Friday, April 08, 2016

In The Doctor's House (DC/Marvel)
DC/Marvel: All Access #3 When: Late January 1997 Why: Ron Marz How: Jackson Guice

The Story So Far...
Life as a university student can be a balancing act at the best of times, but when Axel Asher discovered his destiny as the inter-dimensional hero Access -- he took balancing to a whole new level!

As a hero of two universes, he now carries the burden and responsibility of maintaining all of reality! The two worlds came to blows once, eventuating in the totality of an unnatural Amalgam Universe! This is the unreality he must fight to prevent by keeping the worlds separate -- easier said than done!

Villains from the Marvel Universe are appearing in the DC Universe and Access doesn't know why! With such high stakes in play; he knew it was risky to grant the X-Man Jubilee a return visit with her one-time opponent and star-crossed lover Robin. When the Scorpion crashes the party the real trouble begins!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Scorpion 5 (Super-human)
Intelligence: Batman 5 (Professor)
Speed: Scorpion 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Scorpion 5 (Marathoner)
Agility: Batman 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Batman 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Batman 4 (Arsenal)

Did you ever think you'd see these two facing off? I know I didn't!

Scorpion was once private investigator Mac Gargan. He was drawn into a web of super-powered intrigue when Daily Bugle Editor-in-Chief J. Jonah Jameson hired him to pursue his vendetta against Spider-man! Humiliation led to genetic experimentation that endowed Gargan with the proportionate speed, strength and agility of a scorpion! It also drove him mad - setting him on the path to a life of super-villainy, and his own vendettas against Jameson & Spidey!

Gargan was also outfitted with a hi-tech suit possessing a powerful mechanical tail. Over the years the suit and tail have been further upgraded to fire acid, electrical charge, and other long range offensive weaponry.

While Scorpion is traditionally thought of as a dangerous physical match for Spider-man, our only classic archived reference comes from Spectacular Spider-man #215, where frustrated Spidey laid a merciless whooping on his lethal foe! Ten years later, Gargan bonded with the Venom Symbiote, increasing his power considerably. That said, as we saw in DC/Marvel: All Access #1, the symbiote is still with classic host Eddie Brock at the time of today's fight.

Batman won't have to worry about pitting his keen intellect against the former investigator. It's the raw power and agility Scorpion favors that makes him more than a match for The Dark Knight Detective.

Batman's history with physically superior opponents is chequered, at best. The results of his famous rivalry with Superman have typically hinged on inherent weaknesses that Scorpion lacks. The mechanics of his suit are susceptible to Batman's arsenal, much like Amazo in Batman #637, but neutralizing the tail doesn't necessarily guarantee a victory against Scorpion.

Mongul had Batman by the throat in Infinite Crisis #1, but he's in a class above. Scorpion's strength is more comparable to Killer Croc, who was enhanced but still outclassed by skill, technique, and agility in Batman #608. He was more himself, but disadvantaged from the outset in Batman #621. In Batman #497, it was The Dark Knight who was at a disadvantage, physically and mentally broken by the long planned machinations of Bane -- one of his most famous defeats.

Scorpion arguably outmanoeuvres all of our comparable opponents, making him a genuine threat under impromptu circumstances. It's Batman's versatility and expertise in hand-to-hand and weapons based combat that always makes him a danger.

The Tape: Batman Ranking: Batman (#1)

What Went Down...
On a Gotham City rooftop, Scorpion menaces star-crossed teen heroes: Robin and Jubilee. His tail hovers menacingly around him. He's so focused on his targets, he doesn't notice the batarang arcing a rope around his tail until its already happened! By the time he spots the costumed hero responsible: he's already first in line to eat a flying kick to the face!

The Batman perches against a night sky, offering Scorpion his only chance to surrender. Batman doesn't know who he's dealing with. If he did, he might not have relied on mystique or reputation to intimidate the villain into submission.

Scorpion chooses his own option - striking violently at The Dark Knight with his tail! Batman leaps out of harms way, leaving the impact of the blow to demolish the brickwork beneath his feet. Not a villain to be trifled with!

Batman's reflexes are to be tested once more when Scorpion swings his tail into offensive position: spraying acid from its tip! Rather than burn as commanded, The Batman thinks fast - using his cape to defend against the attack!

Unharmed by the acid: The Bat counter strikes with his own projectile - a well placed batarang between the eyes! It finds the perfect target, sufficiently stunning powerhouse Scorpion to "soften him up" for the finishing blow.

A well placed uppercut counter-acts the considerable strength differential. Batman's expertise in the martial arts giving him the knowledge to hit Scorpion in just the right way to knock him out cold. Super-strong he may be, but he's still a mortal main with a bell to be rung. KO!

The Hammer...
It's a good old fashioned win via knock-out for Batman!

An all around uncomplicated affair, for the most part. I can imagine a few raised eyebrows from Marvel fans displeased with the way Scorpion was taken out. I'm a fan of the villain, but I'm also more inclined to simply enjoy what seems like such an unlikely meeting.

If I had to search for a reason behind the choice, I might look to the popularity of both the Batman and Spider-man animated series of the time. In ' 96, Spidey was in the middle of a five season run on FOX Kids, and pleasantly coming out of the Clone Saga that had replaced him with "Ben Reilly" in the comics.

These were much better conditions for the Spidey brand than earlier in the year, when the Spider-Clone had participated in the main DC versus Marvel crossover [see; Spider-man vs Superboy]. The genuine article made an appearance in the first issue of DC/Marvel: All Access, helping Superman in his pursuit of Venom [see; Superman v Venom]. It was a proper callback to the first meeting between DC and Marvel characters.

I daresay Scorpion was just lucky enough to be chosen for the right amount of recognition to go with being low enough on the totem pole for a beating. He was strong enough to be the last page cliffhanger at the end of issue #2 - but weak enough to be trounced by Batman in the span of about four opening pages.

Incidentally, Scorpion had arrived looming over Robin & Jubilee, who don't even participate in this particular skirmish. A little underwhelming if you'd spent two weeks anticipating the fight. I guess you gotta get on with introducing Batman, right? Can't overthink it! (Whoops. Too late!)

As interesting as it is to speculate about the ins and outs of how a crossover is assembled between DC and Marvel; I'm honing in on Scorpion because he's one of those characters I love. The villains who've had long, twisted lives fighting in different times, against different foes. They've appeared infrequently enough to make tracking them a relatively simple task, but they've also been around long enough to have amassed a sense of life. It's the joy of comic books I hope all readers are able to discover. The unique miracle of serialized universes.

This installment marks the seventh appearance by Scorpion (Mac Gargan) on the site. Five of his appearances were as the new Venom and/or Spider-man of the Dark Avengers. The definitive version of the character will always be green suited, with a mad-on for Spidey, but his years in the symbiote were conceived so well, I'm glad they're represented. I hope we'll get to see more of the classic version in future battles, though.

You can count on seeing more inter-company crossover battles in April! It's been a phenomenal ten years since we featured the entire DC versus Marvel crossover on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths - and twenty years since its original publication! That's why we're smack in the middle of new battles!

You can find the latest crop of crossovers by hitting the April link, or scrolling down through the Issue Index Secret Archive! There you'll find links for every issue featured on the site so far! Be here during the week for more recaps and a crossover contest that's sure to leave you green with envy!

Winner: Batman
(--) #1 Batman
(-17) #341 Scorpion

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