Sunday, 27 May 2018

Who's the strongest? Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15.

As everyone knows, this site's drawn to controversy, like the Abomination's face is drawn to the Hulk's fists. And, just the other day, the Steve Does Comics comments section flung up one of the greatest controversies of them all; "Who's the strongest?"

This dread debate was set off by Dangermash pointing me to the post on Marvel Comics of the 1980s which dealt with the strength chart from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15. Obviously, that chart puts The Hulk and Thor at the top of the tree but what of the others?

Looking at that illustration, the first thing that leaps out at me is that Iron Man's portrayed as being up there with the super-heavyweights, which is surely unacceptable to all traditionalists. Personally, I'd put him on a par with the Thing.

Doc Samson, meanwhile, is listed as being on the same level as the Thing, which seems too weak. I'd think of him as being stronger than the Thing but weaker than an angry Hulk.

No way should the Vision be listed as being on a par with the Thing. Being able to turn diamond hard wouldn't increase his strength, just his resilience.

Also, isn't Thundra stronger than the Thing? That was always the impression I got when she showed up.

Luke Cage is listed alongside the Valkyrie and She-Hulk, which seems like madness. I wouldn't even put him on a level with Spider-Man. I'd also assume that She-Hulk and the Valkyrie are at least comparable with the Thing when it comes to strength.

The Silver Surfer should surely be ranked alongside Thor and the Hulk, not down there with Luke Cage.

Elsewhere, shouldn't Colossus be comparable to the Thing? While there's no way Ghost Rider should be on a par with Colossus.

The medium-weights all seem correct, although I don't have a clue who the man with the beard is.

But, hold on, Ka-Zar is listed as not having super-human strength? I was under the impression that a lifetime of eating mysterious jungle herbs has given him enhanced strength and I would have thought he's on a par with Nighthawk who has the strength of two normal men. I'd also put Luke Cage on that level.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the matter. If you have opinions of your own, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.


Killdumpster said...

I don't have anything to add. You pretty much summed up all the inaccuracies perfectly.

dangermash said...

I think the Vision is in the right place. He might be weaker than lots of others on that shelf, but he's comfortably clear of Spider-Man. In fact it really depends on what strength levels form the break points. Maybe top level us 100+ tons, next level 50 to 100, Spider-Man looking at 10 to 50, then superhuman strength <10 and finally no superhuman strength. Raise the top if Ider-Mans level to 60 and Vision drops down.

Spider-Man's shelf will look pretty empty once Luke Cage drops a level and SheHulk, Colossus and maybe Valkyrie step up a level. But if you were to include villains, many of Spider-Man's rogue gallery would be on that shelf: Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Lizard, Scorpion, Molten Man. Rhino and a Sandman one shelf higher, Kraven maybe one shelf lower.

Steve W. said...

Killdumpster and Dangermash, thanks for your comments. It does all make me look back with affection to that illustration from the Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 where Spidey's lifting a huge barbell, as the Hulk, Thor and Thing watch on while the caption tells us they're the only three people in the world who are stronger than him. Things were so much simpler back then.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - Charlie bust a gut over your opening line, LOL

Just to be clear, what exactly are we measuring when we say strength? E.g., who can bench press the most?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Echoing what the Dangermash said, it was a lot simpler way back in the 60s when heroes seemed to be paired up with villains of equal-ish strength. I can't think of any of Spidey's original villains who would not have also been a match for DD or Luke Cage or Black Panther or Captain America at that time?

The preceding statement would exclude the (psychedelic-drug-inspired ?) grotesquely disproportionate match ups like Hulk or Thor fighting the Ringmaster's Circus of Kooks or the dude with the Crow Bar.

Is it fair to say Marvel augmented many of its heroes strength either overtly or covertly over the years. Regrettably, I punched out around 1975. But when I see today's stuff, I expect anyone to go toe-to-toe with Galactus.

Steve W. said...

Charlie, personally, I always judge a hero's strength by how much effort they'd have to put into lifting a car. That's one of the reasons that I can't see Valkyrie being comparable to Spider-Man. In her first appearance, we see her lifting a car with one hand. I can't remember Spidey ever lifting a car at all. I do remember him occasionally lifting the rear end of one, in order to prevent its occupants fleeing but, even then, he had to put a fair amount of effort into it.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Charlie on the inconsistency of comic writing making this kind of thing difficult to decide. A classic example - what was going on with Captain America's super strength during the 70s?
It was all over the place, so I don't know exactly where I'd put him in a list like this, but simply having super-strength should put him in a heavier category than characters with no powers like Daredevil* or the Black Panther.
(*Technically I suppose DD's radar sense is a power, but you know what I mean)


Killdumpster said...

Now,with some thought, I think Iron Man & Namor should be switched around.

Hey Charlie H47,
I can see dissing everyone's favorite punching bags, the Circus of Crime, but to put the Wrecker in their league? He was one of my fav Thor villians, especially when Kirby drew him. He could be brutally vicious.

Anonymous said...
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Charlie Horse 47 said...

Wait! I may have an idea!! At least I think I do!!!

Let's assume that the writer's artists understood a Hero's strength based upon the villains he fought?

I mean, except Reed Richards using super-intellect and employing the transmorgifier against Galactus or the Overlord, would not the creative team be able to tell a more useful story if the hero and villain were on parity of strength?

There's probably a reason Spidey fought Doc Ock, Goblin, Vulture, King Pin and a whole stable of villains without super strength... it's b/c Lee and Ditko never conceived Spidey as having "big" strength. Even dudes like Electro and Motlen Man didn't have super strength?

If I recall, I think I got jazzed when Spidey fought the Lizard b/c suddenly we had a villain who was strong... and had a tail!

Is it not possible that the Thunder God was initially conceived as having a bag full of tricks he could do with the hammer (read those first stories, lol) but really not much stronger than a dude with a crow bar? Well, my memory is failing know so I have to stop my thesis, LOL!

dangermash said...

Interesting ideas there Charlie about how Thor wasn't seen as that strong in the very early days. It would explain why he kept coming up against wusses like the Cobra and Mr Hyde. It might also explain why the Thing vs Hulk fight somewhere around FF #25 was such a big deal. Why wasn’t everyone clamouring for Thor vs Hulk?

dangermash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dangermash said...

Some more figures from OHMU. These are the weights that heroes can "lift/press" to answer an earlier question.

Thor, Herc 100+ tons
Hulk 100+ when angry, maybe only 70 calm
Wonder Man 95
She Hulk 85
Thing 85
Colossus 70
Vision 50 at max density, 5 normally
Surfer 100+
Valkyrie 45
Doc Samson 25
Black Bolt 1 or 60 using "electron power"
Iron Man 70 or 100+ if attached to suitable power source but only for a few seconds
Subby 50 dry, 85 wet
Luke Cage 3
KaZar no superhuman strength
Ghost Rider not in the book!

Googling peaceful hippie 1980s superheroes revealed the beardie to be Wundarr the Aquarian. He's not in the book.

I'm now thinking Vision and Doc Samson are both too high. In addition to my already existing problems with Iron Man, Colossus, Valkyrie, Surfer. I might have to back down on Black Bolt though - sounds like he's on the right shelf.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Dangermash I like the way you think!

Indeed, why would they have had Thor fight villains sent over from central casting at Wussy Central? One could rightfully conclude b/c they thought Thor was mild-mannered Don Blake who was ow the equivalent of Charles Atlas in the advertisements in the comic book weight-lifting advertisements, with a funky hammer.

I mean, does Loki have super strength? And is not Loki a god too, like Thor?

I want my No Prize!!!

dangermash said...

You've sent me back to OHMU again Charlie. Apparently Loki can do 30 tons, which is typical for a male Asgardian of his age, height and build. He belongs on the Spider-Man shelf and will be one of the stronger ones there once Colossus and the Surfe have been promoted.

Dougie said...

Wundarr was a Superman parody from the Man-Thing series. He was a manchild who imprinted on the Thing. Later, he became the messianic Aquarian, a rather out- of-step transformation in the late 70s Project Pegasus arc.

Anonymous said...

dangermash -
I'd say the problem with something like the OHMU is that its too fixed an idea of the characters. The stats are based on the characters as they were in the early 80s (I seem to recall reading somewhere that it began as an internal guide ordered by Shooter to keep Marvel writers on message...)

The very early Marvels all had inconsistencies* with the "classic" characters that became established within a few years, and later writers regularly tinkered around with characters losing and gaining powers.

(*The demands of continuity eventually turned even those inconsistencies into character history - suddenly, the Hulk was grey with a different personality again!)


dangermash said...

Agreed Sean. Spider-Man has his opinion, the OHMU author has his opinion, everyone that has designed packs of Marvel Top Trumps has opinions and the rest of us have our own opinions. My opinion veers towards OHMU but that's probably because I'm not that into any comics that came out after it (I stopped reading Marvel UK somewhere around 1978).

But there are plenty of places where Marvel history makes OHMU look wrong. Spider-Man outpunching Firelord, Cap punching out the Enchantress, people like Scorpion & Mr Hyde regularly being beaten by people on the bottom three shelves. And didn't Luke Cage beat the original Power Man?

On the gaining and losing powers, OHMU does talk about Cap gaining superhuman strength for a while then losing it. From memory I think it put him at around the Spider-Man 10 ton level.

Interesting that it was a behind the scenes Shooter initiative. I could definitely believe that.

Steve W. said...

Dangermash and Dougie, thanks for the Wundarr the Aquarian info. I was familiar with Wundarr but knew nothing of his beardy phase.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Dangerman! You are correct! Right around Luke Cage Hero for Hire #15, around 1973 ish, Power Man, bragging and bragging and bragging he beat the Avengers, takes on Luke.

Eventually Luke gets his mo-jo going and kicks PM's buttafucco in a movie theatre.

(I only recall this b/c I went to C2E2 in 2017 and picked up this issue for $2 and reread it 35 years later, lol.)

But the whole plot made me think of the Associative Property (?) in Math. If A > B and B > C then A must be greater than C! Therefore if Power Man beat the Avengers and Luke beat Power Man, then Luke can beat the Avengers!

But I was curious if, by applying said Property, could we somehow justifiably argue that Mary Jane Watson could kick Galactus's buttafucco??? Or, could Aunt Petunia beat up on Thor... Coul Irv Forbush beat Steve Does Comics in an arm-wrestling match or darts or the 100 M dash?

I mean, the possibilities here seem like someone should win an Eternal No Prize if they can demonstrate that a non-hero not even on the OHMU can beat someone who is by application of accepted logic.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I mean Dangermash! Sorry. Hey - wasn't Danger Man a series in UK that was like Secret Agent Man in the USA?

Anonymous said...

I have to respectfully disagree with the figures Dangermash cites. They may be directly from a later edition of the Handbook. but they don't jive with history or the evidence. They are screwball figures. To wit:
Doc Samson is basically a calm Hulk with a hairdo, so he's pressing around 70 tons.
The Surfer can't press no hundred tons. But he can probably levitate stuff, so he doesn't really need to. He can take a punch, though, because he has cosmic healing powers.
She-Hulk can press 70 on a good day, unless she has the rage factor her cousin does, where his strength goes up the madder he gets. I've seen no evidence of that.
Subby is at 70 also, on dry land, as long as he's hydrated. He should keep some Gatorade handy.
He clobbered the Hulk the first time they met in the early Avengers by getting him under water, which the Hulk can't breath. Maybe he goes up to about 90 underwater. He can put his fist through a U-boat, anyway.
I figure Luke Cage is at least eight. He held his own against Spider-Man the first time they met.
Of course, men of reason and good will may differ on these matters. I think Ben Grimm got upgraded a bit there, and I'm happy to see that, because he can't just rely on charm all the time.


dangermash said...

Charlie - you mean the transitive property.

Asscoativity is stuff like (A * B) * C = A * (B *C)

That didn’t come from OHMU.

dangermash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dangermash said...

I should quote my source properly, M.P.

With all the usual Wikipedia caveats, the OHMU versions are listed here:

Figures I quoted are from the 1985-88 update - I have the set of ten paperbacks. Turns out the paperbacks are not the oldest version of all the stats.

Killdumpster said...

Well, Steve, you were right.

You stirred the pot on this one.

Steve W. said...

I'm starting to worry about what dread nightmare I've unleashed.

Timothy Field said...

Starting a debate amongst geeks about relative strength of comic book characters. Who could possibly predict the outcome?

Steve, avoid any offers to get involved in the Middle East peace process.

Conrad Knight Socks said...

Shulkie’s listed at 75 tons in the OHOTMU. Actually a lot of these characters have changed over various Handbooks. She-hulk was originally listed at 50, then at 75 and now at 100+ ( too high IMO unless she’s using her dynamic strength factor, which she actually has -it’s just not as effective as her cousin’s. Calm Hulk was originally listed at 90, slightly ahead of the Thing, which fits in with the fight where the two swapped bodies. Samson is meant to be as strong as a calm Hulk but I believe the downgraded 25 ton figure specifically came from John Byrne, who wanted to downplay him for no particularly good reason. Sasquatch is listed at 70but is actually meant to be stronger than a calm Hulk. Wonder Man was listed at 95 but that was later changed to 100+ in the 89 update; in the same update, Namor was upgraded to 100+ when underwater or drenched. Cage was listed at 3 tons level but is a lot stronger nowadays. Vision was listed at 50, then upgraded to 75. Iron Man was first listed at 11, believe it or not, then 50, then 70 and finally 85 on the 1989 update. Black bolt at 60 is too low - for a VERY brief time, he can throw down with the likes of Thor,Gladiator or Namor. Thundra is listed at 60 but I always felt she was on a level pegging with Thing and slightly ahead of a calm She-Hulk. Finally, Ka-Zar officially diesn’t Have super strength but like Tarzan, has done some crazy stuff over the years. He’s probably VERY close to Cap in strength.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I refer to my thesis: Spidey fought Fancy Dan, Ox, Montana, Hammer, and Snake as the Enforcers. He was probably conceived to lift a few tons... regardless of the reference manuals subsequently published. Spider would be more interesting fighting Fancy Dan than Galactus?

Steve W. said...

Timothy, I'll cancel my appointment in Tel Aviv immediately.

Conrad, thanks for your exhaustive research into the matter. I've just realised that 50-60 tons is what a brachiosaurus weighed. In future, I shall gauge my heroes by how many brachiosaurs they can lift.

Charlie, Spider-Man's strength seemed to oscillate wildly in the early days. One moment, he was knocking the Thing over, the next he was struggling to even give the Vulture a bruise.

Conrad Knight Socks said...

Like anyone else, it comes down to the writer. Gerry Conway had Peter struggling to lift a car but later writers had him helping to support toppling skyscrapers or throwing tanks. Heck, even writers aren’t always internally consistent. It took Thor a full minute to kill a tiger with his bare hands under Stan Lee but in the same run, he could straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa with one finger or tie six tanks to his hammer and throw them across the Gobi desert.

Conrad Knight Socks said...

Oh and Ghost Rider was officially 5 tons level, upgraded to 10 for Dan Ketch. Aquarian looked to be at least as strong as Thing as Wundarr, maybe even stronger. Whether Wolverine is super humanly strong is a debate in itself. Silver Surfer can indeed enhance himself to Class 100 but isn’t usually quite that strong, more like 75-80 tons level.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

As I sit here contemplating it occurs to me we have not seen the Thursday post!!!

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