Most of the "Versus" matchups we've thought about involved melee characters beating the snot out of each other with their fists. And I'm all for that. But the ranged specialists in comicdom have been sadly neglected, an oversight I aim to correct this week:
Discussion after the jump.
A quick word first about what I am thinking here. First, to qualify a character's offensive arsenal had to be primarily ranged. Thus I didn't include the likes of Superman even though he has heat vision (a ranged power) because he's mostly a melee guy. Plus, come on, Superman.
Second, I wanted to think about an aerial dogfight, like a WWII Red Baron style machine gun airplane battle, only with super-powered individuals. Because that's just how I roll. So even though Green Arrow is primarily a ranged attack character, he doesn't qualify because he can't fly. Same thing with Bullseye or most of the other gun-toting people you might think of when it comes to combat at a distance.
Having laid the "ground" rules (ha ha, see what I did there?!), we can now proceed to our fanboi wanking.
- Green Lantern: The versatility of the ring would play a huge part here. Whereas someone like the Human Torch is mostly centered around outright blasting power to do his thing, GL has all sorts of options from creating an air-tight enclosure to the always-popular giant hammer, bringing an element of blunt, direct physical trauma into play as well as a level of gamesmanship. On the other hand, Iron Man's armor is yellow, so nyah. (Yes, I know, they retconned that weakness out, but I'm old school.)
- Human Torch: Like Starfire, Torch's main strength in this fight would be tactical. He's used to being the long-range guy, since that's pretty much his entire shtick. With a relatively paltry bag of tricks at his disposal, he's had to refine them to the point where he's extremely effective with them as well. Basically he's a "keep it simple" kind of guy, which might give him a leg up when confronted with someone like GL or Iron Man who have such a plethora of options at their disposal. I know that's a stretch, but then again, Johnny Storm is used to working with stretches.
- Iron Man: Like GL, Iron Man has a lot of options built in to his profile, and that would be an advantage. And the suit was built with ranged, aerial combat in mind, so he's both nimble and fast. You can't overlook the importance of either of those attributes in a dogfight, where movement and positioning are so vital. In a hand-to-hand fight, you pretty much stand toe-to-toe and just duke it out, but combat in open air is a lot more tactical than that. Think Khan and two-dimensional combat in "Star Trek II".
- Magneto: Right away, Iron Man is in trouble. But then again, so is everyone else, because Magneto is used to taking on entire teams of highly powered opponents and annihilating them.
- Silver Surfer: One of the most powerful beings in the galaxy, the Surfer is also built for flight. The Power Cosmic arguably is stronger than anything anyone else on the list can conjure up, so he's got a huge firepower advantage.
- Starfire: I admit, she's mostly on the list because of her costume. Hubba hubba! But mostly she's in the same category as the Human Torch.
- Storm: Being able to control the medium in which combat is being waged is an enormous advantage. Can Iron Man's thrusters keep him stable and combat ready in the face of a hurricane? Can the Human Torch stay lit in a massive water spout? Can Starfire's top stay up in gale-force winds? She's nimble, fast, and can throw a huge monkey wrench into the ability of the others to stay airborne.
So having thought through the list, I'd say the strongest contenders are Green Lantern, Magneto, Silver Surfer, and Storm. Magneto's defeated Storm easily before (even when she was backed by the rest of the X-Men!), so you'd have to think he'd have an edge here as well. As far as I know, Silver Surfer and Green Lantern have nothing metallic for Magneto to glom onto, so I think they'd fare well against him.
Ultimately, however, I think this fight would come down to a willingness to do whatever it takes to win. Silver Surfer, for all his power, has always been a reluctant warrior, and I think the outright merciless intensity of Magneto would bring him down. Ditto for GL. At the end of the day, I just can't bet against Magneto almost not matter what the contest.
What about you, who do you think would come out on top?