If Superheroes Leave the Earth, They Have to Fight in a Gladiator Arena

In Drawing Crazy Patterns, I spotlight at least five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics). Note that these lists are inherently not exhaustive. They are a list of five examples (occasionally I'll be nice and toss in a sixth). So no instance is "missing" if it is not listed. It's just one of the five examples that I chose.

Today, based on a suggestion from one of our regulars, Steve M., we look at how it appears as if superheroes are obliged to end up in gladiator arenas if they leave Earth for any other planet in outer space.

In Wonder Woman #34 (by Robert Kanigher and H.G. Peter), Wonder Woman heads off to Mars to find the missing Holliday College girls. Once there, she is tricked by the Duke of Deception to enter the war games arena where Wonder Woman must fight like a gladiator against the most powerful and deadly weapons that Mars (the god of war, who lived on the planet Mars in the Wonder Woman comics of this era) could devise...

Don't worry, folks, all Amazons are trained to roll away from bomb explosions on impact (?) and so she only FAKED being killed by the bomb. She ended up saving the Holliday girls.

In one of the odder Fantastic Four stories from the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee run on the series, we are introduced to Kral IV, a Skrull resort planet where everyone on the planet uses their shapeshifting powers to take on the appearance of 1930s American gangsters (that one makes even less sense than the Amazons' ability to roll with explosions). So the Thing is captured by these guys and taken to their planet where he learns that there is a big alien gladiator arena on the planet. Not only that, but the Skrulls have developed a powerful sonic disruptor weapon that can pretty much destroy any planet in the universe, so if any one of the aliens disobeys them, they risk the destruction of that aliens's home planet!

The Thing is matched up against the sort of robotic being known as Torgo, who the Thing slowly teaches the importance of mercy. Here is the first of their bouts from Fantastic Four #93 (by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and guest-inker Frank Giacoia)...

Later, the Thing has the chance to kill Torgo and he can't bring himself to do it, so when their positions are later reversed, Torgo also can't do it. His planet is about to be destroyed, but luckily, the rest of the Fantastic Four show up and Crystal (filling in for the Invisible Woman on this mission) destroys the sonic disruptor. Without that hanging over their heads, all of the aliens then revolt and take over Kral IV.

At the end of John Byrne's run on the Superman titles following Byrne's reboot of the character in 1986's Man of Steel, Byrne has Superman forced to kill three Kryptonian villains from a Pocket Dimension. These villains just killed BILLIONS of people and Superman knows that if he allowed them to live, they'd eventually free themselves and escape the Pocket Dimension and possibly do the same on Earth. So he exposes them to Kryptonite and kills them all. Taking a life really messed up Superman's head and following a conflict with Brainiac, Superman suffered a nervous breakdown. He ultimately felt that he was too dangerous in this state of mind to remain on Earth, so he exiled himself from the planet.

Eventually, he was captured by Mongul's army on Warworld and was forced to fight in the Warworld gladiator arenas (at the same time, an ancient religious Cleric who had been to Krypton hundreds of thousands of years ago is shocked to learn that there is a Kryptonian still alive and he begins to bombard Superman's mind with history lessons of Krypton, which drives Superman to win his battle and take on Mongul himself)...

Jerry Ordway, George Perez and Mike Mignola did the story together in Action Comics Annual #2...

Page 2: Planet Hulk!

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