You guys kept demanding it – coverage of one of Spider-Man’s landmark fights. A fight of such incredible magnitude that other fights are often judged against it. A fight that becomes the stuff of fabled legend. A fight from a story told from generation to generation. A fight that makes being a Spider-Man fan feel like E P I C W I N.
Here at the Spidey FNF Network, we call those Hall of Fame Fights. And tonight, Crawl Spacers, you’re lucky enough to bear witness to a real doozy. Tonight’s fight comes from Amazing Spider-Man #269 (“Burn Spider, Burn”) and #270 (“The Hero and the Holocaust”) from the October & November of 1985.
This was a magical time for me. I was in eighth grade. The Chicago Bears were juggernauting their way to a Superbowl victory. Voltron sent me to school every morning and G.I. Joe, Transformers and Robotech ruled the cartoon-space in the afternoons. And the Amazing Spider-Man was enjoying a banner decade courtesy of Roger Stern, John Romita Jr., Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz. In fact the Firelord fight itself is a DeFalco/Frenz production.
Bear with me as I try to detail why this particular story became the stuff Spider-Dreams are made of. It came during a time of high intrigue, drama and awesomeness for Spider-Man. The Hobgoblin was still ruling the roost villain-wise, Silver Sable & Puma had just appeared on the scene and Mary Jane revealed to Peter that she knew that he was Spider-Man. So in the middle of all that addictive, four-colored crazy DeFalco and Frenz dropped an even crazier bomb. “We interrupt all this craziness for even more craziness. Breaking your brain in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…”
Our story: Firelord, a former herald of Galactus imbued with the Power Cosmic, gets a tummy rumble and drops into New York City for pizza. Misunderstandings follow and two issues later he’s laying unconscious and beaten at Spider-Man’s feet.
Peter Benjamin Parker, aka ‘The Spider-Man’
Height & Weight: 5′10″ / 165 lbs.
Powers: Proportionate strength, speed and agility of a spider.
Spider-Sense. Webshooters. Photography.
And in the right corner…
Pyreus Kril of Xandar, aka ‘Firelord’
Height & Weight: 6′4″ / 220 lbs.
Powers: Former herald of Galactus
imbued with the Power Cosmic.
Generates/Controls cosmic fire.
Lives in Space. Flies fast, hits hard.
Has a fiery rod.
Head’s aflame 24/7.
ROUND ONE – DING!
While flying through space (probably on his way to Risa or any number of those decadent pleasure moons out by where Starfox lives) Firelord is almost throttled by a meteor shower. He uses his considerable power to thwart it and then notices he’s close to Earth, which he describes as “a world with sensual delights and pleasures unlike any others found in the known cosmos.”
Though I bet ya, Crawl Spacers, that out in the unknown cosmos people really get freaky. How freaky? Unknown-kinda-freaky.
So the former herald of Galactus imbued with the Power Cosmic lands in New York City and then spots a pizzeria. Suddenly hungry, he decides it’s time to sample some of the local cuisine. And then all Hell breaks loose. That’s right, Spider-Fans… one of the greatest fights in Spider-Man’s history starts from someone feeling peckish.
As you can see for yourself, Firelord hits New York like an adrenaline-soaked Jennifer Lopez in full-tilt diva mode. His attitude from the get-go is “Oh well aren’t you little people lucky to have me come here and order you around? Now FEED ME, cretins!”
This goes about as well as you might think it would in New York. That kind of thing might fly out in L.A. but in New York it’s like wearing a sign on your neck that says “Shank me prison style.” Firelord winds up destroying a pizza oven and then gets set upon by the good, hard working people of Manhattan.
At one point some well-meaning construction workers attack Firelord, the former herald of Galactus imbued with the Power Cosmic, with a fire hose. Right as Firelord is about to let loose the fury of a thousand suns on the working class, Spidey swings in for a frank discussion of the issues.
ROUND TWO – DING!
Being unfamiliar with Firelord and his powers, Spidey makes a quick guesstimation and figures Firelord’s powers might have something to do with the staff he’s always carting around like some space wizard. Our hero bides his time, waiting for the perfect time to purloin what he thinks might be a source of Firelord’s power. This results in a humiliating strike on Firelord, the former herald of Galactus imbued with the Power Cosmic. Firelord is actually shocked by this and claims that Spidey is the only one to have ever done taken away his Firestaff.
Firelord goes from “You’ve annoyed me so I have to kill you” to “I will kill you and everything you love in life, and everything loved by that which you love” in a split-second. And faster than you can say “Firelord, former herald of Galactus imbued with the Power Cosmic” he’s on Spidey like cleavage on an NFL cheerleader. Luckily for New York City, Spidey and Firelord center their gentleman’s disagreement around numerous construction sites and/or abandoned buildings in the city. Look back through all the comics you own, Crawl Spacers, and ask yourself how expensive warehouse insurance is in the Marvel & DC Universes.
A quick note on the art. Take a look at that second panel, with the buildings and the onlookers. I can’t remember where I heard it (I want to say the Sal Buscema mega-interview that Brad did awhile back) but someone once pointed out that Ron Frenz was a real master of background and detail. That panel on the right is a perfect example of that compliment. We’ll see some more like that in this fight, too, but if you’re a fan of Frenz’s work I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
ROUND THREE – DING!
After sending Firelord into the East River to retrieve his Firestaff, Spidey switches tactics when former herald of Galactus imbued with the Power Cosmic goes on the offensive. Their fight takes the two powerhouses through a crowded office building where Spidey gains the advantage with his agility against a flier in a confined area.
While duking it out Firelord remarks aloud on Spidey’s prowess. Most Spider-Man fans are aware that many of Spidey’s foes routinely do this. Heck, Spidey can’t even fight the X-Men without them prattling on in awe about how mighty and superior he is. But that’s really just stating the obvious.
We’ll see even more of that – way, way, way more of that in fact – when we get to another upcoming Hall of Fame bout in the not-so-distant future. While getting Spidey-Thwipped on the Beyonder’s battleworld the X-Men get pretty starstruck & chatty.
But that’s a tale for another time. Back to the epic throw-down at hand!
Spidey lures Firelord out of the office and leads him towards an even more cramped area – the tunnels under Grand Central Station. It’s a good idea but also a reckless one given the amount of citizens in the station at that time of day. Spidey manages to zig here, zag there and put Firelord on a collision course with a commuter train.
The result? Another fantastic Ron Frenz detail panel as Firelord crashes his way through the subway car (at right). I remember that when I saw ‘Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer’ for the first time I noticed a similar moment during the first fight between the Silver Surfer and the Human Torch that also involved a subway car.
Surely this titanic tumble is bound to end soon, right?
I mean how long can Spider-Man hope to last against Firelord, former herald of Galactus imbued with the Power Cosmic?
ROUND FOUR – DING!
This brawl is so epic and so long (seriously, it’s almost two issues completely full of the same two guys fighting) that I’ve cut quite a bit already. Prior to these moments to the left and right Spidey and Firelord almost got blown up in an abandoned building by an overzealous demolition team. Spidey escaped – Firelord, not so much. But even getting blown up in a building doesn’t hold back a former herald of Galactus imbued with the Power Cosmic for long.
After the explosion Spider-Man seizes the advantage, tearing out a hunk of building and hurling it into Firelord’s kisser. This is quickly followed by one of the most glorious Spider-Man fight moments ever. This is what gets it into the Hall of Fame, Crawl Spacers.
The top of that panel to the right… stop and admire it. I’ve always enjoyed when artists draw more than one Spidey into specific panels to show how fast he is and convey that “in more than one place” feel to the action. Normally you’ll get maybe one or two extra Spideys at most. So how many Spideys do you see there in that top panel to the right?
I’ll save you the trouble of counting, folks. That’s ten Spideys total in one panel. He’s moving that fast – so fast that Firelord, a former herald of Galactus imbued with the Power Cosmic, cannot possibly hope to defend himself. And the pounding just keeps on coming.
Spider-Man’s always at his best – and most brutal – when someone pushes him too far.
Firelord learns that lesson the hard way.
ROUND FIVE – DING!
The Avengers finally show up and Captain America pulls Spidey away from his continued beating of the unconscious Firelord, maybe even saving the life of the former herald of Galactus imbued with the Power Cosmic. Cap marvels (heh) at Spider-Man’s epic win and the rest of the Avengers team seems amazed as well. The Avengers would have eventually beaten Firelord. So would the Fantastic Four. Or the Defenders. Or the X-Men. Well… maybe not the X-Men.
But when you can’t fight an entire super team to take down one cosmic level bad guy? Well apparently one Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man will do the trick just as well. And that’s just one of the billions of reasons we’re Spidey fans, folks.
So that’s one former herald of Galactus down and down *hard* and one Spidey still standing tall, still blowing the horn on the Pain Train. What’s our verdict?
DECISION – SPIDER-MAN HALL OF FAME WIN
Truly a historic day in Spider-History and one of the more memorable, tremendous wins for Spider-Man in the 1980’s. It’s a timeless classic that showcases what Spider-Man is truly capable of. And for expert analysis let’s head back to our Spidey FNF studios where Ben Grimm and Shang Chi, back from his groin injury are standing by. Ben, what makes this fight memorable for you?
“Well George lemme start off first by welcomin’ Shang Chi back to th’ show. We wuz all concerned here when we heard about th’ groin injury. Glad to see he’s iced down the tic-tacs and is ready ta get back ta work.
What makes this fight memorable? It’s a savage one-sided beatin’, and those tend to stick in your mind for all time. Firelord ain’t a bad guy, really. I have ta say that ta everyone up front. He’s helped out way more than a lot of youz watchin’ at home might know and he’s not like a Doctor Doom or Magneto type. He’s more like th’ Namor of space, or somethin’ like that, but with fire stuff. Or Doc Samson when he’s really, really full of himself.
Not a lot of youz watchin’ at home know what it’s like ta face a herald of Galactus or what it means ta go up against these cosmic powered types. Practically each an’ every one of ’em hits like a hammer-down Jimmy haulin’ hogs. And it ain’t just bein’ tough. No no, that’d be too easy. Most of these cosmic freaks got crazy powers that are even worse, or even downright nutty. Like that Air Walker mook – th’ real one *and* th’ robot. Or that freakin’ Terrax. Or Thanos. An’ there’s more an’ more comin’ every day.
I hate to say this to all youz guys out there wantin’ us ta explore space n’ all, but I been ta space. And ya know what space is? Space is the lunatics runnin’ the asylum. That’s what. One minute you’re out lookin’ fer the remnants of some forgotten space civilization or lookin’ fer special space rocks, or whatever, and th’ next minute you’re gettin’ jumped by some freaky evil planet with a face. That’s what space is. Really, ya don’t wanna go there. The really, really tough guys? They’re out in space.
So kudos ta th’ Webhead for cleanin’ Firelord’s clock. Even not-so-bad-guys can fly off th’ handle and need ta be taken down a peg or two. Here, Spidey wins th’ Slap Bet. It’s as simple as that.
Any thoughts on technique here, Shang? And we’ve been gettin’ a ton of email since last week with people demandin’ ta know… how did ya hurt your groin, anyway?!”
I would also like to thank the Tick for filling in for me last week on such short notice. I appreciate it so much I am willing to overlook the fact that he abused the privilege of helping himself to Shang Chi’s dressing room minibar. *ahem*
To answer your question Ben, there wasn’t much by way of technique here. Both combatants are letting their powers play out for them and mixing that with tactics. Well Spider-Man was using tactics at least and that’s why he won. Firelord was mainly relying on his aloofness and innate haughtiness. When one is drowning in the quicksand of vanity, one cannot hope to win.
And that surprised me. Firelord, before he was a herald of Galactus imbued with the Power Cosmic, was actually a member of the Nova Corps. You would think he would have learned how to properly gauge an enemy threat there. Unless he skipped that day to have ice cream or sit under a tree to read poetry to a special lady friend.
What’s also unique about this fight is that Spider-Man realizes the potential he has here to get violently defeated. He knows who his foe is and knows of his foe’s power, but he still heads out alone to fight him. And when he can find no reinforcements he draws a line in the sand and says “Here, and no further.” That he is willing to do that in the face of an opponent who has given even Thor a difficult time in the past speaks volumes about the strength of his character.
Again Spider-Man proves that there is little he cannot handle when he is well and truly pressed. Based on this performance I’d say he could even beat Batman.
HAHA! I cannot say that with a straight face. No one beats Batman. Ever.“
And that’s all from us tonight here at Spidey FNF studios. Have a great weekend and we’ll see you all back here this time next Friday.
For Ben Grimm, Shang Chi and me – George Berryman – keep your powder and your pants dry and goodnight, Crawl Spacers!