Round two, Unrealtors! Today we’re gonna be taking a look at the second half of the reader-decided battles of the 90s miniseries Marvel VS. DC and see if readers were voting with their brains or their t-shirts. If you missed part one, check it out here.
SUPERMAN VS. THE HULK
COMIC WINNER: SUPERMAN
While it’s always thrilling to see superheroes use wits and wisdom, gadgets and gizmos (a’plenty), superpowers in super ways, there’s just something about two dudes punching each other in their big, dumb heads. And in the many majesties of the comic kingdoms, there aren’t two bigger pairs of fists than Clark Kent’s and Bruce Banner’s.
The yin and yang of funnybook musclemen, one’s comics biggest blue boy scout, the other a rageholic study in purple and green. It makes perfect sense that these two were thrown against each other. In the long, long ago, comics were seen largely as self-insertion fantasy, with scrawny writers and readers creating and devouring golem-esque literal super men, tall, handsome, with muscles on their muscles.
From an objective point of view, it makes perfect sense. From a more practical? Yeah, not so much…
I mean, come on. It’s Superman. The hero who put super in superhero. The second most recognizable symbol in the world below Christ and right above Mickey Mouse. The first, the greatest. The only thing more powerful than his reputation being…himself.
Hulk ain’t no slouch, but when you compare his feats of strengths to the Man of Tomorrow’s, they barely could support a torn pair of purple pants. Hulk held a mountain. Superman moved a planet. Not to mention Superman is nearly as fast as The Flash, can fly, and has much more laser-y eyes. The power set completely outstrips ol’ Green Genes, no matter how big a tantrum he may throw.
Though to be honest, I’m a little bit surprised that SM took home the W. I think most comic fans would agree that Superman obviously deserved to win, but his popularity does make me wonder. While I think that when he’s written well, Superman comics are the best comics around (All-Star Superman, Geoff Johns’ Action Comics run, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,) it’s just so rare that he is written well. It’s hard to write God in a compelling way. Even with a cape.
The Hulk is tortured. If Sigmund Freud had to create a character, you wouldn’t like it if it got angry. The Hulk is easier to write for, and, thus, typically more popular. Superman is often seen as boring and humdrum, while the Hulk is always a screaming mess. Even with the facts, you think he’d get the most chads in his favor.
But, hey, looks like Superman saved the day again. I guess add popularity to the list of abilities granted by Earth’s yellow sun.
NEW WINNER: STILL SUPERMAN
SPIDERMAN VS. SUPERBOY
COMIC WINNER: SPIDERMAN
Talk about some clone wars.
Given the hornet’s swarm of hatred that follows the character, I was almost tempted to put BEN REILLY up there, instead of Spiderman as this was the character that squared off against DC’s resident Boy of Steel. The 90s folks: the drunk uncle of comics that thinks it’s cool to give Batman thigh-pouches.
Like the Wolverine and Batman fights, this one just wasn’t fair to whoever was going up against everyone’s favorite neighborhood friendly. But whereas those battles (mostly) gave us a pretty acceptable circumstances as to how those victories were achieved, this one…really…really…really didn’t.
Zoidberg bless the writers on this mini. The day they found out they had to find a way to make Spidey actually win must’ve resulted in much profaning, hair-pulling, and blaspheming Stan Lee. Call me too much of a DC-iple, but admit it, Marvel Zombies, no way does the little arachnid that could take down a half-Kyptonian. I like Spiderman more, too, and considerably so, but I’m still a realist.
Here’s how the battle went down: Superboy destroyed a water tower creating a big ol’ puddle. Spidey tricked Superboy into crashing into a transformer (of the electrical variety, not an Autobot,) everything went all crackly-wackly, and Spiderman swung along his merry Marvel way boosting another victory for the House of Ideas.
Sure, Superboy was raw and untested, but a freshly minted megaton bomb’s still gonna do a lot more damage than your grandpappy’s Winchester. Of all the fights, with maybe the exception of Storm versus Wonder Woman, this one felt the most egregious in terms of just common sense being cast aside to make sure the money stayed happy. Again, here was another fight for the company’s to make like ABBA and take a chance, but instead the waters remained calm. And then a electrified. Too bad.
Although I think we all can agree, Spider-Boy was definitely Amalgam’s coolest creation.
NEW WINNER: SUPERBOY
SILVER SURFER VS. GREEN LANTERN
COMIC WINNER: SILVER SURFER
Yes, yes, I know. This battle was not fan-determined, and was instead decided upon by the writers, but I’m compelled to write about this.
If you know me you know I’m a massive Kyle Rayner fan. It’s almost embarrassing. Kyle Rayner was my first favorite comic character. We all have ours, and Kyle was definitely mine. He was and is the standard to which I hold all new comic characters, and few (Miles Morales, most of the Runaways, Cassandra Cain) pass my Rayner requirements. He was, is, and probably will always be my favorite superhero, and among my favorite characters in all of fiction.
I mentioned in part one how this miniseries affected me as a kid, stripping away any innocence I had about what was right or wrong in comics. Well, it was this battle that did it.
In my mind, no one could beat Kyle. Nobody! I mean, come on! Right?! It’s like thinking that someone could beat up your dad: that’s freaking IMPOSSIBLE.
I flipped through the pages of issue three, ready to see my crab-masked ringslinger whip some Power Cosmic keister.
And when I finished the issue, everything had changed. Kyle chalked up a loss. Fitting, as I myself was now suddenly lost.
This was my mother’s pearls falling to the ground after the second gunshot. This was my Uncle Ben. This was the moment when I went from a happy-go-lucky, Hey, Kids! Comics! reader to a grizzled, bitter funnybook fan itching to hop on my go-to message board to bitch about inkers. Cynicism is a river that runs wild throughout comicdom, and this was my first drink.
For years I vehemently and angrily spoke against this battle. Laying it out time and again how a magic wishing ring trumps anything some tuning-fork headed purple giant may have created. Discussions would turn to arguments would turn to ruined friendships, and all because of this quick succession of panels.
Here we are nearly two decades later…and it’s time to make peace.
I love you, Kyle. You know I do. You know that if the world decides that somehow I’m meant to have a son, I will argue with my partner that the boy’s name simply must be Kyle, or else I’m returning it. You are my hero now, then, and always.
(And seriously, we both know that if the GL movie had been about you and not Hal Snore-dan, it would have rocked.)
But Kyle then is not Kyle now. And while Kyle now with the experience of containing Ion, of mastering the spectrum of emotion that composes the DC Universe light energies, that has battled gods, walked with angels, and returned from death may be able to take down Mr. Radd, Kyle then…just couldn’t.
He was untrained, impetuous, and not even aware of the true, surging, limitless power his jewelry contained. He was a rookie, prone to rookie mistakes.
Silver Surfer had been kicking it for decades. The Power Cosmic isn’t just fancy energy beams, true believers. It’s wisdom. It’s perseverance. Not everyone can wield it, and perhaps none can as well and focused and effectively as the Silver Surfer does. Norrin Radd chose this burden of power, knowing full well what it entailed. Kyle walked into the right alley at the right time.
Of all these fights, this is the one I’d most love to see have a rematch, but for it’s time, it was perfect. And, yes, 12-year old Adam, I can hear you dying within me. But perhaps it was time…
NEW WINNER: …*sigh*. STILL SILVER SURFER
And we have our winners, Unrealtors! Agree? Disagree? Don’t stand by the sidelines, join the fight and comment below!
Adam Esquenazi Douglas is a playwright who was born in Texas, grew up in Arkansas, was raised by a Jewish man and a Cuban woman, and, somehow, he doesn’t have an accent. His plays have been produced across the United States, as well as in Canada and Japan.
He is co-host of two podcasts, The JimmyJew Podcast Extravaganza and Schmame Over, which can be found at http://jimmyjew.libsyn.com/ and http://schmameover.libsyn.com/ respectively, as well as on iTunes. He is a contributing writer to www.GamersSchmamers.com.
He currently lives in Brooklyn where he drinks far too much coffee.