the disappearance of an airplane, which contained several of their friends, they discover a fantastic city near the Arctic Circle. Seen here in issue #1.


They discover their colleagues, alive and very well, inside the city, along with non-mutant humans. Here they all are, also from issue #1.


Do you know everybody? I don’t. I’m just here for the fight.

You may wonder why everyone is dressed so grandly. There is a “Firefountain” of magic that shoots up through a nearby mountain. This fountain can heal all pain while also giving everyone superpowers! With great power comes impractical costumes. Here’s Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Madelyne Pryor, who were on the downed plane and now live in this magical city.


You can tell how glorious this place is by the glorious shoulder pads that Madelyne wears. (Admittedly, it was the 80's.)

The Firefountain continues to grow. Eventually it will affect the entire world! Everyone will have superpowers! There will be no more prejudice against super-powered mutants and (bonus!) no more sickness!

But, uh-oh, here comes the curve ball. All magical beings are slowly being destroyed by the same effect that heals and powers everyone else. Check out Snowbird, who Wolverine discovers—


Egad. She's seen better days.

So here’s the rub—Is it worth ending the lives of a small percentage of the world’s population to give billions of people a near perfect life? Some of the X-Men and some of Alpha Flight think it’s worth the price. Other members think it’s not. Some want to extinguish the fountain, some do not. Here comes the fight!

HOW EPIC IS THE BATTLE?
It's team member against team member, husband against wife!


We only get about three pages of battle. Below is our most action packed one. They're fighting for the fate of the world!


WHO WINS?
Northstar and Talisman fly off to the mountain in an attempt to shut down the Firefountain.


They soon discover that not only does the fountain destroy magic folk, it also destroys the “inner magic” of ordinary people. It shuts off their imagination! No more creativity on the entire planet!  One of the humans seems to have known this, but it took him a while to crack.


When everyone finds out, they stop fighting. Suddenly Loki shows up!


It turns out that the people who already had superpowers won’t lose their ability to dream. Cyclops gives a pessimistic little speech.


Everyone fights Loki and his Frost Giants. Is THIS supposed to be the Battle of the Century? I’m not sure. We gets less than a page of action.


Suddenly the sky fills with… the gods of the gods?


I notice that Loki’s tongue is not colored.  Mistake, or does he have a silver tongue? He should.

Whatever the case, the silver-tongued devil had made some kind of deal with the big guys. In return Loki had to do, “A deed of goodness, a gift freely given.” The Firefountain was Loki’s gift to mankind, but he ended up fighting people to force them to take it! Oops.


Game over.

IS IT THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY?
Hard to say. There were fights going on, but we spent much more time dealing with emotions and feelings and such. Ultimately, I would say, “No. It is not.”

As of 1985, the winner is still Superman vs. Spider-Man!

Come back Monday for Part 10! A double feature! Green Lantern vs Blue Beetle! Plus, Loco vs Pulverine! Whaaaat?