The age-old knock-down, drag-out brawl; two fighters going toe-to-toe on an even field; neither fighter giving an inch as they scrape tooth, knuckle, and nail for victory. Such heart! Such tenacity! Such… boredom. Sure, there are times when we love to watch a match between titans on the battlefield, trading shattering blows back and forth, but sometimes we just want to see the exact opposite. Be it some vague sense of schadenfreude, but every now and then seeing someone just getting absolutely dominated in a bout is just as enjoyable. Maybe the person needed to be taken down a peg, or they were the target of some much-needed retribution, or karma just had her brass knuckles on and wanted to test them out.
Whatever the case may be, sometimes we love the underdog to just stay under. In the world of comics and manga, we have our king’s ransom of hardcore fights to choose from. And since every fight cannot be an epic conflict like Wolverine versus Sabretooth — we present you with the most one-sided, unanimous decision, molly-whoppings in all of comic-dom.
15. BANE V. BATMAN
Batman is considered one of the greatest hand-to-hand combatants in the DC universe. Over years of training and conditioning, he has managed to hone his body to the peak of human strength. However, what would happen if he was pushed beyond those limits? Just how long could he keep up the pace before he fell apart? In the classic miniseries titled “Knightfall,” we learn just what would go down when the Bat is taken to the breaking point — and beyond.
The hulking masked wrestler known as Bane is introduced in this story and quickly puts Batman through a gauntlet of villains from his rogues gallery. Over the span of a night, the Batman is forced to apprehend countless criminals, each taxing him physically and mentally with little to no break between fights. The penultimate conflict with the Joker and Scarecrow caused him to repeatedly hallucinate the scene of Jason Todd’s murder, further breaking down his mental fortitude. Finally, back at Wayne Manor, Bane appears. He had figured out that Batman was actually Bruce Wayne and finally brought the fight to him directly — after his henchmen further soften up the Bat. Now, with a Batman barely able to stand, Bane proceeds to mercilessly beat on him before infamously breaking his back over his knee — cementing this as one of the few times Batman was ever thoroughly beaten.
14. ULTIMATE HULK V. WOLVERINE
The Ultimate Marvel comic universe was considered the darker and edgier version of the mainstream universe. Sometimes this brought about some interesting and enjoyable series (Ultimate Spider-Man) and other times, it introduced us to scenes we would like to forget for as long as we live (The Blob eating The Wasp alive). And then, every so often, it brought about an incredible brawl the likes of which had never been seen before. One such bout between the Hulk and Wolverine — a fight that has popped more times than we can count — comes to a surprisingly bloody end.
Tasked with taking down the mean green machine, Wolverine tracks him down to the snowy mountains of the north where they begin their latest round. The fight at first goes back and forth as Wolverine’s claws wear down the Hulk little by little. Additionally, the Hulk is also losing steam and running out of rage to keep the fight going. That is, until Wolverine begins taunting him saying that after he kills him, he might find Betty Ross and “have some fun.” Suffice it to say, this did not sit well with the Hulk, who then gets his second wind by smashing Wolverine into countless rock faces before ripping him in half and throwing his body hundreds of miles in opposite directions.
13. ONSLAUGHT V. JUGGERNAUT
Charles Xavier is seen as many things to many people in the Marvel Universe: peacemaker, mentor, father figure, mutant. His half-brother Cain is the Juggernaut, a villainous bruiser and unstoppable force. One uses the power of his mind and the other the overwhelming presence of his body. However, deep within Xavier was a being who would flip this entire dynamic upside down. The being known as “Onslaught” was created when Xavier attacked Magneto in a fit of rage, forming the new psionic creature from their shared power and hate. During the Onslaught arc, this dark side was unleashed and The Juggernaut was one of the first to face his wrath.
Using his unleashed psionic powers and brute force, Onslaught toyed with the Juggernaut. He slowly wore down his resolve and bravado until all that remained was a fearful shell. All the while, the repressed thoughts of Xavier given form relished every second of thrashing, throwing, and pounding the Juggernaut into the dirt. Then, when all was said and done, Onslaught finished off his brother by ripping the Gem of Cyttorak (the source of the Juggernaut’s power) out of his chest before tossing him aside like an old magazine.
12. BATMAN WHO LAUGHS V. THE JUSTICE LEAGUE
There have been thousands of stories told about Batman being an unshakable bastion of law and order. Stories about how he never wavers from his goal of justice and his ideals no matter what. In one of the most recent series “Batman Metal,” we learn what happens when the Batman breaks. In an alternate universe where the Joker discovers Batman’s identity, he traps him in crime alley where his parents were killed and he is forced to watch as the Joker lines up family after family and kills the kids’ parents — creating more Batmen for the Joker to face. This causes Batman to snap and in a moment of rage, grief, and horror, he breaks the Joker’s neck, killing him at last. This then triggered a special toxin to spread to Batman, which causes him to transform into the same psychotic being the Joker was.
As the toxin takes hold, Batman, who wields all the intellect, skills, and gadgets of the caped crusader but now no longer held in check by his sanity and morals, systematically kills every member of the Justice League one after the other. He begins his spree by gunning all members of the Bat family in a surprise attack since they had the best chance of stopping him. Next the scenes jump to the Justice League watchtower, which is littered with the bodies of the former Justice League, with Superman being the last hero standing. In a final act, he infects his old friend with a special brand of kryptonite which causes him to go into a psychotic rage before dying and lets him loose on Lois Lane. Afterwards, this unhinged Batman proceeds to wipe out the entire Earth until the king of oblivion itself comes to claim him as his herald.
11. OZYMANDIAS V. EVERYONE
The Watchmen put the “graphic” into graphic novel to great effect. With its darker and near nihilistic take on superheroes, it cemented their characters in a world that was grounded in the reality of heroes and villains — and how both are powerless to the forces of society that molded them. The most powerful character in the whole series was not Dr. Manhattan, a man turned God, but in fact Ozymandias — a man consumed with vision that went beyond that of a God.
In an attempt to overthrow his plans of world destruction, Nite Owl and Rorschach take on the hero-turned-villain-genius to heroically thwart his plans. Instead, the two highly trained men are picked apart as Ozymandias beats them down with little to no thought or struggle. The entire bloody duel equates to a light workout for him as he begins to talk down to them about the futility of being a hero and what must be done to truly attain peace in the world. Even with the might of Dr. Manhattan, he manages to convince him to stop his attacks through sheer logic of his machinations. It also did not help their cause that Ozymandias already set his plans into motion long before they even arrived on the scene — removing any chance of them stopping him.
10. SUPERMAN V. MANCHESTER BLACK
Superman is one of DC comics’ most powerful and stalwart forces of good. No matter the trial, no matter the foe, he tries to take them down with as little force as possible to protect those around him and to even safeguard the villains he faces. This image of Superman is supposed to be one of hope and justice tempered by mercy. However, when people mistake mercy for weakness — they are in for a very rude awakening.
In the issue titled “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?” Superman faces off against a group of vigilantes called “The Elite” who gained popularity with their take-no-prisoners approach to crime fighting, much to the dismay of Superman. This conflict comes to a head when Superman challenges them to a fight on Jupiter’s moon where the entire battle is televised. One-by-one, piece-by-piece, Superman brutally takes out every member of the team with cold malice, belittling their efforts to harm him at every turn. He then gets to their leader, Manchester Black, who wields telekinetic powers. Using his X-Ray vision, Superman finds a growth in Black’s brain which he deduces is the source of his power. Next using Black’s own retina as a lens, Superman fires a weak heat beam to cauterize the growth — removing Manchester Black’s powers entirely.
9. HARTIGAN V. ROARK JR.
Sin City is a series of stories about not so good people doing good things in a very not so good world. Broken up into miniature novels focusing on certain denizens, we are introduced to one of the few actually good-hearted people in the city itself. Detective Hartigan is a cop who was originally on the hunt for a serial killer of children years ago. He finally manages to rescue one of the killer’s last victims before he could finish her off as he did so many others. Years later, the man he stopped is revealed to not only still alive, but was also the son of the City’s Mayor, which was why the murders went on for so long.
After a series of double-crosses and grand reveals, Hartigan learns that the young girl he rescued all those years ago was being hunted by the killer and is kidnapped so he could finish what he started. Thanks to a vignette of harrowing breakthroughs, Hartigan corners the killer once more and this time, there is no arrest — just pure fists. Amidst the injuries he inflicts are stabbings to the stomach, organ removal (with his bare hands), and then wrapping it all up with punching the killer’s face until all that remained was mush. The entire beating was done in the signature Frank Miller stark contrasts of light and dark, making every gruesome scene stand out perfectly within the shadows of the scene he creates. It makes for a haunting set of images that are hard to look away from.
8. SPIDER-MAN V. KINGPIN
Spider-Man is always the hero you can rely for a laugh. Unlike Deadpool, his style is not to maim or bludgeon — just some punches, kicks, and webbing up against a wall. The Friendly Neighborhood wall crawler always has been the kind sort, who always wanted to fight for the good in all people; big or small, good or bad, human or non-human. So just how what would it take for him to snap? What final straw would have to be placed on the camel’s back to break it? Well, the Kingpin managed to find Peter’s limit …and he did not like what he saw.
During the events of the first “Civil War,” Peter Parker revealed to the world that he was Spider-Man in a show of support for the superhero registration act. Sadly for Peter, the one fear all masked heroes have came true: a villain went after his loved ones. In this case, the Kingpin ordered a hit on Aunt May, leaving her clinging to life in a hospital. In a show of rage, Spider-Man came to the prison the Kingpin was held in, removed his mask and gear, and challenged him to a one-on-one brawl. This time, there were no snide one-liners, no pulled punches, Peter fought for keeps and beat the Kingpin within an inch of his life — toying with him all the while until he thoroughly broke him before every inmate who witnessed the beating. While Peter did not kill the Kingpin, he killed the image the Kingpin held of himself — an unbeatable force. By showing just how small he was, he made the Kingpin wish he was dead.
7. SINESTRO V. KYLE RAYNER
Injustice was one of the more off-the-wall DC series and made for an interesting and scary alternate world in which Superman becomes a power-mad tyrant. There were many scenes of bloodshed and surprising deaths that marked this series apart from the rest rather early on. While it is not as jarring as watching Superman punch The Joker’s heart through his back, the death of Kyle Rayner is possibly even more harrowing. The reason is not how brutal a fight it was. In all actuality, it was barely a battle — just a series of methodical maneuvers done with deft precision with cruel results.
Beginning at the outset of Injustice, in the dead of space light years from Earth, and before the terrors that led Superman down the darkest of paths, Kyle Rayner is flying back from a mission in another sector when he is ambushed by Sinestro and his minions. While he puts up a solid effort, the numbers game does him in and he is restrained. Soon, Sinestro creates a blade with his construct and cuts off Rayner’s ring finger, rendering him powerless within the vacuum of space. The quiet terror in Kyle’s eyes as his ring floats away from his body, the silence of the scene as one of the most powerful lanterns is now lifelessly floating sets a somber theme for how the rest of the Injustice series plays out.
6. INVISIBLE WOMAN V. WOLVERINE
Wolverine is considered the best at what he does, and what he does isn’t very nice. Due to his incredible healing factor, several lifetimes of fighting experience, and heightened senses, there is very little that can be done physically to take down Wolverine. However, Sue Storm manages this extremely easily. By rendering herself invisible and masking her scent, she was able to sneak up and place force fields in his lungs — effectively stopping them from being able to take in oxygen. This completely incapacitated him for the duration of their short-lived meeting.
Another instance was when she took on the Sinister Four, who thought her to be a mere hostage to get to Reed Richards. Of the members, she encases Hydro Man in a force bubble before throwing him out of a space station. She then removes the shielding, instantly freezing him. To the mastermind, she uses invisible clamps to crush his arms and then pins him to a wall, before using force fields to clamp three arteries in his heart almost making him go into cardiac arrest. Moral of the story: do not, mess with the Invisible Woman or her family — or else.
5. BATMAN V. WONDER WOMAN
Batman is lauded by many to be unbeatable in the face of super-powered heroes and villains alike. While his skill is immensely impressive, it is rather easy to forget that behind that black cowl and pointy ears, Batman is just a man named Bruce Wayne. It is this level of humanity that makes him an intriguing comic book hero. However, there are times when his limits as a human being are all too glaring to ignore. One such time when he was outmatched was when he faced off against Wonder Woman in the pre-52 DC story “The Hiketeia.”
In this story, Wonder Woman takes an oath to protect a woman who has recently committed murder. While she is duty-bound, she swears no harm will come to her. The only monkey wrench in this whole plan is that the woman killed someone in the last city one should ever commit a crime in — Gotham. And since this is Gotham and Batman is, well… Batman, he is adamant about taking this woman into custody to face her crimes. Wonder Woman politely disagrees. Batman insists. Then Wonder Woman counters by throwing him around like a rag doll for several exchanges. It all comes to a head when she literally punches him through a building and tells him to stay out of her way. Despite all his gadgets and martial arts — sometimes, your arms are just too short to box with a god.
4. SPIDEY V. HYDRO-MAN & ELECTRO
Our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has faced many challenges in his life. Peter Parker has dealt with it all, from the death of his uncle, to balancing his personal and superhero lives, to dealing with countless clones and alternate universe debacles. In one of his darker stories, Spider-Man: Reign, we are introduced to an old and way past his prime Peter Parker who gave up the role of Webhead after Mary Jane died from cancer, which resulted from being exposed to Peter’s own radioactive bodily fluids for years. The guilt drove him nearly mad and destitute, until the day came where he had to face one of his greatest foes — Venom.
In the events leading to the final battle, a haggard and bloody Spider-Man runs the gauntlet of villains to get to the main boss, all while easily dealing with all comers with his classic snide replies and smack talk. This then leads to him coming face-to-face with the dynamic duo of Hydro-Man and Electro. In what Peter calls the “worst team-up in history,” he immediately dodges their strikes only to kick Electro into Hydro-Man — immediately killing them both, thus ending their ill-fated team up to take out the octogenarian Spider-Man.
3. CELL V. HERCULE
Jumping forward in time of Dragon Ball Z, we take a look at another iconic arc in the series: the Cell Games. In this chapter of the long-running series, we meet Perfect Cell, a genetically modified android born of the DNA from all the world’s greatest fighters and mixed with the most advanced of technology. We also meet a man who is considered the strongest man on Earth named Hercule (or Mr. Satan for our friends of the original Japanese translation). However, these claims of supremacy are grossly exaggerated and Hercule is far less of a master-class fighter and more of a highly paid WWE personality — all flash, no substance.
During the climax of the arc, Cell holds a tournament for all the world to join. If no one could beat him in one week, he would proceed to destroy the entire Earth as a show of his power. Hercule, being a man who believes his own hype to the utmost degree, steps up to Cell thinking he can muscle his way to victory. All of his kicks and punches amount to a gentle breeze to the unfazed Cell, who quickly dismisses the “World Champion” with a single back-hand slap, sending him flying out the ring and into a nearby mountain face. If there was any doubt that humans have no business fighting in Dragon Ball Z, this definitely cemented that fact.
2. SAITAMA V. LORD BOROS
What’s so fun about a hero who always wins? The answer to that is “quite a lot actually.” The titular hero of One Punch Man pokes fun at the “super powered” tropes in action manga and takes it to their most outlandish logical conclusions. The hero Saitama is an unassuming man and is drawn as basic as possible. However, he is all but invincible and is able to wield immense levels of power that even a single punch can obliterate a meteor the size of a small country. Every fight that features Saitama is the epitome of a one-sided fight. No matter how ferocious or fearsome the monster, it is all over in a matter of moments the second his fist connects.
During a fight with an intergalactic invader king from space, Saitama tanked countless barrages of blows, energy blasts, and a strike that sent him flying to the moon’s surface. And nothing even phased him (when he was on the moon, he just held his breath and jumped back to Earth). In the end, he used his special technique “semi-serious punch,” which is when he actually throws a punch using close to his full strength. The blowback caused enough force to split the cloud formations over half the Earth’s sky and all but obliterated his foe, the ship, and most of the city. And even after all that, Saitama admitted he still was not fighting at his full power.
1. DARTH VADER V. THE REBEL ARMY
In the films, Darth Vader was this lumbering imposing figure who was like a monolith; a symbol of fear and power. In the comic arc “Vader Down,” we learn just a few reasons why he earned such renown in the galaxy. While on a mission from the Emperor, Darth Vader’s ship is caught in an ambush by several battalions of rebel forces. Knowing someone betrayed his location and needing to stay alive long enough to find out who, Vader begins using his piloting skills learned from his days as Anakin to make quick work of the squadrons before being forced to plow headlong into an enemy ship and crashing onto a nearby planet where thousands of ground troops lay in wait.
When he exits his wrecked ship and surveys his foes, Vader simply ignites his lightsaber and goes to work. Using a mixture of force pulls to unpin grenades still attached to rebel soldiers, cutting down those foolish enough to get in close, pulling down entire ships from the sky, and even grabbing artillery shells out of the air and flinging them back at his targets, Vader effectively used the weapons of his enemies to destroy them all in a matter of decisive moments. The issue greatly illustrates how methodical and merciless Vader was in his use of the force and the various methods he used to dispatch large groups of enemies shows not only his ingenuity, but also his ruthlessness.
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