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Take 10: Rivalries

The Secret Cabal presents the feuds that fuel the Marvel Universe

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By Ben Morse Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas. Whether friendly, brotherly or downright nasty, rivalries make the Marvel Universe go round. This week, the Secret Cabal picked out the 10 furious feuds they feel stand head and fists above the rest. For each rivalry, you get a quick recap 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. THE AVENGERS VS. ULTRON Their Deal: Ultron's killer Oedipus complex against his creator Hank Pym has led him to target the teammates of his "father" time and again, while the Avengers feel a decisively personal obligation to end this particular threat. First (Published) Battle: AVENGERS v1 #54 (1968) Why It Makes The List: The Avengers have long stood together to battle the foes "no single hero could withstand," but despite their varied power sets and superior numbers, they've never been able to put Ultron down for long. The prototypical killer robot of the Marvel Universe can't be reasoned with and, unfortunately for the Avengers, no defeat seems to be permanent as he always has a failsafe. Height of the Rivalry: Abandoning his usual tactic of striking at the Avengers directly, Ultron wipes out the entire population of Slorenia to lure Earth's Mightiest Heroes into battle. (AVENGERS v3 #19-#22—1999) Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS: THE ULTRON IMPERATIVE #1—A taxed Avengers team must stop Ultron's "family" from resurrecting their most implacable foe.

9. THE HULK VS. THE THING Their Deal: A simple misunderstanding led the Fantastic Four to mistake the Hulk for a villain years ago, but the man-monster's initial slugfest with the Thing has given way to countless follow-up fights. First (Published) Battle: FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #12 (1963) Why It Makes The List: They can't be exactly called enemies, but they sure ain't friends—the dynamic between the Hulk and the Thing can't really be easily defined. Two things can be said for sure, though: The limited empathy they share as the two foremost tragic "monsters" of the Marvel Universe makes for good pathos and whenever they slug it out, we have a lot of fun watching the haymakers fly. Height of the Rivalry: In his sinister gray incarnation and tenuously allied with Dr. Doom, the Hulk goes after a mutated Thing in New York City with the intent of not merely humiliating, but killing his longtime sparring partner. (FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #320, INCREDIBLE HULK v1 #350—1988) Spotlight Comic: HULK & THING: HARD KNOCKS #1—The Green Goliath and the FF's resident bruiser meet up and take a unique look at their feud.

8. WOLVERINE VS. SABRETOOTH Their Deal: Their full shared past has still not been revealed, but despite being one-time allies, at some point Sabretooth made it his life's mission to ensure Wolverine would know torment all his long-lived days. First (Published) Battle: UNCANNY X-MEN #212 (1986) Why It Makes The List: Sure, their battles have been tinged with personal intrigue and their relationship colored by mystery, but let's be honest about the true appeal of Wolverine vs. Sabretooth: it's the violence. Nobody throws down as fiercely and as bloodily as the two premiere feral fighters of the Marvel Universe, and with their healing factors and some of the best artists in the business at work, their brawls have become the stuff of legend. Height of the Rivalry: After years of losing lovers, enduring scars and having his life made generally miserable by Sabretooth, Wolverine opts to end his blood feud with his archrival once and for all. (WOLVERINE v2 #50-#55—2007) Spotlight Comic: WOLVERINE v1 #10—One fateful night in Canada, Sabretooth stalks Silver Fox and changes his relationship with Wolverine forever.

7. THOR VS. LOKI Their Deal: The God of Evil and Mischief, Loki has been jealous of heroic half-brother Thor since their childhood, leading to centuries of clashes between the feuding family members. First (Published) Battle: JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #112 (1965) Why It Makes The List: There's little that matches the raw intensity of brothers feuding, but when you tack on godhood and Norse fury, buckle up for a wild ride. Unlike the petty bickering between most siblings, the issues between Loki and Thor arise from their very nature as God of evil and champion of Asgard respectively. With Loki's willingness to use monsters, gods or civilians as pawns in his games, his fights with Thor often carry incredible stakes. Height of the Rivalry: Hoping to get his brother out of the way while he schemed to conquer Asgard, Loki devises the humiliating distraction of transforming Thor into a frog. (THOR v1 #364-#366—1986) Spotlight Comic: LOKI #1—For the first time ever, hear Loki's side of the story.

6. DAREDEVIL VS. THE KINGPIN Their Deal: Daredevil seemed to represent just another easily removable obstacle for the Kingpin of crime, but when the Man Without Fear foiled Wilson Fisk time and again, the usually cool crimelord made his vendetta against Matt Murdock a constant top priority. First (Published) Battle: DAREDEVIL v1 #170 (1981) Why It Makes The List: It's the classic David vs. Goliath story of the Marvel Universe: Kingpin has all the resources and unfair advantages on his side, but the underdog Daredevil keeps going with his heart and guts and eventually overcomes the odds. In many ways the Kingpin stands for everything Matt Murdock became Daredevil to battle against: the perversion of the law, the over privileged dominating the little guy and so on—they're perfect rivals. Height of the Rivalry: The Kingpin systematically robs Daredevil of all he holds dear, learning his secret identity and discrediting Matt Murdock, taking his legal practice, his livelihood and his sanity. (DAREDEVIL v1 #227-#233—1986) Spotlight Comic: DAREDEVIL v1 #227—Kingpin takes Matt Murdock's life apart in the classic "Born Again" storyline.

5. DAREDEVIL VS. BULLSEYE Their Deal: Bullseye first targeted Daredevil to cement his professional credibility, but after failing to dispatch his enemy, became obsessed with his foe. Their every encounter has escalated, fueled in large part by Bullseye's psychoses. First (Published) Battle: DAREDEVIL v1 #131 (1976) Why It Makes The List: Until he came up against Daredevil, Bullseye could be held up as the model of detached professionalism. Until he came up against Bullseye, Daredevil considered his super heroics more or less a job. The level of pain and misery these men have visited upon each other over the years can hardly be reconciled with the men they were before they came into one another's lives. Height of the Rivalry: Since killing Elektra years earlier apparently didn't satiate Bullseye's desire to kill the women in Matt Murdock's life, he commits cold-blooded murder once more and takes Daredevil's first love, Karen Page, right from under DD's radar sense. (DAREDEVIL v2 #5—1999) Spotlight Comic: DAREDEVIL v1 #132—Daredevil and Bullseye battle beneath the big top.

4. PROFESSOR X VS. MAGNETO Their Deal: Once the closest of friends, Charles Xavier and the man who would become Magneto went their separate ways when the former chose to work for peaceful mutant-human relations and the latter took a more militant stance to assure the survival of Homo Sapiens Superior; they have been at odds off and on ever since. First (Published) Battle: X-MEN v1 #1 (1963) Why It Makes The List: Xavier and Magneto have been friends, enemies, partners, rivals and just about everything in between; their unique dichotomy of enmity and respect makes their relationship endlessly fascinating and rife for good stories. Each possesses a strong, noble personality as well as a stubborn devotion to their own dreams, traits that have driven the conflict at the core of the X-Men franchise for over 40 years. Height of the Rivalry: After Magneto uses his mastery of magnetism to strip the adamantium from the bones of X-Men member Wolverine, Xavier lashes back and completely disables his old friend's mind in revenge for the horrors visited upon his student. (X-MEN v2 #25—1993) Spotlight Comic: X-MEN v2 #2—Magneto unleashes his fury when he storms the X-Mansion to confront his old friend Charles Xavier.

3. THE FANTASTIC FOUR VS. DR. DOOM Their Deal: The arrogant Victor Von Doom wrongly blamed college classmate Reed Richards for the accident that scarred his face, despite Richards' warning. Doom has spent considerable time and effort since trying to destroy Reed and his family, the Fantastic Four. First (Published) Battle: FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #5 (1962) Why It Makes The List: If Doom truly focused all his energies on a task like curing cancer, making his homeland a utopia or possibly even conquering the world, there's a good chance he could accomplish it, but time and again his obsession with Reed Richard and the FF wins out. Battles between two men as brilliant as Victor Von Doom and Reed Richards take place on a plane few can dream of, but when you introduce exotic elements like the devoted Invisible Woman, headstrong Thing and hotheaded Human Torch, the interplay becomes inimitable. Height of the Rivalry: Embracing magic over technology, Doom strikes out against his hated foes by imprisoning Franklin Richards, son of Reed and Sue, in hell and taking their daughter Valeria as his captive, forcing the FF to surrender themselves into his captivity. (FANTASTIC FOUR v3 #68-#70, FANTASTIC FOUR #500—2003) Spotlight Comic: FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #10—Dr. Doom turns the tables on the Fantastic Four when he switches bodies with Reed Richards.

2. SPIDER-MAN VS THE GREEN GOBLIN Their Deal: Businessman Norman Osborn first became the Green Goblin in an attempt to take over New York's organized crime scene, but found his efforts thwarted by Spider-Man, who, unbeknownst to him, is actually his son Harry's best friend, Peter Parker. Over the years, the issues between the two men became more intensely personal. First (Published) Battle: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN v1 #14 (1964) Why It Makes The List: The Green Goblin started off as a visually interesting—if not particularly threatening—villain, but his battles with Spider-Man were elevated to new heights with the revelation of the personal connection between the two. Osborn's knowledge of Peter Parker's secret identity added a level of danger to their battles—rare at the time in super hero comics. Even when Norman doesn't know the face behind Spidey's mask, Peter's mix of guilt and outrage at knowing his tormentor packs an emotional wallop. Height of the Rivalry: Tiring of employing pumpkin bombs and super-strength to menace his rival, the Goblin hits the Webslinger where it hurt most by throwing Peter Parker's beloved girlfriend Gwen Stacy off a bridge, killing her. Spider-Man would never be the same again. (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN v1 #121-#122—1973) Spotlight Comic: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN v1 #27—Spidey must contend with the unpredictable Green Goblin in the heart of a gang war.

1. CAPTAIN AMERICA VS. THE RED SKULL Their Deal: Created by Hitler to be the German countermeasure to the United States' super soldier program, the Red Skull's mission since his creation has been to eliminate Captain America. When both men survived into the modern day via suspended animation, they carried their personal feud far beyond World War II. First (Published) Battle: CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #7 (1941) Why It Makes The List: Captain America vs. the Red Skull represents less a feud between two individuals and more a war of ideologies that has stretched over six decades. While their personal issues have heightened since Steve Rogers and Johann Schmidt first traded blows during the 1940s, the heart of the issue between the two lies in the greatest conflict the world has ever known. When Cap and the Skull clash, it's not just two men going against one another, it's freedom vs. fascism; liberty vs. oppression; good vs. evil. The sheer longevity of this rivalry also marks it above the norm. Height of the Rivalry: The Skull takes the decades-long dance between himself and Captain America to the ultimate level by orchestrating Cap's death at the hands of his own lover, Sharon Carter. It appears the Red Skull has claimed final victory in this rivalry. (CAPTAIN AMERICA v5 #25—2007) Spotlight Comic: TALES OF SUSPENSE #66—The Red Skull makes his first appearance in the Silver Age to menace his Star Spangled rival.

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