Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It's Clobberin' Time


When you're reading a comic book where the characters are engaged in battle, it's fun to unexpectedly come across one of those full-page punches that's generally meant to settle the issue. Sometimes, the punch is just inserted for dramatic effect, as in these two excellent pages from Captain America and Thor:



Interestingly, these pages, with the hero on the receiving end, occur within the hero's own book--which is probably meant to convey to us that this battle is serious, and the hero is going to have to bring out their "A" game if they're going to come out on top. That's a good sign that we'll see a top-notch fight--so our hero getting their jaw dislocated is actually a good thing for us. :)

Usually, though, these scenes are meant to bring the battle to a dramatic end. Take these two scenes from Fantastic Four and Incredible Hulk--a fight between the Thing and the Hulk which was split between their two comics. Normally, you wouldn't be so pumped to see another Thing/Hulk fight, as the Thing is generally outmatched. But here, with the Thing having recently gone through additional exposure to cosmic rays which had the result of considerably increasing his strength, it turns out to be one hell of a fight.

Naturally, with the readership of both titles at stake, the "victory" is split between the two characters, as you'll see in these knockout punches from each title:



In the end, you have to really give it up for the Thing. By the time the Hulk has finally managed to take him down, not only has the Thing trashed him in an earlier fight--and I mean trashed him--but he's also taken on and beaten the "cosmically-powered Hulk" construct (powered by the Eternals) without even getting to take a breather. It's then that the real Hulk takes him on again, and this time exhausts the Thing by carefully planned moves before moving in and taking him out.

Naturally, such pages are made possible when the two characters are slugging it out. You'd hardly get the same effect by, say, Cyclops ray-blasting his opponent, or Professor X mentally dropping Magneto. (Or, as in World War Hulk, a satellite taking out a character that nearly every heavy hitter on Earth couldn't manage to do.)

Other decisive blows are more crucial to the story playing out, with their dramatic impact more of a bonus. Such was the case with these two pages from Invincible Iron Man and Marvel Two-In-One:



In the first, Iron Man takes out the Hulk, something he's never been able to do--but he succeeded only by taking a calculated risk that pretty much turns him into an iron paperweight for the bulk of the next issue. As for the Thing, that's his earlier self he's fighting--shortly after he, Reed, Johnny, and Sue were transformed into the FF, and when he was embittered due to his condition and always had a chip on his shoulder. His future self has come back to deliver a serum which will cure him--though the original Thing isn't about to listen to reason, and the more evolved Thing has to take him out for his own good.

And, on rare occasion, such coup de grĂ¢ce punches are delivered to stop a conflict before it starts. You don't see that kind of thing often in comics, because it defeats the purpose of gearing up for big fights that are, after all, a comic book's bread and butter. But we see it here, between two long-time comrades, where their battle is aborted because one of them only needs a stern reminder of their obligation to follow another country's laws. And there's nothing like a hammer blow to drive home the point, because there really can be only one obvious winner in this particular matchup:



Do take the opportunity to read the issues these pages appear from, if you have the chance. The light that I've put them in here is no substitute for the stories they're featured in. After all, when was the last book you enjoyed where you skipped to the ending?

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