Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas.
With a Dark Reign cast over the Marvel Universe, 2009 saw man clash with mutant, Avenger go up against "Avenger," and a cosmic showdown between kings among other brutal battles and titanic tussles.
Which throw-downs did the Secret Cabal consider the most badass of the past calendar year? Read on and find out...
For each fight you get the quick rundown as well as a special spotlight comic courtesy of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
As always, these picks reflect the personal choices of the Secret Cabal, not the official opinion of Marvel or Marvel.com, and can be considered subjective at best. Enjoy!
10. SPIDER-MAN VS THE SANDMAN
Where It Went Down: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #615-616
Why It Makes The List: Spider-Man celebrated the end of 2009 in his typical fashion, battling souped-up incarnations of some of his oldest foes, including a particularly dangerous duel with the Sandman right around Christmas. In search of a missing girl who Sandman has adopted as his daughter, Spidey swings to Governor's Island, where he finds a castle completely composed of his enemy, and a Flint Marko who has concocted a plethora of new tricks, including creating his own army out of sand, though at the cost of his own mental stability. Outgunned, Peter Parker must turn to his smarts to turn back this potent new threat.
Spotlight Comic: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #4 (1963)-Spidey's first meeting with the sinister Sandman!
9. DAREDEVIL VS LADY BULLSEYE & THE KINGPIN
Where It Went Down: DAREDEVIL #500
Why It Makes The List: The ever-beleaguered Daredevil encountered yet another unique hurdle in his ever-thorny existence this past year in the form of Lady Bullseye, a woman with fighting skills approaching that of her namesake, but also possessing of a cunning and patience he lacks. The Man Without Fear thought he had gained a surprising ally in former foe the Kingpin, but Wilson Fisk would betray him, leaving Matt Murdock to pit his physical attributes against Lady Bullseye even as he attempted to out-maneuver the Kingpin's schemes.
Spotlight Comic: DAREDEVIL #111 (1998)-The introduction of Lady Bullseye!
8. THOR VS BOR
Where It Went Down: THOR #600
Why It Makes The List: When gods collide, all bets are off, as Thor learned when he was forced to defend himself against his maddened grandfather, Bor, an unwitting victim of Loki's machinations. The Thunder God was reluctant to take arms against a family member, but knew he had no choice when the elder Aesir shattered his fabled hammer, Mjolnir. The arrival of Norman Osborn with his Dark Avengers only further complicated matters, forcing Thor to slay his own kin rather than allow innocents to come to harm, and leading to his banishment from the Golden Realm of Asgard.
Spotlight Comic: THOR #600-The god-sized showdown between Thor and his grandfather!
7. BLACK BOLT VS VULCAN
Where It Went Down: WAR OF KINGS #6
Why It Makes The List: When the Emperor of the Shi'Ar took on the King of the Inhumans, the heavens literally shook and the universe was torn asunder. The culmination of a cataclysmic war between two interstellar powerhouses saw their respective leaders tangle, with Gabriel Summers wagering his psionic might and Black Bolt's planet-shattering sonic abilities. Vulcan's rage gave him an early advantage, but his lack of discipline proved unequal to Black Bolt's years of experience as a leader and warrior. Just when it seems the battle has ended with the Inhumans' monarch claiming victory, Vulcan made a last desperate lunge that led to both men's seeming demise and the tear in the universe itself known as The Fault.
Spotlight Comic: WAR OF KINGS #1-The Shi'Ar and Inhumans beginning beating the drums of war!
6. CABLE & X-FORCE VS STRYFE & BISHOP
Where It Went Down: X-FORCE #16 (2008)
Why It Makes The List: It was Cable's greatest nightmare: after years of thinking his hated clone Stryfe gone for good, the Chaos Bringer stormed backed into his life with Nathan Summers' new archenemy, Bishop, at his side, and his adopted daughter, Hope, his new desire. Fortunately for Cable, Wolverine and the new X-Force stood at his side for a showdown centuries in the making. Though Wolverine manages to deprive Bishop of an eye in the ensuing violence, Cable, Warpath and even Deadpool with a laser cannon prove unable to overcome Stryfe's vast telekinetic abilities. In the end, Archangel provides the most unexpected of assists by recruiting Apocalypse and teaming with his one-time master to end Stryfe's dreams of conquest once and for all!
Spotlight Comic: CABLE: BLOOD AND METAL #2-Stryfe locks horns with Cable in days gone by!
5. IRON MAN VS THE IRON PATRIOT
Where It Went Down: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #19
Why It Makes The List: Over the course of several months, Norman Osborn took everything from Tony Stark, from his company to his standing as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and made him an international fugitive in the process. After tossing Namor, Madame Masque and more at the Golden Avenger and seeing them come up short, Norman was forced to don his Iron Patriot armor and go after his rival himself. Norman would find a Stark clad in antiquated Iron Man armor and with his mind slipping away as he leeched knowledge from his own brain rather than let it fall in the wrong hands, but still ready for a fight. Osborn pitted his own ruthlessness and sleek technology against Stark's pure mettle and delivered a brutal beating, but is deprived his much-desired victory thanks to an unexpected trump card from Pepper Potts.
Spotlight Comic: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #8-Norman Osborn usurps Tony Stark's life!
4. THE PUNISHER VS DAKEN
Where It Went Down: DARK REIGN: THE LIST - PUNISHER #1
Why It Makes The List: Since beginning his one-man war on crime as the Punisher, Frank Castle has faced many a ruthless opponent, but maybe none as dangerous as Daken, the conniving and vicious son of Wolverine. After eluding the Hood, albeit at the cost of his family's possible resurrection, Castle found himself in the crosshairs of Norman Osborn and his team of Avengers, with "Wolverine" at the head of the pack. The Punisher pulled out every trick in his lengthy playbook, including the vast catalogue of technology gathered by his tech support Henry, but none of it proved equal to Daken's unbreakable claws, unstoppable healing factor, and complete lack of mercy. When the smoke cleared, Frank Castle was dead, but his story was far from over...
Spotlight Comic: ASTONISHING TALES: WOLVERINE/PUNISHER #1-Frank Castle teams with Daken's dad, Wolverine!
3. THE AVENGERS VS THE HOOD'S CREW
Where It Went Down: NEW AVENGERS #57-59
Why It Makes The List: In 2008, the Avengers and the Hood's gang had a battle for the ages that ultimately saw Luke Cage lead his team to a hard-fought victory at the cost of Doctor Strange's standing as Sorcerer Supreme. This year, with their boss away, the bad guys once again took it to Earth's Mightiest, going after the Dark Avengers as well in the process. Doctor Jonas Harrow gave his squad a huge leg up on the competition by introducing a power-suppressing device into play that took down nearly every Avenger and left Mockingbird as the last woman standing. Though the former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent held her own longer than most would have expected, it ultimately took diplomacy from Norman Osborn of all people to salvage the day for Avengers on either side of the fence.
Spotlight Comic: NEW AVENGERS #37-The original battle royal between Earth's Mightiest Heroes and The Hood's insidious underground!
2. WOLVERINE VS THE HULK
Where It Went Down: WOLVERINE: OLD MAN LOGAN GIANT-SIZE #1
Why It Makes The List: In a distant future, a withered Bruce Banner sends an aged Wolverine on a cross-country adventure that costs him his best friend and forces him to break his vow against violence. However, upon returning home, Logan finds his family slaughtered by Banner and his inbred children, leading him to unsheathe his claws for the first time in decades. What follows is the most violent, bloody and over-the-top confrontation between Wolverine and the Hulk in the history of comic books, with a rage-filled Logan unleashing years of pent-up frustration against an unstoppable opponent-and finding the most disgusting way to stop him!
Spotlight Comic: WOLVERINE #66 (2003)-The first appearance of Wolverine as Old Man Logan!
1. THE DARK AVENGERS VS THE X-MEN
Where It Went Down: DARK AVENGERS/UNCANNY X-MEN: EXODUS
Why It Makes The List: At the height of his Dark Reign-generated power, Norman Osborn's hubris never allowed him to believe that of all Marvel's many heroes the outcast X-Men would be able to find the chink in his Iron Patriot armor, but underestimating the mighty mutants has brought many men and women low. After his public relations war against the Children of the Atom blew up in his face, Osborn brought his own Avengers against Cyclops and company in a war that shook the heavens, but Scott Summers' battlefield acumen plus several key defections swung the momentum. With such intense matchups as Archangel vs Bullseye, Colossus vs Venom and the tag team of Wolverine and X-23 vs Daken and Weapon Omega, the campaign provided high stakes and huge moments, but no matter what Osborn would have the public believe, the mutants ended the day with their heads held appropriately high.
Spotlight Comic: DARK AVENGERS/UNCANNY X-MEN: UTOPIA-Norman Osborn begins his campaign against Cyclops and the X-Men!
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