14 August 2007

Wait... Wait... You already posted that picture!

Yeah. Yeah, I did. And what's more, in the anarchic spirit of true artistry, I intend with this entry to break the mould of Odin's Aviary by discussing a topic seemingly unrelated to The Third Life(TM), though I'm likewise sure that I'll find a way to tie it in somehow. That topic is as follows:

Just who would win in a fight between Wolverine and Batman?

Now, everybody: Calm down. Calm right the hell on down. (Some of you may think I'm using an ironic tone at this moment, but nothing could be further from the truth; I have friends that will be offended that there is even a question about this match up--and for both sides, too.) We're going to look at this rationally, and I'm going to be as unbiased as possible. To that end, I must admit to those of you who don't yet know me (though I'm on the cover of this week's The Record . . . WATCH OUT!) that I am about as biased for Batman--in all things--as I could possibly be. Bearing that in mind, let's us begin our fair and balanced exploration of the question.

Batman would win.

Okay, I'm sorry. For reals now:

Batman would kick shorty's hairy butt.

No, no, really. Really. It's a tough call. (It is, Mark.) They're both the more popular bad boys of their respective universes--which is no doubt part of what inspired Amalgam to bring them together in their character, Dark Claw. One could make a quick argument that Wolverine's enhancements make him the sure winner, but frankly, Batman has dealt with supernatural (et al) powers before, and has a reputation for being the smarter fighter in any situation. But I get ahead of myself. Let's take a look at our fighters in some limited detail.

(Isn't it great to, every once in a while, be shameless in one's geek self? "Geeking out" is the popular term, but it can refer to any incidence in which someone unabashedly reveals their enthusiasm for anything. Why should it be such a social sin to relish anything in this world? Because not everyone will care? So what? You don't have to listen/read.)

Dealing with a brief outline of the conditions: Batman is a hero from the DC Comics universe, Wolverine from the Marvel. For the purposes of this discussion, we will be approaching the characters as being at the peak of their natural condition; that is to say, Wolvie with his standard set of attributes in the X-Men arc, Batman in his late-twenties/early-thirties...none of this sapped adamantium or Return of the Dark Knight stuff. (Non-fanboys: Anyone over geeked yet?) And they shall be comic characters, not movie characters. So sayeth I. And they shall be drawn according to their origins, with some allowance for increased anatomical awareness in artists of the latter half of the 20th century. So Wolvie is short, and Batman is not hulking. Finally, they're both to some degree anarchic good guys, with Wolverine taking the anarchy cake: He will kill; Bats will not.

Let's get it on!

Wolverine is a mutant who has been experimented upon (fact-check me here gang; I am not a Marvel dude). He has regenerative powers of shocking rapidity, but for the purposes of this discussion we're gonna go with the popular comic choice of him needing some time (one or two nights) to heal from something severe, like a dozen machine guns. He also has three foot-long claws that extend at will from his fists, which are made from adamantium, a purportedly indestructible metal. In fact, his entire skeleton is coated with a layer of the stuff, adding to his indestructibility and making him heavy as all hell. Now, the healing is a mutant power, and the adamantium is the result of a government experiment. The claws were long assumed to be part of the government's work, but a twist in the nineties suggested they were there before all that, made, at their core, of bone. Sadly, as a result of powerful amnesia, Wolvie barely knows a thing about his origins. Given his healing ability, it's possible he is really very old, but he maintains a loner attitude and an underdeveloped emotional capacity. He is trained in martial arts with a Japanese flavor, and prefers direct action to intricacy or planning.

Batman is just a dude--no superpowers. He has, however, spent every waking moment since he was six years old (or so) dedicating his life to studies both physical and mental that will help him fight crime in the urban sprawl of Gotham City, so often the argument is held that his single-minded determination is his "superpower." These studies include gymnastics, mixed martial arts, all sciences and technologies (with an emphasis on computers and mechanistic devices), detection, criminology and behavioral psychology. His mind and body are honed into excellence, and he's backed up in all of this by a huge estate and corporation left to him by his deceased parents. His modus operandi is to research and investigate the hell out of everything ahead of time and be prepared, like an inky black boyscout. Owing to his background, he is incapable of accepting loss, either of people or in achievement.

Now (and I owe Friend Mark a nod for this): chances are it would all go down in Gotham. It's not hard to imagine these two egos clashing, but given that Wolverine generally wishes to best bad guys, it would take his stomping on Batman's grounds to make Bats take issue with him or his methods. So Gotham it is. And methods it is. Specifically, Wolvie would most likely only come to such a big city if he had to, presumably in pursuit of answers about his past or to hunt a baddie, and he wouldn't announce himself to the authorities. Now, it's hard to say what DC characters would feel about mutants. Batman would have no love lost over their DC equivalent--metahumans--but he's teamed with super types before, and some much fruitier than Wolvie. He is something of a control freak, though, and Wolvie would probably pretty quickly foul up some careful lead Bats was following. Bats would sneak up on him, Wolvie would smell him coming, Bats would warn, Wolvie would yawn him off, Bats would disappear suddenly and without a trace (because you can't smell them going). It's only on their next encounter they'd fight, probably with Bats tracking Wolvie, but Wolvie aware of it, and so he provokes him by threatening to shred a house of drug traffickers instead of arrest them.

And it's on.

My preference is to judge the winner by character examination. You can spend all day debating the merits of strategy, relative invulnerability and motorcycles versus sports cars, but at the end of the day, we're talking about events in a storytelling medium. If it isn't a good story, in this context, then it just isn't feasible (much less desirable). So we'll talk here about claws and cowls, but hopefully in how they serve an outcome, not their viability strictly as weapons.

(Brief irrelevant observation here: Why in the hell does Wolverine wear a mask? Bruce Wayne has to hide his identity to function in both worlds, but Logan has never shown any sign of needing to mask himself. Hell, he's on a continual quest for his identity! That's not the kind of guy who would dig getting his disguise on. Yeah, yeah; I know when he was created it was fashionable and they were trying to make him look more like his namesake. But come on.)

The fight would be all about control and, from this perspective, with Batman as the aggressor (trying to achieve control) and Wolverine as the defender (trying to escape control). This doesn't, however, mean that Bats gets to start the fight. Wolvie would probably startle him by drawing him in and then attacking suddenly. Bats would want to keep the high ground afforded him by his aerial equipment, but would just have to keep swinging lower to suppress Wolvie until it degraded into a street-level (or rooftop) brawl. Surprises would abound. Bats would have all kinds of interesting ways of evening the odds (in the eighties it would have been a neural suppressor to prevent the claws from engaging; in the sixties a giant bat-magnet), and Wolvie would shock Bats with moves so ugly they're almost absurd. Essentially, they're both incredibly experienced, intelligent fighters, once they get past the emotions. Along those lines, Bats would be doing everything he could to make Logan lose it whilst he maintained control of himself and the environment, and Wolvie would be doing whatever he could think of to cause Bats to falter from his grim determination.

Which is why, ultimately, Batman would win.

In every fight, Bats has some part of himself standing outside of the engagement, being the deductive reasoner, that part of him that he found years before, ready to carry him on past his parents' deaths. It's this part of him that inevitably carries the Rocky-esque twists of his fights: Just when he seems most lost, we discover that Bats was merely doing what he had to to manipulate the situation into his ultimate plan. He is ultimately objective, which is what makes him a hero, rather than a revenge-obsessed sociopath with a Narcissus complex.

Which is why, ultimately, Batman can't win.

In every fight, Wolverine's spirit is indomitable. It has to be--it's all he really has. Wolverine is actually a supremely vulnerable character. When he started out, this was manifested only by his impulsiveness and relative lack of strength compared to the other X-Men, rendering him more often as comic relief than as his current status of anti-hero. As writers developed his story, however, the vulnerability came out of this incredible amnesia and a conflict between who he seems to be and who he wants to be. For all his indestructible qualities, inside he's destroyed, and it's only his fighting spirit that he can rely on.

What we have here is a conflict between essential natures, and a stricture of conventional comicbook plots. The characters and their stories are serial, and keeping a balance between continuity and ingenuity is what marketing those comics is all about. That's part of what makes comicbook characters such contemporary icons: like the gods and heroes of myth, they are defined by specific characteristics that remain essentially the same. So we can have several Robins, and Batman can get his will broken by Bane, but only if it eventually returns him to his essential character with renewed vigor. This is great for hero worship and power fantasies. This sucks for narrative, because what's really interesting about a story is how people change as a result of it.

So I propose that the fight would end with Bats getting control of the Wolvie, and having his say about his jurisdiction and Wolvie's methods. Wolvie might even find his arguments compelling enough to stop threatening him for a moment. But Wolvie will not change his ways, and Bats will be forced to expel him from Gotham, like an animal released into the wild. Another little tussle, in which Wolvie gets a claw swipe at the utility belt, to no apparent harm, and Bats will have him ready for transport. The much-battered Batman will escort a bound Logan across whatever harbor borders Gotham, and Logan will light a stoagie, turn wryly back and say over his shoulder as all his bruises fade, "Been a while since I've had a beating, but I've had worse. Bit of advice: Remember that I owe you one, bub." And with that cryptic line, Wolverine leaves the scene.

In a brief coda, Bats goes back to the scene of their first meeting to scavenge clues that may not have been obliterated by Wolvie. In departing there, he uses his fly line to span an alleyway, to discover mid-flight that it is nicked. The line snaps, sending him crashing to a fire escape. "I suppose now we're even..." he says as he rather gingerly descends the escape.

Thoughts? Comments? Complete disagreement?


Kim W. said...

Feh -- the real question is, how would either of them hold up against ninjas or pirates?

Davey said...

A. Consider your facts checked. I personally found no flaws.

B. You just wrote a three issue arc of Batman vs. Wolverine. Impressive, but now come up with a title.


3. Much like our earlier discussion this week on certain super spies, this fight comes down to one thing.

Batman cheats, ergo Batman wins.

Seriously though, that's a lot of good thought going into the characterization of the fight. I like the way you had everything pan out. The only thing you neglected to mention was the unseen observer who, after finishing his cigarette and flipping up the collar on his trench coat, slipped back into the shadows muttering: "wankers".

heh heh heh

Jeff Wills said...

Well Kim, it seems to me that both our heroes have withstood the ninja test repeatedly and admirably. Hell, according to the new movie, Batman IS a ninja. Pirates...well, I just don't know. Hard to see a pirate in gritty Gotham. But if Wolvie's as old as has been suggested, he may have at one time been a pirate himself. Yarg, bub.

Jeff Wills said...

Davey: You, as usual, rule. We would have to have a Constantin cameo, of course, though perhaps in the background of a panel of intense fighting. As for a title, good question. "Running with Scissors" would be great, but I think it may already be taken...

dave said...


1) Wolverine cheats as bad as Batman, maybe worse.

2) Pissing Wolverine off and making him lose control is EXACTLY the wrong thing to do - that's when Wolvy's at his very best.

3) Don't seriously give me that shpeel about how long Bat's been training; you admit yourself Wolverines been around much longer, and his skills are H-O-N-E-D.

4)There is nothing Bats can do to Wolverine physically that can damage him, and nothing he can do mentally/psychologically that will not simply make Wolverine more dangerous.

5) "Another little tussle, in which Wolvie gets a claw swipe at the utility belt, to no apparent harm, and Bats will have him ready for transport." Uh, What? No. Maybe if Wolverine had no claws. Maybe. But there's no way Batman is not coming out of a serious scuffle bleeding, maimed, or dead.

Sorry dude - your way might happen in the comics but ONLY because the writers know that the moment they let Wolverine kill Batman, they'll have to deal with endless whining from you and all the other delusionals.

Jeff Wills said...

I like the enthusiasm, Dave. I really do. Good for you. You're totally wrong, but, you know: Good for you.

Kim W. said...

Hell, according to the new movie, Batman IS a ninja. Pirates...well, I just don't know. Hard to see a pirate in gritty Gotham. But if Wolvie's as old as has been suggested, he may have at one time been a pirate himself.

So, if you think about it, this could be a good test case for the the pirates vs. ninjas debate. ...Hmmm.

dave said...

"I like the enthusiasm, Dave. I really do. Good for you. You're totally wrong, but, you know: Good for you."

STUNNING set of counterpoints, there, Jeff. You know what that sounds like to me? D-E-N-I-A-L.

Jeff Wills said...

I gotcher counterpoints right here:
1. Yeah, that's true; though I'd say with less foresight.
2. Wolvie can kill a lot of people when he's enraged. I would argue that a concept of strategy might just be involved when it comes to a fight between seasoned combatants.
3. Wolvie hasn't had training all his lifespan (in fact, if Miller is to be believed, the Japanese martial arts weren't until some time in the 70s) and HE'S GOT AMNESIA. Whatever else is awesome about Bourne, the concept that someone with amnesia can recall complicated martial arts with clarity is ridonkulous.
4. Damage: sonic assault, fire, acid, repeated rapid brute damage. Psychology: What? He SO can. Nobody's going to be better at psychologically screwing someone up than the guy who regularly fights Joker and Two-Face.
5. I already said he's kicked all to hell and back, and Wolverine's partially restrained. Forgive the storytelling element whereby Wolvie gets to outsmart Bats. I thought it was a dose of justice called for after BATMAN HUMILIATES HIM. Also, I wnated to make the point that Wolvie is by no means dumb; just child-like.


Carden said...

wow. well a few things come to mind.

1. in the "What If" series. The Hulk, in fact, killed Wolverine by separating his head from his body. While not an easy task, I am sure Batman will have known of this issue through countless hours spent doing research in the bat cave. Batman, being bound by morales unlike ole Wolvy, would not actually do this but meerly demonstrate to Logan how he might go about it if he does not behave. The end.


2. Batman would win...cause Wolverine is just a cartoon and Batman is a real guy.

Thank you, and good night!

Jeff Wills said...

Fascinating, Jason. Thanks for bringing some research to the string. But you're in big trouble, mister, exposing Batman's existence like that. I suspect you'll find a bat-shaped shuriken embedded in your bed post tonight...

dave said...

1. "Yeah, that's true; though I'd say with less foresight." This; this alone I will grant you.
2. Two words: Berserk Rage.
3. Two more words: Muscle memory.
4. No time to talk - too busy being sliced to ribbons.
5. Its not wolvie's nick of the sissy-belt that I'm talking about, I'm objecting to the idea that bats can manage to restrain him, partially or fully.

Moheggie said...

Why don't they just share a bucket of wangs and some cold ones and call it a tie? Who wants to fight when you can be drunk, cynical, and full of dead bird with a new friend instead?

Jeff Wills said...

Dag, Dave. You sure are putting a lot of confidence in a berseker rage. I'm guessing such a state is not beneficial to whatever "muscle memory" may remain for ol' Wolvie. But we can only guess at these points, having little to no experience with the actual effectiveness of a berserk state in a fight. I'm still awaiting your response to my arguments for how Bats can physically damage Wolvie.

And Megan, careful with your dialect spelling. I am literally reeling over the image of a "bucket of wangs."

Jeff Wills said...

Oh, and I just know Mark is going to eventually post as essay on this one...

Lea Maria said...

You ever watch that episode of Sex and the City with the Batman vs. Green Hornet analogy? You should look into that. It's pretty deep.

Kim W. said...

And Megan, careful with your dialect spelling. I am literally reeling over the image of a "bucket of wangs."

I didn't know that this was in a dialect at first, and must admit, I found it somehow strangely suitable...

Moheggie said...

I can tell I'm the only one here who goes to Hooters and watches football.

Adam said...


Ok, let me spell it out for those who still haven't gotten it. In the scene that our beloved Jeff wrote out, and I agree that's how it would happen, Bats handles Wolvie nine ways to Sunday.

Bats has taken out Superman on a regular basis. He's whooped up on the DCU's best fighters. He beat Karate Kid, a 12 level fighter from the 31st Century Legion (who's the mega geek now bitches!) when he was only a 10 level fighter.

Wolvie's fighting skills aren't as good because he can heal. It makes someone sloppy when they know that taking damage doesn't hurt them in the long run. Bruce, on the other hand, doesn't like to get hurt, cause it takes him a while to heal up.

Plus, the utility belt rules all. Even if Wolvie somehow got the belt off of him, Bats still has so many secret pockets in that suit, that he could still take Logan down.

Wolvie is all swipe, swipe, slash, hack. Bats is all, duck, weave, jab, sweep, pressure point, judo chop, haymaker, ninja kick, shot to the nuts. (an awesome kata BTW)

It would be a good fight for a little bit (some good splash pages) but in the end Bats wins.

Nuff said!

Lykaon said...

Wow. Batman freaks are delusional. Batman doesn't stand a chance against Wolverine.

Acid, fire, yada yada yada. Sure Batman has a lot of stuff to knock Wolvie back for a few seconds, but Wolvie keeps on coming. Eventually that little utility belt runs out of tricks.

You don't give Wolverine enough credit as a fighter. He might not have been a trained super-martial arts assassin, but brawlers aren't to be ignored.

There was this kid from New York in the 80s. He had some training, but for the most part his style was unorthodox and crazy. You might have heard of him -- they called him Iron Mike.

Even moderately trained brawlers bring more to the table the best classically trained fighters. They have training AND instincts.

Speaking of instincts, let's not forget Wolvie's animal-like instincts. He could near anticipate everything someone like Batman is going to do. Bats is so completely deliberate that he would have a hard time every fooling Wolvie with any tactical maneuver.

Wolvie's faster, stronger, and a more intuitive fighter. One who just "is" will always be better than one he has to "be."

This is just a start. I'm considering a more reasoned response. Just had to get the knee-jerk reaction in there after Dave pointed me in this direction.

Carden said...

If we are in a world where both wolverine and The *Almighty Batman exist, wouldn't it be acceptable to assume that some or all of the *Almighty Batman's tools, gadgets, weapons, would also be made of Adamantium? These could be used to negate some of wolverine's power. Plus a berserker rage would only help in melee combat.

* the word Almighty is used to denote my extreme prejudice in this argument.

Lykaon said...

...also be made of Adamantium?

Even in the Marvel universe, Adamantium is relatively rare. Wolverine doesn't often run across other adamanantium laced things.

And besides, if we let Batman have Adamantium, then we're crossing worlds a little too freely, aren't we? That's like giving Batman Wolverine's claws. That's just not fair game.

That's one of Wolvie's biggest advantages. With the Adamantium claws, Batman's suit is garbage at protecting his body.

Jeff Wills said...

Wow. This is getting almost as violent as the fight itself.

To address a few points:
- Carden, I'm afraid I agree that adamantium is not amongst Batman's possessions in this scenario. Of course, if he can get all the kryptonite, he can probably lay hands on a little adamantium, eh what, Adam?
- Lykaon, welcome to the Aviary, and thanks for "bringing it." It is very broughten by you. First off, what is this reverence for brawlers? I'm not sure Tyson's sheer power is an apt comparison. Secondly, bear in mind that we're talking about a little time for Wolvie to heal, not like in the movies.

Speaking of which, I detest that effect: The Crow, X-Men, dozens of vampire movies--does anybody find it gratifying to watch skin miraculously stitch itself back together? It'd be cool, but is still too incredible for this guy.