SPIDER-MAN versus SUPERBOY
"The Showdown of the Century!" (DC/Marvel Comics)
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: Superboy 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Spider-man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympic Sprinter)
Stamina: Superboy 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Spider-man 3 (Street Wise)
Energy Powers: Spider-man 2 (Projectile Weapon)
Weighing the information up, it's surprising just how closely matched these two heroes are on paper. Of course, paper doesn't mean squat when you're fighting for the fate of your reality.
In cases such as stamina and fighting abiltiy; advantages were awarded based on the history and potential appilcation of relating powers. In reality, each weighs in at the same rated point as the other.
This fact better highlights just how even the two are, as opposed to the 5/2 advantage overall.
It is important to note that each of these characters were very different at this time of 1996.
Superboy was generally depicted as a far less mature character, whose application of powers rated him considerably less than his Kryptonian counterpart. Likewise, Spider-man was in a very different place quite literally, with the clone called Ben Reilly assuming the mantle in a period where it was believed he was the true Spider-man. Of course, ultimately this fight has far greater resonance in hindsight, with this Spider-man being revealed definitively as the clone.
So, how do these two facsimiles of iconic heroes fare against one and other?
Superboy arguably grew into the more formiddable of the two, with his tactile telekinesis developing further, providing a far higher strength level. Comparable, even, to that of some of DC's heaviest hitting second-tier heroes.
Not that recent status speaks very honestly to the potential of this fight, as both characters are now dead.
Ultimatey both characters are quite evenly matched, with strengths unique to each other. Spider-man's agility and speed makes him a difficult foe, but Superboy's tactile telekinesis is a versatile equializer.
Though built from a mature mold; the Spider-clone retained the memories of his original, and also experienced a lengthy career of his own, not only fighting Spider-man, but also his own adventures, which culminated in the Scarlet Spider identity. In fact, Ben Reilly's experience uniquely gave him the opportunity to defeat Venom without assistance - something the true Spider-man has always struggled to do.
Overall: Scarlet Spider
What went down...
Trademark spider webs hit the similarly synonymous circular sunnies of the oh-so nineties, Superboy.
"NO FAIR!," he shouts as he tosses his eyeware aside, and poses angrily in his bulky leather jacket/glove combo. A combo complimented by skin tight spandex pants, and a shaved undercut.
Spidey taunts the super-clone, emerging stuck to the side of a watertower, but Superboy laughs last, using his oft mentioned "tactile telekinesis" to send a shove in Spidey's general direction.
Spider-sense and comparable agility give Spidey the edge to avoid the blow, but the shove is enough to rupture the water containing structure.
As water floods onto the rooftop, Superboy explains his somewhat appropriate origins. Unaware of the relevence, Superboy hopes Spidey's startled expression isn't reflective of a reclutance to be beaten by a lowly clone.
Superboy's mockery goes around, and comes around quite abruptly, as he's forced to eat spider-feet, as Spidey uses his hands to stick to the tank and throw his legs out in a double footed uppercut kick.
He leaps down to follow the attack, but loses Superboy amongst the murky waters surrounding them.
Like napalm in the morning, Supes burns Spidey, leaping out of the water to flip the web-slinger before his spider-sense can even give him the chance to leap away.
Superboy swoops in for the kill, but this time the spider-clone is armed and ready with his patented impact webbing!
He fires off two shots than explode, entangling and engulfing the young Superboy, who careens into a rooftop electrical box. A dangerous concoction when the rooftop has been flooded with water.
There you have it folks, as he's more affectionately known, the Scarlet Spider picks up the victory for Marvel! Just think, fans worldwide consider him one of the most embarassing blemishes on Marvel's record, and yet here he was in 1996, at the height of his career protecting the entire Marvel universe.
As you saw, this month we're testing out a new method for tale of the tape. It may be a little early to tell, but the status match-ups may just be the most ingenious method yet.
If the one on one match-ups involved fashion faux pas, maybe it would have been a different story. Or maybe it's just too hard to choose between torn sweat shirts, and single earrings.
Yes, like the many weeks previous, we again are granted a window to ten years in the past. This time capsule highlights some of the finest errors of judgment known to any editor across the land.
That said, despite it's silliness, this fight is actually one of the most enjoyable of the entire series. Not only does it not suffer from the controversy of other similar fights, like the voting debacle of Wolverine/Lobo, but it also features three of the more energetic pages dedicated to these potentially universe-altering fights.
Though consistently awkward, the artwork packs some of the most dynamic direction, while also making great use of the characters' abilities, and their surroundings. Certainly one of the more impressive results.
The Fight: 4 The Issue: 4
NEXT: A brand new Blue Beetle has to grow into his superhero mantle, but if his first solo opponent has anything to do with, the only thing he'll be filling is a casket!