Greetings from the Odinson,
Batman vs. Joker. Spider-Man vs. the Green Goblin. Superman vs. Lex Luthor. Captain America vs. Red Skull. Going all the back to David vs. Goliath and Hector vs. Achilles, rivalries have been a very important and essential part of storytelling. Whether in sports: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins, marketing: Coke vs. Pepsi, music: The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, or pop culture: Star Trek vs. Star Wars, rivalries have been a source for drama and entertainment all throughout history.
How many countless times has the Man of Steel stopped the mad schemes of Lex Luthor? How many countless times has your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man prevented the diabolical Doctor Octopus from destroying the city? Comic books feature some of the greatest rivalries of All-Time! Rivalries have been a source of debate for comic book fans for generations. Who is stronger – Hulk vs. the Thing? Who is faster – Superman vs. the Flash? Who has the best super hero universe – Marvel vs. DC? But, traditional rivalries are not the only kind of rivalries in comics.
A few weeks ago, the Odinson listed his Top 5 Underrated Batman Villains. On that list I included Batman vs. Lex Luthor. This is what I’d call an Unconventional Rivalry. An Unconventional Rivalry may not have the long history of the classic match-ups but they are no less delicious. These are face offs and duels that I rarely ever see but when I do, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m picking up that issue. Some Unconventional Rivalries are no brainers and leave the reader wondering why they don’t happen more often (werewolf vs. vampire). Some Unconventional Rivalries are due to circumstance or conflict of interests (Red Skull vs. Magneto). Some are just super cool (King Kong vs. Godzilla)!
The following is a list of Unconventional Rivalries where every single time I see them on the cover of a comic, the Odinson will definitely be picking up that issue.
The Odinson’s Top 5 Unconventional Rivalries
GI Joe vs. Transformers – This is a heated rivalry that goes back thirty years and extends beyond the boundaries of the four color format. In the great decade of the 1980s, Transformers and GI Joe: A Real American Hero were easily among the bestselling toylines and most watched cartoons. Ever since that fateful episode of Transformers that featured a cameo by Flint, little minds everywhere were blown for that confirmed that the Robots in Disguise actually inhabited the same universe as the Real American Heroes. It’s a rivalry that still surfaces to this day as these two franchises, thanks to the emergence of the Transformers Movie Saga and GI Joe Movie Saga, seem to just grow stronger and stronger as the years go by.
Teen Titans vs. the Justice League – Sometimes teachers and their students butt heads. This was the case in those years when Dick Grayson was making the transition from teenage sidekick into adult hero. This was never more apparent than in “Against All Friends” and the Titans/Outsiders Crossover when Batman was forced to recognize Robin’s emergence as a leader of heroes. Robin’s Titan teammates took a beating when the Man of Steel was out of control in Action Comics #584. Even the Amazing Amazon has had her fair share of troubles with the angst-infused teenage super heroes as seen in Wonder Woman #287 and Teen Titans Spotlight. In Sins of Youth, the two factions learn what life would be like if their roles were reversed. And, in Young Justice, the adults struggle with mentoring their replacements while dealing with natural teenage rebellion. It’s hard for the next generation of heroes as they live in the shadows of their legendary counterparts.
Superman vs. The Joker – If Batman vs. Lex Luthor would be an ultimate battle of wits, what would the world’s strongest hero vs. the Clown Prince of Crime be? Superman quickly learns that he is not dealing with anything he is used to in DC Comics Presents #41. The Joker tries to give the Man of Steel a sense of humor in “To Laugh and Die in Metropolis!” And, Superman struggles in a world where the Joker has become All-Powerful in the pages of Emperor Joker. However, readers see what the horrible endgame to this rivalry could possibly be in alternate universe tales like Kingdom Come and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Hulk vs. Juggernaut – One is unstoppable and the other is the strongest one there is. It’s the classic situation of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. As hard as it is to believe, when they first met in Incredible Hulk #172, they were allies. However, it didn’t take long for Cain Marko’s bad boy attitude to rub the Jade Giant the wrong way. In “Call of the Desert,” the Hulk is being attacked by a cadre of his greatest enemies. It is revealed that these are creations of his own bent psyche, but among those attacking him is the Juggernaut. Even though up to this point, these two behemoths have only crossed paths once, the fact that Marko is included illustrated that even the mighty Hulk respects the power of the Juggernaut. They have had several earth-shaking clashes in Incredible Hulk #402-404 and Incredible Hulk #457, World War Hulk: X-Men, and Marvel Adventures with neither of them really getting it over on the other. This is a rivalry that needs to be renewed so that they can determine once and for all who is the toughest Marvel Brute?
Iron Man vs. Doctor Doom – One is one of the smartest men alive who is a technical wizard that has created a suit of high tech armor that is a walking weapon of mass destruction, and he fights for justice. The other is one of the smartest men alive who is an actual wizard that has constructed a high tech suit of armor that is a walking weapon of mass destruction, and he fights for conquest. Not since Ali/Frazier has there been a more natural and all too short-lived rivalry. In “Doomquest,” these men of science find themselves trapped in the past on opposing sides in the fabled Kingdom of Camelot. During the Acts of Vengeance campaign, they are transported one-hundred years into the future to duel it out. Even when the power of the Infinity Gauntlet threatens the very fabric of reality, the natural rivalry between these two heats up as the mighty Thor must physically restrain Iron Man from accosting Doctor Doom in the moments leading up to final battle with the Mad Titan.
Top 5 Rivalries the Odinson Wants to See Grow
These are the rivalries whose flames need to be fanned and brought to an out-of-control blaze!
Street Fighter vs. Mortal Kombat – The brawlers and brutes of Street Fighter have matched brawn and wits against the Marvel Universe and SNK Universe. And, the demons, demi-gods, and masters of kung fu of Mortal Kombat have stood toe-to-toe with the World’s Greatest Super Heroes of the DC Universe. Gamers have long debated which game is better and what fighters would prevail over the others. It is high time the fans were treated to the ultimate face off – Street Fighter vs. Mortal Kombat!
Doctor Strange vs. Doctor Doom – Doctor Stephen Strange is the Sorcerer Supreme and the Master of the Mystic Arts. Victor Von Doom is arguably the smartest man alive, he is encased in body armor that rivals Iron man’s power, and, next to Strange himself, may be the most insightful mortal medium for the magic in the Marvel Universe. Doom once manipulated Strange into helping him face down the devil himself. A rivalry between Stephen Strange and Victor Von Doom is begging to be explored.
Batman vs. Deathstroke – The Terminator has had a long, tumultuous history with Batman’s partner, Nightwing. However, a rivalry between the two most dangerous men on the planet would be a match up made in Heaven. Both men have made a career of overcoming impossible odds and logging victories, small and big, over far more powerful foes like Superman (Superman #68 and The Dark Knight Returns), the Teen Titans (The Judas Contract), Amazo (Batman #637), and the Justice League (Identity Crisis #3 and Tower of Babel). They have both scored victories over the other (Deathstroke #7 and Infinite Crisis) and have stalemated (Detective Comics #708-710), but a showdown as truly epic as this one has never really been explored. Want a Hot Sports Opinion? The Odinson truly believes we have never seen a definitive mano-y-mano showdown between the Dark Knight and the Terminator because I believe the powers that be at DC Comics aren’t sure Batman would win.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell