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Wednesday, November 24, 2010


In this post Tom Spurgeon asked "Where are all the great superhero comic book fight scenes?"

Though I can come up with about forty or fifty without half trying, I suspect my criteria for greatness in that arena differ substantially from Spurgeon's. I'm determined not to spend a lot of time citing those scenes, even though I've played with the question on other occasions (though not solely with the superhero genre: I recall making a list for both comic books and strips of all genres).

But I've just finished making a list of 50 fight-scenes (within a more restrictive category) on my AMAZONS ASCENDANT blog, so another list is just not gonna happen.

I will state, for my own satisfaction, the criteria I would use.

I would select no fight before its time (there's an archaic catchphrase-pun in there somewhere)-- that is, before its time took up at least three pages of a comic book or three daily comic strips. (I'd allow some adjustment for action that included a Sunday strip, but great fights in comic strips occur so rarely that it's hardly worth thinking about.)

I'd allow any permutation of adversarial lineups-- one versus one, one versus several, several versus one, several versus several.

I would allow running battles between, say, two groups of combatants, as seen in the concluding issue of the "Dark Phoenix" storyline. But if two fight-scenes have a sizeable interim between them, then they're two separate battles, not one big one.

The fight would not be something that could be included simply because it was thematically significant in some way, which was a criterion I allowed in the AMAZONS list. Said fight would have to be not only pretty long but also pretty strong in the department of kinetics. It's a lot harder for comics to pull off the kinetic effect using static comics-pictures than it is for film to do it with moving pictures. Nevertheless, though comic book fights aren't as famous as those of film, I feel sure that I could match any quantity of good cinematic conflicts with a corresponding number of comics-combats.

Though I'm not making a list per se, I do have some examples to toss out. This saves me the effort of looking up issue numbers and checking to make sure that the battles transpire for as long as I think they do.

Memorable nominees include:

Thor's 2nd fight with Ulik
Thing's 2nd fight with Hulk
Spider-Man's first battle with the Circus of Crime
Knockout's 1st with Superboy
Superman vs.the Four Elements (1960s)
Doc Strange vs. Dormammu (Ditko)
Doc Strange vs.Baron Mordo (Rogers)
Black Canary vs.Rabbit
Flash vs. Captain Cold
Green Lantern vs. Sonar
Uncle Sam vs. King Killer (40s)
X-Men vs. Imperial Guard
Stinz vs. another big centaur
Cutter vs. Rayek
Cerebus vs. Cirin
Daredevil vs. Bullseye
Storm vs. Cyclops
Judge Dredd vs. Mean Machine
Captain Easy vs. Bull Dawson
Shang-Chi vs. Zaran
The Doom Patrol vs. Mr. 103
Red Sonja vs. Conan
Mammy Yokum vs. Mother Ratfield
Iron Man vs. the Demolisher
Capt. America vs. the Living Laser, Swordsman, and Batroc
Goku vs. Vegeta
Monkey D. Luffy vs. Arlong Park
Batman vs. Superman (DARK KNIGHT RETURNS)
Sub-Mariner vs. Triton
Battle Angel Alita vs. her rollerball-style opponent whose name I forget

And yes, I could go on before getting down to Daredevil's first battle with the Leap-Frog. (Which was actually not too bad...)

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