Welcome back to the Blogger Dome! Here, bloggers will argue different topics involving the comic book market and industry. This will be a combination of the Big Bang Theory meets the WWE. Smack talk mixed with comic book debates. Bloggers going at each other to amuse and educate our readers. And we want to hear what YOU have to say about it. Today’s topic is “Batman Villains vs Spider-Man Villains.” So get comfy, cheer for your side, and let’s go!
Ding ding! Allow me to present your newest fighters in the Blogger Dome ring… RYAN AND JOE! Fight!
Ryan: When I first signed up to do these Blogger Dome posts, I guess I just failed to realize that I would be paired up with some of the brightest minds in the comic world. My first one was with Norman Robinson, the OG of comic blogging and someone with more comic knowledge than I could accumulate in three lifetimes. Now I get Joseph, who brings a brilliant legal mind to our blogosphere battle, which he is sure to use against me and bury me into the ground.
But in this battle, I think I have facts on my side. I may not be the biggest DC Comics fan in the world, but at least I can plainly see that Batman has the more iconic villains than that web-slinging teenage wannabe. Let’s settle this once and for all, Joe!
Joe: I want our blogger dome readers to realize this is going to be a first for you. This is going to be a Haggler vs Hearns battle. In Rocky, after the fight Apollo said “ain’t going to be no rematch!” and Rocky said, “Don’t want one”. Fans, this is going to be that type of battle. Batman villains versus Spider-Man villains. Gloves are off, and we will throw down for your amusement, but at the end will either one of us make it out of the dome?
Ryan Kirksey is my opponent in this blogger dome battle. Ryan I am going to do something that an attorney is rarely accused of doing in real life. I am going to tell the truth. I respect you and I enjoy reading your articles and respect your views. In truth, I am a big fan of DC Comics, so it pains me to say this. Spider-Man has the better group of villains. I want this to be a fair fight, so I will stay away from the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man to make this an even one-on-one fight.
Ryan, I want your best. I want you to hit me with any number you want supporting Batman’s “iconic” villains to get my attention. In return, I will hit you with this one fact you can never defeat. That fact is the first appearance of many of Spider-Man’s iconic villains are not out of the reach of our readers. Our readers can purchase every one of the first appearances of Spider-Man’s villains, and yet if they want the first appearance of Penguin, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, and many others, they must settle for the “First Silver Age” issues. Our readers want to buy comics, not cheap reproductions or later “first” appearances. I am ready for this battle. Let’s do this!!!
Round #1 First Blood!
Ryan: Batman’s Villains are Simply More Iconic
Ask a casual comic fan to name the first villain that pops into their head, and what will they say? Vulture? Lizard? Hobgoblin? Hardly. I bet they say The Joker or Two Face or Catwoman long before they get to Kraven, Scorpion, or even Dr. Octopus. Why? Because the Batman baddies are simply a larger part of the comic zeitgeist than those from the Spidey comics. They set the bar for who villains should be.
Another pop quiz, hotshot. Name the three best on-screen portrayals of Electro. You can’t. Sandman? Nope. That’s because those villains are not complex enough or vile enough to compete with a character on the level of the Joker. That character alone has won two different actors an Oscar. That character forced multiple actors to admit their obsession with the character and how it psychologically affected them. And we haven’t even mentioned Jack Nicholson, Cesar Romero, or Jared Leto.
Joe, the reason why these first appearances of the Penguin, Mr. Freeze, The Riddler, and other villains are out of reach for me, you, and most of our readers is simply this: They are the mold from which other villains are created.
It simply comes down to that fact. Batman’s villains are who other villains are modeled after. They are the OGs of the comic world and any other enemy in the comic pages we often read draws influence from Batman’s battles.
Joe: The First Blow
Let us start this fight with street rules. Nothing is off-limits. Batman had a 23-year head start on Spider-Man. Most of the great Batman villains were introduced during the Golden Age of comics. Spider-Man’s villains are more fresh and relevant now. Punisher was introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #129, and he has garnered enough attention to be featured in multiple comic book titles. In addition, he has appeared in a movie decades ago, and more recently in his own television series.
Joker may have had his movie, but his popularity has not led to him being featured in multiple comic book series. He may be iconic, but that is only because of his connection to Batman. He may be Batman’s arch-villain, but his place in the DC Universe began with Batman #1 and pretty much ends with Batman. In addition, our readers may never ever be able to afford his first appearance, but they can purchase ASM #129 and not have to rob a federal bank.
Spider-Man villains have the ability to go beyond mere villain status because of their character development. Venom is another character that has traveled this path. Introduced in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8 as a mere costume, he has since risen in popularity. His first full appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #300 is a highly sought after book for collectors and investors alike. He is the perfect anti-hero for a time when the world is so complex, blurring the lines between right and wrong. Venom has again appeared as the featured character in numerous titles, following the Punisher’s path to superstardom. He has also appeared in his own movie that will spawn a sequel. Venom has even produced his own universe of villains, lead by Carnage. Can Batman’s villains match that Ryan? I am waiting for your shot.
Round #2: Counter Punch…
Ryan: Villains Don’t Just Fight. They Torment, Seduce, and Torture
Spider-Man issues, especially those early issues in the run, all feature some cute little fights. Dr. Octopus throws Spidey into a wall. Sandman drops Peter Parker off a building causing – GASP! – Spider-Man’s mask to rip. It’s the same formula over and over again. Battle, recover, battle, Spidey wins. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Not so in the pages of Batman. Take Scarecrow, for example. Can he compete physically with Batman? Never. Jonathan Crane is obsessed with fear. He tortured Arkham Asylum patients with fear experiments and now tries to do the same to Batman. Scarecrow wants to drive his victims mad. He doesn’t want to physically harm them and walk away victorious; he wants to leave them scarred for life.
Have you heard of Poison Ivy? The villain who called it a “guilty pleasure” to feed innocent men and women to plants? What about Professor Pyg? The pig-faced sculptor fancies cutting and carving up bodies to try and achieve bodily perfection! He is an insane archetype who doesn’t want to quickly dispose of his victims, but work on them over time to achieve the ideal body.
Truthfully, Spider-Man has some of the worst villains ever conceived. If we’re talking about bad guys, then give me some BAD guys.
Joe: Easily Dodged
Ryan, I am less than impressed with your first punch. You tried to blow me away in Round #2 by telling me “Batman’s villains don’t just fight. They torment, seduce, and torture.” Ryan let me remind you that this is a PG rated site. I mean come on now, your next blow is Fifty Shades of Catwoman: The Hidden Sex Life of Mr. and Mrs. Wayne. I hope you realize how futile your argument now is by attacking the institution of marriage. This is not a pillow fight, it is blogger dome!!!
In truth I want you to realize, Ryan, the one flaw that you ignore in your writing. Batman can work with a team. He has his own allies such as Nightwing and Batgirl in addition to being a member of different versions of the JLA. In contrast, Spider-Man has been attacked by most of his arch-enemies at one time in a villain “handicapped” fight. Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 has our hero versus the Sinister Six for the very first time. Everyone against Spidey. These group attacks have been repeated over and over again in the Marvel Universe. Spider-Man usually has to deal with these confrontations by himself. Batman, in turn, has allies that regularly appear in storylines to assist him.
Ryan, think about it…Spider-Man battles his villains, sometimes at the same time. How bad can Batman’s villains be if he ended up marrying one?
Round #3: Death Blow!
Ryan: Batman’s Villains Literally Break Him
Guess what, Joe? Sometimes the bad guys actually win. They are formidable foes for a reason and keep showing up to do battle with our favorite heroes because they are worthy of the challenge.
One of the most recognizable comic images of the last 50 years is of Bane, pumped up from injecting venom in his body, picking up a weary Batman and literally breaking Bruce Wayne’s back over his knee. This led to a multiple-issue arc of Wayne having to work endlessly to overcome the physical obstacles to retake the Batman mantle to someone who was abusing it. You know, real hero stuff.
Has Spider-Man been broken before? Sure. In fact, Vulture broke his arm in an early issue. Electro electrocuted him and knocked him unconscious in their first meeting. But somehow the 15-year old kid always finds a way to figure out a way around the problem and win a battle by the end of the issue.
Joe: No, Here’s MY Death Blow
Ryan, I keep reading your argument and I find it wanting. Wanting as I keep wanting to wake up because you are putting me to sleep from boredom. I want to, again, stress to you how Spider-Man’s main villain has broken our hero. No greater villain is there in the comic book world than Norman Osborn. He is a formidable villain possessing such power that he is a threat to ALL Marvel heroes. He is that raw combination of brains and power. That is what makes this character so formidable. He did more than merely break the bones of our hero. Instead, he broke the spirit of our hero and countless fans in one classic battle.
Amazing Spider-Man #121 is a truly iconic story. For years, readers were faced with the question of who was better for our hero, Mary Jane or Gwen? That choice was taken from our hero in one iconic moment. In a battle with the Green Goblin, our hero tries to save Gwen Stacy. He ends up shooting his webs to save her from a fall. Only at the end of the battle is it revealed that she died, not from the fall but because of how Spider-man tried to save her. Readers soon found out that Gwen Stacy broke her neck because of the webbing used by Spider-man in his failed rescue attempt. Batman may have lost friends and allies, but never a loved one that died because of his direct actions.
This death affects not only our hero, but readers, as well, for years to come. Broken backs can heal but knowing your actions caused the death of a potential soul mate is something not easily forgotten. Finally Batman’s parents were killed once when he was young. How many times did Spidey’s villains kill Aunt May? She may be like the Energizer bunny and takes a licking, but keeps on ticking, but that does not mean Peter Parker was not traumatized.
The reason Spider-Man’s villains are better is that they leave our hero truly scarred for life. He functions in his world mainly alone and these battles take a price on him. Batman has allies and family. He never truly is alone like our beloved webhead. That is why no matter what you say it will never prove to me or to the readers that Batman’s villains are superior to the villains of Spider-man.
Ryan: From a comic book collector and speculator perspective, the Batman side is a hard one to win. Even with recent soaring prices of most key books, many Spider-Man villain first appearances are within reach. Not the case with Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and friends. But just because I can’t own them doesn’t mean I can’t respect them. Truthfully, all other villains should also bend the knee and pay homage to the creativity and complexity of these arch-nemeses.
In the end, it’s hard to declare either side a “loser” here, especially if you are an owner of any of these key issues. Joe, I respect your thoughts on this and it’s going to be a long time before I want to have my writing back broken again by your Bane-like arguments.
Joe: Ryan, I do not want a rematch. This is one of those battles where good points can be made on both sides. Two premier heroes with a stockpile of iconic villains. The only difference is the price you must pay for those key issues. I may love Batman’s villains, but so many of those key issues are beyond my buying power. I can never ever get a first appearance of the Joker, but the first appearance of the Green Goblin is not prohibitive. That, to me, is the deciding factor. Owning key issues involving Spider-Man villains is not something our readers can dream about, but rather something they can make a reality. Let us leave dreaming for the two of us as we recover from this brutal match.