HULK versus SUPERMAN
"The Showdown of the Century!" (DC/Marvel)
Where: 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: Hulk 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Superman 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Superman 6 (Sound)
Stamina: Equal 6 (Generator)
Agility: Superman 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Hulk 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Superman 5 (Lasers)
Oooh, I think I can still hear the seething of fanboys worldwide, reverberating through space and time, each crying foul. Some say Hulk, some say Superman.
As has been the case since employing the new approach, it was difficult to weigh-in, one way or the other, in terms of who dominates who in their talent ratings. Both, according to the patented Haseloff System, clock in at a six for strength. However, it's a popular and fair opinion that the Hulk has the greater potential for strength by the very nature of his powers.
Likewise, inadequacies also arise in under estimating certain abilities.
Superman's intelligence as a tactician is a compromise between the muscle bound moron and the super scientist interpretations of his character. His comptence as a field leader, and combative strategist is relatively consistent, unlike his scientific expertise and ability to 'super learn.'
Going on generally standard information, the Hulk is measured in his common savage state, exhibiting minimal intelligence. It should be noted, however, that in this particular encounter, Hulk possesed the mental capacity, expertise and memories of Bruce Banner.
The question here, of course, is not really about how far one character's powers can be stretched. The problem posed to us is to measure the likely winner, on paper.
Despite Superman's greater superiorities in the initial measure, this is a much closer clash than some may consider. Of course, over estimation of Hulk's abilities can slant the fight the wrong way.
Ultimately it's Superman's broader abilities, and more definitive invulnerabilities that make him the more likely victor. Despite possessing an incredible amount of strength, the Hulk is known to be a creature of gamma irradiated flesh, and though he may be green like kryptonite, he does not weaken the man of steel.
What went down...
Hulk occupied himself by toying around with Metallo, before the big S arrived on the scene.
In true Superman style, he extended some old-fashioned Southern hospitality, thanking Hulk for keeping his spot warm in Metropolis by joining Hulk in partaking in some B-villain smacking.
It was now that the mysterious powers-that-be saw fit to teleport our heroes away from civilization, where their destructive powers could truly be unleashed.
If it didn't resemble some far off craterous region of an alien planet, the barren firma of the Grand Canyon might just feel like a home advantage for the green goliath.
Hulk wastes no time, knocking big blue's block off before he's even out of the gate. Something the Hulk no doubt shared with Thor, for future reference.
Superman hurtles into a nearby wall of rock, but is able to spring back into action with eyes blazing - leaving behind a crater that would make any WB cartoon character proud, and with a glowing red pair of peepers to please Jim Lee.
Being the super-whiz he is, Superman is able to assess the Hulk's strength as powerful enough to survive his maximum heat vision blast, even if he couldn't withstand it.
[Too bad if the Hulk's magic weakness just happened to be fire.]
Hulk, notably shaken, returns fire with his own long range attack, unleashing a trademark seismic slam on the rocky ground.
Shaken but not stirred, Superman moves into close quarters looking to slug it out with the Hulk. The two exchange thunderous blows, blasting rock into the air, and hwff and nnghing their way into the record books.
For his world, universe, and the woman he loves, Superman puts aside his wish to be friends with the Hulk, and gives one last punch everything he has.
With the knowledge that he had to put the Hulk down; Superman's punch sees him coiling his body in the follow through, but also sending the Hulk hurtling into the Grand Canyon, where half of it crumbles ontop of Marvel's mighty mean green fighting machine.
Though the tourist attraction may have been partly destroyed - the DC universe, was one step closer to living on.
Let's be honest, as perhaps the number one most recognisable superhero in the world, was there ever any chance of Superman losing? Not bloody likely!
At the time of this series, these two characters had co-existed for over thirty years in the same industry. Their pairing was no doubt inspired by their status as top powerhouses in their respective universes, and yet, of the few Marvel/DC crossovers of the seventies, it was the Batman who encountered the Hulk.
With this history in mind, you'd have to think this was one of the most anticipated match-ups imaginable. Unfortunately, this blockbuster-in-the-making suffers the weaknesses of the format with which this series was presented.
Despite being one of the more dynamic and visually exciting fights, it still suffers heavily from being relegated to a mere four page highlight reel.
Despite efforts to honor both characters here, this fight remains one of the most contested and debated on internet message boards, 'Net-wide.Those that favour the Hulk's ability to combat the strength of the Superman press the argument that Hulk's anger management issues would have financed victory.I tend to think the Hulk's capacity for strength is too often over estimated, confusing his actual strength with his extrapolated potential for strength.
Perhaps what lets this fight down so much is it's potential. Not only is this a pairing I'd love to see in an entire issue, but they are two characters that could arguably sustain an entire mini-series.
With an emphasis on story telling, this could have been a very compelling story of two characters not quite human, but often humane.
The depth afforded to a character like Hulk certainly outshines the potential of the often two-dimensional encounters between Superman and DC's out-of-control powerhouse, Solomon Grundy.
This is definitely a fight that deserves to be revisited in the future, but until differences between the powers at Marvel and DC can be settled, you'll have to swallow this ruling: Superman is the strongest one there is.
The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 4
NEXT: Punching. Crunching. Exploding. Don't call your mum or your doctor, just pick up the phone and call - NEXTWAVE!