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Comic book characters have taken their fair share of beatings this year. But which one was the most satisfying? The most earth-shattering? The most bone-crunching? Find out what the comic book section of Entertainment Fuse chose as the best comic book fights of 2013 below (SPOILER WARNING):
I enjoy a grandiose and violent beat down like the average comic book fan, but there’s more than one way to make a fight suspenseful. My number one pick isn’t necessarily based on the physical punishment doled out (though there is a particularly wince-worthy moment where Leopold stabs his “dad” in the back with a spikey mockery of Captain America’s shield). It’s the fight between Captain America and his adopted son (whom he named Ian but his villainous father Zola refers to as Leopold). This fight is made suspenseful by the fact that Captain America refuses to fight back against his brainwashed son in Captain America #8.
The dialogue Leopold snarls at Captain America is almost as hurtful to the reader as it is to Captain America. The boy he raised accuses him of stealing him from a better life, of only protecting America because of his opinion that it is superior, and of killing Steve’s mother by being weak. Each of these moments stab at your heartstrings and then, finally, Ian snaps out of it. You feel a sense of satisfaction, and then nearly throw the comic out of your hands when Ian is shot in the throat and falls to his death by Steve’s girlfriend. I don’t think I’ve ever been so frustrated with a comic book before. But that’s just another thing that makes it my number one fight of the year… despite the art not being the best.
One of the best fights in mainstream comics that there has been this year, and there have been a few, has to have been the fight between Sinestro and Volthoom in Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern farewell “Wrath of the First Lantern”. Johns’ grand swan song had lacked a lot of emphasis and impact for most of its tenure – but the confrontation between these two strong-willed characters pushed it over the edge. Sinestro had been built up by Johns as a reckoning, something to hold in awe and fear, but in Green Lantern #19 we see him finally meet his match – and the biggest fight of his life.
It’s pathetic, it’s thrilling, it’s painful to witness – and yet no real blows are ever shared. It comes off more as a battle of egos, but has all the intensity of an epic-scaled bout. After having accompanied Sinestro for years throughout this run, this is finally the fight we want him to win and the tension is palpable. The emotional beats were all in alignment and it’s sometimes tricky for Big Two comics to make us care about a showdown as much as it did this one.
2) Stargirl vs. Deathstroke’s Hunting Party (Justice League of America #10)
This fight may have come in just under the wire of 2013, but the various aspects that it brought with it definitely shine out as being one of note. Justice League of America #10, part of the Forever Evil event, is almost entirely composed of a single fight – that between Stargirl and Deathstroke’s “Hunting Party” composed of Blockbuster, Shadow Thief, Copperhead, and Giganta. It’s a great use of contrast and the suspense and mood comes from.
Everyone recognizes Stargirl as the plucky care-free heroine from JSA, but this issue is nothing but her being put to the physical and mental test. It’s this incredibly jarring situation and showcases the best of what the character embodies. The juxtaposition with both Martian Manhunter’s on-the-spot mentoring and her own origin story creates a multi-pronged effect to the reader. You root on for the innocent pure hero, and this intense fight against the odds, as standard as that may be, plays it off very well.
1) All the Corps vs. The First Lantern (Green Lantern #20)
The last battle in Geoff John’s run on Green Lantern was epic. Even though the First Lantern wasn’t the biggest villain the lanterns has ever faced it was still one of the most emotional battles of 2013. There were some great moments between Sinestro and Hal. Sinestro even admitted that Hal was his best friend.
1) Superman vs. The Earth 2 JSA (Earth 2 #18)
We’ve always kind of known that Superman has way too much power. His strength of will is what keeps him from incinerating and obliterating bad guys 24/7. What if he didn’t have that respect for human life? In the “New 52” version of Earth 2, we get to see exactly what happens when Superman wishes harm, and it’s not pretty. After literally splitting Steppenwolf in half, he battles the Justice Society (though they’re not called that here) and dispatches them with not only ease but also gruesomeness. A number of Sandman’s soldiers are burned to death, he easily flicks away Green Lantern. Even though magic is a Superman weakness, Dr. Fate isn’t strong enough to beat him.
Superman also figures out that although Flash may be slightly faster than him in a super-speed contest, The Flash is pretty useless if Superman breaks his ankle (which he does easily). This is a scary Superman, as the cover says it best: “Superman–the Man of Terror.”
2) Gladiator, Ronan the Accuser, Kl’rt, Annihilus vs. Black Dwarf of Thanos’ Cull Obsidian (Avengers #23)
It takes an enormous threat to bring together members of the Skrull, Kree, and Shiar races, along with Annihilus. However, Thanos’ plans in the “Infinity” crossover were certainly count as that type of threat, and so the space races joined Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
In the best battle of the storyline, the champions of the most powerful alien races are teleported onto a space station to battle Black Dwarf, a fearsome and powerful warrior of Thanos’ Cull Obsidian. The battle actually features Gladiator, Ronan the Accuser, Kl’rt, and Annihilus — normally foes — working together. Ronan also shows that Thor isn’t the only one in the Marvel Universe with a powerful hammer.
1) Ash vs. The Demon in S-Mart (Ash and the Army of Darkness #1)
While this might just be a rehashing of the last five minutes of the classic cult film, Army of Darkness, I personally believe it to be so much more than that. Once just a normal and unsuspecting man, Ash Williams is made into a ruthless, witty, and exceptionally resourceful demon slayer. The comic, by Steve Niles and Dennis Calero, has succeeded where many others have failed, and that’s capturing that Ash Williams charm in the comic book medium.
The fight isn’t copied scene for scene; it’s borrowed from and meaningfully expanded in ways that make this series one of the most promising new beginnings on 2013. Using his S-Mart surroundings, Ash sends this demon back to hell with his trademark boomstick and a series of one-liners that leave us wanting much more.
2) The Will vs. The Planet that Wants Him to Never Leave (Saga #14-#15)
In issues 14-15 of the acclaimed series Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples, the Will, Gwendolyn, Slave Girl, and Lying Cat find themselves stranded on a mysterious paradise of a planet while waiting for the intergalactic equivalent of AAA to repair their ship. Only, while they’re there, the Will begins to hallucinate and see his late former lover, the Stalk. She convinces him to stay on this planet, and this becomes a very confusing inner battle for the Will.
In a revealing two-issue long fight with his demons, the Will makes the choice that all of us wanted him to make—that is, all of us besides the planet. Turning to Slave Girl, the planet’s manipulative hallucinatory abilities cause her to do the unthinkable. Will the Will get out alive? We didn’t find out in 2013, but hopefully some good news will come in 2014.
Did you enjoy our picks for the best fights of 2013? We’ll have more comic book awards up soon, so stay tuned!