Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Prepare To Be Staggered!

Comic book matchups that had you scratching your head--
but still made you curious about how the fight would turn out.

Welcome to another installment in a series of posts we could only call:

Given that Spider-Man isn't exactly the Juggernaut, you'd think that a battle between these two very different characters would be more of a one-time novelty, instead of a match-up that continues to be trotted out by Marvel on occasion. I think the reason for that is more due to Spider-Man's popularity than the Hulk's, if the healthy run of Marvel Team-Up and Spider-Man's many spin-off titles are any indication. Also, Spider-Man has several interesting abilities, which are pretty entertaining to see used against such an awesome foe. So the attraction of a Spider-Man/Hulk battle is probably to see how the fight is handled, rather than to take bets on who the victor will be. And though the Hulk took awhile to catch on with readers, he's now a Marvel mainstay and looks damn good appearing on another character's cover as a foe.

That said--aside from the marquee value, there isn't really much of a reason to tune in a battle between these two characters. Because basically, their encounters are going to go something like this:

In other words, while the Hulk attempts to get his hands on Spider-Man, Spidey is going to keep out of his way while doing his best to score hit-and-run attacks or distract the brute from whatever danger he's posing. No decisive victory is likely on Spider-Man's part, at least on a one-on-one basis. One-on-one, the Hulk could take Spider-Man out with one blow (and likely kill him); while Spider-Man, bless him, can only delude himself with a move like this one:

Right. If you say so, Spidey. You "staggered the Hulk." Less than 5 seconds after he'd changed from Bruce Banner. Yeah, that was all you. I knew you could spin webs, but I had no idea you could also spin the facts. You certainly didn't take long to use it as a feather in your cap, either:

I haven't seen Spider-Man's "Hulk-punch" since then, though, so either Spidey decided to stop flaunting it or Marvel decided to retire it--the latter probably being the case, since there would otherwise be no excuse for Spidey not to pull out the Hulk-punch if he had a problem putting down a foe. Maybe that's also why it's a rare day when Black Bolt uses his "master blow." If you had a master blow, would you avoid using it when things got tough? At any rate, it's probably best to stay clear of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3, the issue where that "staggering" punch against the Hulk takes place--nothing good can come from reading it, so...  no, don't, I said! Don't click that link! WAIT!

Oooooo, you're going to regret that.

Anyway, if you're curious, here's how Spider-Man's punch would work out under normal circumstances:

So this is no "clash of titans" we're talking about here, by any means. More like a demonstration of Spider-Man's mettle, using his ingenuity and powers (not to mention a whole lot of luck) to offset the Hulk's raw might:

But as a rule, Spider-Man's best defense against the Hulk is not a good offense, but rather a generous supply of evasive maneuvers. For obvious reasons:

Otherwise, he's going to become road kill:

"But wait!" you say. "What about Spider-Man's webbing?" Well, it depends on the circumstances where you see it used. In that Spider-Man annual, Spidey uses it to ensnare the Hulk after he *sigh* staggers him--but what have I told you about that annual? Disregard. Here's what's going to happen when you try using a sticky substance against a foe who can hoist cliffs for fun:

Still, while Spider-Man is doing his best not to get killed, we get to see some primo talent choreographing these fight scenes. In their third battle, a two-part issue (nicely scripted by Gerry Conway), the artwork in the first part was done by John Romita (and inking his own work, what a treat!):

While Gil Kane (inked by Romita and Tony Mortellaro) took the second part:

And of course the great Steve Ditko (and inking his own work here) handled the artwork for their first meeting:

So while we may not ever get a TKO from Spider-Man against the Hulk, we can at least have a little fun watching Spider-Man being put through his paces. Not that the Hulk will have any fun--but come on, do you think he wants to be staggered on a regular basis?


Doc Savage said...

Love it. Hulk smash puny "insect"!

Anyone else constantly bugged by EVERY Marvel villain, even the educated ones, referring to Spidey as "insect" during fights? Bad enough the "Stan Lee Presents" box took years to get it right, but would Doc Doom be so ignorant?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of odd match-ups, it always blew my mind that Mr. Hyde became a sparring partner with, and was beaten by, Captain America and Daredevil after starting out fighting Thor, no less. (Even though I think ol' Thor could've made hamburger out of that clown if he really wanted to). But even Cap once managed to knock out Hyde with one punch! It was later explained, as I recall, that Hyde was running low on his crazy-juice at the time. Still, he should have considered retirement a long time ago, especially after getting slapped around by the grey-skinned Hulk. Some guys just never learn, I guess.

Comicsfan said...

Hell, to the Hulk, maybe all of us are insects. But this is a guy who's been known to call people "bird-nose" and who accuses boulders of being "dumb," so writers probably aren't too particular about making sure he's up on his arachnology. :D

Anonymous said...

Anybody remember the time Stilt-man went up against Thor? I guess at least he got a good story out of it to tell the boys in the prison yard when he got back. Or the emergency room, more likely.

Comicsfan said...

The Hyde/Thor match-up is certainly ripe for one of these posts--though I think Hyde's collision with Thor during the siege of Avengers Mansion by the Masters of Evil may have settled the matter nicely! :)

dbutler16 said...

Spidey bragging about how he once "staggered" the Hulk reminds me of Wonder MAn telling anyone who would listen that he had gone toe to toe with Thor. Hilarious.

Iain said...

I always liked the second Superman/Spider Man treasury edition where the Hulk is rampaging through town and has just punched Supes into orbit, Spidey decides its time he entered the fight then Superman returns and tells Spidey to stand down he'll take care of the Hulk. Spideys reaction "Hey what am I the water boy?" was hilarious. ^^

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