10 of the greatest superhero vs. superhero battles in comics history

Contributed by
Mar 17, 2016

[Editor's Note: March kicks off a season of big-time showdowns, grudge matches and maybe a few team-ups. Infamous as the month when Brutus betrayed Caesar, March will get even more epic because Batman will take on Superman on the big screen, Daredevil will get company in Hell's Kitchen in the form of The Punisher on Netflix, and The Flash shall race on over to CBS to meet Supergirl. And, of course, just a few weeks after this kickoff, we'll see a breakdown in the friendship between Captain America and Iron Man in Marvel's Civil War movie. Because we love seeing a good battle between titans, we've dedicated March to versus. Over the next four weeks, check this space for stories on title fights in superhero stories, horror, science and more!]

Next week, Batman and Superman will square off on the big screen for the first time in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and in less than two months, Captain America and Iron Man will divide the Avengers and engage in a Civil War. We're entering a new era of hero vs. hero of superhero filmmaking, and it's definitely going to shape these respective cinematic universes going forward, but it's hardly the first time these characters have squared off. 

Superhero comics have a long and distinguished history of pitting hero vs. hero. Sometimes these clashes are comical, sometimes they're dramatic, but if you're really invested in the characters, you always look forward to seeing who comes out on top. So, as we continue to celebrate "Vs Month" here at Blastr, let's take a look back at 10 of the biggest hero vs. hero clashes in comic-book history.



The Dark Knight Returns #4 (1986)

Obviously, this particular gathering was always going to start here, not just because these two are about to rumble on the big screen, but because Frank Miller took the idea of the two most famous superheroes in the world doing battle and gave it more emotional weight than any other writer. In the world of The Dark Knight Returns, these old friends have been changed by time to the point that Batman is a relentless force who believes only who can affect change and Superman is essentially militarized. When they do battle, it's not just personal animosity at work; it's a fight for the soul of the DC Universe.




Justice League International #5 (1987)

No, this is list is not going to be all Batman fights, but I'm including this particular encounter right after the Dark Knight Returns fight in order to present a little contrast. With their Justice League International run, creators J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire combined superhero epic and workplace comedy, and that was rarely more evident than when Green Lantern Guy Gardner was on panel. If we compare these characters to characters from The Office, then Gardner is Dwight Schrute, cocky and sometimes even nasty, always convinced he's right. So, it was particularly satisfying to see what happened when he decided to challenge Batman to a powers-free fist fight one day. Blue Beetle's reaction says it all. 



Fantastic Four #24-26 (1964)

Marvel's two greatest bruisers have faced off many times, but this is arguably the most memorable of their battles, because it showcases just how powerful the Hulk really is. By the end, it's unclear if even the full might of the Avengers can bring him down, and for the first time since he got his powers, Ben Grimm is genuinely uncertain that he can beat an opponent. When even The Thing starts to think you're tough, you're pretty tough.



Avengers/JLA #2 (2003)

For one of the rare crossovers between DC and Marvel Comics, the two publishers pulled out all the stops, and one of the centerpeices of the Avengers/JLA crossover series is a showdown between the First Avenger and the Caped Crusader. While Captain America has the strength and speed advantage, Batman is so tactically proficient that the two men essentially fight to a draw and realize, ultimately, that they don't actually want to hurt each other. Together, they come to an agreement, and the fight against the real enemy begins. 



Civil War #7 (2006)

In May, we'll see how the big-screen finale of Civil War plays out, but back when it was just a comic, Civil War came to a head with an all-out hero vs. hero brawl in the heart of Manhattan: Namor vs. the Thunderbolts, Hercules versus the Thor clone, Spider-Man vs. Mister Fantastic and, of course, Captain America vs. Iron Man. We don't know how the fight will be settled in the film, but in the comic, it ends with Cap's surrender when he looks around at the carnage and realizes that continuing the fight isn't helping anyone. 



Thor #337 (1983)

"Thor fights an alien with a horse face" might not sound like the most exciting pitch in the world, but in the hands of Walt Simonson, the story of Beta Ray Bill and his quest to save his people -- a quest so noble it grants him the power to wield Mjolnir -- becomes a surprisingly emotionally saga in which two great warriors grow to respect and admire each other. What begins as a violent misunderstanding transforms into a story of brothers in arms, and it turns out to be one of the best stories in one of the best comic book runs ever.



"Sacrifice" (2005)

When Maxwell Lord took over Superman's mind and essentially brainwashed him into seeing all of his friends as various villains, it was up to Wonder Woman to stop him (he almost killed Batman in the midst of this). Lord succeeded in driving Superman to the point that he'd be willing to kill, which meant that they were few forces in the DC Universe who could really take him on without getting their necks snapped. So, it was up to Diana, and the two squared off in a brutal fight that ultimately ended when Wonder Woman had to make a very difficult, and lethal, choice to save her friend. 




Incredible Hulk #340 (1988)

Sometimes a fight is memorable not just because of the characters, but because of the creators. Writer Peter David and rising star artist Todd McFarlane delivered some of the most popular Hulk stories ever in the late '80s, and this is one of the biggest. Hulk, on the run and trying to blow off some steam, leaps into the air and accidentally knocks a plane out of the sky. Some of the X-Men witness this, and Wolverine decides to teach Hulk a lesson, resulting in one of the most brutal fights the two of them will ever have. The issue is a very memorable one, and it also happens to be one of the key pieces of work that catapulted McFarlane to superstardom in the years that followed. It wasn't too long after this that he was the star who got his own Spider-Man series.



Spider-Man Versus Wolverine (1987)

Spider-Man and Wolverine are arguably the two most popular characters in the history of Marvel Comics, so when they squared off, it was a big deal. When Peter Parker heads to Europe on assignment for the Daily Bugle, he gets caught up in the world of KGB assassins, and accidentally starts to tangle with an old friend of Wolverine's. Eventually, the two square off, and we get an interesting insight into Spider-Man: He could murder Wolverine if he wanted to. He could murder a lot of people if he wanted to, but he doesn't. It's another solid meditation on that whole "great responsibility" thing.



Silver Surfer #4 (1969)

Thor has a habit of doing battle with heroes he ultimately grows to respect, and this time that hero is the Silver Surfer, who takes on the God of Thunder thanks to a scheme concocted by Loki (of course). Convinced by the God of Mischief that Thor is evil, the Surfer sets out to end his supposed conquest of Asgard, while Thor thinks that he's simply defending his realm from an invading force. The two square off in a cosmically awesome battle in which Loki actually enhances Surfer's power with his own magic. Ultimately, they discover that they've both been had, and a mutual respect develops.

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