Badass Week Begins: The Toughest Man In Comics
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you... BADASS WEEK:
Yes, taking a cue from Dave Campbell, the ISB goes all action for the next seven days. And for the first time ever you can be a part of it!
Tonight, I'm opening up the floor a week-long vote to decide just who is the Toughest Man In Comics. I've picked the likely candidates, and all you need to do is leave a comment voting for your favorite, with the winner announced and profiled on Friday. And while I encourage discussion, please: No write-in votes. I assure you, Wolverine will have his day in the sun.
Just keep one thing in mind: This isn't about who would win in a fight. Being a comic book badass isn't about having a 7 under "Fighting Skills" in your Handbook entry. It's about being awesome.
Voting's open until Thursday at midnight Eastern. And now, the nominees!
From the comments section of the ISB when I originally posted that cover:
When Sgt. Rock was a kid, he used to beat the crap out of young Nick Fury with a bike chain after school every day. By the way, he already dressed like that when he was a kid.
That's why Nick Fury lost that eye. He figured Sgt. Rock wouldn't beat a one-eyed guy senseless with ammo belts.
He was wrong.
His Deal: Steel mill worker. Semi-professional boxer. Battlefield commander of Easy Company during World War II.
Frank Rock's resumé consists entirely of these three items, and each one is manlier than the last. He is unquestionably the toughest character in the history of war comics, to the point where Marvel just went ahead and made Nick Fury a super-spy, and with good reason: Rock captures the never-say-die attitude of the hardened soldier better than just about anyone else.
Also, in case you missed it, he beat Nazis to death with an ammo belt of .50 caliber rounds that had no other purpose than to act as his lucky charms, and that's probably the toughest thing you've ever heard.
Especially since it means he defined "lucky charm" as "twenty pounds of ammunition."
Why You Want To Vote For Him: Sgt. Rock fought Nazis harder than anyone else in the U.S. Army, and considering that he served alongside a tank haunted by the ghost of a Confederate General whose sole purpose was to help his descendant blow Nazis up with a giant cannon, that's saying something.
On this page from Joe Kubert's recent miniseries The Prophecy, Sgt. Rock cuts himself free from being tied to a chair, and stabs a Nazi in the throat before stealing his gun and shooting three others. Most people would use a knife for this.
Rock uses a piece of wood.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN
His Deal: Other Marvel heroes got described as "Amazing" or "Incredible." Conan gets "THE BARBARIAN" and "THE DESTROYER."
By this point, we all know why everyone's favorite Cimmerian is the toughest fantasy hero ever, but in case you missed it, all Conan does is roll around the Hyborian age stealing things, fighting, and making sweet love to comely wenches. That's it. And most of the time he's doing it all while wearing only a loincloth and a pair of boots, which is the bare minimum of clothing that you can wear and still strap on a sword and run towards people with the express purpose of decapitating them.
Also, he has the notable distinction of delivering the single hardest hit I have ever seen in comics, up to and including Bill Mantlo's run on the Hulk:
When you hit someone so hard their head explodes, you have achieved the ultimate level of hardcore badassery.
Why You Want To Vote For Him: Conan only has four (4) ways of solving problems, and three of them involve swords. The fourth?
Pick up something heavy--up to and including a Volkswagen--and throw it at your problem.
Plus, he choked out a gorilla once.
His Deal: Not only does he share a name with the single greatest movie of all time, but Karate Kid is one of a select group of heroes who has such an incredible mastery of martial arts that it's considered a super-power.
And it's not a group of street-level vigilantes he's hanging out with, either: It's The Legion of Super-Heroes, a team that had three people who could move planets on the roster when he joined--one of whom they made him fight to get in. Which, just so we're clear on this, means that Val Armorr beats ass at a super-human level. In the Future. In Outer Space.
The current iteration of Karate Kid (third in a series! Collect 'em all!) even has the distinction of inventing a new martial art that combines karate with flying, and that's awesome no matter how you slice it.
Why You Want To Vote For Him: Even with three Legion of Super-Heroes reboots, Karate Kid hasn't really changed much. There's just something about the appeal of a teenager with an almost preturnatural mastery of the fighting arts that remains as constant as the stars.
But for the Defining Moment of Karate Kid's awesomeness, we have to go back to the original model and 1984's Legion of Super-Heroes #3, which falls right in the middle of the series' opening story arc, which sees the Legion of Super-Villains finally getting serious about killing their heroic counterparts.
To this end, they chain up seven Legionnaires--including Ultra Boy--to a machine that negates their powers and saps their willpower. And that's when Karate Kid wakes up.
And that's when you know that the shit is on.
THE MIGHTY THOR
His Deal: Thor is a character who routinely hits things so hard that the sound effect has three syllables.
That means that when he hits you, he is breaking the sound barrier. Of course, if you keep in mind that his entire deal is that he's a god who fights things by striking them with a blunt object infused with the power of lightning, that makes perfect sense.
And at the climax of the Walt Simonson run--a run that sees Thor kicking ass even when turned into a frog by Loki--Thor hits the Midgard Serpent so hard he breaks every bone in his own body. That, my friends, is how Thor rolleth.
Why You Want To Vote For Him: Despite the fact that the Walt Simonson run is, quite simply, one awesome moment after another for forty-five issues, one of my favorite moments actually comes from #356, a fill-in issue by Bob Harras and Butch Guice that focuses on third-string Avenger and former Champion, Hercules.
Admittedly, Hercules is pretty badass himself, but he's also the guy who was out getting drunk when the Avengers were getting their asses kicked by the Masters of Evil that one time, so let's face facts: He's awesome, but only when he's getting into drunken brawls with other super-heroes. And that's the case here.
It's a great issue, involving some bullies picking on a kid who likes Thor, and going to Hercules to back up their claims that he's not all that. So Herc relates a story about a dustup they had that involved the Lion of Olympus picking up the island of Manhattan and dumping Thor into the river. But just as the bullies start picking on the other kid again, Herc finishes the story, telling the kids how Thor "did deliver a blow the likes of which had never been seen by man or god," and punches him into the next state.
Also, Dave Campbell has touted Thor's abilities as the smack-talker supreme, citing this totally awesome example of Thor telling Thanos exactly what time it is:
His Deal: Orion is mad all the time.
Seriously. Like, foaming-at-the-mouth mad. So mad that his Motherbox, a living computer capable of shattering the very laws of physics to allow instantaneous travel between dimensions, is usually devoting most of its time and energy to keeping him from flipping out and decimating his surroundings.
And why? Because his father is Darkseid, the Adolf Hitler of outer space, and Orion is prophesized to fight him to the death. Which he does on several occasions, as it turns out, and it never quite sticks.
You'd be mad, too.
Why You Want To Vote For Him: If Bill Mantlo's Incredible Hulk is the Bible of fight comics, then Walt Simonson's Orion is the New Testament. Take a look at one page from Orion #5, where Orion battles Darkseid in a twenty-two page slugfest that shakes the very foundations of the Fourth World:
Because Orion doesn't just fight like an animal...
Orion is a mad, cosmic animal!
His Deal: For the past six years, the Punisher has been the reigning king of Marvel Comics badasses.
Even before that, though, he wasn't exactly a joke. Well, except that time he was an angel. And that time he teamed up with Ghost Rider to fight a giant transforming truck convoy. And that time he was Dolph Lundgren.
But hey, everybody's got their faults. What matters is that Garth Ennis has taken the character that Gerry Conway created and Mike Baron and Carl Potts defined and turned him into an unstoppable engine of cold, relentless vengeance.
Why You Want To Vote For Him: Should you need any more reason to vote for the ISB's favorite gun-toting vigilante than the top of the page, where you'll find him punching a bear in the face in a panel so badass I made it my logo, I invite you to take a look at what happens when Ma Gnucci sends "a tiger tank made of meat" called the Russian to kill Frank:
Any more questions?
So there you have it, the ISB's nominees for The Toughest Man In Comics.
Now vote, you cretins! Vote like the wind!