THE TOP 5 GREATEST BATTLES OF
John "THE MEGO STRETCH HULK" Cimino
Dedicated to Michael E. Uslan
who showed me that my dreams CAN and WILL become a reality...
Created By: Bob Kane and Bill Finger First Appearance: DETECTIVE COMICS #27 (1939)
The Batman is one of the greatest and most heroic figures in the history of comics, but he is also one of the most tragic. A family outing to the cinema ended in tragedy for young Bruce Wayne. Walking homeward, Bruce, his father, Thomas, and mother, Martha, accidentally ventured into Gotham City's notorious "Crime Alley" and were accosted by a mugger. Not content merely to rob the wealthy family, the hoodlum named Joe Chill shot Dr. Thomas and Martha Wayne dead before fleeing into the darkness. As he knelt beside his parent's bodies, Bruce swore to avenge them. After the police arrived, Bruce was comforted by Dr. Leslie Thompkins. Dr. Thompkins and his butler Alfred Pennyworth helped arrange matters so that Gotham's Social Services would not take Bruce into care. In this way, both Dr. Thompkins and Alfred enabled Bruce to realize his dream of becoming a crusader against crime. Bruce embarked on a journey that took him to every continent as he sought to learn all the skills he would need to keep his vow. In time, Bruce forged himself into a living weapon to wage war on crime and injustice. He built himself into the peak of human perfection in dozens of areas, notably martial arts, acrobatics, strength, and escape artistry. Intellectually, he is just as peerless; he became one of the world's greatest scientists, criminologists, and tacticians, as well as a master of disguise. He is now regarded as one of the DC Universe's greatest detectives. Rather than simply out-fighting his opponents, he often uses cunning and planning to outwit them. He is arguably a Renaissance man in the sheer variety and depth of his knowledge and skills.
In his identity as Bruce Wayne, he is one of the world's foremost businessmen, making Wayne Industries into one of the wealthiest companies in the world. As Batman, he became an urban legend, a cautionary tale that sent shivers through the city's underworld. He also found a friend in Commissioner James Gordon, an honorable man who appreciated the results of his nightly crime fighting. Batman's Rogues Gallery grew to become the greatest cast of bizarre criminals in all of comicdom, such as the Penguin, Catwoman, Bane, Two-Face, Clayface, Poison Ivy, the Riddler, Killer Croc, Mr. Freeze, the Scarecrow, Hugo Strange and the the greatest villain of all--the Joker.
Batman is the typical brooding loner, he can appear to be cold and aloof towards others who wish to get closer. To him, he'd rather be alone because if he cares for someone, he knows he could eventually get hurt if he loses them. Still, that cold and sometimes arrogant, prideful and obsessive side is what most people (who don't know him personally) see instead of the kind and compassionate person he truly is underneath. And despite his darkness and brutality, he has a moral code he will not cross; he will not take a life and he would never use a gun.
With all his tremendous skills and unmatched aura, Batman is arguably the greatest and most dangerous superhero on Earth (as well as in comics). And this is even more surprising by the fact that he is only a human among a host of super-friends that have enough raw-power at their disposal to rival the gods. Yup, he is that respected and that feared! And having the reputation as DC's greatest combat fighter (BAM! POW! ZAP! and WHAM! are famous words due to his punches and kicks), Batman has been in some of the most iconic and legendary battles in the medium's history. And this write up is dedicated to the ones that changed the comic industry forever (no easy task mind you). Here is the Batman and here are his 5 best...
5.) JUSTICE LEAGUE #5 (1987)
Writers: Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis Art: Kevin Maguire
While this fight was not an all-out, action-packed slugfest that Batman fans are used too, it is just as brutal and as any fight in the Dark Knight's history. Surprisingly its notoriety also comes from the sheer hilarity of it. Since the formation of the Justice League team Guy Gardner has been running his mouth and driving all his teammates into a tizzy with his arrogance and gall. But his arguments with Batman about who should really lead them was starting to get out of hand. At the JL Headquarters, Guy Gardner and Batman are into another heated argument (that the Dark Knight seems to be enjoying and subtly instigates). Finally fed up with the Caped Crusader, Guy removes his GL ring and attacks him, but Batman knocks Guy out to the delight of the entire team -- and with only one punch! Guy now found out that no matter how tough or powerful you might be, you don't mess with the Batman.
4.) JLA #37 and 38 (2000)
Writer: Grant Morrison Art: Howard Porter and John Dell
Prometheus possesses no superhuman abilities, but has undergone intense physical and mental training and utilizes an extensive range of equipment and technology. His common tools include body armor; gauntlets that fire various projectiles; a tonfa with several technological features; and a helmet that in addition to emitting strobe lighting capable of disorientation and hypnotism, can via a compact disc allow a download of the knowledge and physical skills of others directly into his brain. He is a perfect adversary for the Batman, but no one knew just how perfect. When both combatants first went at it in JLA #16, Batman was taken off-guard by the villain's arsenal and completely humbled by him in hand-to-hand combat to everyone's amazement. And although the JLA team eventually defeated and drove Prometheus off, Batman never got his revenge. Comic readers went nuts, and they demanded a rematch! Now on the Moon where the JLA fight to stop a gathering of super-villain's and Armageddon, Batman arrives and faces off against Prometheus for a rematch. Prometheus begins getting the better of Batman again, however, the Dark Knight planned for this, he booby-trapped Prometheus' helmet before it was put on display against him. At the push of a button, the martial artist and gymnast programs in it are overwritten by the physical abilities of one man - "PROFESSOR STEPHEN HAWKING!" Crippled, Prometheus is an easy target and knocked out by the Caped Crusader. It was an amazing victory for Batman and established what everyone already knew, with some prep-time, he is just about unbeatable. After witnessing the fight Huntress turns to Batman and says "Did I see you cheating?" he responds "Winning." Yes, it was winning indeed.
3.) THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS #2 (1986)
Writer: Frank Miller Art: Frank Miller and Klaus Janson
The Dark Knight Returns is easily one of Batman's greatest and most influential stories ever. It truly defined the Cape Crusader into the modern age and brought him back into the Dark Avenger of the Night that he was always intended to be. The story itself is deep, gritty, dark and took comic book story telling to a whole new level (only Alan Moore's Watchmen" can be considered an equal). With an older Batman coming out of exile to restore order to Gotham, he finds himself in combat with a Mutant Gang and their leader who wants to run Gotham for themselves. Following his leads, the Caped Crusader succeeds in tracking down the Mutant lair and defeating them with the his new Batmobile (which is as an armored supertank, with large cannons and machine guns that, according to him, only fire rubber bullets). When Batman first encounters the Mutant Leader he could easily kill him with his Batmobile, but as the Mutant taunts the elder Batman to see if he has the courage to fight him hand-to-hand, the hatch opens and Batman attacks! In a brutal hand-to-hand fight, Batman is defeated and almost killed by the Mutant Leader, as the aging Caped Crusader tries to prove to himself (and Alfred) that he is a force at any age. Luckily, Carrie, in her new Robin costume, has been following the Dark Knight, and manages to save him. Batman returns to the Batcave where Alfred tends his wounds (and argues with him over the danger to Carrie); meanwhile, the Mutant Leader is brought into custody. The Leader's absolute animalistic nature (and, hence, the animalistic nature of his underlings) is fully revealed when the Leader manages to tear out the Mayor's throat while in custody. Gordon and Batman conspire to defeat the Mutants psychologically by staging a fight between Batman and the Leader in front of the whole Mutant gang. Using his greater experience and his environment, Batman cripples the Mutant Leader in the rematch in full view of his followers. While many of the Mutants are arrested, many more now latch on to Batman as their role model, dubbing themselves the "Sons of Batman." These fights are easily some of the most vicious and brutal fights ever in comics that lead the industry into the Modern Age of Comics.
2.) BATMAN #1 (1940)
Writer: Bill Finger Art: Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson
There can be no doubt that the Joker is the greatest villain in all of comics and he is by far Batman's most dangerous adversary. The Clown Prince of Crime's rivalry with the Dark Knight is a never ending battle between order and chaos. Their battles and capers have been some of the most epic and legendary stories in the history of comics and they have influenced creators and fans for generations. Despite the number of times they faced off, Batman #1 set the tone for what was to come and keep coming. Because no matter how beaten or humbled the Joker was, he always returned to give the Batman a run for his money and test his wits and sanity better than anyone else ever could. This rivalry began here in these two historic stories that started the greatest super-hero vs super-villain match up of all time.
This mysterious new villain named the Joker announces on the radio that he will kill Henry Claridge and steal the Claridge diamond at midnight. The police guard Claridge but he still dies at midnight with a smile on his face. The police then discover that the diamond was stolen and it was replaced with a glass one. Later the Joker announces that he will kill Jay Wilde and steal the Ronkers Ruby. The Joker succeeds again showing that he is much more dangerous than anyone ever expected. Now a mobster named Brute Nelson who is enraged that the Joker is pulling off all these jobs that he planned sends word out that he thinks that the Joker is a coward. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson hear about this and suspect that it's a trap so Bruce (now as Batman) goes to the mobster's house. The Joker is already there and as he murders Nelson he is confronted by the Caped Crusader and they fight it out. However, the Joker proves that he is no slouch as he pounds on Batman and knocks him off a bridge. Luckily, Batman survives but he realizes that the Joker is far more dangerous than he ever suspected. The Clown then resumes his murderous rampage by announcing that he will kill Judge Drake. The Joker impersonates a police chief and then kills the judge. The Joker also discovers Robin outside and kidnaps him but the Batman soon saves him. The Joker manages to escape and Robin then tells Batman that the Joker was saying that he was going after the Cleopatra Necklace. They meet up again with Batman defeating the Joker in their rematch and send the clown off to jail where he states that they will meet again.
The second story takes place two days after the Joker was captured. He manages to escape using explosive chemicals hidden in some false teeth and begins to cause his reign of terror. At home, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson hear the news on the radio and Bruce speculates that Joker is probably after vengeance. The Joker enters his secret laboratory through a hidden entrance in a graveyard and starts plotting. He threatens the Chief of Police and kills him with a dart that is released with a phone call. The next day, a painting is stolen, and the owner of a stolen gem is found dead...grinning. Then the Joker threatens to steal the Cleopatra necklace. Bruce, hearing it on the radio, promises to stop him. In the museum, the crazed clown emerges from a sarcophagus and uses his poison to incapacitate the guards. Batman appears and disarms the mad clown but the Joker seizes an axe and manages to knock Batman out. The Police arrive and find the unconscious Batman and notice that the necklace is missing. Before the cops can remove Batman's cowl, he wakes up and escapes out a window. A reformer, Edgar Martin calls for the capture of the Joker, and is marked for death. That night, Martin is guarded by security and plays cards to help him calm down. But he notices the deck is full of jokers, and they are poison-laced, killing him. The next day Bruce Wayne suggests a trap for the Joker to his friend Commissioner Gordon. They have the press print a series of articles on the Fire Ruby, and despite suspecting a trap, the Joker goes for it. When he arrives, the police surround him, and he shoots, making for the roof. But Robin is there waiting for him and he fights with the mad clown but gets knocked off the roof. Luckily, the Boy Wonder grabs a flagpole and saves himself. Running down to see if Robin died, the Joker takes aim to shoot him but is intercepted by Batman. The two arch-rivals now fight it out in a savage brawl with a knife. It ends when the Joker stabs himself in the chest and starts cracking up while falling to the ground. Batman and Robin think the Joker is dead and take off, leaving the Police to find out that the Joker is still alive. To be continued...
1.) THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS #4 (1986)
Writer: Frank Miller Art: Frank Miller and Klaus Janson
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John "The Mego Stretch Hulk" Cimino - "Hero Envy" Central
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that contributes articles to BACK ISSUE Magazine from TwoMorrows Publishing and has written and starred in the "Hero Envy" webisode series. He is also the host of the Reckless Sidekick "Swass-Cast" and has contributed to the "Hero Envy" comic book. He also thinks he's really Captain Marvel, people just don't have the heart to tell him he's just an obsessed fanboy that borders on the insane. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know.