By Ben Morse
Comics can be about many things: love, sacrifices, relevant social issues…blah blah blah. Seriously, at the end of the day, a lot of people just want to see a good fight.
And with the badasses that populate the Marvel Universe, good fights ain't hard to come by. We asked some of the fight doctors hanging around the House of Ideas Bullpen—as well as one World Wrestling Entertainment Superstar—to pitch us on who can lay claim to the title of toughest cookies around.
It's Friday, so kick back, relax and enjoy.
RALPH MACCHIO (Marvel Executive Editor):
I'll put my two cents in here and stick with the ladies.
I think the three toughest females in the Marvel Universe are Mantis, Thundra and Gamora.
Even though our priests of Pama-trained mistress of the martial arts isn't a big bruiser, Mantis has got quite a track record. Weaponless, she's taken down Thor, Cap, Wonder Man, the Vision and Shang-Chi's old enemy—Midnight. Not bad for a babe who weighs about 115 pounds. I want her around when I'm in a dark alley.
Can't neglect Thundra who's crushed the Thing more times than I can count. And when she was with the Frightful Four she cleaned their clocks a few times, too, when they got out of line. She's as tough as they come. And boy, was she a blast to write when she was teamed up with the Grapplers in those [issues of MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE] I wrote with [Mark] Gruenwald. I haven't read the Hulk versus Thundra [story upcoming in HULK: RAGING THUNDER], but my money's on the lady giving him a good old fashioned beat down.
Gamora has certainly earned her rep as the deadliest woman in the galaxy. She was trained in every lethal art by the master himself, the mad Titan—Thanos! She'll break your neck as soon as say hello to you. Her rampages have been planet-wide bloodbaths. If the Big T says she's the deadliest woman in the galaxy, I'm not gonna disagree. Are you?
ESAD RIBIC (artist of SILVER SURFER: REQUIEM):
That's easy—Galactus! Isn't it self evident? The guy's a god!
ANDY SCHMIDT (upcoming writer of MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS):
That's easy. Invisible Woman of the [Fantastic Four]. Mark Waid and I talked about this once and we agreed that [on a] no-holds-barred-and-even-playing-field she'd kick everyone's butt. Great defenses and the ability to create expanding force fields inside someone's body put her in the instant win column.
MATT CHERNISS (writer of SUB-MARINER):
No question in my mind, Daredevil is the toughest character in the Marvel Universe. No one gets the holy hell beat out of [them] more often than Matt Murdock, and unlike Wolverine, he has to heal just like the rest of us, one fracture at a time. The guy must have an entire closet full of bandages and medical supplies in his apartment. If it were me, one of those beatdowns would be enough to send my blind ass into retirement, but not Daredevil. He's out there the next night, bandages and all, looking for some more action. That doesn't even take into account the psychological toll of the love of his life dying every couple of years. For the love of god, leave Hell's Kitchen, get an apartment on the Upper West Side and take some "me" time.
GREG PAK (writer of INCREDIBLE HERCULES):
Toughest guy in the Marvel Universe? The Hulk, natch. 'Cause the strongest one there is is the strongest one there is.
Toughest lady? Jean Grey as Dark Phoenix. When she's bad, she's very bad.
GREGORY HELMS (former World Wrestling Entertainment Cruiserweight champion):
Iron Fist or Shang-Chi.
DAVID MICHELINIE (upcoming writer of IRON MAN: LEGACY OF DOOM):
Bottom line: It's relative to the situation. Iron Man's only limitation is the source of his energy, as he proved when he powered up to knock the Hulk into the dirt many years ago. Of course, it almost killed him, but that's always a risk.
On the other hand, Ant-Man, frequently considered the weakest of Marvel's heroes, could defeat any villain on the planet. All he'd have to do would be to shrink to tiny size, crawl up his opponent's nose, then expand to full size and blow the guy's head to pieces. It all depends on the circumstances of the battle.
MIKE PERKINS (upcoming artist of ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR):
Shang Chi—he's pretty damn tough. No powers but still ready and willing to face up to the hard guys and gals, as well as the vilest villains…
No. No. I've got
it!!! It has to be the Yancy Street Gang. These are little kids beating up the Thing constantly...without any fear. Collectively, they have less fear than Daredevil!! Tough as nails
BRIAN REED (writer of MS. MARVEL):
Hypno Hustler. You don't leave the house in that get up, and
go toe to toe with Spider-Man without being one tough dude.
TODD NAUCK (upcoming artist of AMERICAN DREAM):
I always thought Power Man was one tough mutha! And I'm talking the '70s and '80s-era Power Man with the afro, headband, yellow shirt and chain for a belt. I'm just waiting for Luke Cage to go back to that look and take back the name, Power Man. Sweet Christmas!
KAARE ANDREWS (cover artist of THE TWELVE):
I have to say, the greener, the meaner...and Hulk is the toughest of them all. Of course no one's come back from the grave more than Aunt May. So I'd say it's a tie.
FRANK CHO (former artist of MIGHTY AVENGERS):
Galactus, hands down.
How tough is he? That bastard eats planets. He eats planets
WARREN SIMONS (Marvel editor):
Ares. When you absolutely positively have to take out everyone in the room, accept no substitute.
DAN ABNETT (writer of NOVA):
Drax. Not the big old stupid Drax who could go toe-to-toe with the Hulk, I mean the modern, scaled down, dour, mean combat vet Drax. He may not be as strong as he once was, but like Wolverine, he just doesn't take no for an answer. He killed Thanos, for goodness sake. And the clue's in his surname: "The Destroyer."
BILL ROSEMANN (Marvel editor):
If you ever get the chance, read MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE ANNUAL #7—while listening to the soundtrack to "Rocky"—and you'll see why Benjamin J. Grimm, the blue eyed idol o' millions known as the Thing, is the toughest fighter ever to stagger out of Yancy Street.
TOM BREVOORT (Marvel Executive Editor):
There are any number of ways you could go about answering this question—as the people who post in Battle Board forums will tell you ad infinitum. So let me try to narrow it down.
Most people, when faced with this question, will focus on raw power. Brute force. So you'll see a lot of votes for the Hulk, Thor, the Asgardian Destroyer, guys like that. But that doesn't really take into consideration the more cosmic characters, beings like Galactus or the Celestials or Ego the Living Planet. And on an even grander scale, you've got entities like Eternity and the Living Tribunal who have dominion over entire realms of existence.
But I don't think that's what you're really talking about when you speak of toughness. What I think you're looking for is the person in your corner who comes through and finds a way to win no matter the odds and no matter the situation. On that level, I
think your heaviest contenders are people like Captain America, Reed Richards or Tony Stark, guys who can inspire others, who never say die and who can sometimes think their way around a problem that straight ahead brute force can't solve.
Wolverine's in a class by himself, simply because, due to his popularity over the years, he's gone from being a feisty little guy with a fighting heart and a berserker angry streak to the God of Winning. At this point, even killing Wolverine won't stop him—he'll just have a sword fight with the Angel of Death, beat his pants off, then come back to life to take care of whatever business demised him in the first place. Call me old-fashioned, but I found Wolverine a lot tougher when the odds weren't always so stacked in his favor—when he wasn't so absolutely functionally immortal—when a guy with a gun could conceivably take him out if he got in a really lucky shot.
And then there's Squirrel Girl, whose whole shtick is that she's uncannily
effective against any kind of opposition, even though she's only armed with pockets full of nuts. She doesn't seem to be all that tough on the surface, but she's defeated Doctor Doom, Thanos and M.O.D.O.K. almost off-handedly, without even breaking a sweat. Of course, she had the help of her squirrel sidekicks both times—Tippy Toe and the now-deceased Monkey Joe. So maybe that's an unfair advantage.
But the baddest guy of them all is clearly Mister Fish. Heck, he'll take Luke Cage on atop a tall building despite being an aquatic super-villain. And nobody laughs at Mister Fish!