Friday, June 15, 2012

A Technical Knockout

So, here's the big question: who'd win in a fight? Superman or The Hulk?

I'm out-of-sorts this week. As I get older, I find that a fever is followed by a cough, then a swollen ear. I can only hear good with my left and I'm watching for sudden gusts of wind.

I was asked the above question on Monday at the library, after I had returned their copy of Justice League Vol. 1, Origin. I thought it was okay, a bit of an obvious attempt at offering a blueprint for anyone producing a live-action film adaptation, including timely bits of characterization (I think Geoff was counting on the Green Lantern film to be a hit, because Hal has a lot more screen time than he ever did in an average issue of JLA). The librarian, a dark-haired and cute, if slightly overweight (Carolyn Keene's unfortunate description of George Fayne & Bess Marvin forever stayed in my head) wanted to know what I thought:

"Superman. Because he has all these powers and ... actually the Hulk fights dirty, so he'd win it."

I can't help thinking that I've been poisoned by 20-30 years of bad comic book writing. Of course Superman could take down the Hulk - he could toss the green giant into space. He could combine his x-ray vision and heat vision and perform laser surgery on ol' jade jaws. He could use his ice breath to give Hulk frostbite. He could run fast enough to make him dizzy. And he's STRONG. He used to be able to move PLANETS! And that's when he's not "holding back", as if we're even sure what that's supposed to mean..

"Used to". That old chestnut of showing how tough a bad guy is by punching out Supey with one blow has done a lot of damage. His rogues gallery is actually better than the Hulk's - one of the few examples in which you can say it is so. know what? Hawkman and The Atom's rogues gallery is pretty weak. Daredevil's is even worse. Does Ant-Man even have a rogues gallery? And then there's that cruel YouTube fan film - a lovingly made, knock-down, drag-out, cgi brawl between the Hulk and a comparatively frail Superman that vaguely resembles Christopher Reeve (talk about pouring salt on an open wound). I'd rather let you guys search for this all-too-convincing brouhaha than offer a direct link. The last few seconds will made even the most hardened fan hide behind the sofa. Hey, if you didn't see it, it didn't happen.

So, for the record, Superman wins. We're just not likely to ever see it. Same thing with a Superman vs. Wolverine brawl - I recall Wolverine slammed The Vision against an ice cream truck once ... isn't The Vision one of the few characters that could kick his ass? Guess not. Hey, is anybody interested in a crossover where Lex Luther replaces Wolverine's adamantium skeleton with a kryptonite skeleton and brainwashes him to go after Superman? Well, I guess that's just me, then...


  1. What if we learned that, when The Hulk turns GREEN, he’s actually turning into “living Kryptonite”?

    After all, with no Kryptonians in the Marvel Universe to test this hypothesis, it COULD have been happening since the Silver Age and no one would ever really know! And it’s not as if comic book writers haven’t pulled bigger surprise twists than this from out of their nether regions… or wherever such ideas come from!

    My natural inclination would be to root for Supes but, if true, just one burst of emotion from Bruce Banner… and Game Over!

  2. That's interesting...I remember that when Marvel initially killed-off Betty Banner in 1998, they had "prolonged exposure to gamma radiation" (physical contact with Bruce) as the cause of her death. When Lex Luther wore a green kryptonite ring, the ring hand deteriorated and his whole body was poisoned - he had to clone a new one just to get out of it.
    Obviously, the Hulk-is-kryptonite-man idea works as a crossover story - and there is a Superman foe named "The Kryptonite Man" - I think. My Superman comics pile is wafer thin: I've got a couple of Batgirl team-ups, a Green Arrow team-up, a He-Man team-up, the death and comeback (#75 and #500) and an issue where Tom Grummett had Calvin and Hobbes and Calvin's parents as hidden guest stars (!). I like sneaky cameos like that.
    And Betty Banner got better. And she became the Red She-Hulk. And General Ross is The Red Hulk. I suppose that is more interesting than ripping off "The Fugitive".

    And I've just been updated by Shawn Robare (check out hie site, )that the big CGI Superman/Hulk brawl has been updated with a new installment. This is going into overtime, folks. I think Superman will need Batman to sneak up behind the Hulk with a foreign object...

    1. That's Everyone. I'm still amazed there was a comic book adaptation of the movie "Big".

  3. I was not reading Marvel Comics by 1998, due to “prolonged exposure – not to Gamma Radiation or Kryptonite, but to Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada – so I was unaware of the fate of poor Betty Banner. Their tactics, which seem to have polluted modern-day politics, are what drove me to DC – where I pretty much stayed until this year.

    It IS interesting that both she and the ‘80s pre-clone Luthor had similar unpleasant exposure-experiences. (…It’s also interesting that Luthor had a much more riveting and better-received “Clone Saga” than did Spider-Man, but that’s another story.)

    When DC and Marvel were doing crossovers, this Hulk / Supes thing might have been a good one to try. I don’t know how much “Panel-Together-Time” they might have had together in things like “DC vs. Marvel” / “Marvel vs. DC”, that may have invalidated the theory.

    Yes, there was a “Kryptonite Man”. You can see him on the cover of SUPERMAN # 397, which I reproduced in this Blog post of mine – and that you commented on!

    1. The petty Bill n' Joe years turned me off following Spider-Man books regularly. They kept on a writer who had no clue of who the character was or his history for over 6 years and kept writing all these weird supernatural/sci-fi stories and making weird continuity mistakes and turning on the fans just for pointing it out. And THAT was supposed to be "better" after the fallout from John Bryne's Chapter One stories. Todd Dezago and Mike Weiringo should have been one of the teams left on the Spider-Man titles. Their stories were fresh and new.
      I'm certain Joe hated the Spider-Girl comic as well because it wasn't his baby and there were other things happening in which we were not privy to, but what started off as an open "possible" happy future for Peter Parker was forced into becoming another "imaginary" alternate continuity. Meanwhile, it's the only Marvel title with a female hero that ever passed 100 issues in a single run.

      I recall two Hulk/Supes meetings: The Roger Stern/Steve Rude one-shot and DC vs. Marvel. The first one was told in a retro 60's style - I haven't read it, but it seems popular with everyone who has. The second one was during his 90s "Banner Hulk" phase, when Banner and Hulk were supposedly the same guy, even though Banner never dressed like a member of WHAM before becoming the Hulk. I recall Superman won the fight. "Banner Hulk" and the grey "Joe Fixit" are considered weaker than "classic" Hulk, so we still haven't had a real brawl. In fact, based on this "criteria", Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk is the one that's pretty solid.

      I wonder if The Kryptonite Man ever changed into jeweled, red,blue K? Then he'd be The Absorbing Man, wouldn't he? ;)