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Author Topic: Superman compared to other DC Comics Martial Artists  (Read 7069 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: January 05, 2006, 09:14:43 AM »

This was inspired by a thread on the CBR forums.

Who would you say are the greatest Martial Artists in DC Comics? How would Superman rank among them? Here are my pics, in order:


10. Mr. Terrific (Terry Sloan)

If you have a thousand talents, Martial Arts are one of them. Though I doubt this guy is as great as other Martial Artists because he lacks specialty; if you have a thousand talents, how much time could one possibly spend with one?

9. Wildcat
Wildcat was a top-ranked boxer and heavyweight champ, but while his aging is decreased, he nonetheless may be slowed down by age. Additionally, Boxing as a style just uses punches and footwork; like Judomaster, Wildcat may be working at a disadvantage next to characters with more acrobatic styles.

Superman was able to hold his own against Mohammed Ali; Ted Grant in his prime is not suggested to have been as great as The Greatest Who Ever Lived.


8. Superman

Superman has been stated as knowing all the Martial Arts on Earth thanks to his Super-Memory. I can recall some other occasions where Superman has used pressure point tricks to disable enemies without harm or without using his superstrength.

Though the reason Superman isn't ranked higher is because as he is used to pulling his punches and holding back, he may be at a disadvantage. Because he has few sparring partners, Superman has almost no real fighting experience in application of such Martial Arts; it is for this reason that evil Hyperion, who had a chance to duke it out with Thor and other Marvel foes, had the advantage over Squadron Hyperion, who because of his strength dared not hit any living being on Squadron-Earth.

It also ought to be noted, additionally, that Superman has no boxing or training facility in the Fortress of Solitude for Martial Arts, implying that Superman may KNOW Kung Fu, he's out of practice. Additionally, without his superpowers, Superman was defeated by Mohammed Ali.

It ought to also be noted that Superman has a seldom-used power, Super-Aim, which he used when adopting his fictional dart-throwing identity. Superman has been shown to use his Super-Aim over universal distances, as when he hurled messages to other planets to warn them about the coming of the Sun-Eater. This power alone would place Superman in the tier of the DC Universe's super-marksmen, along with Deadshot and Green Arrow.


7. Ra's al-Ghul

The guy has had a thousand years to practice his technique. He leads a secret society of Assassins. It's obvious that Ra's has moves.

I would not rank Ra's higher because he is not a fistfighting character primarily. He is more of a mastermind in nature.


6. Batman

I can't agree that Batman is the supreme DC Martial Artist. For one thing, he has been portrayed as being an olympic level gymnast, an agile acrobat instead of a true nunchuck-wielding Karate guy. He probably knows all sorts of styles, but lacks the fanatical devotion and spiritual character of training that define a character like Judomaster or Thunderbolt. The bizarre, esoteric skills that make Karate Kid so formidable, like the ability to split super-future metals with his hands, is thematically absent from somebody as plausibility centered as Batman.


5. Black Canary I and Black Canary II

Lest we forget, Black Canary I was able to use Judo to beat - of all the people in the world - a being as powerful as WONDER WOMAN in the second JLA/JSA annual team up.

At least on one occasion in a JLA comic of the 1980s, Black Canary II was able to fight Deathstroke the Terminator to a standstill - a character that was always shown to be perpetually getting the better, physically speaking, of Nightwing. This implies that Black Canary II is as good a fighter as Batman as well.


4. Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt

Comic Book Rule #346B: If you're trained in THE MYSTIC ORIENT (GOOOOOOONG!), that makes you a better martial artist than somebody just trained at the dojo down the corner. Peter Cannon has been stated to know various oriental tricks and traps kept in secret, which means when fighting he has the element of surprise. Also, combining raw Martial Arts with his MYSTIC POWERS OF THE MIND, including Superspeed, make for an awesome combination.


3. Judomaster

At least the greatest Martial Artist of the Golden Age. The only reason he isn't number one is because his style, like that of Ted Grant, is limited; Judo is only throws and locks and successful counters, which makes him not as diverse as other stylists.


2. Faora

Faora killed twelve men on Krypton with her mastery of Horu-Kanu, which is a pragmatic, results-oriented Kryptonian Martial Art. According to the rule that Everything on Krypton is Better than On Earth (I mean, the most common element on the planet is GOLD, for Rao's sake) this must mean that Horu-Kanu is a much more effective martial art than earthly ones.

Combined with nearly unlimited Kryptonian powers on Earth and you've got a monster.


1. Karate Kid

#1 By an order of magnitude.

There have been occasions where Karate Kid has used his Super-Karate to split ultra-manganese in half, which implies a level of mastery that is downright superhuman. He is considered the most skilled combatant in the Universe by many other beings.

He's the "Flash" of Martial Artists. If you have ONE power, you might as well be better at it than other people that have Martial Arts, PLUS detective ability, and so forth.

By the way, don't you just love Karate Kid's name? "Val Armorr." Muy macho! What, was "Harrd Beefbody" taken?


Incidentally, it ought to be pointed out that there is a disproportionate number of Martial Artists that emerge from Charleston-Earth including Blue Beetle II, the Question, Judomaster and Tiger, and Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt. Perhaps there is some sort of property that belonged to that Earth, some sort of alternate law of physics or differing Martial Arts tradition. Magic was much more powerful, for instance, on Earth-2, and all the great magicians such as Dr. Fate and the Spectre, emerged from Earth-2. Could it also be that Martial Arts contain different training and traditions in Charleston-Earth?

It also ought to be noted that with the visible exception of Black Canary I and Black Canary II, most of the martial artists on Earth-2 are not as skilled as martial artists on Earth-1. And further, Black Canary II only did her really amazing stunts after the move to Earth-1. It also ought to be noted that the dangerous martial arts organizations like Ra's and his Assassins Guild are located on Earth-1.

It is suggested by Englehart that the reason Martial Arts are so powerful on Marvel Earth, home to Iron Fist, Shang-Chi, Mantis, Midnight, Shockwave, Daredevil, and others is because Martial Arts on Marvel-Earth orginated among the teachings of the exiled Pacifist Kree and diffused to other civilizations. Could it be that a similar event explains the Martial Arts proficiency on Charleston-Earth?

(Granted, the REAL LIFE reason Kung Fu is less obvious on Earth-2 is because all that sort of thing only blew up when Bruce Lee got big and everybody got Kung Fu Fever, which took place in the 1970s. But that doesn't mean there can't be an "in-story" reason for it.)

Could Neptune Perkins from the YOUNG ALL-STARS do Martial Arts? He's Asian, so probably. Roger Ebert once said that in movies, every Asian knows Martial Arts and every Latino knows how to salsa dance.
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RedSunOfKrypton
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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2006, 10:24:30 AM »

Hey Julian, where would you rank Richard Dragon?

Oh and the original Black Power Ranger, a black dude, could dance AND do martial arts. Cheesy
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2006, 12:28:52 PM »

Quote from: "RedSunOfKrypton"
Hey Julian, where would you rank Richard Dragon?


Didn't Dragon come out like, THREE YEARS after the Martial Arts craze hit comics or something? Way to strike while the iron was hot, DC.

I'd slip the hypercompetent Richard Dragon, that beat everyone he ever fought, more or less between the two Charleton Martial Artists, between 4 and 3; while Dragon may have it all over Judomaster in terms of flexibility of style, Judomaster has it over Dragon in terms of experience; obviously Judomaster's been around for a longer period of time.

...By the way, this conversation makes me want to check the Miami phone book to see if there actually IS a listing for a DRAGON, RICHARD. My God, that's like the prank call Holy Grail.
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2006, 03:31:15 PM »

I've heard there's at least 3 people in Kansas with the name Clark Kent.
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2006, 10:12:09 PM »

Where would you put nightwing, robin, batgirl and lady shiva on this list?
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2006, 10:52:28 PM »

also Deathstroke the Terminator and Mongul?
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2006, 06:46:36 AM »

Another DC Martial Artist who belongs on this list - Hal Jordan! Hal is one heck of a scrapper. Read his SHOWCASE edition, and Hal spends an awful lot of time taking out bad guys with his fists. Usually what happens is, his ring runs out of charge, so he bluffs them by making them think his ring still works and charges in swinging. There doesn't seem to be anything scientific about this, though; Hal is simply very good. This ought to make him #11. In NEW TEEN TITANS #4 where the Titans attack the JLA Sattelite under mind control, Dick Grayson drapes his cape over his ring and says "my cape stops your ring, and this Savate kick stops you!"

Quote from: "Just a fan"
Where would you put nightwing, robin, batgirl and lady shiva on this list?


As for Dick Grayson - wasn't it a part of his characterization in Marv Wolfman's TEEN TITANS that while he was good, he wasn't AS good as Batman because he was much better adjusted and non-fanatical? Also, Dick Grayson is not as experienced as his mentor. So I'd place him JUST before Batman.

Lady Shiva, like Bronze Tiger, were members of the Dragon supporting cast, and often dueled with him - implying that the two characters were of approximate skill.

Robin is probably behind Nightwing, not only because he is not as experienced, but also because he is not a fully grown adult yet and thus is not as strong or as coordinated.

As mentioned above, Deathstroke the Terminator fought Black Canary II to a standstill in a JLA issue, which implies they're of equal competence. This, combined with the Wonder Woman judo thing, implies Black Canary is much more hardcore than we as fans think.

If I could take back that issue where Canary I Judos Wonder Woman and Canary II fights Deathstroke down, I would, because that's the one thing that totally torpedos the theory that there's something about Earth-2's Martial Arts that are different in nature. I'll have to reread that one Gardner Fox issue of JLA where this happens; if memory serves, the Wonder Woman Judo defeat might have happened on Earth-1 because of a time-travelling foe's interference. If both of these two encounters which established the Canarys' prowess happened on Earth-1, this may be interesting.

I wanted to SCREAM when I saw in IDENTITY CRISIS that Deathstroke took Canary II down in ONE PANEL. But in the context of IDENTITY CRISIS's character lapses galone, coming down on the writers for this is like saying Atilla the Hun was a cheap tipper.
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« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2006, 09:03:55 PM »

Julian writes:

Quote
Superman was able to hold his own against Mohammed Ali; Ted Grant in his prime is not suggested to have been as great as The Greatest Who Ever Lived.


Actually, Ted does take on Ali in "The New Frontier."  Well, sort of.  We never get a clear look at the guy, but he's billed as "Clay," is battling a 37-year-old Ted for the Heavyweight championship circa 1959 or 60, and Ted himself reflects (having nearly been counted out after a punch from young Clay) that the guy is probably the greatest fighter to ever put on the gloves.

Anyway, Ted beats him, but only by shifting to his super-hero mindset and clobbering the guy as he would the Ultra-Humanite.  Inelegant, but effective.

Of course, this series occurs outside of continuity.  But then again, this is DC -- next month it might be in continuity after all.

Quote
Superman has been stated as knowing all the Martial Arts on Earth thanks to his Super-Memory. I can recall some other occasions where Superman has used pressure point tricks to disable enemies without harm or without using his superstrength.


Okay, so are we rating the martial arts abilities of a powerless Superman?  Because with his powers, who needs skills?  I agree Superman would be at a disadvantage as he's used to pulling his punches.  A code against killing is a fine thing, but in a man-to-man showdown with Deathstroke, it's a liability to say the very least.

With his powers, again, it rarely comes up.  Superman can beat anyone less powerful than himself no matter what their moves.  And anyone on his power level is likely to have the same approach as he would: just punch hard and leave the fancy moves to the Black Canaries of the world.

Quote
I can't agree that Batman is the supreme DC Martial Artist.


He can't be the best at *everything.* Personally I'd rather have him be the World's Greatest Detective than the World's Greatest Martial Artist.  Lots of characters can fight, but few of them are as brilliant as Batman.  Unfortunately, audience tastes tend to go the other way these days.  Take "Batman Begins."  The filmmakers are perfectly willing to ask us to believe -- and audiences are eager to accept -- that Bruce Wayne can outfight any dozen men with the exact same training he's had. But it's too much to suggest he could actually develop his battle suit, the Batmobile or any other gadget on his own...they were all "borrowed" from someone else.  This bugs me.  Bring back the smart Batman!  Even if it means he gets beat up from time to time.

Quote
Faora killed twelve men on Krypton with her mastery of Horu-Kanu, which is a pragmatic, results-oriented Kryptonian Martial Art. According to the rule that Everything on Krypton is Better than On Earth (I mean, the most common element on the planet is GOLD, for Rao's sake) this must mean that Horu-Kanu is a much more effective martial art than earthly ones.


Here's someone who should be able to clean Superman's clock: an opponent with all his powers, plus superior fighting moves and a killer instinct.  But again, fighting anyone less than Supes, her skills are just overkill.  Why bother wrecking a world with a roundhouse kick when you can do it just as easily with a flick of the wrist?

Quote
1. Karate Kid

#1 By an order of magnitude.


Yes, but that crane pose and the "wipe-on wipe-off" stuff is just plan silly.  Oh, you mean that other Karate Kid.  Nevermind.
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