Friday, September 6, 2013

Discuss: Classic 'Hero vs. Hero' Covers

Karen: Over on the Facebook Back Issue forum, there have been a lot of great covers posted, including a number of Sub-Mariner covers from the title's run in the 60s and early 70s. It was pointed out how frequently Namor appeared to be slugging it out with other super-heroes. This got me to thinking about how many covers feature hero vs. hero. There's something about two good guys slugging it out that is undeniably exciting, but when it's drawn in spectacular fashion by a great artist, it just elevates it to a whole different level. I'm posting some favorite hero vs. hero covers here for discussion, but you're free to bring up any others. 

Doug:  Karen offered me the opportunity to add to this one after she'd already started it.  I chucked in the last three covers at the bottom -- I am loving all of them, however!  Great topic, partner!

NOTE: This post was refreshed on May 12 2020, and there were 16 covers originally on display. As all links were broken, and I cannot recall just which covers were present, I'm offering up just a few. I hope I've still carried the intent of Karen's original post. -Doug

Doug:  I'm adding this wonderful John Buscema Silver Age 2-parter,  below:


redartz said...

Interesting how frequently that the Hulk or Namor is one of the combatants. Due, no doubt, to their status as hero/villain (less so the Hulk, yet he is generally perceived as a menace in the Marvel Universe as a whole).

Truly some fantastic covers there; Silver Surfer vs Thor just exudes power. That Fantastic Four cover is a classic. Kirby's version of Spiderman is more muscular than some, but works pretty well here. Perhaps Joe Sinnott finished it up with a nod to Romita.

Finally, a couple more covers to add to your list:
Defenders 10 (Hulk vs Thor!)
Silver Surfer 14 (Surfer vs Spiderman; great Buscema cover)
Justice League of America 56 (JLA vs JSA, a cover that inspired many future team against team images).

Edo Bosnar said...

The cover of Silver Surfer #4 is certainly a classic - probably the first one that comes to mind when someone says 'hero vs. hero.' Your other examples are all fine entries, as well. Here's a few more of my favorites, which I almost ripped out of the spinner racks when I first saw them:

Fantastic Four #250 - the FF apparently facing off against Spidey, Cap, the X-men and Gladiator
(here's a link:

Iron Man #131 - another one with the Hulk! (

Marvel Team-up #67 - Tigra about to carve up Spidey (

Spider-man #187 - Spidey vs. Cap (

DC Comics Presents #17 - Supes vs. Firestorm by Garcia Lopez

The famous Superman vs. Capt. Marvel cover -

And one of my all-time favorites (at least on the DC side), JLA #200
( - the DC Wiki didn't have the whole wrap-around image).

Doug said...

I just added the cross-over between the X-Men and Avengers, both covers drawn by Big John Buscema!

Great suggestions so far, redartz and Edo!


Doc Savage said...

"Senses-shattering" indeed.

Anonymous said...

Great topic Karen and one that really brings back some memories.

Back in the day, when I was a snot nosed punk who had no clue as to the concept of collecting comics because they might actually be worth something, I used to cut out covers like that and put them on my closet doors. My room had a sliding double door closet which made for a lot of space to put up pin-ups. And my favs were always hero vs. hero. The one I remember in particular that got me going was Marvel Superheroes #37 with Namor and Iron Man (those 2 seem to go at it a lot).

After I grew up and moved out and "my" room became my dad's office, I was asked if they could finally take all those pictures down.

I should have said "No".


Murray said...

Amazing Spider-Man #123: vs Luke Cage, Hero for Hire (not yet "Power Man"). Great Romita.

Daredevil #163: all see is a desperate Man Without Fear in a dead end alley eclipsed by a big shadow. A large green hand is in the foreground...

Uncanny X-Men #100: Old X-Men vs New X-Men

Oh, man. I think I strained something trying to think of a DC cover...

The NEW Teen Titans #4: vs the JLA. Quality Perez cover.

david_b said...

How 'bout some Cardy love, folks..?

Classic Cardy, it's one of the dozen Cardy TT issues I bought NM back in '86 for like $5.. Still blows my mind.

William said...

Good topic. Some of my favorites are:

Daredevil #7 (DD vs. Namor by Wally Wood). This is one of my favorite comicbook covers of all-time!!

Fantastic Four #25 (Thing vs. The Hulk by Jack Kirby). I can't believe you didn't feature this one. One of the all-time great covers, IMO.

Amazing Spider-Man #16 (Spidey vs. Daredevil by Steve Ditko). It's noteworthy because DD was stilly sporting his original yellow costume. Too cool.

Savage Sub-Mariner #69 (Namor vs. Spider-Man by John Romita). I bought this issue recently on Ebay just because of the cover, and the inside art does not compare at all. Plus Spider-Man is only in the book for about two pages. Total rip!! (But that cover is beautiful).

Thor #126 (Thor vs. Hercules by Kirby). A true classic.

William said...

Just thought of a big one.

The original SUPERMAN vs. SPIDER-MAN by Ross Andru. Nuff said.

J.A. Morris said...

One of my favorites, Godzilla vs. the Champions!:

I realize Godzilla wasn't a "hero" in the traditional sense, but he was the misunderstood protagonist of his series.

Anonymous said...

Justice League #56 was the first "Hero vs. Hero" cover that I can remember. That "clash cover" design became one of the most common in comics: Avengers #53, Avengers Annual #2, Defenders #119. Mar-Vell fought the Hulk on the cover of Captain Marvel #21. Superman fought the real Captain Marvel on the covers of Justice League #137 and All-Star Squadron #36 and #37.

david_b said...

William, I made the same purchase of Subby #69 for the same reason. LOVED the cover, but the inside story/art was pretty lame.

I recall this cover being out the same month (or soon after..) to MTU ish 14, with another equally-awesome Spidey-Subby tangling cover.

Anonymous said...

Superman also fought Captain Thunder, a Captain Marvel/Shazam pastiche, on (and in) Superman #276. A surprising number of World's Finest covers had Superman fighting Batman (#122, #143, #163, #197). WF #201 had Superman vs. Green Lantern. And I agree that the Hulk and Sub-Mariner appeared so often due to their status as quasi-villains or menaces. It made as much sense for the Fantastic Four to fight Namor or the Hulk as it did for them to fight Doctor Doom or the Skrulls. Other "hero vs. hero" fights had to contrive some stupid misunderstanding (Fantastic Four #73 is a classic example). Two satire comics in the 1980's, normalman and Megaton Man, spoofed that convention. In the former, "Sgt. Fluffy" and "Captain Everything" start beating up on each other while both admit that they've been friends and allies for years, but "we need a fight scene!" And in the first issue of Megaton Man, the Quantum Quartet assume (for no reason whatever), that MM is an impostor and attack him.

david_b said...

Two heroes not mentioned much yet..:

Ah, just look at that timeless beauty..? It was another cover that just BEGGING me to be owned in pristine condition..

No UPC symbols yet, no Marvel Masthead on top, no unnecessary word balloons, just a simple story title at the bottom.

Much like FF 112 and Surfer ish 4, simple, majestic, and screams 'BUY ME'.

Tony said...

How could you miss mentioning Superman vs Wonder Woman?

Fred W. Hill said...

Nobody's yet brought up another Silver Age classic hero vs. hero cover, Daredevil #43, in which DD takes on Captain America! Then there's Avengers Annual #2, the original assemblers taking on the then current ones, and one of the few to show current characters taking on past versions of themselves (1963 vintage Giant-Man & Wasp vs. 1968 Goliath & Wasp).
BTW, Anonymous, in 1939 the first Captain Marvel was published, sort of. At the time he was called Captain Thunder, and in appeared in a low print run title with some under the banner "Flash Comics", others "Thrill Comics". Subsequently Fawcett was informed that Flach Comics, Thrill Comics and Captain Thunder had all been previously copy-righted, hence they tried again with the re-named Captain Marvel in Whiz Comics. And so began the behind-the-scenes saga of comics publishers' lawyers battling it out, which continues to this day, keeping the bastard "grandson" of Captain Marvel, Miracle Man in legal limbo and forcing the big red cheese himself to be known as Shazam! (hmm, is the exclamation point part of his name now?)

Fred W. Hill said...

Drat, excuse the typos above.

Doug said...

If "we" had mentioned it, Tony, then you wouldn't have been able to highlight that awesome Garcia-Lopez cover in your comment!


PS: I suppose every Superman/Flash race counts, too, huh?

Doc Savage said...

It wasn't a low print-run, it was an ashcan. Nothing anyone could have bought. The purpose was solely to secure copyright on the character concept and try to secure trademarks on the names.

It also wasn't copyrights for Flash Comics and the name Captain Thunder, it was trademarks. You can't copyright titles and names.

Doug said...

Since David_B brought up the Titans, and since others have mentioned the team face-off style of covers, I'll toss out Teen Titans #50 with a nifty East Coast vs. West Coast match-up. The last issue of the series, #53, featured the Titans against their JLA mentors in an "untold origin" story.


Anonymous said...

Spidey seemed to fight other heroes a lot; a few that come to mind are: Amazing Spider-Man #62 vs. Medusa and #71 vs. Quicksilver, plus the numerous Spidey vs. Hulk covers. And let's not forget Amazing #161 (Spidey vs. Nightcrawler) which you guys just reviewed. And does Punisher count as a hero? If so, there are tons of covers with him fighting other heroes.

Someone mentioned the World's Finest of the best was #302 where Batman is pounding Superman with kryptonite fists:

Mike W.

Edo Bosnar said...

Just after posting above, I slapped my forehead because I forgot one of the most iconic of these confrontation covers ever, i.e., Captain America #110:
I'm a bit surprised that no one else mentioned it either...

Also, it seems like Iron Man also appears in a lot of these covers, often with Namor. My favorite featuring them both is Iron Man #120 (

Tony said...

Or maybe even "Superman vs Muhammed Ali" although Ali was a "hero' of a different kind..

Karen said...

Glad to see this post stirred up a lot of comments! There were a ton of covers I would have liked to have included in the post but we only have so much space. You've all chosen some good ones.

I really do have to tip my hat to the Back Issue forum and to Michael Williams in particular for all his Sub-Mariner cover posts -it seemed like Subby was constantly fighting other heroes! The Thing, Triton, Stingray, Sunfire, Iron Man, the Torch, Thor, you name him, Subby was trading punches with him!

Anonymous said...

I would say the Punisher counts as a hero. He began as an antagonist for Spider-Man, but got his own self-titled solo series (and about 250,000 spin-offs) in the late 1980s. He really was an outlaw, so good guys could logically go after him without some contrived, silly misunderstanding. Similar with the Hulk and Godzilla, who really were menaces, if not intentionally malevolent. Spider-Man did appear frequently, probably because he was constantly being framed for crimes and mistaken for a bad guy. BTW, I knew that Fawcett printed limited ashcan editions of Flash Comics and Thrill Comics to secure trademark/copyright, then had to change it to Whiz because those titles were already taken. I did not know that their character was originally called Captain Thunder. Live and learn. And the Superman vs. Flash races are probably enough of a topic for a blog post of their own. And Karen is right about Sub-Mariner. He just could not seem to get along with anybody!

Anonymous said...

Boy, Cap's shield sure comes in handy, doesn't it?

Simon B said...

Although not as iconic as many of the covers already mentioned, one of my all-time faves is Daredevil #77 by Sal Buscema: a three-way battle between DD, Spidey and Namor. Yep, him again...

I love it mostly for the pure nostalgia of it being one of the first American comics I ever owned... but it's also a great example of Marvel's early '70s house style. It's bright, dynamic and melodramatic, with one of those wonderful Bronze Age corner boxes at the top left of the page. Great stuff!

Anonymous said...

Subby was always depicted fighting other heroes because he was one of the first antiheroes Marvel had, even before the Punisher, Wolverine or Conan - he seemed to always have a beef with the surface dwellers, on behalf of his Atlantean people.

JA Morris, I have that very issue of Godzilla vs the Champions with me now! It's funny how Doug Moench wrote that story with the Champions and SHIELD getting into each other's way. It echoes Stan's early writing in a story where the Avengers and the FF tangle a lot with each other even though both teams were supposedly trying to hunt the Hulk! Marvel house style, anyone?

As for the numerous Hulk vs Thing covers, they were always a hoot, even if the interior story didn't live up to the cover.

- Mike 'dying to see a cover with Hulk vs Donald Duck' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

Doug, I've got that cover from F.F. 73 on my wall! (Not the original cover, the reprint. I'm not a savage.) One of my all-time favorites! Great minds think alike, eh?
I love thos old classic covers from the 60's and 70's that show two groups of heroes or villians lining up against each other like Secret Origins of the Supervillians. They look great on the wall.

Teresa said...

The JLA/Avengers team up mini series. Perez goodness everywhere.

When reality is altered and the JLA and Avengers are longtime allies, there are some great homage covers on the walls. The Avengers taking the place of the JSA.
...If only the JLA and Avengers could team up every summer.

Rip Jagger said...

Loved these types of stories, which is likely why I fell in love with Marvel so soon after discovering the form. They did this kind of thing all the time, as you've amply shown above.

One of my favorites is the Daredevil cover by Jack Kirby with DD battling Captain America. That's a monster. The early one featuring Captain Marvel versus Sub-Mariner is a hoot too by Gene Colan.

Rip Off

Edo Bosnar said...

"...If only the JLA and Avengers could team up every summer."
Hear, hear, Teresa. However, these annual meetings would have to be written by Busiek, or - perhaps even better - Roger Stern, and drawn by Perez, or maybe Alan Davis (or maybe even John Byrne: I love it when he teams up with Stern).

Anonymous said...

The Sub-mariner duked it out with just about every superhero in Marvel from Daredevil to Thor. That's quite a range! That guy took all comers. Come to think of it, was there a superhero he didn't get in a fight with? Maybe Ghost Rider. I don't know that he ever got in a fight with Doctor Strange, but he did yell at him a few times when he in the Defenders.

humanbelly said...

Late me throw in a couple of late ones from the Hulkier side of the field, eh?

Tales to Astonish #79: Hulk vs. Hercules; credited to Jack Kirby, but is OBVIOUSLY largely Bill Everett's work. Everett's time on the Hulk feature was incredibly promising, but all too brief. He captured a facial quality for the character that very few other artists ever managed to.

Tales to Astonish #82: Ha! Subby vs Iron Man again-- but drawn by Gene Colan! Win-win, baby. It's a great slug-fest moment that Gene captures. . . giving neither combatant the upper hand.

Incredible Hulk #118: One of my favorite Hulk covers ever, in fact. Features the Hulk and, uhm, Subby again (good grief!). This was right at the heart of the endless "who's stronger?" letters page debate.


Ace Frehley Jr said...

DAREDEVIL #77 is a great one!

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