I was perusing Instagram yesterday and came across a fairly humourous post about Tom and Jerry. The post author said that “They have the realest beef in history. No words. Just trying to beat the crap out of each other on sight”. Obvious colloquial grammar issues aside, the author was right. Tom and Jerry barely say anything to each other over their entire career and yet go into full fight mode whenever they see each other. This got me thinking of other epic grudges that are held by different characters in comics, and to be clear, there are dozens! Here is my short list of epic grudges from comics:
WOLVERINE & SABRETOOTH
This one is legendary in the fact that there is no real concrete reason that they actually hate each other. In the 2009 movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the writing team decided to make them brothers who have similar mutations and have been on the run together for quite some time. This was a far departure from the comic the movie is based on from 2001-2002. Sabretooth’s real name is Victor Creed and his mutations are nearly identical to that of Wolverine. He has heightened senses that make him an expert tracker, a healing factor, and razor sharp claws and teeth. The origin of their feud goes back a long ways to Victor’s half siblings Clara and Saul Creed. Saul and Clara helped Nathaniel Essex (Mr. Sinister) track down Logan while he was living as a feral man who was part of a wolf pack in the wilds of the Northwest Territories or Canada. Logan is captured but develops a friendship with the two siblings. He exhibits feelings toward Clara who returns them and Saul doesn’t like that. Saul betrays Logan and Clara to Essex and in a rage, Logan drowns Saul in front of Clara who tells him to never look at her again. Victor hears of this and resolves to track Logan down and kill him.
Alternatively, Logan was once living as a member of the Blackfoot community in south Saskatchewan and Montana. Victor tracked Logan to the village he was living in with his love interest Kayla (Silver Fox) who had rejected his advances. As restitution for the murders of his siblings, Creed murders her in front of Logan on Logan’s birthday and adopts the long standing tradition of tracking Logan down every year on his birthday to force a confrontation between them.
There is also evidence that Sabretooth and Wolverine were both members of Team X and both were subjects of the Weapon X program. The rivalry between them stems from the already mentioned murdering and what not but also from the fact that Victor is just better at everything than Wolverine. He is much stronger (about 10x over), he’s faster, a better fighter, a better tracker and more animalistic. The only thing that has stopped Wolverine from being shredded every time is his adamantium claws and the fact that Logan’s healing factor is MUCH stronger than Sabretooth’s. Where Wolverine can heal from most injuries in a matter of seconds, Sabretooth takes days. As previously mentioned, every year on Logan’s birthday Sabretooth will track him down and beat him within an inch of his life simply to show that he can.
It’s also worth noting that up until recently (as in the last 5-10 years), Wolverine has NEVER beat Sabretooth in a fight.
BATMAN & JOKER
This one doesn’t really need an explanation. While other grudges on this list have a catalyst reason for their vendetta, this one is more symbolic in nature. Joker is the antithesis of Batman. Joker is chaos and freedom incarnate while Batman is justice and order. While it may not need an explanation I will give it a short one.
The origin of the Joker is very much disputed among comic fans and there have been many different possible origins given. The most widely accepted origin is that from The Killing Joke from 1988 by Alan Moore. In this story and unnamed man is seen trying to be a comedian, which was his long time dream. He just wanted to make people laugh for his career. He quit his previous job, an engineer at a chemical plant, in order to pursue this comedy career despite having a pregnant wife at home. Despite his best efforts, he is unable to secure any sort of gig because he just isn’t funny. He agrees to guide some criminals through the plant so they can rob the playing card company that’s next door and in exchange they would give him a large sum of money. The day the heist is to go down, he is informed by the Police that his wife and unborn child died in a household accident, the nature of which is never fully described. When he tries to back out of the heist, the criminals strong arm him into staying and fulfilling his side of the deal.
When they rob the company and are making their escape through the factory, Batman shows up. In the scuffle the young comedian trips and falls into a vat of chemicals. He is washed out of the vat and out a sewer pipe where the chemicals have changed his appearance to that of the Joker. His mind snaps and he begins his lifelong pursuit of tormenting Batman and the people of Gotham.
The Joker has gone on to do some truly terrible things: He murdered the second Robin (Jason Todd), crippled Bat Girl (Barbara Gordon), cut of Alfred’s Hand, kidnapped a busload of babies and left them to die after shooting their only caregiver, used fear gas to trick Superman into killing Lois and his unborn child which in turn caused a nuke to detonate in Metropolis and subjected Harley Quinn to years of abuse and torture by exploiting her feelings for him.
Joker is constantly trying to get Batman to cross “that line” so that he can prove nobody is better than anybody else; that on a bad enough day you can take the sanest person and turn them into someone like him. Batman can’t kill the Joker because then the Joker will win and the Joker won’t stop until Batman kills him. Every year the Joker gets closer and closer to causing Batman to cross the line and kill him which would prove that Batman is just as bad as everyone else.
“To them, you’re just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don’t, they’ll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these… these civilized people, they’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.” – Joker to Batman, The Dark Knight 2008
“Oh, you. You just couldn’t let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You are truly incorruptible, aren’t you? Huh? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.” – Joker to Batman, The Dark Knight 2008
GREEN ARROW & MERLYN
This one has been ongoing for quite a few years, like every other grudge on this list. The vendetta between Merlyn and Green Arrow rose to grand recognition with the live action show Arrow starring Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow and John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn/Dark archer. Most people don’t know that this vendetta starts long before Oliver became the vigilante we know and love. When he was just a young boy, Oliver was attending a travelling show with his parents, he was amazed at the exploits of the archer Arthur King also known as “Merlyn the Magician”. Oliver tried to master archery as a young boy, but it wasn’t until he was stranded on the island and forced to become an expert with the bow to survive that he really honed his craft.
After Oliver returned to civilization and took up the mantle of Green Arrow, Merlyn challenged him to a public archery contest. Despite his best effort, Oliver was beaten by Merlyn who took his victory and disappeared for several years. He became a member of the League of Assassins and even helped to train Cassandra Cain (Batgirl/Black Bat). Merlyn traveled to Gotham City where he wanted to assassinate Batman for reasons unknown. Oliver tracked Merlyn once he hit the USA and foiled the assassination attempt with an arrow of his own. Green Arrow had saved Batman and before disappearing, Merlyn had remarked that Green Arrow had gotten better since their last contest.
Merlyn spent many years as an assassin for hire for various organizations but every time he came up against Green Arrow, Oliver would lose the duel.
With the release of the Rebirth Initiative for DC Comics, they re-branded Merlyn to coincide with the Arrow TV show. Now, he goes by Malcolm Merlyn and joined the League of Assassins at the age of 25 where after his training he was given to title of “Dark Archer”. Merlyn was hired by the Ninth Circle to frame Green Arrow for various crimes to tarnish his reputation. Merlyn manufactured arrows nearly identical to those that Green Arrow uses, only he and Oliver could tell the difference, and used them for a slew of high profile assassinations. When the two finally meet, oliver thinks that the hooded figure is Malcolm’s son Tommy until Merlyn reveals himself. Merlyn then proceeds to mock Oliver while savagely beating him near death. Oliver is saved by Black Canary and some Star City Police officers before Merlyn can kill him. In retaliation Merlyn fires a kill arrow at the Police Chief which Oliver manages to block by sacrificing his bow.
DC Comics put out a great short video showcasing Green arrow. You can check it out here:
SHREDDER & TMNT
Shredder and the Turtles. There’s not many grudges that transcend media quite like this one. You can ask anyone who grew up from 1980’s onward who the enemy of the Ninja Turtles is and they will say without a doubt that it’s Shredder. Shredder was introduced in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 in 1984 and has been their longest running adversary in all forms of media.
The original story is that Shredder (Oroku Saki) is the younger brother of Oroku Nagi a well known Ninjitsu master. Nagi was enamored with a young woman named Tang Shen. The problem was that Shen was in love with Hamato Yoshi (Splinter’s master and mentor). During a fight over Shen, Yoshi killed Nagi and then fled with Shen to the United States of America. Saki joined the Foot Clan and trained for years to become a master of ninjitsu. He was promoted to lead the American branch of the clan due to his skills as their top warrior. Once he established his base in New York, Saki tracked Yoshi down to his home in the city and murdered Yoshi and Shen in front of Splinter.
Thirteen years pass before Shredder is confronted by the Turtles. They were raised by Splinter after having been covered in radioactive ooze which mutated them and their master to large size. The turtles engaged Shredder on a rooftop after having taken down several dozen of the Foot Clan. The turtles fought Shredder in hand to hand combat and despite their numbered advantage, Shredder appeared to be winning. Shredder made a mistake mid battle and overextended his defense stance which allowed Leonardo to stab him in the abdomen with one of Leo’s swords. once defeated, the Turtles offered Shredder the chance to commit Seppuku as a means of dying with his honour still intact. Unwilling to allow his enemies to best him, Shredder refused and triggered a Thermite grenade to attempt to take the Turtles with him. Donatello was able to knock Shredder off the roof with his Bo staff before the grenade went off saving him and his brothers.
Shredder was resurrected by the Foot Clan and enacted his revenge on Christmas Eve. He attacked the Turtles and their allies at April O’Neil’s apartment where they had gathered to celebrate the holidays. Shredder savagely beat Leonardo and shattered his swords before the Turtles and their friends were able to get away and hide outside of the City. After Leonardo healing and forging himself some new swords, the Turtles returned to New York City to settle their score with Shredder. Leonardo engaged Shredder in one on one combat to regain his honour and managed to decapitate the Foot Clan leader. The Turtles took his body and burned it at the Hudson river hoping to end their adversary once and for all.
When IDW Publishing picked up the rights to the Ninja Turtles comics from Archie Comics who in turn had gained them from Mirage and Image Comics, they set to bring Shredder back to continually give the Turtles an adversary to fight. Recently, he has once again been killed, this time at the hands of Splinter himself, and in a new upcoming series titled Shredder in Hell, the villain will find himself trying to find the truth of his own soul against the forces of Hell.
*An epic side note, recently IDW has released a crossover between the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the Ninja Turtles. In this crossover, Shredder gains control of the Green Ranger power coin and morphs into a Shredder/Green Ranger hybrid! The art makes it look epic!!!!*
These are just some of the “Epic Grudges” that are present in comics. You can basically take any hero and their most well known villain and chuck them on this list if you wanted.
Some of my honourable mentions are: Superman/Lex Luthor, Spider-Man/Green Goblin, Flash/Professor Zoom, The Power Rangers/Rita Repulsa, Wonder Woman/Cheetah and Captain America/Red Skull.
There you have it! My top Epic Grudges in Comics! See you next week!