Have you ever thought to yourself, “I really want to go out and punch the crap out of a bear?”* We know we have and it’s a thought that has crossed the minds of many a superhero throughout comic book history. Yes, we really are going to get into who has gone mano-e-bearo in the DC, Image and Marvel universes, because it’s important to know who would win in a fight between a bear and your favorite spandex-clad hero. It actually happens a lot more than you might think and some of these characters have beaten up bears on more than one occasion — we’re looking at you, Batman! We aren’t sure why the Dark Knight likes engaging with the largest land carnivore, but if anyone could beat up Yogi, it’s him.
Granted, we aren’t just talking about encounters with bears here. If you recall from the second live-action Fantastic Four film that sort of had Galactus in it, Old Blue Eyes himself, Ben Grim, a.k.a., the Thing kind of yelled at a bear. That wouldn’t cut the mustard for a list like this, so we dove a little deeper and scoured the pages of our favorite books just so we could find the most outrageous and incredible times a superhero punched or fought a bear.
When Garth Ennis took over the writing role for The Punisher’s Marvel Knights imprint, he decided to hold absolutely nothing back. Ennis’ 12-issue story “Welcome Back, Frank” was illustrated by Steve Dillon and is all about the Punisher’s return to fighting crime in the streets of New York. He goes after the biggest crime family, the Gnuccis, run by Ma Gnucci.
When Ma and her goons chase Frank into the Central Park Zoo, he turns a few Polar Bears on his would-be assailants. How do you compel a gigantic bear to do your fighting for you? Walk up to one and punch it square in the jaw of course! The resulting carnage sees Ma and her goons savagely torn apart by the bears, but Ma survives… albeit without any of her limbs or her scalp, which of course are like candy to bears.
Back when The Brave and the Bold #62, written by Gardner Fox and penciled by Murphy Anderson, was published in 1965, comic book violence took many forms. Occasionally, this arose as a lovely form of animal abuse, which is exactly what we see in the panel pictured above. Wildcat shows a polar bear what his left fist can do! This happened only seconds after he boxed a kangaroo (which you should never ever attempt — those things are unstoppable killing machines).
The fight broke out when Black Canary and Starman rescue Wildcat from the Huntress and Sportsmaster, who had him caged up with the animals. When they were all released, it was game-on for some animal fights, which included Black Canary punching a gorilla! Starman was able to drive the animals back into their cages, but not before the all-out brawl pitted superhero against a menagerie of zoo animals.
13. THE INCREDIBLE HULK
What do you get when you combine the gloriously green talents of Lou Ferrigno with an incredibly cheesy bear costume? Well, you get the immortal picture above, which was taken from the second episode of the first season of The Incredible Hulk television show, titled “Death in the Family.” The plot of the episode is entirely unimportant for this list, so we will jump right into the scene in question.
Dr. David Banner is attempting an escape with a young woman while being chased by dogs, a chopper and dealing with quicksand until he finally meets a grizzly bear, who challenges the green giant. The two fight it out until the Hulk is able to pick the bear up over his head and chuck it a good 100 feet. This might seem like hyperbole, but it’s objectively the best thing ever committed to the small screen. Watch it here.
As we mentioned in the opening, Batman has fought a bear on several occasions, but the number one absolute best example is the time the Caped Crusader saved Christmas and took out a bear AT THE SAME TIME! The Christmas miracle took place in Batman #285, written by David C. Reed and penciled by Neal Adams in 1977.
Dr. Tzin-Tzin escapes from Arkham intent on ruining Christmas, so it’s up to Batman to stop him. He magically places a large grizzly bear inside a huge Christmas Tree for Batman to fight, and fight the bear he did! He kicks the bear hard into a face, knocking it out, which is pretty darn badass if you ask us! Bats saves Christmas and Dr. Tzin-Tzin is returned to Arkham where he will undoubtedly concoct another plan to steal a major holiday from the unwitting masses of Gotham City!
11. WINTER SOLDIER
Bucky Barnes’ activities as the Winter Soldier have been found out and he has been imprisoned in Russia as a traitor to their country. The story-arc, called “Gulag,” went down in Captain America #616-619, written by Ed Brubaker with pencils provided by five separate artists.
When the story opens, we find Bucky set to battle a bear in a gladiator-style bout that leaves him shirtless and without a weapon save for his cybernetic arm. One thing we forgot to tell you: it isn’t just a bear, but the mutant bear, Ursa Major (who has another spot on this list). Not only does Bucky have to fight a mutant bear, he does it on his own and he kicks his Russian ass! The fight was orchestrated by the Russians intent on killing Bucky, but it doesn’t work out too well for them in the end.
10. HAL JORDAN
When a person is given the Oan Green Lantern Ring, they are then in possession of the greatest weapon in the universe. They are limited only by their willpower, the color yellow and of course, keeping the damn thing on their finger! As you can see in the panel above, Hal Jordan is without his otherwise ever-present powerful ring and must do battle with a grizzly bear with only what he has at his disposal: a beehive and a really bad pun.
The story, titled “Peril of the Powerless Green Lantern,” appeared in Green Lantern #58, written by Gardner Fox and penciled by Gil Kane back in 1968. Jordan may be suffering from combat fatigue so the Guardians take his ring to inspect it. He takes a week-long vacation in the Pacific Northwest and foolishly wanders into bear territory, or “bearitory” as it is also known.
9. DEMON BEAR SAGA
The “Demon Bear Saga” isn’t just a really cool name for a New Mutants storyline, it’s a series of books from the ’80s about Mirage and the New Mutants battling a mystical demon bear. The five-issue story arc kicked off in The New Mutants #18, written by Chris Claremont and penciled by Bill Sienkiewicz. What’s a Demon Bear you might ask? The Demon Bear was introduced as an entity who infected the dreams of Danielle Moonstar and may have been responsible for her parents’ deaths.
In the first book alone, the team confronts the gigantic entity and we get to see Psyche project an image of its worst fear, namely her, shooting at it. She then shoves an arrow through its jaw and into its skull, which mildly perturbed it. The battle continues across four more books and makes for some bloody superhero-on-bear entertainment.
8. CONFESSIONS OF THE LOVELORN
If you have never heard of the comic series Confessions of the Lovelorn, you may want to rethink your lifestyle because this book is great. It also features a rather interesting bear fight, which is why it made it onto this list. Now, to be fair, the character who bashes the grizzly bear on the nose isn’t a straight-up superhero, but given the awesome antics that lead to his winning the fight, we couldn’t leave this example off the list!
In Confessions of the Lovelorn #111, a story called “Bosco Plays Matchmaker” finds Bosco the bear at the Bronx Zoo playing matchmaker for two lonely people who come to his cage to talk about their feelings. Bosco steals the woman’s purse, which incites the gentleman to jump into the cage after her and punch the bear in the nose, thus winning her affection. You know, that old chestnut!
7. ROM: SPACEKNIGHT
This is something of a stretch since ROM doesn’t duke it out with a regular bear romping about the woods hunting for honey or stealing picnics or feasting on human flesh. ROM is instead hanging out in Russia when he meets up with the Soviet Super Soldiers in ROM #45, written by Bill Mantlo with pencils by Sal Buscema and Ian Akin. Among the members of the Soviet team stands Ursa Major who can turn himself into a giant man-bear.
Ursa Major is a mutant whose ability to turn into a giant bear makes him a dangerous enemy; given that he retains his intelligence and ability to speak, he and ROM go at it pretty hard. Like most of these fights, it’s all a misunderstanding, but you still get to see the Silver Sentry from the Golden Galaxy battle it out with a gigantic man-bear. Who wouldn’t want to read that? Nobody worth knowing, that’s for sure.
Aralune is a member of The Order, the superhero team based out of Los Angeles in the 50 State Initiative, created by Tony Stark and dubbed the First Super Hero Team of Tomorrow. She is a shapeshifter who possesses incredible power and strength, so if anyone had to fight a cybernetically-enhanced bear on the streets of L.A., it would be her. The battle goes down in the opening pages of The Order #1, written by Matt Fraction with pencils by Barry Kitson.
The above pic speaks volumes about the fight: Aralune has enhanced her arms to Popeye-esque volumes to sock the giant cyber-bear in the throat. The best bit is definitely her dialogue, “Seriously, Y’all, I’m punchin’ a bear in the face! What the hay is going on?” Granted, there isn’t much more anyone could say, but the fact that she recognized the silliness of the situation is comic book gold!
We already dipped into the relatively cheesy with the Hulk’s television bear-fight, but wanted to kick (or punch) it up a notch with one from the comics that perfectly demonstrated the Hulk’s aggression. In the Jason Aaron run’s storyline “Stay Angry! Part 3: Neverlab” penciled by Tom Raney in The Incredible Hulk #10, the Hulk doesn’t just fight a bear, he fights a bunch of cyborg bears fitted with the latest and greatest in metal claw technology!
Hulk finds himself trapped in a space station chock-full of cyborg bears. Hulk is in his usual foul mood at being trapped in a place he doesn’t recognize or remember getting to, so he goes on one of his run-of-the-mill rampages against some of the toughest bears in the galaxy. Of course, they are no match for an angry Hulk, but the fighting across the panels is too good to miss.
Following the immense success of the Origin miniseries telling the tale of Wolverine, Marvel knocked out a second, five-issue volume in the series titled Origin II, written by Kieron Gillen and penciled by Adam Kubert. The story picks up a few years after James Howlett gets in touch with his feral side by partnering up with a pack of wolves.
In the opening, the pack gets into a pretty nasty scrape with a Polar Bear, which is the largest land carnivore on the planet. Unfortunately for the bear, Wolverine is the smallest, but probably the most vicious land carnivore on the planet. The two fight after the wolves are torn to shreds and even without Adamantium covering his bones and claws, Wolverine is able to defeat the bear. The fight is brutal and he is nearly killed, but it’s an amazing example of his feral side battling against nature.
3. CAPTAIN AMERICA
It should come as no surprise that a man who has been augmented to be the superior form of humanity could go toe to claw with a bear. Of course, it would be easy if he had his kickass costume and shield, but when you get right down to it, he didn’t even need that stuff cluttering up his bear fight.
Cap and the bear meet up in the woods while he is sporting an all-blue getup. He socks the bear in the face and kicks him right in the head before the bear scampers off into the woods to lick his wounds. Cap realized he probably couldn’t take the bear down easily enough so he just taught it a lesson that the fight wouldn’t be worth the effort. Also, Cap is sporting a glorious beard making him even tougher, which we believe the bear realized while running away.
2. ZOMBIE TEDDY ROOSEVELT
Yes, you read that correctly: a zombified version of the 26th President of the United States punched the hell out of a bear when he made an appearance in Deadpool #2, written by Gerry Duggan and penciled by Tony Moore. We had to tack this one onto the list because there was no way it could be left off. Roosevelt may not be a traditional comic book superhero, but the panel is just too damn funny.
Deadpool is off to Los Angeles to stop the zombie Roosevelt from running through the zoo punching the animals, which is something the dead president seems to enjoy doing for some reason. Deadpool goes on his traditional rampage taking out each of the dead presidents, but not before Roosevelt can take a swing at a rather large grizzly bear. It’s funny, it’s stupid and frankly, it’s pure Deadpool.
1. SHIRTLESS BEAR-FIGHTER
It would have been impossible to finish this list off and not put Shirtless Bear-Fighter as the number one pick… it’s in his name after all, and what inspired this very list! Since all this guy does is fight bears, we can’t really go into just one example and instead thought we would bring him up as the number one bear-fighting badass ever printed on the page.
The series was created by Jody Leheup and Sebastian Girner with Nil Vendrell providing the illustrations for Image Comics. The books haven’t been released at the time of this list’s publication, which is why you may not have heard of it, but be on the lookout for it post-June 2017! Here’s Girner’s explanation of the series, “Bears will get punched (or suplexed, kicked, piledrived) every issue, but this comic will also deliver humor, drama, tears and cheers. It’s the full package.”
Did we miss any of your favorite Bear vs. Superhero bouts? Shout off in the comments and let us know which Bear Fights you like the best!
*PSA: Please don’t go out and punch the crap out of a bear.