Part of the reason why people love comic books so much is the action. For readers, there’s nothing better than watching your favorite hero battle their arch-nemesis, once again saving the world from total destruction. Creators are charged with the daunting task of making these fights set in a fictional world seem as real as possible, without the advantage of CGI. From drunken skirmishes between frenemies to all-out brawls involving groups of heroes and villains, like the Marvel classic Infinity War storyline and DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths.
However, some fight scenes are shorter than others. Depending on the situation, the reader can sometimes feel cheated if a battle is over too quickly, whether it be from another character interceding, one fighter gaining a fast upper hand over their opponent or the cowardly sucker punch. There have been instances where a fight has barely begun and one punch is all it took to end it. These “one and done” battles are sprinkled throughout comic book history, the most popular being the infamous slap heard around the world in the pages of Justice League, where Batman knocks Guy Gardner out with a single punch. CBR takes a deeper look into some classic and lesser-known showdowns suffering from performance issues.
15. SUPERMAN VS. THE HULK
When the Marvel and DC universes collided in the Unlimited Access mini-series, fans from both sides got another chance to see their favorite superheroes face off , following in the footsteps of the previous year’s successful Marvel Versus DC story. Centering on the Marvel and DC co-owned character named Access who had the ability to travel between the two worlds, readers were treated to encounters between classic characters such as the X-Men and the Teen Titans coming face-to-face.
After Magneto and Darkseid team up to rule the new multiverse, our heroes are pitted against each other until eventually being merged into combined versions of themselves. One fight in particular was a show-stopper, as Superman faced off against the Hulk. Though probably equal in terms of strength, it was Superman’s speed and X-ray vision that helped end the Jolly Green Giant, taking him out with one mighty Kryptonian punch.
14. THE HULK VS. WOLVERINE
The Hulk and Wolverine are one the classic bromances of the Marvel Universe. Both men went through scientific experiments that left them extremely angry yet powerful. Both men struggle to cling to their humanity while keeping the beasts inside in check. Both suck at relationships. They’ve come across each other a number of times throughout the years.
In the ’80s, Hulk and Wolverine had grown weary of their fighting days and attempted to start over, assuming different identities with varied results. The two meet up in Madripoor, with Wolverine immediately recognizing the Hulk, who is under the influence of a corrupt Madripoor government. While the encounter can mostly be considered a battle of wits, Hulk grows tired of Wolverine’s games and ends their confrontation with a swift punch, sending Wolverine into the ground and out.
13. IRON MAN VS. THE UNICORN
Originally a Soviet Intelligence agent assigned to track down the Crimson Dynamo, The Unicorn started out using a technology-based power suit. After a brief affiliation with Count Nefaria that included experimental conditioning that augmented his powers, The Unicorn hooked up with the Mandarin and once again set his sights on ending Tony Stark.
In the pages of The Invincible Iron Man, Tony and The Unicorn (who is now on his third secret identity), go at it again. While The Unicorn’s horn-generated beam (we swear we’re not making this up), does provide some resistance, one good punch is all it takes for Iron Man to end the fight. Subsequent interactions lead to The Unicorn falling prey to a terminal disease that Tony helps cure him of, but then he kind of goes insane as a result and tries to kill Tony again, so it’s kind of a wash.
12. MS. MARVEL VS. DIABLO
Remember the second Ms. Marvel? No, not Kamala Khan. Back in the ’80s, Sharon Ventura was a former pro-wrestler with superhuman strength and endurance who fell in love with Ben Grimm. Since the original Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, was either in a coma or off in space using the name Binary, Sharon adopted the Ms. Marvel moniker and served as an on and off-again member of the Fantastic Four.
Early on in her superhero career, Sharon stumbled upon a battle between the Fantastic Four and Diablo. Eager to prove her worth and showcase her might, Ms. Marvel stepped in and took one shot at Diablo, knocking him out and saving the team. Most recently seen in a support group meeting with other heroes who were found to be replaced by Skrulls in the “Secret Invasion” storyline, Sharon has returned to her civilian life as a wrestler.
11. DEADPOOL VS. KITTY PRYDE
Deadpool has always been a loose cannon. Still, once upon a time, he did try going to therapy, mainly because he was having hallucinations of a woman who he thought needed help. He also felt like it was more of a memory. In an effort to shake his brain loose a little, Deadpool starts seeing Dr. Bong, a doctor who uses very unorthodox methods in treating patients.
While roaming the streets of Chinatown, Deadpool runs into Wolverine and Kitty Pryde, with the former still licking his wounds after having Magneto pull all of the adamantium out of his body. Thinking that Wolverine was his enemy, he confronts Wolverine, only to have Wolverine walk away. However, Deadpool continues to run his mouth, causing Kitty to get in his face. Before she even has the chance to phase, Deadpool sucker punches her knocking her out and pissing Wolverine off in the process.
10. THOR VS. THE ABSORBING MAN
Thor has always been known to do most of his talking with his fists and a well-known ancient hammer named Mjolnir. The God of Thunder has faced off against many villains, both human and superhuman, throughout his career. The Absorbing Man is a career criminal, with the ability to absorb the properties of anything he touches.
One showdown in particular took place in the pages of The Mighty Thor during the ’70s. During his fight with The Absorbing Man, who is trying to use his powers on Thor’s hammer, Thor runs into a store and is quickly cornered. Tired of running, Thor hands Mjolnir over to his opponent. After touching it, he punches Thor in the face, to no avial. Thor then turns around and knocks him out with one punch. They were in a toy store and The Absorbing Man had absorbed the powers of a cheap imitation Mjolnir.
9. DONNA TROY VS. ATLAS
Donna Troy has had a rough time. She’s had her backstory, codename and power set changed throughout the years about as much as Jean Grey. However, through every change in her identity, whether it be Wonder Girl, Troia or Darkstar, one thing has remained constant: she is a powerhouse. With powers rivaling those of her own sister (depending on which origin story you go with) Wonder Woman, she has been a mainstay in the DCU for decades.
During a battle that combined the members of the Teen Titans and Justice League against the deranged Atlas, the villain uses his superhuman strength and invulnerability to take everyone out. Last members standing Batman Green Lantern, Starfire and Donna launch one last attack, which is able to weaken him enough so that when Donna lets loose one solid punch, Atlas is incapacitated long enough for Green Lantern to contain him.
8. THANOS VS. CAPTAIN AMERICA
Credited for transforming Thanos into a true comic book supervillain, The Infinity Gauntlet saga of the ’90s is one of the biggest crossover events in Marvel history. Heroes including the Avengers, Spider-Man and Dr. Strange band together to stop Thanos from recreating the universe in his image using the power of the all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet. While our heroes put up a good fight, it isn’t so much a battle as a massacre that ensues. The only way our heroes were able to defeat Thanos was to turn his own insecure ego against him.
Things weren’t always that certain. Early on in the battle, Captain America takes a stand, attempting to draw a line in the sand against Thanos’ universal insurrection. After a few verbal exchanges, the Mad Titan shows he means business by smiting Cap down with one swing. The rest, as they say, is history.
7. BLACK PANTHER VS. KARNAK
Inhumans are a singular race of people, born with powers based off of a genetic makeup that, when exposed to Terrigen Mist, are birthed similarly to what mutants experience during puberty or heightened levels of stress. Since the Inhuman Karnak was never exposed to the Mist, he never developed super powers, but has trained himself to be an expert martial artist with the ability to pinpoint weaknesses.
Black Panther, in additional to being a member of the Avengers, also comes from a royal family in Wakanda. The Avengers and Inhumans’ interests have often conflicted with each other throughout the years. There has been two instances, one in Black Panther as well as in an Avengers annual, where Black Panther has faced off against Karnak. Black Panther was able to render Karnak unconscious with just one blow both times. Guess Karnak needs to brush up on that pinpointing weaknesses thing.
6. DOOMSDAY VS. SUPERGIRL
Best known as the monster who killed Superman in the classic “The Death of Superman” storyarc, Doomsday also made his CGI cinematic debut in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. During his rampage through Metropolis in the pages of Superman, the combined members of the Justice League of America and Justice League International were no match for the psychotic monster.
At one point, while Superman was regrouping, Supergirl swooped into the fray in an attempt to slow down Doomsday. This was the otherworldly clone of the real Supergirl, who also went by the name Matrix. Ready for her, Doomsday lashed out with one solid, jagged-edged fist punch to her face, which not only knocked her unconscious, but reverted Matrix to her true form: a sentient alien ooze.
5. SHE-HULK VS. NAMOR
One of the most infamous storylines in recent comic book history, AvX finds the Avengers pitted against the X-Men over the fate of the universe when the cosmos-destroying Phoenix Force reappears. With the X-Men believing that the power of the Phoenix Force could be harnessed and used for good, the Avengers were not willing to take that chance.
Say what you will about the story, but the battles that ensured were definitely ones to remember. Namor, having been a member of both groups, was on the X-Men’s side this time around. Namor, along with fellow mutants Sunspot and Hepzibah, faced off against Luke Cage, She-Hulk and The Thing. After quickly dispatching Luke Cage underwater, Namor surfaces to find a defeated Sunspot and Hepzibah. Outnumbered and overpowered, Namor resigns to the classic sucker punch, slamming She-Hulk from behind (not as fun as it sounds) and knocking her out.
4. SPIDER-MAN VS. KRAVEN
In the once popular Ultimate Marvel Universe, we got to see rebooted versions of popular heroes, such as the Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men and Spider-Man. Along with heroes, we also got new versions of old villains as well. Although the series eventually ended, remnant characters made their way into today’s Marvel universe.
The Ultimate version of Kraven was an Australian reality star who spent his time hunting down dangerous animals across the globe. Needing a boost in his ratings, Kraven set his eyes on tracking and killing Spider-Man on live television. making his way to New York City, Kraven finds Spider-Man, who had just finished fighting Doctor Octopus. Weary from fight, Spider-Man took Kraven out with a single punch, leading to his arrest after being knocked out. Guess you can’t win ’em all.
3. WONDER WOMAN VS. JUGGERNAUT
Known for not being moved unless he wants to, the Juggernaut has been a classic X-Men villain for decades. As the jealous stepbrother of Charles Xavier, the Juggernaut has often teamed up with Black Tom Cassidy to wreak havoc on the merry band of mutants. Typically, the Juggernaut’s only weakness is a psychic attack on his mind, once his helmet and skullcap have been removed. No hero has ever been able to overpower him.
Enter the Princess of Themyscira. Another instalment from the Unlimited Access series finds Wonder Woman taking on the “unstoppable” Juggernaut, who, along with the DC villain Mantis, starts a fight with Spider-Man. While Spider-Man quickly loses the upper hand, Wonder Woman steps in. Busy boasting about how he is going to kick her ass, Juggernaut gets his helmet knocked off in one punch from Wonder Woman.
2. BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN
Way before Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill faced off as Batman and Superman on the big screen, fans had already seen this fight played out in the pages of The Dark Knight Returns. While an ageless Superman is now being treated as an American government lapdog, other heroes have not done so well. With a much darker tone, this story pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a hero in DC Universe that has lost hope.
The ultimate battle between Batman and Superman sees our heroes battling each other after the President of the United States orders Superman to end Batman’s crusade after getting to close to government ties. After a lengthy and ugly battle, Green Arrow enters the fray with an arrow tipped with Kryptonite, which is able to weaken Superman long enough for Batman to knock him out before seemingly succumbing to a heart attack himself.
1. THANOS VS. WAR MACHINE
Attempting to capitalize on the success of its’ predecessor, Civil War II finds the Avengers once again at each other’s throats. One lead by Captain Marvel and one lead by Iron Man, the two teams face off after an Inhuman named Ulysses develops the ability to predict the future. As one of the most polarizing story-lines in recent history, Civil War II made its mark in the Marvel Universe by changing the Avengers’ status quo and leaving many members of the team shattered.
The battle hits a harrowing turning point as a group of Avengers who have taken advantage of Ulysses’ powers tries to ambush Thanos, She-Hulk is mortally wounded and later slips into a coma after suffering cardiac arrest. In one horrifying moment, Thanos punches right through War Machine’s armor, blowing out his spine and killing him instantly. Unfortunately, there was no coming back from this one-hit wonder.
Any other fights that ended with one punch that you remember? Let us know in the comments!
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