Friday, February 19, 2016

Final Cut (Marvel)
Contest of Champions II #4 When: November 1999 Why: Chris Claremont How: Michael Ryan

The Story So Far...
On a day like any other, the super-heroes of Earth find themselves suddenly plucked from their normal routines -- abducted by aliens! Fortunately, The Coterie are a benevolent race of game-masters hoping only to trade their vast intergalactic knowledge in exchange for basking in the legendary fighting excellence of humanity's greatest champions!

A nice story, but if The Coterie are as benevolent as they claim - why is the air crawling with nanites infesting every hero they've abducted?! Could it be that The Brood are plotting to manipulate the heroes into a plot to steal their powers and turn them against the rest of humanity?

Manipulated by the microscopic nanites infesting their very being, the heroes comply with the contest - turning their powers against one another!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Draw 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Daredevil 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Deadpool 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Draw 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Daredevil 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Deadpool 4 (Arsenal)
Politeness: Deadpool 6 (Canadian)

If you've been reading The Comic Book Fight Club this month - you know the score: Wade Wilson was just the high school science nerd, secretly crushing on sweet, sassy Gwen Stacy when he was bitten by a radioactive kiddy pool. Imbued with the proportionate powers of a pool, he makes all the baddies wet as Deadpool, learning in the process that with great power must come great resistance to transmittable disease. Or... something like that.

We've seen him apply his mercenary trade, deadly weapons, healing factor, and dazzling personality in battles against many expert fighters: martial mimic Taskmaster [Deadpool #2, Cable & Deadpool #36], savate meister Batroc the Leaper [Deadpool #20] and cyborg sadist Ajax [Deadpool #19].

Daredevil is epic, self-loathing Catholic Matt Murdock: lawyer by day, Deadpool Lite by night. Blinded by an illegal radioactive spill as a boy [for real, this time], young Matt awakened to vastly enhanced senses that gave him a pinpoint accurate, sonar-like perception of the world. Combined with decades of intense martial arts training, Daredevil is the scourge of bad guys in Hell's Kitchen.

According to our patent pending power scale, these two are incredibly well matched! Daredevil edges ahead with his refined fighting skills, while Deadpool makes up for it with unpredictability, and an arsenal of weapons and the will to use them. Not that Daredevil hasn't made a career out of dealing with that!

Arch-nemesis -- and mercenary pal of Deadpool -- Bullseye has had three projectile filled run-ins with DD in previous features: Daredevil #132, Daredevil (Vol.2) #49 and Daredevil #79. Daredevil's also matched supreme fighter and temporary replacement Iron Fist blow for blow in Daredevil #87, and fought off another opponent with a mutant healing factor in Wolverine #24. (Guess who!)

In a side-by-side comparison: Deadpool got the edge over Hulk, beating him in Deadpool #4, while DD couldn't cut it in Daredevil #163. Alternatively, Daredevil effortlessly took down The Punisher in Daredevil #65, while DP got his head blown off in Deadpool: Suicide Kings #2. Once again: it's tough to separate the two!

There is an x-factor involved in the outcome of this particular fourth round, Contest of Champions II fight: it was determined by fan vote on

By mid '99, Daredevil was in limbo after the conclusion of Kevin Smith's hugely popular relaunch with Joe Quesada, awaiting David Mack. On the other hand, Deadpool was still trucking with Joe Kelly, and fighting for survival off the back of the strong cult following that has brought him to movie stardom today. Critical acclaim and restored fandom, versus sustained cult following.

Yeah... I still can't separate them. Let's just see who won...

The Tape: Draw Ranking: Daredevil (#9)

What Went Down...
The arena: New York City -- or at least something very closely approximating it!

The opponents: "The Man Without Fear" Daredevil versus "The Merc' With a Mouth" Deadpool!

The fight is already under way! Deadpool has thrust one of his katana swords into the surrounding brickwork - narrowly missing Daredevil, who vaults over it with a kick!

Deadpool's quick hands block the kick in a perfect stalemate, while his quick mouth starts the verbal and mental assault.

The motormouthed mercenary attacks Daredevil for his choice of footwear -- flat soled in an age of "mega-lug boots, presented by old world craftsmen in more loving detail than they devote to the depiction of the glorious choreography of life itself". Not a fan of the art trends of the time, it would seem. Too bad, because he's about to get a face full of flat sole!

One foot blocked, Daredevil seamlessly swings his left leg around to bring the free foot into Deadpool's head! Talking isn't going to shake the discipline of DD, who questions Deadpools focus. DP's found himself too close to the roof edge and about to fall. Hoping to avert the fatality, Daredevil tosses Deadpool a lifeline. A merciful mistake!

Deadpool thanks DD for the offer, but uses it to right himself enough to unload a hail of bullets from his handy dandy machine gun! Brakka brakka brakka!

Daredevil weaves through the hurtling ammunition and dives after his opponent, using a nearby flagpole to pendulum his momentum to the lower roof. Hitting a conveniently located rooftop swimming pool - Deadpool makes a splash with a much harsher landing, but emerges relatively unharmed.

Detecting Deadpool's vital signs with his heightened senses, he recognizes a timbre similar to the self-healing body mechanics of Wolverine. He may have picked his opponent's healing factor, but he's also noticing the barrage of quips and chatter are creating enough white noise to throw him off ever so slightly.

Daredevil digs deep into his early days -- countering with a competition diving gag, a little copyright law, and a roundhouse kick that sends Deadpool flying!

Tumbling into a nearby cabana, Deadpool emerges with -- a baby!

Detecting the baby's heartbeat beneath the cries: Daredevil can only put aside his doubts and do everything he can to save an innocent life. For Murdoink, it's a threat that cuts deep - recalling his recent ordeal defending an infant, which ended in the death of Karen Page.

Daredevil tosses his billy club at the fleeing mercenary. Deadpool thinks it missed, but the ricocheting club extends an internal cable - setting up a tripwire that sends him into a face plant! The fall causes the baby to spill out of his hands and over the edge of the rooftop leisure area!

Daredevil dives blind over the edge of the roof to make the save!

His sonar senses guide him to a conveniently placed window cleaner's platform, which he acrobatically springs off to direct his momentum toward an open dumpster below!

His manoeuvres take the edge off the fall, but it's still a hard landing as DD puts his back to the bin. When he gets out and pulls back the swaddle to check the child he finds a doll and an "ACME authentic fake baby noise maker, guaranteed to fool superheroes every time." A set up - gotcha.

With a gun to Daredevil's head - Deadpool wins.

The Hammer...
A controversial finish, but a victory for Deadpool never the less!

Did it end the way you thought? I have to admit: even as a Deadpool fan of the time - I would not have expected Daredevil to lose a fan vote. Another example of the cult following Deadpool had long before he kicked down the doors as the star of one of Hollywood's most profitable R-Rated films!

I wonder if the Daredevil/Deadpool '97 annual could've influenced the vote at all, as well. Those who guessed which hero was in Deadpool's firing line this week probably expected that issue to play a bigger role. I just couldn't resist dipping a toe into the widely overlooked Contest of Champions sequel.

Of all the tournament style comics to plague superheroes over the years, I think Contest of Champions II probably ranks among the best. The story in these things is always shakey, but I think Chris Claremont's experience pays off with a simple plot that utilizes one of his classic X-Men villains -- The Brood -- and his knowledge and contribution to Marvel's characters.

Rogue plays a central role in the story thanks to her ability to absorb and channel powers. There's a lot of X-Men, as you might expect, but everyone gets a pretty good go. Iron Man pulls focus early on, and to illustrate the details that elevate the issue, there's a nice call back to Rogue's villainous first appearance in Avengers Annual #10 [see also; What if...? #66]. Little details like that really elevate an otherwise throwaway, action oriented mini-series.

Last week we looked at Mark Waid's work with Deadpool [Sins of the Past #2], where I may not have given him enough credit for his Looney Tunes approach to the character. With the Joe Kelly years well entrenched, Claremont picks up those Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck threads - writing a pretty decent Deadpool in Contest II. That ending will no doubt drive Daredevil fans nuts, but on Deadpool's terms it's a fun poke in the eye of the grimly serious superhero.

Remembering that Daredevil had just come out of Kevin Smith's landmark Miller influenced Guardian Devil reboot, it was a good idea to lean on levity. It was probably one of the last times that path was taken, as Daredevil disappeared into the self-serious isolation of a decade of stories under Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker and others. Appropriately enough, it was Mark Waid who really guided DD back to the Marvel Universe in recent times. Stories we'll have to get to some time, as much as I do love the Bendis years.

On the subject -- this battle brings an end to our Deadpool blitz for February.

The clever among you will recognize a transition when you see one! Today's featured fight will take us on a detour through Hell's Kitchen in time for Netflix' second Daredevil series, before we dive into more hero-on-hero media-inspired conflict involving a certain movie Man of Steel!

Contest of Champions II isn't easy to come by these days, but if you're going hunting, be sure to use the Amazon link provided [right]. Doing so could help fund future features on The Comic Book Fight Club! It'll also give you the full experience of today's battle, and the many more I'm sure we'll look at in the future!

Hit up the Issue Index for lots more Deadpool, Daredevil and other fights. Be here Monday for a Hero of the Week DP recap!

Winner: Deadpool
(+8) #17 Deadpool
(--) #9 Daredevil

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