Friday, November 14, 2014

What WAS the Comic Battle of the 20th Century? Part 6 - Superman vs. Spider-Man!

Continuing my 12-part series reviewing comic books that claim The Battle/Fight/Bout/Showdown of the Century on their covers. Today's battle---

Superman vs. Spider-Man! First presented in Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, 1976. Written by Gerry Conway. Art by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano.


First of all, let’s talk about how they even coexist! Superman is published by DC Comics, while Spider-Man is published by Marvel. They come from two different universes! However, in this joint-published book, it appears they’ve always existed together and merely have never met. Smart move. No story time is wasted with explaining "crossing dimensions" or such.

New York City is holding a “World News Conference." Anyone who’s anybody in the news business is attending, including Clark Kent - reporter, Lois Lane - reporter, Peter Parker - photographer, and Mary Jane Watson - um, trophy girlfriend?

Lois later bumps into Peter and they start talking about how much they admire each other’s work. Mary Jane shows up sporting a ‘tude.

Yep. Superman shows up too! The gang’s all here. I wonder what wonderful…  WHHAAAAA?!

Did… did Superman just disintegrate Lois and Peter’s trophy girlfriend?!?

Peter decides to investigate as Spider-Man, which treats us to this hi-larious panel.

Clark Kent has been here the whole time? Something’s not right, now is it? Both our heroes decide to investigate outside the building.

I’m not sure why Spider-Man is so giddy to see Superman. He considers him either a murderer or a kidnapper!  Superman considers Spider-Man a criminal and possibly behind the women’s disappearance. There’s going to be a fight! Superman against Spider-Man. This should last about two seconds.

Hold on, there’s a couple of guys lurking in the shadows. And by “shadows” I mean a brightly lit rooftop. It’s Lex Luther and Doctor Octopus! Luthor was masquerading as Superman!

Our villains are pleased that Spider-Man is unexpectedly involved, and decide to give him a little boost to his power level.

Looks like the power boost worked! There’s a rumor that Neal Adams re-penciled some of the Superman art. This page makes me believe it.

Spider-Man knocks Superman around for a few pages. Superman never hits back. He’s trying to start a conversation. Such a gentleman.

Finally, Superman loses his patience and throws a punch! However, being a very quick thinker, he realizes, “Great Krypton—What am I DOING? If this blow connects—it’ll KILL HIM!” He stops it at the last moment.

Well, blow me down! It still knocks the living bejeebers out of Spider-Man! (I took the liberty of rotating this page from its original vertical orientation.)

Spider-Man flies through the air and through some windows, in one side of a building and out the other. I suppose if he had hit a wall, it would have been a shorter comic. Spider-Man comes back and attacks Supes with an angry two feet to the chest! But…

No more Red Sun Radiation performance-enhancement for Spidey! But, he still continues to attack.

It's sad, really.

When I got to the above page, I knew I had to make a gif!

It's like me trying to convince my phone company they over-charged me. Am I right?

In a surprising turn of events, Supes and Spidey soon decide they should work together!

(But  I’m secretly calling Superman the winner.)

Okay, the Superman vs. Spider-Man battle is over, but there’s still thirty-some pages left in the book! Let’s see… Nasa has launched a “Comlab One” satellite and Luthor has taken control of it. He can now manipulate the weather! I'm not sure why he teamed up with Doc Ock. Even mad scientists get lonely I suppose.  He has kidnapped Lois (and Mary Jane who maybe was invading Lois’ personal space when the ray hit?) to lure Superman to his lair. Luthor wants to gloat as he DESTROYS THE ENTIRE EARTH! Doc Ock realizes that Luthor puts the “mad” in “mad scientist” and wrecks Luthor’s equipment. Earth saved!

Superman and Spider-Man then wrap up the story by talking about how great they are.

In 1976, Superman and Spider-Man were arguably the two biggest names in superheroes. Also, two different companies had to work together to make this book happen, so it was a harder match to manage. The fight itself was fairly impressive. (And BIG! This happened in a “tabloid” sized comic.) The real question is-- Does it beat the Hulk/Thing battle of 1964?

The Hulk/Thing fight was a great brawl, but eventually, their tussles became fairly commonplace. The Superman/Spider-Man battle remained very unique!

So, I’m going to say, “Yes." In 1976, the Battle of the Century is the Superman/Spider-Man Showdown!

Come back Monday for Part 7! Machine Man vs. Ten-For! If you dare!