If the trailers are any indication, Batman and Superman are going to come close to killing each other on the big screen. The problem for Superman is he doesn’t kill, but Batman doesn’t either, so I guess all that matters is who gets incapacitated or mentally defeated? While the film is heavily based on Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns there are many more instances of the characters fighting. Which throwdowns are the best? I take a look at DC Comics’ new collection of “Greatest Battles” and pick the best of the bunch!
This book contains six battles that range from a fight in 1986 to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s latest battle in 2014 when Joker took over the minds of the JLA. Are there more battles than this? Probably, but these encapsulate some of their best moments kicking each other’s butts.
While each story is slightly different there are some consistent aspects to each battle: Batman needs to employ some expensive gadgets to keep himself alive (that and some crazy prep-time planning and wit), and nobody really wins or loses, which in a sense is the point. They’re both heroes so how can one truly beat the other? Many of these battles do showcase one hero proving over the other an ideological point or, in the cases where a villain has taken over the mind of Superman, simply that the bad guys always lose. Either way it’s fun to see two of the most popular superheroes ever duke it out, so let’s dive in!
Technically Superman isn’t himself here, so does it really count?
#3: Batman: Endgame Parts 1 and 2 from Batman #35-36
This takes the third spot because Snyder gives Batman two awesome gadgets that took real imagination to think up. One involves “microscopic red suns” and the other a new form of kryptonite that’s shot via spit. Seriously, how do you think these things up? The microscopic red suns make one wonder, if Bruce Wayne can somehow harness the power of suns why isn’t he using that insane technology elsewhere? I guess some tech is best used to beat down a friend.
The armor Greg Capullo designed is also very cool and much more sleek and military like than the famous Frank Miller design. The fact that it has bat wings protruding from between the eyes is extra cool too.
Ultimately this battle ends with Batman actually winning, but via narration we learn nobody truly wins when they fight. Aww so sweet Bats.
#2: “Who Would Win?” from Superman/Batman #78
This story gets second place simply due to sheer fun. The characters don’t actually fight but instead we see the battle two young boys come up with as they attempt to top each other. Like a game of Dungeons and Dragons, the kids take a side and go back and forth with how Superman would counter an attack or how Batman had something else up his sleeve to stop Superman. It’s fun because of how outlandish some of the attacks are, (Batman blocks out the sun!) but also because there’s no way this story works unless it was straight from a kid’s imagination.
That might hurt…
This is also a solid story because heroes fighting heroes is a timeless conversation comic fans of all ages go through. To see a version of a conversation we’ve all had is flat out fun and there are some great ideas and surprises too.
Definitely from the minds of a nerd.
The story also ends well, as it makes the point that not only would neither hero win because they can’t kill, but also because neither would ever give up. Amen to that.
#1: The Dark Knight Falls from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #4
Did you really think this wouldn’t make the top of the list? Heck, there was a Batman vs. Superman battle in the same year collected in this book that pales in comparison simply because it’s so goofy. This collection delivers the entire issue even though the two heroes don’t fight till the last few pages, but that’s okay as it gives the fight context. This is the best battle because Superman is cast as a boy scout who follows the orders of the government regardless of their intentions and Batman must fight against it. Bats is also old and not quite as limber, but as good as it gets when it comes to plans.
The fight also adds meaning and purpose to the fight. Batman wants to prove Superman can lose. In a way Batman goes above and beyond to win as he pushes himself so hard he has a heart attack, but that just proves this fight is above and beyond all others because there are no chips left on the table. Well, there is that twist of a conclusion, but that adds to the mystic of heroes fighting heroes. Well done Frank Miller, your story is timeless.
Hopefully we see this in the upcoming movie!
Is It Good?
This is a great book, especially for the price (less than 8 bucks on Amazon right now). Those three stories are worth the price of admission alone for the reasons stated, plus there are two more each drawn by Jim Lee. While those stories look great, they didn’t match quite so well with the top three, but the question is: Does anyone really lose when these two fight? We’ll find out in May 2016 if the film can answer that.