Remembering DC vs. Marvel: The ultimate 'Who would win in a fight?' comic

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Jun 16, 2017, 9:34 PM EDT (Updated)

[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!]

It is "Vs. Month" here at Blastr, and that means we're all talking about various forms of sci-fi competition, which will almost always lead us back to the "Who would win a fight?" super hero vs. super hero question. It's a time-honored query celebrated everywhere from comic book forums to school cafeterias, and in the mid-'90s, Marvel and DC Comics actually teamed up to settle it with the DC vs. Marvel crossover event. It wasn't the first time the two publishers met (Spider-Man and Superman fought as early as 1976), nor would it be the last (the Justice League and The Avengers united against a common foe in the early 2000s), but it just might be the most fun.

The conceit was simple: There are two cosmic "Brothers," one representing the DC Universe and one representing the Marvel Universe, who wake from a long slumber and become aware of each other. They decide that there can be only one universe, and that the way to determine which universe survives is to designate a series of champions. Whichever universe emerges with the most victorious champions will be the universe that survives.

So, heroes meet. Batman fights Captain America. Superman fights the Hulk. Storm fights Wonder Woman. The heroes, often aware that they're pawns in a massive cosmic game, aren't always happy to be fighting each other, but they do it anyway for the sake of their very existence. In the end, the whole idea was a launching pad for the "Amalgam" crossover universe -- which included things like Darkclaw, aka Batman meets Wolverine -- but while this crossover lasted, it gave us an insight into who writers and fans (who voted on a number of the battles) thought would win in an ultimate showdown.

To continue our Vs. Month coverage, I took a look back at the battles of DC vs. Marvel to remember who won and to wonder how many of the contests still hold up.



Who's Fighting?: The two respective Atlantean princes of the comic book world.

Who Wins?: Aquaman, who catches Namor off-guard and commands a whale to crush him. 

Does It Hold Up?: I still buy Aquaman beating Namor, but given how much grief we give the former character for "talking to fish," this ending still feels kinda silly. Aquaman unleashing his trident on Namor would've been more fun. Still, this is one of the more interesting face-offs in the series, as the two combatants are just perfect for each other.



Who's Fighting?: Marvel's master assassin and DC's best burglar.

Who Wins?: Elektra, who knocks Catwoman off a building.

Does It Hold Up?: This is a weird match for me. It feels like Catwoman should be fighting Black Widow or, naturally, Black Cat, and it feels like Elektra should be fighting someone like Huntress or even Batgirl (though we're in the Oracle years, here, so that might've been tricky). It's one of the shorter fights in the series, but something always feels off about it. I know these two were among the most popular female characters in comics at the time, but I would've gone a different way.



Who's Fighting?: DC's Scarlet Speedster and Marvel's fast mutant.

Who Wins?: Flash, because he's just plain faster.

Does It Hold Up?: This one is kind of a no-brainer. Flash is the original super-fast superhero, and Quicksilver is clearly an imitator, so it only makes sense for him to have the upper hand. This is also a particularly jovial competition, so it's one of the standouts. 



Who's Fighting?: Tim Drake squares off against one of the definitive '90s X-Men.

Who Wins?: Robin, who manages to distract Jubilee long enough to immobilize her with rope.

Does It Hold Up?: The idea that Jubilee and her firework powers could be contained by a rope is a little odd, but this is a fun fight, particularly because these two kind of have a little crush on each other. Jubilee digs Robin's clothes, and Robin wishes he didn't have to battle with someone who might otherwise be a friend. Such is the way of the crossover, though, and so these two become the Romeo and Juliet of the series.



Who's Fighting?: Marvel's wielder of the Power Cosmic and DC's premiere space cop.

Who Wins?: Surfer, thanks to a massive collision that he can sustain.

Does It Hold Up?: This fight is a particularly strong indicator that these heroes don't want to fight each other (they're actually the only pair of characters who met before, in 1995 crossover that helped set up this whole event), but they have to, and thus it's powerful. It's also fun to see Lantern using his power ring to take on so many forms. However, they basically wrap it all up by just running into each other. It feels a little less creative than many of the other fights.



Who's Fighting?: Marvel's Norse God and DC's embodiment of superhero wish fulfillment.

Who Wins?: Thor, who takes advantage of Captain Marvel's momentary transformation back into Billy Batson.

Does It Hold Up?: This one feels a little too easy, though Thor does lose his hammer in the process (Wonder Woman picks it up). Obviously, we're dealing with a situation in which these heroes are fighting for their very existence, so you can't blame Thor for taking advantage of the situation, but still, it's not the showdown we could've gotten.



Who's Fighting?: DC's Man of Steel and Marvel's Big Green Guy.

Who Wins?: Superman, basically by pummeling Hulk until he can't get up anymore.

Does It Hold Up?: On a basic level, yes, in that you would expect the original superhero to win a contest like this on such a big stage, and because a fan vote ensured he'd be the victor. That said, this is basically just a slugfest, and we'd already seen Superman do that with the likes of Doomsday. I would've preferred to see him square off against a hero who had to be more creative. Like, say, Iron Man.



Who's Fighting?: A Son of Krypton takes on Marvel's Webslinger.

Who Wins?: Spider-Man, by using a new type of webbing that electrocutes Superboy.

Does It Hold Up?: This is one of my favorite battles of the series, because Spider-Man essentially wins with science, and though Superboy's not exactly a stupid character, it's really fun to see Peter Parker defeat a Kryptonian as much with his brains as with his brawn. Plus, this was another reader vote competition, and there are very few characters who can best Spider-Man in a popularity contest.



Who's Fighting?: DC's Caped Crusader and Marvel's Super Soldier.

Who Wins?: Batman, with a Batarang to Cap's head at exactly the right moment.

Does It Hold Up?: The fight, itself, relies more on luck than precision, but the interplay between the two characters really stands out. Batman and Cap are astounded by how alike they are, and how evenly matched their respective skill sets are. By the end of the fight, Batman's won, but he still takes pains to make sure Cap doesn't drown in a Gotham City sewer, instilling a mutual respect between the two men.



Who's Fighting?: Marvel's favorite mutant and DC's intergalactic antihero.

Who Wins?: Wolverine, who just basically rips Lobo to shreds in a bar fight.

Does It Hold Up?: This one felt inevitable for comics in the mid-'90s, because both characters were so popular, and it's also not surprising that the always-popular Wolverine would win the fan vote. The fight, itself, though, is largely something we don't see. The implication is that it's too brutal to witness, but the end result is ultimately underwhelming. This could've been the superhero match of the '90s and, while entertaining, it doesn't quite live up to that.



Who's Fighting?: The premiere female superheroes from the Marvel and DC Universes (in the '90s, anyway).

Who Wins?: Storm, by virtue of a full-on lightning assault.

Does It Hold Up?: At the beginning of this fight, Wonder Woman was wielding Thor's hammer, but she actually gives Mjolnir up in the interest of fighting with honor, making it a more even match for Storm. Still...I just don't buy this outcome. I love Storm, but the idea that you can level Wonder Woman with a lightning storm just doesn't hold up for me. She's Wonder Woman. This was a fan vote, so obviously comic book fans in the '90s preferred the X-Men, but come on; in an event like this, the ultimate female superhero deserves to win.