I've threatened to do this before (or did I menace?) and now seems to be a good time to do it. This is my personal list of the 10 best fights in Marvel Comics during the Silver Age.
A few thoughts:
* This is my list. You can disagree if you want. Better still, start your own thread.
* I'm focusing on one-on-one fights here. While there are members of teams involved, the focus will be on individual battles.
* Yes, that fight will be listed. So will that one. Maybe not that one though. And that one is right out.
* Sorry, no Hulk vs. Boomerang, even though I know you all want to see that one. Same with anything involving Paste-Pot Pete. Too glorious for this list.
* I'm setting an endpoint of 1968 for the Silver Age for this particular discussion. If it happened afterwards, I'm not counting it.
I'm going to be a little wordy because this is one of my all-time favorites.
Randy Jackson said:
Meanwhile, on a lonely road in New Mexico, two truckers are stopped by a huge boulder in the middle of the road. Suddenly the Hulk smashes through the boulder. He tells the men that he wants a ride, and they both agree as they're scared out of their wits.
This is my favorite version of the Hulk, intelligent yet threatening. I tolerated the “Hulk smash” version but never enjoyed it that much. FF #25 was my second encounter with the Hulk, the first being Avengers #3. Maybe I like this version best because it was my first impression of him.
Surprising no one, the road block was very near the Hulk's old hideout, and "Bob" Banner makes his way towards the bunker, hoping to find Rick Jones
According to comicbookresources.com, in the letter column of FF #28 Stan announced he would take the "cowardly way out" and said that from then on he would be Robert Bruce Banner. Was FF #25 the only place Stan called him Bob? IIRC he did it in one of the Hulk’s own comics before the title was cancelled.
In the Hulk's lab, the Hulk is destroying all of the scientific equipment. He reaches inside his pants and finds a newspaper clipping explaining how the Avengers replaced him with Captain America, and he immediately decides that Rick has deserted him as well
He finds the clipping while dumping everything out of Banner’s pants as part of rejecting him. A pipe is one of the things that comes out. Of course he smokes a pipe, he’s a scientist!
However, he spots the Hulk on a rampage and realizes that he cant' ignore him, as he may injure innocent bystanders.
The Hulk considerately is knocking down an “abandoned building.”
Meanwhile, the police are doing everything they can to evacuate the area as there's a bit of a panic going on. The commissioner makes an announcement that the area has been evacuated and that the Fantastic Four are being summoned. However, Ben doesn't want to go because Reed is sick. However, Reed tells him that he has to go face the Hulk and forget about him. Ben then tells Reed and Sue that Johnny was beaten by the Hulk, but tells a worried Sue that Johnny's okay, and the Hulk is after something else. Reed tells Ben that the city needs him, and that the Hulk must be stopped. He tells both Ben and Sue to leave him alone and go face the Hulk.
I’m reading from Marvel Masterworks #13. The page that shows what this paragraph describes, page 9 of FF #25, in my copy has the yellow and blue plates switched. Ben is bright blue, Sue’s hair is light blue, and the uniforms of the police and the FF are bright yellow. The skin tones are all pale lavender. It doesn’t say which printing it is, so it may be the first printing. Fortunately, it’s just one page.
The action on page 12 has the Hulk saying “you can’t hide from me behind an empty bus.” At least it wasn’t the Hulk who commented that the earlier building was abandoned.
Page 16 is one of the only times we actually see members of the Yancy Street Gang, and even then their faces are hidden.
She puts Reed in bed, and the doctor remarks that he shouldn't have been working with those viruses, but Sue tells him he was searching for a cure for Ben. The doctor leaves ….
Odd that Johnny went to the hospital after being exhausted and bruised while Reed, supposedly exposed to dangerous viruses (viri?) is given home bed rest.
On pages 18 through 20, Ben is inflicting significant damage to the George Washington bridge.
Ben continues to fight the Hulk, despite having been beaten the last issue:
On page 2 a soldier helpfully comments that they’re fighting in a condemned neighborhood.
Back at the Baxter Building, a number of orderlies have arrived to take Reed to the hospital. Reed fights them, but is too weak and ends up strapped into a stretcher.
I guess the doctor arranged for Reed to be hospitalized after all. Last issue he advised Sue to pray and said “gotta go now.”
Elsewhere in the hospital, Johnny is in a ward surrounded by asbestos screens. He regains consciousness, and his first thought is to get back into the fight. Despite being wrapped in bandages, he flames on. They've put him in asbestos pajamas (because most New York hospitals had those back then) which he removes.
He has asbestos screens, asbestos pajamas and asbestos bandages. The only things that make sense are the asbestos screens. Someone reading this today for the first time would be blown away by the careless use of asbestos. He should be naked after ridding himself of everything except the bandages, but later when his flame goes out he has his FF uniform.
Rick Jones gives the Hulk a pill changing him back into Bruce Banner, and the Hulk changes back in the midst of the river, escaping.
An “emergency gamma-treated capsule which Banner gave me months ago.” Was this ever seen before or since?
This one...there's not much to say that hasn't been said over and over, but I'll do my best. This fight--you really got the idea that the Thing, the Fantastic Four, heck all of New York City was completely over-matched, but the courage showed by each member of the FF is just inspiring. Additionally, seeing anyone who could reasonably pitch in doing their best also made things more exciting as well, as you really got the feeling that this was a fight for all of humanity.
It is a magnificent battle. As you say, everyone is desperately fighting to stop the Hulk, who is wantonly destroying everything he touches. Great courage is shown, because he is pretty much unstoppable.
In fact, it's a shame that the Avengers end up pitching in in the end, as you really wanted to see Ben figure out a way to win on his own.
Avengers #4 and FF #25 both went on sale in January 1964. I’m sure today’s fans would be shocked that the FF were the big dogs and the Avengers were the new kids. They were promoting their new comic is what was probably their best-seller at the time.
On pages 18 through 20, Ben is inflicting significant damage to the George Washington bridge.
I noticed that reading Randy's review. He uses a suspension cable to contain him! And now you mention it he tears the bridge up for shrapnel, too.
There's a final exchange of blows between the Hulk and the Thing during the climax in #26. The Thing falls into concrete.
I don't think this is going to be a surprise to anyone...
1. Thor vs. Hercules
Issue(s): Mighty Thor #126
Creative Team: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Publish Date(s): March 1966
A quick recap for context: Thor returns the last lost Norn stone to Asgard. He begs permission from Odin to return to Earth, but Odin says no because Thor still loves Jane Foster. Thor has to battle his way out of Asgard in order to return to Earth. Meanwhile, Hercules has just showed up in New York and foils an armed robbery. Jane Foster, thinking it's Thor, makes her way to his side, and Hercules takes interest. Thor finally makes it back to New York to see Hercules hitting on his girl and it's on:
Meanwhile, back in Asgard, Odin is a trifle annoyed with his wayward son. He's trying to figure out how to punish Thor when he spots him battling Hercules in the cosmic crystal.
Back to the fight:
Odin summons one of his advisers, Seidring the Merciless. He asks Seidring what to do about Thor, namely whether or not to punish him. Seidring tells him that punishment is required, no matter if it's Thor. Odin finally decides to punish Thor by stripping half of his strength. Seidring cautions him that doing so while he's in the midst of a fight could lead to his death, but Odin insists. However, he cannot do the deed himself, so he gives the Odin power to Seidring and has him strip Thor's power instead(big mistake, but a tale for another time).
Upon Thor's defeat, Hercules is surrounded by adoring onlookers, including a movie promoter that wants to offer him a contract. When he tells Hercules he can make him famous, Hercules is all ears. He leaves with much of the crowd following.
Thor gets back to his feet, licking his wounded pride. The few remaining members of the crowd jeer at him for being a loser. However, Jane is still there. She tells him she loves him and that she just played up to Hercules to make him jealous. Thor tells her that it doesn't matter, that he can no longer be with her until his honor is restored. He stomps away. Before Jane can chase after him, Odin communicates with her and tells her that Thor was not beaten, and may not have lost if not for him. He tells her to go to him, and she does.
I first encountered this story in a Treasury Edition reprint as a child in the 1970's, and I've always been tremendously impressed by the scope of this battle--even as an experienced comic book reader at that point, I knew this was something special, and it was probably the first thing by Kirby that I really liked and enjoyed. Some of the images--the two of them crushing the truck, Thor struggling to lift the bulldozer--are what I think of when I think of the true might of the two combatants. This is, IMO, probably Kirby's best for Marvel at this point.
It's funny - I've never read this story, but I feel as though I've sene it form watching those Thor cartoons.
Amazing Treasury Edition that was my introduction too (I still have it - pretty dogearred as it is now!).
I loved it so much I've just bought the 2nd Thor Omnibus - mainly for this opening few issues to that collection.
It's this story that made me always balk at the depiction over the years of Hercules as a stupid drinker/goon - admittedly he's a bit naïve here but there is an honour and grace about him that gets forgotten too often since.
If someone out there was totally unaware of who Jack Kirby was or what he accomplished, this story may be the one I would show them to explain why he was called King Kirby.
Good choices throughout, Randy.
I suppose "Thor" was where Kirby started doing long, slugging fights. Thor had had more than one by this point. They weren't quite issue length, since the comic had "Tales of Asgard" back-ups, but they were close enough to it.
If anyone doesn't know, this was the issue with which Journey into Mystery became Thor. I suspect that's not a coincidence, that the issue was supposed to launch the new period with a bang. Thor had fought Herc previously in Journey into Mystery Annual #1, but I can't comment on that as I haven't read it.
The motivation for the fight is unusual. It's not good vs evil, no-one is being mind-controlled, and there's no misunderstanding. It's just gods behaving badly.
The title doesn't make sense unless you know the full proverb: "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad".
I missed my guess as to what the story would be. I thought the Thing's fight with Doom from FF #40.
Thanks for doing this series, Randy. I enjoy learning what others like and I didn't know all your picks.