Monday, May 15, 2006

"The Showdown of the Century!" (DC/Marvel Comics)
Marvel versus DC #3 When: April 1996
Why: Ron Marz How: Claudio Castellini

The story so far...
Life in the DC and Marvel universes has always been tough, but when cosmic events conspire to endanger both, the heroes of both Earths face a secret crisis that could destroy them all.

Before time two cosmic entities existed, sexless brothers representing the two sides of all that is, was, and will ever be.

Turmoil between the two brought about an end to things as they once were, but in the aftermath their energies were dissipated into space, becoming part of the multi-verse. As a result of the actions of various beings of different realities, instabilities emerged. After eons of recollecting their fragmented thoughts, the two brothers turned, and remembered their existence.

Now they pit their warriors against one and other.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Captain America 3 (Trained Athlete)
Intelligence: Batman 5 (Professor)
Speed: Batman 3 (Trained Athlete)
Stamina: Captain America 5 (Marathon Runner)
Agility: Batman 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Captain America 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Batman 2 (Projectile Weapons)

For those of you who've been following Secret Earths for a while now, you'll be familiar with the general stats of both of these guys. You'll know that they were predetermined long ago in month one, December 2005.
So, it's with great fanboy glee that I present these uninfluence stats that show the tug-of-war between these two characters, and their fighting potentials.

While many of these categories place the two on the same numerical rating, I've quite honestly weighed in which has the slight advantage.

Batman takes the speculative win three categories to four, and while I agree that Batman should be the victor here, it certainly isn't a clean cut decision. In fact, returning to the on-going theme of these Marvel vs DC fights, we see a fight still regularly contested amongst fans.

This is perhaps the most controversial of all the fights.
Batman, the deus ex he is, has a strong argument for victory. In context of a vote, he's a company icon, and carries with him the overwhelming popularity of a franchise character. Editorially it would be a cold day in hell before the character lost.

That said, Captain America is a character sometimes, in my opinion, underrated.
Often merely categorised as a man in peak physical condition, the super-soldier serum goes unrecognised as a boosting power. Captain America's strength and stamina should be recognised as superhuman.
While he does not possess even the strength of a Spider-man, he is a character with physical strength that still outweighs the chemically unaided power of Bruce Wayne.

In terms of hand-to-hand fighting, Captain America lacks a degree of finesse that Batman possesses as a result of his various martial arts styles. That said, the Captain probably has a superior knack for a skilless slug fest.Psychologically each character adds to their fighting abilities with symbollic assaults. The Batman has crafted for himself a persona criminals across the globe fear, while Captain America has the awe inspiring stature of a living legend.

Strategically each character has a very different credential.
Ultimately, it's probably the Batman's broader palette that gives him the upper hand. Rather than drawing from any particular military method of strategic thinking, most of Batman's prowess stems from deductive logic, and obsessive training to make his decision processes second nature.

The breadth of technology at Batman's disposal also gives him an additional edge, no matter how skilled the Captain may be with his shield.

What went down...
Sloshing through the muck of a Manhattan sewer, Captain America keeps his eyes peeled for a wile foe. Batman's dark exterior allows him to blend into the shadows, and spring a surprise attack, leaping down at the Captain from a raised vantage point.

Captain America recovers to use his shield to shvoe Batman out of his face, but Bats grabs hold of a pipe and swings back at him.
Cap dodges a punch, and strikes back with a thock that sends the Dark Knight flying.

The two characters, presumably having fought for quite some time, take a pause to gather themselves. The two debate their situation, deep within the labyrinth of Manhattan sewers.

Batman laments his distain for the situation, noting the billions of lives at stake in each universe. Though empathetic, the Captain can see no way to combat the will of the cosmic beings that pit them against one and other. Cosmic beings that will destroy both worlds if there is not an outcome.

Harking back to their origins, the two agree to pledge themselves to their universes to the very end, but then fate plays it's hand.
As the two toss their weapons in final battle, the pipe they stand before erupts with water as the system flushes out.

Cap's shield misses it's target, but the smaller batarang connects with Captain America's skull.
As the two are engulfed in filthy waters, Captain America is unable to protect himself, feeling the dizzying effects of a blow to the head.

Searching frantically for the colourful hero, Batman submerges beneath the water, finding the helpless warrior sinking. He scoops him, and returns to the surface.

The two champions emerge from the sewers via a manhole.
As the storm rages in the New York sky, the two stand back to back in an alley where a very special box sits before two special people.

Captain America may have lost the battle, but the war was not yet over...

The hammer...
As was declared by the sentinel of liberty himself, the Batman emerges from the sewers victorious. Thus, the incredible undefeated streak continues.

Though quite conclusive, I think it becomes clear why this is such a heavily debated subject among fandom. While the outcome was probably accurate, the depicted violence was less than satisfactory.

This fight, in many ways, compacts far less into it than the likes of Hulk/Superman; which adopted more of a montage presentation.
This fight, instead, takes the fairly easy way out by merely alluding to a lengthier battle than seen. This compounds the fact that what we do see is quite subaverage.

Again, like many other failings this series exhibits, this fight's brief nature could probably be pinned on conventions of the time. The purpose and story in many of the fights featured is distinctly lacking.
Of course, also like many of the other fights, this really had the potential to occupy and overtake an entire issue, and in some ways, I wish it had.

The excitement between these two characters meeting is very different to the pure comparison a fight like Sub-Mariner/Aquaman presents.
Here we have two characters elevated in stature in their respective universes, to the point of being spiritual leaders. Who also have the hand-to-hand chops to back up anything they have to say.

As the final fight, this really had the potential to be an epic, headlining duel of fates. This fight could've extended throughout the city, varying from close quarters technical sparring, to the unique experience of superhero urban warfare.
In fact, one can't help but wonder if the fight in the book, as the ending of something more, wasn't quite perfect. If the cramped, gloomy setting was the scene of Batman's ultimate victory in a city-spanning battle, this might have justified what we see.

Unfortunately, because there is no elaborated lead up, the fight suffers dramatically.
With characters like Batman and Captain America, I'd probably be harsher on the quality of writing in this portion, than others. It's just so disappointing that something more could not have come of it.

Perhaps, due to the nature of where the story goes next, a draw would have better served the series. Leaving the rematch to the future, where a true supreme fighter could be named.

The Fight: 2.5 The Issue: 4

NEXT: For a blog dedicated to comic book fights, what could be more appropriate than a a feud so bitter it's crossed video games, movies, and now comics? You don't want to miss this one!

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