Monday, August 15, 2022

The Golden Bookshelf:

Marvel’s Greatest Superhero Battles

From the earliest days, a staple of the Marvel universe was the series of “misunderstandings” that arose between heroes… and in this Silver Age collection, you can re-read moments from your favorite clashes!

In the mid-1970s, Marvel reprinted a number of its classic Silver Age stories in a well-loved series of trade paperbacks (also issued in hardcover) from Fireside Books that included Origins of Marvel Comics, Son of Origins, Bring on the Bad Guys, and Superhero Women. Last and least in this series is Marvel’s Greatest Superhero Battles, a grab-bag of decent material hindered by inconsistent execution of its theme.

From the earliest days, a staple of the Marvel universe was the series of “misunderstandings” that arose between heroes fighting ostensibly on the same side, leading to slugfests that leveled huge swaths of the New York cityscape. These hero vs. hero battles were fan favorites because they provided evidence to fuel unending “who’s stronger, Hulk or Thing?” arguments, and let Marvel’s artists stretch out on some fun sequences of mayhem and action.

MGSB contains several of these classic stories, including an early Hulk-Thing battle from Fantastic Four v.1 #25-26 (also starring the Avengers), and the epic confrontation between Thor and the Silver Surfer from Silver Surfer v.1 #4, with perhaps the finest superhero art of John Buscema’s career. The belligerence of the Sub-Mariner leads to tangles with Iron Man and an especially poignant scene where Namor concedes victory to an overmatched Daredevil.

Unfortunately, MGSB merely skims the surface of the “battle of heroes” theme, leaving out a few obvious selections in favor of seemingly-random reprints that, while fine examples of the Marvel style (especially the Dr. Strange vs. Dormammu sequence), don’t really deliver the goods. Of course, almost all Silver Age Marvel has a certain charm, and fans of that era may want to seek this volume out despite its inferiority to the others in the Fireside series.


Marvel’s Greatest Superhero Battles

Fireside Books (Simon and Shuster)

Publication year: 1978

Stan Lee, editor

256 p. color, HC/TPB






Rob Salkowitz is a Seattle-based writer and authority on all manner of aging newsprint. You can e-mail your comments and queries to Rob at Use "ComicBase" as the subject line.

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