By Ben Morse
This Sunday represents the pinnacle of the year for football fans as this writer's beloved New England Patriots take the field against the plucky New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. However, it will also be a banner day for Marvel movie maniacs as a brand new kick ass trailer for this summer's "Iron Man" film—hitting screens May 2, 2008—debuts during the big game.
So whether you're getting ready for some football, some Shellhead or a little bit of both this weekend, Marvel.com proudly brings to you the perfect tailgate party two days early with some of the greatest moments in Marvel sports history!
HANK MCCOY: A BEAST ON THE GRIDIRON
(X-MEN v1 #49-53—1968-1969; AMAZING ADVENTURES v2 #17—1973)
Young Henry "Hank" McCoy found himself the object of ridicule as a result of the abnormally large hands and feet that came part and parcel with his mutant abilities upon reaching puberty. However, those same mutant gifts, in particular his superhuman agility, allowed Hank to excel on the varsity football team during his senior year of high school, making his unwanted nickname of "Beast" sting a bit less. Unfortunately, Hank's promising pigskin career came to an ignoble end when he stopped a trio of robbers during a game, drawing too much attention to his skills. Fortunately, Hank's heroic deeds also caught the eye of Professor Charles Xavier, landing him a charter spot on the X-Men.
EARTH'S MIGHTIEST SOFTBALL GAME
(WEST COAST AVENGERS ANNUAL #2, AVENGERS ANNUAL #16—1987)
Picture the softball game at your annual company picnic between marketing and accounting, but then sub in Thor at cleanup, Captain America at pitcher and Hawkeye on the base paths—that's what the Avengers and their West Coast branch were going for in the late '80s during their one and only showdown on the diamond. It's pretty easy to understand why they never gave it another shot when you consider that the cosmically empowered Grandmaster interrupted the game, killed half of each team and then forced the remainder to compete in battle for his amusement. The GM eventually resurrected the fallen Avengers, and Cap learned a valuable lesson as they resumed the game: Hawkeye cheats.
NEED FOR SPEED
(TEAM AMERICA #1-12—1982-1983)
Besides their affinity for rad red, white and blue jumpsuits and unparalleled motocross skills, Unlimited Class Racing competitors Honcho, Wolf, Reddy, Wrench and Cowboy share another commonality: They're all the mutant children of parents experimented on by HYDRA to make them the most awesome squad of motorcycling super heroes ever—Team America! When the quintet combine their psyches, they can project their combined strength, intelligence and biking skills onto anybody nearby, transforming them into the Dark Rider, the baddest bike-riding hero this side of Lorenzo Lamas.
(X-MEN v1 #110—1978; UNCANNY X-MEN #325—1995; UNCANNY X-MEN #444—2004)
The requisite requirements to be a member of the X-Men: a committed passion to fostering the dream of peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants, a snappy codename (unless you're Emma Frost and/or Kitty Pryde), formidable powers (unless you're Cypher) and perhaps most important, the ability to play softball. From Wolverine to Rogue and everybody in between, the Children of the Atom love to take the field, gloves, bats and balls in hand, whenever they've got a break from saving the world. Granted their games generally get interrupted just as they're getting good—whether by Wolverine and Colossus letting their argument about if Logan was safe at second get a little too heated or Callisto teleporting in out of nowhere—but it's the thought that counts.
THE SPACE RACE
(QUASAR #17—1990; QUASAR #58—1994)
When the Elder of the Universe known as the Runner set up a race between the likes of Quicksilver, the Whizzer, Speed Demon and more to determine the fastest being on Earth, Quasar, accompanying his Eternal buddy Makkari, bore witness to a blond-haired man in a tattered red and yellow costume appearing from out of nowhere to claim victory. Mostly amnesiac but recalling his name to be something along the lines of "Buried Alien," the newcomer journeyed with the Runner to join the Galactic Marathon and would later resurface in Quasar's life to help Makkari get his out of whack powers under control before rejoining the race.
BANNER AT THE BAT
(INCREDIBLE HULK v1 #435—1995)
With himself and wife Betty hurting for cash, the Hulk joins a struggling baseball team under a pseudonym and becomes a sensation—what with the huge muscles and ability to hit home runs with ease (luckily testing for steroids does not extend to gamma radiation). When a crooked rival team owner preps to go up against Hulk's team, he brings in a ringer in the form of the Rhino to even the odds. After Hulk belts one nearly out of the park, Rhino at catcher stands between him and the victory, but the Green Goliath opts for rage over sportsmanship, walloping his foe with a dozen bats and getting the game thrown out.
KICKING EVIL WHERE IT HURTS
(KICKERS, INC. #1-12—1986-1987)
If you're building a team of super heroes out of former football players, forget the quarterback or running back—you need a whole team of kickers, friend! Enter Kickers, Inc., the New Universe's premiere team of gridiron greats turned heroes for hire after gaining enhanced abilities from the mysterious "White Event." And okay, maybe not every
member of Kickers, Inc. was actually a kicker, but doesn't that sound like a hell of a concept?
Enjoy the big game this Sunday and more importantly, enjoy your sneak peek at Iron Man! While you're waiting, you can read the very first X-Men softball game at Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. Go Pats!
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Go Giants!].