With the onslaught of comic book movies coming this summer, it seems that once again, DC and Marvel Comics are battling for your love. So who’s better? Which comic company rocks the other’s casbah, whether the sharif likes it or not?
WHO WILL WIN? YOU DECIDE!
In 1996 DC and Marvel Comics decided to hold the nerdiest fanboy popularity geek-off contest ever. They called it “DC Versus Marvel,” or “Marvel Versus DC,” depending on which company was publishing the particular issue. It was to be the last word in the decades long dick waggling competition between the two comic book powerhouses. Both companies’ master representatives have made passionate but gentle love to me on several occasions, so they could have just asked me (Marvel’s Stan Lee ranks high for length and hardness, but DC’s Jack Kirby wins for girth and his smoky, earthy taste). But, NO, they decided to do it the hard way. Eleven characters from each company were chosen to battle it out, one on one, in what is probably the lamest story about heroes hitting each other since King David stole the credit for Elhanan’s victory over Goliath.
I’ll break the story down issue by issue, but I’ll keep it brief, since I know what each of us is REALLY interested in is which company won, and if the company we love more is actually as cool as we hope we are by backing it. That last sentence makes perfect sense, you just have to read it slowly.
This is not your typical we’re-gonna-fight-soon crossover setup, which is one of the big reasons I liked this series so much despite its many, MANY flaws. Most hero vs. hero battles between different companies’ characters start off assuming the combatants inhabit the same world. Not here. This issue wastes no time establishing that the DC and Marvel universes are separate, and that the characters don’t know each other.
The very first thing we see is a confused Spider-Man on a Gotham rooftop with the Joker. They chat amiably, since Spidey has no idea that the dude’s a psychotic mass murderer. It looks like they’re gonna be good friends soon. Can’t you see Spider-Man and the Joker going to a ball game, or double dating with Harley and Mary Jane, or hitting a few bars and a strip club on a wild, wacky Saturday night? They should be roomies.
Oh, Joker, you so craaazy!
Anyway, soon the Marvel and DC universes start to merge. No one knows why or how this is happening, so the heroes decide upon the safest, most reasonable and humane course of action: they just start punching people. Bane and Captain America duke it out, Daredevil takes down The Riddler, my main man Bruce Wayne hands Bullseye his ass down in the Batcave, whatever, whatever, whatever. It appears that the main point of all of this is to show off the artwork, which I must admit is muy impressivo. The Captain America/Bane fight just looks too cool. And there we have the first major thumbs-up for this series: it’s just SOOOO damn pretty.
Since not much happened in Issue #1, I guess the writers thought they had to really move this one along. After some more sweet looking Captain America vs. Bane action, the writers waste no time in establishing what I like to call “The Deal.” Here’s “The Deal”: billions of years ago, two colossally powerful entities popped into existence. The books call them the “brothers.”
Anyway, the brothers had a fight which destroyed their universe, and a whole bunch of new universes were born, and blah blah blah blah blah. Each brother represents one of the DC and Marvel universes, and they are each pitting champions from their universe to fight the other brutha from a different mutha’s universe’s champions, and whoever’s heroes immobilize more of the other’s wins. The loser will then just step back and calmly allow themselves to be killed and their universe to be destroyed forever and ever, amen. Is this confusing? How about contrived? How about fucking DUMB?
What has to be the most ridiculously conceived contest in comics history is really nothing more than an excuse for a bunch of heroes to beat the shit out of each other, and serves as a prelude to the most AWESOME IDEA I HAVE EVER HEARD TWO COMIC COMPANIES USING TO EMPTY MY WALLET.
I’m talking, of course, about Amalgam Comics, where DC and Marvel COMBINED their heroes and universes, resulting in phenomenal ideas like Spider-Boy (Spider-Man + Superboy), Hyena (Sabretooth + The Joker), Speed Demon (The Flash + Etrigan The Demon + Ghost Rider), and, my personal favorite, Dr. StrangeFate (Dr. Strange + Dr. Fate + Professor X). More on that later, but before we get there, we gotsta have some fights.
Before you start thinking that the fights are going to make any more sense then the premise, let me warn you: the outcomes were determined before the books were written, and were decided on the basis of fan votes. That’s right, true believers, fans got to VOTE to see who would win, logic be damned. You could email your vote in or send in a ballot that was actually printed in the back of some of the comics. Angels and ministers of grace defend us. This makes for some of the dumbest, most inexplicable victories you’ll ever see outside of US politics. Honestly, I myself have a very hard time understanding why I like this series as much as I do. It almost makes me want to stop writing this article because so much of these books is so damn STUPID.
Fuck it, I’ve already written this much. I’m in to the end.
ROUND 1: Thor vs. Captain Marvel
Thor is the Norse god of thunder and lightning. Captain Marvel has the wisdom of Solomon, strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the powers of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. That’s Thor’s power of one god versus Captain Marvel’s power of two gods, one Titan, one half-god, one half-nymph, and, according to the Bible, the wisest human being who has ever lived. Damn, Gina, that’s a lot for old Thor to contend with.
Fortunately for him, these stories were voted on by comic book fans and don’t have to make any sense. Long story short, Captain Marvel needs to say “SHAZAM!” and be struck by a bolt of magical lightning to get down with his bad self. He says “SHAZAM!” one too many times and Thor catches on; the next time Cap says it, Thor, god of thunder, throws his hammer to intercept the bolt, knocking the non-super version of Captain Marvel unconscious. Thor wins.
A lot of these fights I’ve labeled BULLSHIT, because they’re so fucking stupid I just have to bitch and whine about them via the impotent, anonymous safety of the internet. But not this one. I was rooting for Captain Marvel, but this actually made a lot of sense. The writers found a flaw unique to Captain Marvel and an ability unique to a god associated with lightning, and used those aspects of these characters to explain the outcome.
The story would have been better if Captain Marvel, who logically outguns Thor by some degree, would have knocked Thor around a bit before Thor figured out his vulnerability, but the story stands on its own as is. It was smart writing, and made for a sweet, if way too short, battle which was believable within the contexts of both characters. I’m cool with that. And the art, once again, was magnificent. Really, each of these fights should have been given their own comic book, but I guess you could do a lot worse if you had to do what they did here, and squeeze a major confrontation like this onto the ludicrously small space available on ONLY FIVE LITTLE FUCKING PAGES, YOU CHEAPSKATE BASTARD FUCKS!
Almost immediately we skip to another fight, already in progress.
His last name is McKenzie? Fucking Namor McKenzie? Now I really hate him.
ROUND 2: Aquaman vs. Sub-Mariner
I like Aquaman. I think Sub-Mariner is little more than a shallow ripoff of Aquaman. I don’t know anything at all about him, but that’s the impression I formed the instant I looked at him, and that’s the biased, ignorant opinion I’ve chosen to perceive as absolutely factual, despite any arguments or evidence against it, which I will refuse to accept or even acknowledge. I would have made an AWESOME Christian. Bringin’ in the sheaves!
Aquaman takes a lot of shit from fans and would-be comedians about being a useless hero and talking to fish, but apparently people forgot about Namor, who is maybe the most pointless and uninteresting plagiarized character ever until Marvel published Sentry. Okay, so that’s not really true. Namor was published two years before Aquaman, meaning that DC was the one doing the plagiarizing. But Sentry still blows, I think we can all agree on that.
Forget what I said before. THIS is how you call out plagiarism.
Aquaman has changed a lot since the ’80s Super-Friends era. He’s grown his hair and beard out and had one of his hands chopped off and replaced with a knife/hook/harpoon thing. He’s looks like a blonde version of Grizzly Adams who went completely insane, turned all grim and goth, got REALLY into shape, and started talking to fish and telling Superman to fuck off all the time. Besides that, Aquaman has also developed his fish-telepathy thing to the point where he can focus on a person’s basal ganglia, a part of the vertebrate brain’s motor controls which can be evolutionarily traced to our marine ancestors, and give that person a fucking seizure.
Lets review that list, shall we: King of Atlantis, absolute ruler of 78% of the Earth’s surface, looks like a psychotic Viking who feeds on a strict diet of baby heads and mortal sin, harpoon for a hand, tells Superman to go fuck himself, gives seizures with his brain, and is not named Namor McKenzie. It’s official: Aquaman rocks! But before he can kick Namor’s ass, we’re interrupted by…
Welcome to the Speed Force, bitch.
ROUND 3: The Flash vs. Quicksilver
Victor: The Flash
I don’t know much about him, but I think Quicksilver’s a mutant. At this point, who in the Marvel universe isn’t? I also think he’s supposed to be Magneto’s son, so maybe that’s why they let him compete in the big pan-universal herolympics. Fuckin’ nepotism. In the back of this issue it gives a short description of each character, their powers, and history. Quicksilver’s says “Superhuman speed (upper limit: speed of sound).” Okay, its faster than I can run, but The Flash’s description says “he can propel himself at speeds approaching the speed of light” and can do a shitload of other really cool things with his superspeed, like vibrate through solid objects or make them explode.
Yet, despite this disparity in power, before he beats Quicksilver’s mutant ass, he’s down on his hands and knees, having been sucker punched a thousand times by Quicksilver. Before punching Quicksilver 50 bazillion times at the speed of light, The Flash says, “Almost had me there, fella!” Hey, Flash, is that the worst line you could come up with?
Almost had you? Really? Were you fucking napping during your fight?? Let’s look at the numbers here: the speed of sound at sea level is about 761 mph. The speed of light is about 670,616,629 mph. That means The Flash can move about 881,231 times faster than Quicksilver, and should be about 881,231 more likely to turn his little mutant face into Grade A ground sirloin.
Why didn’t the writers consider this? I don’t know; maybe they aren’t the kind of guys who are fond of math. Maybe they don’t like it when reason intrudes on their art. Or maybe they’re just the kind of guys who think its clever to make Aquaman defeat Namor by asking a killer whale to jump on him.
Turns out they are, because that’s exactly what happens two pages later. What a shitty ending; even Namor deserves better. The Aquaman/Namor battle could have been a 4-issue miniseries unto itself with all the possibilities those two characters bring to the table, but BOTH of these fights were resolved in a TOTAL OF SIX MEASLY FUCKING PAGES! Absolute crap! And so ends Issue #2.
We start this issue with Jubilee writing in her diary recapping the first two issues and mourning the fact that the Marvel universe is losing 2-1 and might be destroyed. Then she goes on to tell us that she has to fight Robin, which sucks for her ’cause she’s kinda got the hots for him. She even says that he may be “Mr. Right.”
You see? THIS is why each of these battles should have been a lot longer. I LOVE the idea that two heroes, whom otherwise would never have met, share an unexpected budding romance, but are forced by the very circumstances that brought them together to battle one other, and which ever hero (who’s job is to save people) wins, brings not only his love but an entire universe of innocent people closer to annihilation. God damn, I wish I’d thought of that!
These two fell for each other awful fast, and it seems to me that there must be a billion more likely champions in each universe that the brothers would have chosen to defend their existence before picking fucking Robin and Jubilee, but still, its a great idea for a story. This series is full of just this: REALLY interesting interpersonal story ideas set against the backdrop of transuniversal stupidity. Anywho… Robin and Jubilee talk, kiss, talk some more, and then get down to it. Fighting, I mean.
ROUND 4: Robin vs. Jubilee
You know, as much as I used to watch The X-Men cartoon, I still don’t know what Jubilee’s powers are. They were never really clear about what she could or couldn’t do, or even how powerful she was. I know this is supposed to be the battle of the sidekicks (Jubilee had a kind of daughter/sister relationship with Wolverine), so I’m guessing she’s not too terribly potent, but from the looks of this fight, it honestly looks like making little colorful firecracker pops is the full extent of her power. Seriously, my camera flash is more powerful than this girl. She SUCKS. Also, I thought she was supposed to be Chinese American, but the Jubilee I’m looking at here in Issue #3 is straight up Caucasian.
Robin is a trained gymnast, detective, and rooftop ninja vigilante; his preferred environment is darkness and his trade is swift, brutal violence. The cartoon and comics portray Jubilee as little more than a teeny-bopper mall chick who flashes pretty lights and suffers from dyscalculia (a kind of mathematical dyslexia). Fuck, if those are the extent of her powers, then my fat white ass could defeat her. This battle seems awfully one-sided. HOWEVER, check out this excerpt from her Wikipedia entry: “Jubilee has the untapped potential to detonate matter at a sub-atomic level which in theory is the equivalent of a fusion bomb…”
I’m well aware that anyone with an internet connection can write or edit a Wikipedia entry, but if this is even half accurate, then Jesus Christ! If that was the Jubilee Robin was fighting, he should’ve been fucking murdered! Fortunately for the Boy Wonder it appears that the powers that be at Marvel couldn’t get their heads out of their asses long enough to agree on how potent Jube should be, so Robin got to fight the most useless version in the world: the love-struck white girl who throws lightning bugs version.
The next bit is just too damned ridiculous. Robin hangs his cape on, I shit you not, a fucking MEAT HOOK, which dangles conveniently in the middle of the toy factory where they are fighting. Yeah. A toy factory. With meat hooks. Jubilee, who apparently has never watched a single fucking episode of Scooby-Doo, falls for it. When she attacks the cape, Robin uses his batarang tow cables to wrap her up, Hoth style. Immobilized, she loses. Her universe is now down 3-1, hanging on the precipice of COMPLETE UNIVERSAL OBLIVION, and here’s what she has to say about it:
“You didn’t even have to land a punch. That’s so lame.”
No shit, Jubes; lame as hell! Have fun explaining to your friends that you lost your fight and endangered the existence of everyone and everything in your ENTIRE UNIVERSE because you got fooled by the same kind of stupid gag that Barney Rubble would use to trick his way into some chocolatey Cocoa Pebbles (part of this complete breakfast). I take back what I said before; even with the incredible powers she apparently had at one point, I still think Robin would’ve won. She’s just too stupid.
“You like tying people up, Boy Wonder? C’mere and let me show you how its done…”
One too many nights dressed up in short shorts down in the Batcave has given old Robin a full blown bondage/rape fetish, and now he has a hot tied-up (Cauc)Asian chick underneath him wearing skin tight red vinyl with lots of straps and buckles. But this is a family friendly book, so this is as far as it goes. Because at least one of you will be wondering by now, no, we never find out if they have sex, Which means we’ll never know if her vagina makes sparkly rainbow colored party lights when she comes. It’s a lost literary opportunity. But, as a consolation prize, next we get to watch two of the most powerful superheroes in all of comicdom beat the crap out of each other in deep space.
ROUND 5: Silver Surfer vs. Green Lantern
Victor: Silver Surfer
Like Jubilee, I’ve also never been sure what the Silver Surfer’s powers are. Because one of my favorite hobbies is speaking to socially awkward people who smell odd and spit when they talk, I’ve asked serious Silver Surer fanboys what his powers are, and here’s the answer I get every single time: “He’s the Herald of Galactus and wields the Power Cosmic!” Thanks a bundle for the completely worthless non-answer, dickheads. What are you, his fucking publicists? You’ve told me his job title, and the name of his power, but besides flying around in outer space on a fucking surf board and showing up on the occasional Joe Satriani album cover, what does he actually do? I honestly don’t know.
On the flip side, I know all about Green Lantern. I won’t go into all of it, but there were once 1,800 Green Lanterns with incredibly potent power rings who acted as a galactic police force. Hal Jordan, the old Green Lantern, went nuts and started killing them off, after which the blue Munchkin guys in charge of the Green Lantern Corps focused all the power of the remaining rings into a single ring, which had its built-in safeguard vulnerability to the color yellow removed. One ring to rule them all. They gave it to a guy named Kyle Rayner, who’s first job was to go kick Hal Jordan’s ass. Long story short, the new Green Lantern is REALLY fucking powerful.
The whole DC vs. Marvel shindig was preceded by a few preparatory crossovers, one of which was the Green Lantern/Silver Surfer comic “Unholy Alliances.” It was really good (worth tracking down, if you’re interested), and displayed the Silver Surfer keeping pace with GL. I’d estimate based on his portrayal in that book alone that they’re roughly equal in terms of power, which means that Silver Surfer is pretty much a complete bad-ass. Apparently they’re both pretty unimaginative, though, because they fly around each other for a while before deciding just to ram into each other head on at top speed. Green Lantern was knocked unconscious and Silver Surfer ends the encounter with a few vapid lines about regretting having to hurt him, just like every other victor has done at the end of every other battle in this series. They’re all noble heroes; we get it, already.
I know I keep going on about how this comic looks great, but the illustrations of this particular battle are possibly the most impressively colored comic book panels I have ever seen. Its gotta be hard to illustrate a guy whose skin is reflective chrome, but when you factor in that he’s fighting an opponent who generates incredibly complex energy constructs which are entirely green, you gotta figure this is gonna be hard to get right. It couldn’t have been fun to color, but the results are nothing less than beautiful. So you can imagine how pissed I am that it only lasted for a ridiculous two pages. But its pretty clear from those two pages that the writers didn’t have more to offer than that, so I’ll stop whining about it. Without segue, we are thrown to Gotham, for:
Round 6: Elektra vs. Catwoman
Hey, look, a completely pointless T&A catfight which makes no sense at all (Issue #3 brought to you by the letters XXX and the number 69). As I understand it, Elektra is a ninja and professional assassin. Catwoman steals stuff. NEITHER of these women are heroes. BOTH of them have been selected as champions by the ‘brothers.’ Explanation?
Look, I’m going to bottom line this for you: this fight is nothing more than an excuse for the artists to draw perfectly spherical breasts, beautiful DSLs, and hot, angry chicks with severe spinal deformities and asses that just don’t quit. The writers say as much in the dialogue, as Catwoman and Elektra openly discuss not being heroic while tearing each other’s clothes off. In the end, Elektra wins but refuses to kill Catwoman because she has apparently forgotten that she is a FUCKING RUTHLESS NINJA ASSASSIN WHO HAS AN EXCELLENT LIFE-OR-DEATH REASON TO SHOW NO MERCY AND GIVE NO QUARTER TO THIS OPPONENT.
Whatever. It was a stupid fight in the first place, and it fortunately only lasted two pages. And now it’s over.
We now go to the offices of The Daily Planet where a recently hired Peter Parker is hitting on Lois Lane, who reveals that she is engaged to Clark Kent, who shows up just in time to get yelled at by the new boss at The Daily Planet, J. Jonah Jameson. What the fuck ever. I’m starting to have a hard time remembering why it was I like this series at all. But the worst is yet to come. Let’s skip ahead a few pages and take a gander at the numero uno, king daddy mother of all stupid fucking things in the universe(s):
ROUND 7: Wolverine vs. Lobo
BULL-FUCKING-SHIT. Look, I love Wolvie as much as the next comic book fanboy, but come the fuck on. This fight isn’t even remotely fair, which makes its outcome even more insulting. Yeah, Wolverine is like the Marlboro man of violence and claws, and everyone loves him. But this takes place after Magneto ripped the adamantium off of Wolverine’s skeleton, so his claws are just normal bone. Lobo has been able to slug it out with Superman and live to tell the tale. Lobo is known to have destroyed an entire planet. Lobo has been known to EAT SUPERHEROES that he defeats. And Lobo killed Santa Claus. He fucking killed Santa.
Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special #1, February 1992
How in the hell could Wolverine be paired up with this guy?! How does this happen?! This is like staging “Galactus vs. The Penguin.” Or “Batman vs. a thermonuclear warhead with 0.00001 seconds left on the timer.” No matter how much I love the guy, the only reasonable outcome is that Bats is gonna be a cloud of vapor the size of Nebraska. And the only reasonable outcome for Wolvie is that he’s gonna be Lobo’s bitch. Or lunch. Probably both.
If they were gonna fight, it should have gone down like this: Wolverine and Lobo spend 419 consecutive hours whoring, drinking roadhouse whiskey, smoking fat stogies, trading insults, riding motorcycles without helmets, and eating raw meat. Finally, they decide to get down to business; Wolverine slashes Lobo, who takes no damage because his skin is as tough as battleship armor and cannot be cut by what are essentially nothing more than bone knives. And don’t give me any bullshit fanboy nonsense about “mutant sharpness” or whatever; you show me the scalpel that can cut through three inches of tempered steel, and I’ll show you a kick in the nuts for being a lying-ass fucktard. After Wolverine fails to harm him, Lobo uses his superspeed to grab Wolvie before he can get away, and, with his hyper-strength, THROWS HIM INTO THE FUCKING SUN. Checkmate. Set and match. Game. Fucking. Over.
But, no. It is painfully and unmistakably clear that the outcome of this fight was determined by a popularity contest. Even the writers couldn’t come up with a way to justify this one; Wolvie and Lobo just disappear behind a bar and only Wolvie comes back up. That’s really how the fight ends. They didn’t bother to explain what happened because they couldn’t. It defies any sort of reason. The writers knew the same thing every reader knew before they even opened the book: there is absolutely no way to justify Wolverine’s victory, nor force it to make any sense within the context of these two characters. Wolverine was going to win, because he’s so incredibly popular that there’s just no way he wouldn’t get more votes than a relative unknown like Lobo. But it’s bullshit. That’s really all there was to it.
Lobo, pissed at the laziness of this story, gets his revenge by stealing the one piece of equipment the X-Men have never been able to do without.
What would have made a lot more sense is if Wolverine and Lobo, neither of whom are big fans of being told what to do, informed the ‘brothers’ that they could go fuck themselves, and then teamed up to try and kill them. Sure, they both probably would have been negated out of existence before they landed punch number one, but at least they would have stayed true to form. They would have died in character, which, according to all my roleplaying and dungeon mastering tomes, is a good thing. And after reading this bullshit fight, I tend to agree. Go out, Wolvie, don’t sell out.
The score so far…
CAPTAIN MARVEL vs THOR
THE FLASH vs
JUBILEE GREEN LANTERN vs SILVER SURFER CATWOMAN vs ELEKTRA LOBO vs WOLVERINE
DC – 3
MARVEL – 4
And thus we end DC vs. Marvel, Part I! Good god almighty, I’m tired. I don’t wanna type anymore. I can’t believe I’ve got to write another one of these damn articles just to finish this up. So tell me what YOU think. Who should’ve won which battle? Which fight was your favorite? Which universe is better? More powerful? More fun? Which comic book super-universe reigns supreme? YOU DECIDE!… at least until I post Part 2.