4. Justice League (New 52) #2
Their first fight in the New 52 may explain why Bruce Wayne was so prepared for the previous entry on the list. When they just surprise Superman, with no complex plan, heavily researched weaponry, or an assload of Kryptonite, guess what happens? Superman mops the floor with you, and having Green Lantern and The Flash in your corner still won’t save your butt from Clark Kent’s wrath.
True, Bruce didn’t come to Metropolis looking for a fight, so you could also say he’s holding back some in this battle, but that doesn’t make much of a difference in the outcome. If you can take Batman by surprise (no easy feat), you’ve got a chance of beating him (it helps if you’re the most powerful creature on Earth). Bat-fans can take comfort in the fact that this was basically Bruce’s first ever meeting with any superpowered folks, which would explain why he’s so inexperienced in this battle royal. He fares much better next time.
3. Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #3
This fight happens in a Lex Luthor focused book, so that may make its validity questionable, but it’s no less an impressively one-sided fight. Lex Luthor: Man of Steel is a lovely book that explores Superman’s greatest enemy from the human’s perspective, where Kal-el is regarded as an undefeatable force of nature. Even when LL tricks Batman into fighting Superman (with some Kryptonite to help), Bruce doesn’t stand a chance here.
Of all the ones on the list, this feels like the most ‘realistic’ comic book fight (which is an oxymoron, I know). Using super speed, telescopic vision, and hurricane force breath, he knocks the Kryptonite out of Bats’ hand before Wayne knows what’s going on. Superman then throws Batman around and almost punches him hard enough to make his head explode, all to send the message “I could kill you whenever I feel like.” Again though, this seems like a less-experienced Bats here. Perhaps Bruce planned a lot better for round two in this universe.
2. The Dark Knight Returns #4
This is the Batman vs. Superman fight that made the concept famous, and was a very clear inspiration for Zack Snyder’s film. Frank Miller and Klaus Jansen’s grim and gritty tale of Batman’s last ride still casts a long shadow on comics, not least of which was their portrayal of Batman kicking Superman’s ass. Miller himself said he saw it as ending the friendship of the World’s Finest team. Even though they’d make up, Bruce Wayne’s brutal beat down of Clark still reverberates through the DC Universe.
The win was hard earned, as it virtually kills Bruce to do it, and it took basically every single trick and toy in his arsenal to take down a Superman who had already been weakened by an atomic bomb. Most people just remember Wayne’s hands on Clark’s throat but forget all the planning and luck that got to that moment. So why’s this the runner-up since it’s so damn important? Beyond not wanting to be predictable, the sequel to this fight in Dark Knight Returns 2 is such a total joke of Frank Miller fan fiction that it slightly poisons the well on this whole universe. Ugh, those Kryptonite gloves…
1. Superman: Red Son #2
There’s a belief among some comic fans that the only truly great Superman stories are the ones freed from continuity and the DCU at large. I don’t fully agree with that, but it’s compelling given how many great alternate takes on the Kryptonian are out there. One of the best is Mark Millar’s take on a Soviet Superman raised under Joseph Stalin. He’s still a great hero, only this Kal-el believes in the purest forms of Communism, which doesn’t sit so well with underground hero Batman.
This time it’s Batman who gets the drop on Superman, and Kal isn’t at all ready for it. Soviet Superman hasn’t faced many challenges by this point, and doesn’t realize Batman set the perfect trap for him. With some help from Lex Luthor’s Res Sunlamp inventions, Bats switches off Superman’s powers, beats the crap out of Kal and locks him up. Had Wonder Woman not sacrificed her lasso to save Supes, he’d have stayed down there forever, though Bats would’ve been better off just snapping his neck. You know, like how Superman did to Zod on film in 2013?
You didn’t think I’d get to through a whole DC article without trashing Man of Steel once, did you? Anyway, did I miss any other great fights? Is my ordering all wrong? Who do you think would win? Tell me all about it in the comments!