Friday, January 29, 2016

To Fight the Unbeatable Foe! (Marvel)
Amazing Spider-man #230 When: July 1982
Why: Roger Stern How: John Romita Jr

The Story So Far...
Madame Web has seen a vision of her impending death and it seems a fate unstoppable! Black Tom Cassidy and Juggernaut wanted the seer's powers of premonition to predict the movements of the uncanny X-Men - forcing her to summon the aid of a reluctant Spider-man!

A lone Spider-man did his best to stop the unstoppable, but a rampaging Juggernaut could not be waylaid from his ultimate goal! When removing the frail clairvoyant from her chair threatened her life, however - everything changed! Even the Juggernaut could see the folly in a mission if it means Madame Web's life!

While Madame Web receives medical attention, Spider-man resolves once more to put a stop to the Juggernaut's mad dash! He's going to make the mystically strengthened Juggernaut pay for his crimes! He just has to figure out how...

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Juggernaut 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Spider-man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Juggernaut 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Spider-man 2 (Projectiles)

Last month, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Secret Wars on Infinite Earths with four fights from the modern classics! Today: we finish the first month of 2016 with another one! Why? Because we can!

On the surface of things, these guys are operating in two very different weight classes. The visual difference alone would lead many to presume Juggernaut is a villain too far -- the titular "unbeatable foe" in every sense!

When you consider Juggernaut took down Colossus [Uncanny X-Men #183], and went mano a mano with Nimrod [Uncanny X-Men #194] and Superman [DC versus Marvel #1] -- the argument seems to make itself!

It's not an unfair assumption, but this isn't the first time we've seen the amazing Spider-man go toe-to-toe with a powerful opponent! Our favourite wall-crawler routinely finds himself up against the threat of superior muscle. In previous featured fights, recurring villains like Venom, Carnage, Lizard, Scorpion and Menace have all pressed a physical advantage against the proportionate strength of a spider!

In Marvel Treasury Edition #25 (1980), we saw Spidey use speed and guile to stay in the fight with the incredible Hulk! In 2002's Spider-man: Blue #2, it was Spidey's science smarts that took down the rampaging Rhino! He was even able to turn Grey Gargoyle's unique abilities against himself in Marvel: Heroes & Legends #1. Three valuable examples of the skill and strategy he can use to try to curb the seemingly insurmountable raw power and durability of Juggernaut!

Now that we know the how, we can also measure the why. Behind the curtain, we know Juggernaut is perfectly primed for an upset. Villains typically get their comeuppance in the end, and the invincible are doomed to be a proving ground for their light heavyweight counterparts. Juggernaut's ability to bounce back in-fiction hasn't matched up with his scarce appearances here on The Comic Book Fight Club, which is partly why he ranks a lowly #330. That said, you don't rank #2 without winning a whole heckuva lot of fights against a whole lotta opponents!

Spidey has 25 wins on the board, so far - let's see if he can make it 26!

The Tape: Spider-man Ranking: Spider-man (#2)

What Went Down...
Following a trail of destruction headed west - Spider-man swings the New York City skyscraper line in pursuit of the Juggernaut! Having already met his foe, he knows all the electricity in the world isn't going to stop Juggernaut. He falls back on the tried and true method of lobbing heavy things to stop the unstoppable!

A hotel demolition site provides the perfect ammunition for an unannounced attack. Snatching a giant steel girder, Spidey improvises and oversized slingshot with his trusty webbing. With a little of the ol' heavy-ho, he launches the metallic missile in Juggernaut's unsuspecting direction! Fat lot of good it'll do...

Juggernaut hears the girder as it draws near and turns to catch it with ease! He makes light work of the projectile, twisting it like it were paper! "Someone's tossing girders at me, eh? Well, that's too bad... for them!"

Demolition workers flee as the visage of  Juggernaut forces its way onto the fenced off hotel land. He spots Spider-man clinging to the decrepit hotel wall above, where the wall-crawler wonders why his "spider-sense" for danger is triggered by the land bound behemoth. He soon finds out as Juggernaut rips the corner of the hotel wall clean away from its frame!!

With the proportionate strength, speed and agility of a spider - the hero leaps from the crumbling fa├žade to safety below. If girders are no good, he'll have to hit Juggernaut with something harder, he reckons. A three-ton steel wrecking ball fits the bill! He swings the ball in circles above his head and throws!

An effortless backhanded punch deflects the wrecking ball with ease - inadvertently sending it hurtling into the hotel building! Taking out key supports, the ball finishes the job it started - bringing the entire building down!

Sensing the imminent danger, Spider-man leaps for some reinforced sewer pipes. The cylinders protect him as bricks and mortar rain down from above! Spider-man can only lie low in his pocket of air as the wreckage thunders down from above. The Juggernaut stands idle - he has nothing to fear!

When Spidey finally digs himself out of the rubble, he's greeted by the demolition workers who can hardly believe their eyes -- both men survived the collapse! Nothing can stop the Juggernaut - but you can bet the spectacular Spider-man will try!

The Hammer...
Both men went down, both men got up. I think I've gotta call this one a draw!

I thought we might be in for a decisive finish, but I overlooked the obvious break in rounds that caps today's featured fight! I'm sure we'll revisit this issue some time in the future, to see Spider-man pick up the chase for another shot at taking down the unbeatable foe!

If you were here for the 10th Anniversary in December, you saw Juggernaut and Colossus throwdown in the famous barroom brawl that is Uncanny X-Men #183! What was the unstoppable Juggernaut doing parked in a New York village pub? Drowning his sorrows after battling Spider-man, of course!

That modern classic was inspired by the many requests for more Juggernaut on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths. For what ever reason, he wasn't a villain who found a lot of traction in the first ten years of fights.

I'm inclined to compare the character to Doomsday - another powerhouse we've been talking about a lot in recent weeks [see; All-Star Superman #4].

Both villains pose the impossible challenge of presenting a nigh unstoppable force that inevitably exists to be beaten by the hero. Doomsday has the added complication of a greater degree of malice, while Juggernaut has the interesting dichotomy of being the counterpart adopted sibling of Charles Xavier, spiteful in origin and skullduggerous in action - but not necessarily evil, or without reason.

It helps that Juggernaut wasn't created to be muscle against muscle. When he made his first appearance in X-Men #12 in 1965, the closest thing the X-Men had to a strongman was the once hairless Beast. Juggernaut was unstoppable brawn targeting the physically infirm, yet brilliant mind of Professor X. Perfect opposites attacking each others weakness -- telepathic assault an iconic attack of choice when it comes to stopping the unstoppable Juggernaut.

By the time Juggernaut was butting heads with Colossus or the Hulk, the intrigue of a simple test of strength was built up organically as a secondary interested to the character's initial grievances. You could argue going up against Spider-man in 1982 is a third stage of development, taking advantage of the now established and tested strength of the character. The great mismatch!

Where Doomsday suffered for being introduced as an event first - Juggernaut was able to grow into becoming one! Which is exactly why this two-part story still resonates with enthusiasts, and fans have sought out more Juggernaut on this very blogsite!

I wasn't properly introduced to Juggernaut until some years after this story, around 1989 or so. I hadn't been much of an X-Men reader, but the status the character had built up preceded him and his mutant nemesis! There was only one of him, and when he entered the story you knew it wasn't going to be a complex affair - it was just about lasting enough rounds to survive!

I have a particular issue in mind when I think of that, and with any luck we'll get to it later in the year as we look at more Juggernaut. If you want to look at more Juggernaut, Amazon links are provided as always [right] for your convenience.

In the mean time, we shift gears, because in February Deadpool is coming back to Secret Wars on Infinite Earths! With the movie coming to cinemas, it'll be a timely opportunity to revisit the Merc' With a Mouth and some of his classic face-offs. Be sure to be here in 7 days for that, or sooner for even more! 

Winner: Draw
(--) #2 Spider-man
(+4) #326 Juggernaut

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