The all-nude fight scene has been a staple of literature since Eve asked Adam to bite into the fruit of knowledge and Adam said, "Make me." And why not? We like nudity, AND we like fighting.
Back in the really old days, when the Youtube was called "actual Roman gladiators," naked fighting was literally the "bread" in "bread and circuses." The circus part involved lions, but that's another story. What matters is that a snarling knock-down-drag-out is better when the delicate goodies are in play, and never more so than when superpowers are involved.
But before the festival of naughty bits, three quick ground rules:
No adult comics. No taking the piss out of Warrior Nun, Danger Girl, Vampirella or ANYTHING HOWARD CHAYKIN HAS WRITTEN, as that's low-hanging fruit, and I don't pick, grab, fondle or tug at so easy a target. Sadly, it means no Cowgirls at War, but we're sticking to mainstream superheroes—and do I mean STICKING!
Only one nudie shot per customer. Wolverine, for example, can pop it out of his pants as often as he pops them out of his knuckles. ... If we don't impose the limit, the whole list becomes about Logan's dangly bits.
The appearance of nudity isn't good enough. The character must have actual genitalia. Sorry, Howard the Duck and Silver Surfer.
And now, without further ado, or further use of the phrase "dangly bits"...
#10 AVENGERS ILLUMINATI #1
As a millionaire playa, Tony Stark was always willing to slip out of the Armani suit for the hunnies, and as a drunken gutter dweller he was willing to step out of the Iron Man suit and give it to his pal Rhodey. The suit, I mean. Clearly Tony is very willing to drop trou, and that's why he's so calm, cool and TEACHING SCHOOL in this nude-fight classic. With nothing but his "little Iron Man" to help him, and a few well-remembered "training sessions" with Steve Rogers, Tony Stark smoothly kicks butt while his own is dancing in the breeze.
IN TONY'S FAVOR: Skrulls are not human, so it's like being naked in front of your cat. The things I do naked in front of my cats would get me arrested if I were doing them in front of say, the neighbors, tied up in my shower.
#9 The Watchmen. Issue 12
Watchmen is the greatest superhero comic book of all time, so it has to be on all lists that include the words "greatest" and "superhero". Luckily for us, the naked fight scene between Rorschach and Doc Manhattan in Issue 12 is a keeper! And it follows memorable naked quantum-physics scenes and naked menage-a-doppelganger scenes that changed my dating ambitions forever.
The sociopolitical implications of Alan Moore's narrative and the intricate mechanism of this novel have been discussed endlessly by greater critics than I, so I'll just leave you with two thoughts:
1) It's bad enough being killed by a friend, but killed by one waving his little blue weenie at you is insulting.
2) Rorschach said he was naked without his mask on, so he's joining Doctor Manhattan's free spirit dying with his nose and lips exposed.
#8 HOVERBOY #91. Hoverboy vs. Doc Natural
If ever there was a reason to avoid calling him "the bucket-headed superhero," this issue is it. After being hit with "fiber-melting herbs" by the hippie supervillain Doc Natural, Hoverboy is forced to fight crime in the nude. He learns to avoid shame by reading the first part of Genesis over and over and eventually smacking anyone in the face who looks at him "down there."
#7 TARZAN VS. TUBLAT the GORILLA
If you're into the twin aesthetics of decorative baroque and boys' pink bums, you can't do better than Burne Hogarth's Tarzan graphic novel, published in 1972 by Watson-Guptill.
Freed of the comics code, Tarzan is naked for the first hundred pages ... and just so you'd know where Burne's bread was buttered, we are shown nothing but Greystoke's curiously un-tanned buttocks for those hundred pages—the Jungle Lord's crown jewels were hidden in shadows or behind vines or strategically placed gorillas the whole time. But oh, those glistening backside orbs were in full display—page after page—bulbously leaping from tree to tree in a cascade of male glute flesh rarely seen outside a clergyman's rectory.
And when Tublat (Tarzan's gorilla father) starts messing with Kala (Tarzan's gorilla mother), we're treated to the second-bloodiest naked superhero fight scene on the list.
EXTRA NAKED POINTS: Everyone in this scene is stripped to the gonzos, INCLUDING TARZAN'S MOM! I dare you to fight someone while your mom is watching nude.
#6 LEGEND OF AQUAMAN SPECIAL
If you didn't want to see an "in the buff" teen-Aquaman fighting a grown man in rubber pants, then why have you read this far? Seriously. Some self-examination is in order.
Okay, I get that Aquaman's origin story was kinda like "Tarzan of the Fish," and if his dolphin pals weren't ashamed of their blowholes, why should he be? But this scene goes that extra special mile for its entertainment dollar. It involves rubber pants, choking, punching, animal noises and a young lad tied starkers and spread in a chair. That's at least three-fifty downtown, but the comic retailed for two dollars, quite a bang for your buck in 1989. You always wondered why Aquaman has such a devoted following—it's not just because he can breathe underwater.
#5 MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #77
I wasn't kidding about how often Logan goes sans pants. They even have a special term to alert the students at the X-Mansion when Wolverine is "sunnin' the package": It's called "midafternoon".
But of all the nudie Wolverine fights, this is the yardstick against which all others are measured. And if you're measuring with a yardstick, you're already impressing me.
The zenith of Logan's multi-issue birthday-suit wood romp comes when he fights the equally unclothed and competitively hirsute wolves in MCP: Weapon X #77, and bathes in their mighty blood when it's all done. The most badass moment in comics is suitably bare-assed and has been referenced again and again.
#4 Ultimates #9
Millar and Hitch's Ultimates run was a leader in the naked-fight-scene genre, with an average of one naked fight per 3.7 issues. The Cap/Naked Giant Man fight from #9 is my favorite, simply because it involves a giant guy waggling the wand six stories above your head.
One of the most important aspects of a man-to-man fight is the ability to look your opponent in the eye and say belittling things to him. But when you have to crane your neck just to glimpse your opponent's eyes behind his BUICK-SIZED REPRODUCTIVE SAUSAGE, it's a trifle intimidating!
And Cap hands Hank the beat-down that he had coming all the same. THAT'S why you salute the man with the shield.
#3 Batman #357.
This can't be a coincidence. There's no way that the editor was unaware that the first two words in this naked fight scene are "swish" and "Dick ..?"—WHICH WERE THE TITLES OF MY FIRST TWO HOMO-EROTIC HAIKU!! Someone had to be spying on me.
And the second page of this memorable sequence begins with another unfortunately worded balloon that I'm not going to type up, in case I enjoy it more than I should. Just read it yourself ... out loud if the elderly are present.
And it all ends with a spread-eagle boy wonder, and naked Bruce looking down on him, again saying "Dick ... ?" Don't take my word for it. Follow Bruce's stare. ... Go check, I'll wait.
It was as though the editorial team at DC had decided to give in to the fan mail they'd been getting from "that anti-Wertham" crowd, and just let them have one issue to call their own.
I think the story had something to do with mind control, and Hugo Strange, and something like that. Did anyone read the other 18 pages in this issue when people were wearing clothes? My copy won't open.
#2 ULTIMATE HULK ANNUAL #1
This is special in so many ways. First off, the Ultimate Hulk was a walking naked fight scene from the word go. That was his raison d'etre, his meaning in life, his chewy center. He doesn't care if he defeats the Leader, or the Abomination ... he just wants to meet a special someone and settle down, and the nudity was his version of Hulk-Sized Foreplay.
This Annual is nothing more than a big, long, extended, full-length and blood-engorged naked fight scene that ends in a punch to the cojones that was visible from space. And the subject matter of the fight? Some chick named Zarda gets hired by Captain America to make the Hulk wear pants. She attacks his Hulklings until he agrees, and then they go to a motel and snuggle like very bad bunnies who are not married to each other, and might not even be considering a formal engagement. No wonder comics are considered literature nowadays.
#1 BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #18
When the end comes, and the world is crumbling around me due to nuclear devastation or social upheaval, this is the comic I take with me to the escape shelter. Full respect to Fabian Nicieza and Kevin Maguire for making this objet d'art for us to enjoy.
The story has something to do with Catwoman stealing something, and running into an all-nude fetish club to escape Batgirl chasing her... and Batgirl follows her in and stuff happens. Good god, I'm heterosexual, how am I supposed to remember the plot?
You'll notice how sparse this list has been for naked super-HEROINE fights ... up until now. Oh, sure, She-Hulk and Black Cat do sometimes get all jiggy with their bid'ness, but they don't seem to be PUNCHING anyone when they do it. And Danger Girl and Codename: Knockout don't count if that's ALL they do. But THIS ... ? This is naked fighting, folks, not naked prancing. You want naked prancing, visit your congressman.
There are other naked fight scenes in comics. I seem to remember Magneto fighting for his life in the shower. And let's never forget Bruce Banner's narrow escape from Jim Shooter's Traveling Shower Rape Stereotype Duo from that Rampaging Hulk in the '80s. ... Ah, those memories I can't seem to purge.
If you've got a naked fight scene you think we should know about, please let us know. We're always willing to look at naked people smacking at each other, whether they're flying through the air or not.