Monday, November 10, 2014

Face-Off Fury!

There's a time for all-out battle--and a time for putting the slugfest aside and engaging one-on-one in a head-to-head face-off to quickly determine who prevails. Several of our favorite Marvel heroes and villains have cut to the chase in a winner-take-all contest of wills that can have only one victor--and for us, part of the fun is watching them draw a line in the sand leading up to it:

Now who's going to back down from an overture like that?

First up, there's probably no better contest to start with than one involving good vs. evil, and for that we need look no further than Mephisto and the Silver Surfer. In their earliest confrontation, Mephisto reaches the point where he's done tempting the Surfer with riches and power.  Now it becomes a matter of the Surfer's submission:

Mephisto might have taken a more subtle approach with the Surfer--say, reminding him of all those trillions of innocent people whose lives he helped to end by leading Galactus to their worlds. Taking the blunt route only gave him the Hades version of indigestion.

Doubtless the most famous face-off was between alpha telepaths Charles Xavier and Dark Phoenix--and they, too, had the pre-contest posturing down to an art form:

Alright, put those brainwaves back in your pants, you two, and let's get started:

It occurs to me that, while the Phoenix force may be familiar with tripping around "all the infinite planes of existence," Xavier, a human being, might still be used to just one--so I'm thinking he would have been driven mad well before this contest went the distance. Fortunately, Jean Grey was telepathically working behind the scenes to help her old teacher, and he wins the day by a TKO:

While we're on the subject of brainiacs, let's take a look at the legendary confrontation between Reed Richards and Doctor Doom, following a battle between Doom and the FF that seemed interminable. Let's let Reed explain his plan for a face-off between the two (before Doom steals his thunder, that is):

(It looks like they're mentally attached to a cable box, but what do I know.)

And so the war of wills between these two intellects begins:

Yes, Reed lost and was banished! Not a hoax! Not a dream! Not an imaginary tale! Just a glass of berry juice! While it may appear to you and I that Doom prevailed over Reed, the truth is that Reed drugged Doom with juice that Doom had invented to make the FF susceptible to hallucination, thereby causing Doom to see the result he wanted to see. Doom then left in "triumph," none the wiser.

Nor was Leonard Samson too wise in thinking he could not only match the incredible Hulk in strength, but also come out on top. Let's see how these two lead up to their face-off:

Samson already sounds a little shaky on his feet, doesn't he? And well he might, because here he gets his first lesson on the nature of the Hulk's power:

Samson may very well be saying "uncle" here, though it seems to be coming out as "yahhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Why don't we segue to a more alien face-off, where Moondragon, true to form, isn't giving Thanos much of a choice about engaging with her in a face-off (or is it "mind-off"?):

While Moondragon may not be known for her tact insofar as dealing with others socially, when engaging her powers of the mind she practices much more deftness and strategy. Too bad you could say much the same for her titan of a foe:

(Someday it's going to be revealed that Thanos is actually a Skrull who's just forgotten he's a Skrull. Come on, look at the resemblance in features.)

Moondragon would have better results in her face-off with her own father, Drax the Destroyer, who attempts to stop her from taking over another world. And, just as with our other contestants, the two of them issue their mutual opinions on how this confrontation is going to end:

As Drax closes on her, you almost forget the fact that this is father and daughter, who each is trying to prevent the other from killing them. And you thought your family was dysfunctional:

Finally, we take one last look at the Surfer, who now faces off with the God of Mischief, Loki:

Admittedly, it's no surprise that Loki would fold when things weren't going too well for him. But he also wanted to leave the Surfer intact in order to use him as a catspaw against Thor.  If he'd waited for a  few years, I'm sure Doc Samson would have been available.


Anonymous said...

"Jean Grey was working telepathically behind the scenes to help her old teacher" - but we found out later that this Dark Phoenix wasn't actually Jean Grey so who was fighting Dark Phoenix ? Or was the real Jean Grey helping Xavier from afar ? (Excuse my ignorance - I'd stopped reading the X-Men after Byrne left).

Anonymous said...

Colin, may I call you "Colin"?, the easiest answer to you question is "Yes, you are correct". To answer any other way would involve a long drawn out explanation of retconns and re-retconns and Byrne's revenge on Shooter demanding that Dark Phoenix/Jean Gray must die for killing a planet full of people.

Marvel had wanted to bring back the Fab 5 of mutants, Scott, Warren, Hank, Bobby and Jean to reform the band. But Jean was dead so they were going to go with Allison "The Dazzler" Blair. But John Byrne said "Don't do that! I have a way to reintroduce Jean!" (The exclamations are mine.) So anyways, the Dark Phoenix, as presented, was Jean Gray. But then she wasn't. And then she died. But not Jean, Dark Phoenix.

The Prowler (Daylight turns into night we try and find the answer but it's nowhere in sight It's always the same and you know who's to blame you know what I'm sayin', still we keep on playin').

Comicsfan said...

Basically, Colin, the Phoenix made itself believe it was Jean, and remained unaware of its self-deception--presumably until after Jean ended her existence. So, in essence, the Phoenix was working against itself when "Jean" was helping Xavier restore the limits on its power.