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What Makes A Good Comic Book Rivalry?

Why the similarities between hero's and villains is what makes for the most interesting relationships.

One of the best things about comic books are the character relationships. As fans, we read books and follow characters and the developments of these characters over time and as a result, we become emotionally invested in their relationships. But what makes a good relationship in comics? What makes a really interesting rivalry?

Earlier this week we saw the latest issue of BATWING (#8) hit stores, and after reviewing the issue (and thoroughly enjoying it) it got me thinking about hero vs. villain relationships. Every hero has a villain that is his or her equal. They are opposites. and these opposites only exist in relationship to one another. For example, some people would say that the Joker exists solely because Batman exists; in other words, the Joker is the "yin" to Batman's "yang." This is actually a pretty common theory and one that has come up before. Some spoilers below.

Yet, while these two characters are oh-so different, it's their similarities that makes their interactions so interesting. Since we've already mentioned the Batman and Joker example, let's just go with that. In Alan Moore's BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE Batman and Joker share a set of scenes where the Joker explicitly draws a comparison between himself and the Batman. He talks to Batman about how there really is no difference between he and Batman -- how they are both crazy and how they both just had "one bad day."

This theory doesn't only apply to Batman and the Joker, however; although it's probably the most common. You can apply this to virtually any great, iconic comic book rivalry. Take Reed Richards and Doctor Doom, for example. The story of how these two characters met set the foundation for their future rivalry. What makes the relationship between Reed and Victor so interesting is the fact that they are both so similar. They are both two of the most intelligent men in the Marvel universe and as a result, they find themselves in constant rivalry, disagreement and at odds with one another. And it all stems from the fact that these two have way too much in common.

Not to mention that both Doom and Richards are, well, a little bit obsessive. When these two put their minds to something, they obsess over it until, well, they hurt someone. Or something. Or themselves. The experment we cited above (Fantastic Four #278) went horribly wrong and scarred Victor's face and led him to don the metal mask we are familiar with today.

In BATWING #8, the issue that initially inspired this article, we saw the reveal of Massacre; the villain the was first introduced in the beginning of Batwing's ongoing series. After eight issue, we not only get to know who the man is behind the mask; but we also learn a lot about his identity. Although I had felt this series started out really strong and had taken a bit of a nose-dive, issue #8 really redeemed the series. This issue revealed more than the identity of Massacre, it uncovered the relationship between Massacre and Batwing. Here are two boys who endured many of the same trials and tribulations but still wound up in two very different places. Not only are they brothers, but they were brothers in arms. They endured the same struggles. That's what made this book so interesting. These two characters have a world of things in common, and it is what makes their interactions so interesting to read.

What elements do you think make for a good rivalry? What qualities are necessary? What are some of your favorite comic book rivalries?

65 Comments
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Posted by SavageDragon

I think a good quality in a comic rivalry between characters is their history together. It gives the "rivals" more reason to dislike or hate each other and can always be showed in revenge story lines. Flashbacks to when the characters started hating each other is always fun or one of the characters took something away from the protagonist creating a rivalry. I love the Chapel/Spawn relationship and the Joker/Gordon family relationship.

Posted by poetixmind

I agree 100% savage ..  a good established history makes for interesting rivals 

Posted by doordoor123

I honestly don't think it is very hard to create a recurring character that people like. If the writer thinks it is a good idea, then they'll be able to use the character well and have that character come back into the comics so people recognize the character. If a character gets one chance, it'll fail and if the character is under a bad writer, it'll fail even more.

That said, I do think it is harder to create a rival rather than a recurring character. A rival needs to have some sort of personal conflict. It is too often that writers try to create rivals rather than just plain old bad guys. It seems to me that, because there are so many more rivals, it is the hero's fault that there are even villains.

Posted by Nefilim927

Soooo weird, I just finished Batwing #8 and was going to check the review and saw this. I totally saw it coming with Massacre's true identity yet the book was still amazing. I hope the series survives long enough to see a return later on in the run.

Posted by Space_Captain_Ulyverse

You have to have them on an equal playing field, just on the opposite end of the spectrum. I will name a classic example of rivalry between a Protagonist and Antagonist: Holmes and Moriaty. They're both incredibly clever and think in a similar way yet, one played the hero and the other was the villain. I think Batman and Joker do this well. This does bring back to G-Man's idea of similarities is what makes it interesting to us as readers. Joker maybe crazy but he has rather elaborate plans and Batman is a big planner in fighting crime. (And having a rich background connecting the characters work too, Doom and Richards for example).

Posted by Fantasgasmic

That embed for Massacre goes to the wrong one.

It should point to http://www.comicvine.com/massacre/29-79559/ not http://www.comicvine.com/massacre/29-10035/

I guess that's what happens when the publisher has multiple characters with the same name.

Posted by dimmoe

Batwing #8 was pretty good, I don't know why I didn't see Massacre being his brother.

Posted by The Mighty Monarch

I feel like Massacre would've been more interesting if his identity was revealed a little earlier. A lot of people (myself included) saw it coming a mile away, and thought the 'mystery' dragging on was a bit of a detriment to the series. The IDEA is still solid, I love David's reaction, but it should've come sooner.

Edited by SpidermanWins

For me the following make a good rivalry:

a good personal history or connection "No Luke, I am your father." - Darth Vader. (like how Hush was Batman's friend)

a clear set of differences (like how Batman has a moral code and is dark while the Joker is an unscrupulous clown)

a few interesting similarities..."To them you're just a freak, like me." -The Joker. (like how, as stated in this article, Doctor Doom is essentially Reed Richards in many ways)

An interesting feature to complicate things

Posted by pspin

The rivalry comes from two people in similar, if not identical, situations that go in completely opposite directions. When they meet they can see the similarities in each other and then try to drag each other to their own point of view to prove themselves that they made the right decisions in resulting from the situation. It is also creates a really good Person vs. Person and Person vs. Self conflict which usually delivers a better story because it allows more people to relate to the characters.

Posted by BatClaw89

DC knows how to create great long lasting rivalries. Unlike Marvel who kills every villain it creates. Yes I AM A DC FANBOY AND I AM RIGHT!!!!!!

Posted by CaptainCockblock

The book on epic rivalry was written by these men...

Posted by JonesDeini

So Massacre was his brother after all, eh? How...boring, yes that's the word.

Posted by DarthShap

The characters need to be both similar and opposites.

Also, it helps if they used to be friends and betrayal is involved in one way or another or if one's existence is caused by the other's actions.

Best nemesis:

-The Joker

-Lex Luthor

-Sinestro

Posted by Inverno

Dude I loved this article. Nice work Sara!

Posted by Pauldro

I'm starting to see a pattern with villains

Teacher vs Student (or vice versa)

Friend vs friend

I'd like to see ex-spouse, even more father-son, uncle rivalries.

Posted by Emperormeister734

this is by far the best article that we all talk about, it he talk about that true good vs evil. there have been many main characters we all know and love fight their nemesis, the bad guy they fight, hate, and try to outdo. the nemesis that go to a limit of hurting the good guys friends, families, and always innocent civilans. the hero will duke it out with the villain to show that if you mess withme or anyone else, you will feel my wrath. they go through this ultimate show where they pummel each other till one man stands. its what i love to see the hero take on his nemesis in a heated battle to show who is superior.

Edited by Zeeguy91

@BatClaw89: Well, its not as if Marvel doesn't has never had good villains or effective rivalries. Its just that the current administration has destroyed them. Take the old rivalry between Magneto and Professor Xavier for example. Magneto is essentially Malcolm X to Xavier's Martin Luther King Jr when addressing mutant rights. Also add to that the fact that they were friends and attempted to help mutants as a team and you have a great rivalry stemming from ideological differences in approaching a common goal and a friendship that turned sour. However, I that that Marvel really killed that awesome dichotomy when they made Magneto become a member of the X-Men in the aftermath of House of M. Instead, they should have gone in a different direction, make Magneto become more extreme now that there are even fewer mutants and have him advocate that mutants must now more than ever rely on their power and superiority over humans to protect themselves from being hunted to extinction.

Anyway, its not as if Marvel's villains are ineffective from the get-go, but I feel like the current creative leadership at Marvel has deconstructed them to the point that they're not essentially villains anymore. I mean look at what's happened to what were once great villains like Loki, Magneto, and Doctor Doom (who is my favorite Marvel villain). Now they're basically all friends of the heroes. Its as if Marvel is now being written for kids and the message is that we can all get along if we want. Seriously? Where's the angst and rivalry?

I find what's happened with Doom to be the most ridiculous. I refer to Wikipedia to describe just how ridiculous:

Doctor Doom was recommended by Nathaniel and Valeria Richards to be a member of the Future Foundation. Objecting, Thing attacks Doom out of anger, but the fight was stopped by Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, who welcomes Doctor Doom to their group. When Valeria asks Doctor Doom if he has a backup for restoring his memories, he reveals that Kristoff Vernard is his backup. Afterward, Mr. Fantastic, Spider-Man, Nathaniel, Valeria, and Doctor Doom head toLatveria to meet with Kristoff and request his help. Mister Fantastic sets up a brain transfer machine in order to help restore Doctor Doom's memories and knowledge, which is successful. When Kristoff wants to return the throne to him, Doctor Doom states that it is not time yet because of a promise he made to Valeria. When Mister Fantastic asks what promise Doctor Doom made to Valeria, Doctor Doom states that he made a promise to help defeat Mister Fantastic. Doctor Doom decides to hold a symposium on how to finally defeat Reed Richards. The Thing and the evolved Moloids give an invitation to the High Evolutionary. Dragon Man and Alex Power give an invitation to Diablo. Upon receiving an invitation from Spider-Man, Mad Thinker is convinced to take part in the event. Bentley 23 even gives an invitation to his creator, theWizard, along with two A.I.M. lieutenants. However, it is subsequently revealed that the 'Richards' they have been invited to defeat are actually members of the "Council of Reeds" (alternate versions of Reed who were trapped in this universe by Valeria a while back, possessing Reed's intellect while lacking his conscience). While Spider-Man and Invisible Woman make sandwiches for the kids, Mister Fantastic, Doctor Doom, Valeria, and Nathaniel Richards meet with the supervillain geniuses and Uatu the Watcher about what to do with the Council of Reeds

Its sort of the same thing that DC is currently doing with Sinestro in the aftermath of War of the Green Lanterns, but not really. I can swallow what's happening currently with Sinestro being a member of the Green Lantern Corps because its the fact that the ring chose him and neither he nor the other Green Lanterns want him to have the ring. However, I feel like further down the road, Sinestro is going to go back to being the villain of the story in an unexpected way and reactivate his own corps. Perhaps as a result of the coming of the "Third Army." Hopefully, its not too long before that happens, but not too soon either because having Sinestro become the villain so soon after becoming a "hero" will invalidate the current relationship that's forming between him and Hal. But hopefully, the current "bonding" period that these two are going through will make the inevitable continuation of their rivalry that much more meaningful. BTW, Sinestro is my favorite villain in all of comics.

Posted by butters911

My favorite one would be Spidey and the Green Goblin, esp. with Norman Osborn recently coming into so much power. Plus he killed Gwen, killed Ben Reilly, Poisoned MJ when she was pregnant with thier child, and kidnapped Aunt May for years and had everyone believing her dead. Not to mention all the stuff he's done to his son, and Peter's best friend Harry

Posted by Danial79
Posted by NightFang

The villain makes the hero.

Posted by feargalr

For me anyway, its really a great rivalry unless sometimes.. maybe even half the time.. the villain wins. Like the joker has had some pretty big wins on occasion, what he did to Jason Todd and Barbara Gordon for example, I always enjoyed the rivalry between Prof. X and Magneto in Ultimate X-men, it was rivalry, but also a great deal of respect for the other. I never saw Doom being that much of a threat, for all this great power and intelligence, he's always beaten, by Reed, or Squirrel Girl or someone

Posted by fodigg

BATWING is great stuff. Glad to see it's captivating you as well.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

The greatest comic book rivalries are the ones, at least in my opinion, under which the super hero faces its greatest physical and/or mental trials. Rivalries that test them to the bring of everything they could possibly take and then some and yet at the same time exist to compliment one another. After all, it exists not only in comic books but in history and life as well. I'll just go the military history route for the sake of simplicity. Look at some of the greatest battle rivalries as examples. Ulysses S. Grant had Robert E. Lee. Vo Nguyen Giap had William Westmoreland. Erwin Rommel had Bernard Montgomery. Examples abound for how these rivalries test each other in every way possible yet compliment another, just as the example of the "yin is to the yang" as you give. In the end though, those are real life examples I give and therefore their rivalries are based on real events. In the realm of comics it is up to the writer to make sure that that opposing relationship exists. In other words, thank Jerry Robinson and Bob Kane for making it possible to have Batman's greatest rival being the Joker, or to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for creating the Superman/Lex Luthor rivalry. Such competition between villains and heroes then is as much inspiration as it is perspiration (Sorry for stealing your quote Tommy Edison).

Posted by TDK_88

Personally I didn't like the "Sibling Villain" reveal. The bat-family has enough of these already. Alice, James Jr and now Isaac?

Posted by moywar700

The rival HAS to be as powerful as the protagonist.

Posted by TheWitchingHour

Man, seeing the origin of the Richards/Doom rivalry really explains a lot. Am I the only person who sides with Doom? What a dick move barging into someone's room and saying their hard work is incorrect. Damn you Richards!

Posted by DarthShap

@Zeeguy91 said:

@BatClaw89: Well, its not as if Marvel doesn't has never had good villains or effective rivalries. Its just that the current administration has destroyed them. Take the old rivalry between Magneto and Professor Xavier for example. Magneto is essentially Malcolm X to Xavier's Martin Luther King Jr when addressing mutant rights. Also add to that the fact that they were friends and attempted to help mutants as a team and you have a great rivalry stemming from ideological differences in approaching a common goal and a friendship that turned sour. However, I that that Marvel really killed that awesome dichotomy when they made Magneto become a member of the X-Men in the aftermath of House of M. Instead, they should have gone in a different direction, make Magneto become more extreme now that there are even fewer mutants and have him advocate that mutants must now more than ever rely on their power and superiority over humans to protect themselves from being hunted to extinction.

Anyway, its not as if Marvel's villains are ineffective from the get-go, but I feel like the current creative leadership at Marvel has deconstructed them to the point that they're not essentially villains anymore. I mean look at what's happened to what were once great villains like Loki, Magneto, and Doctor Doom (who is my favorite Marvel villain). Now they're basically all friends of the heroes. Its as if Marvel is now being written for kids and the message is that we can all get along if we want. Seriously? Where's the angst and rivalry?

I find what's happened with Doom to be the most ridiculous. I refer to Wikipedia to describe just how ridiculous:

Doctor Doom was recommended by Nathaniel and Valeria Richards to be a member of the Future Foundation. Objecting, Thing attacks Doom out of anger, but the fight was stopped by Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, who welcomes Doctor Doom to their group. When Valeria asks Doctor Doom if he has a backup for restoring his memories, he reveals that Kristoff Vernard is his backup. Afterward, Mr. Fantastic, Spider-Man, Nathaniel, Valeria, and Doctor Doom head toLatveria to meet with Kristoff and request his help. Mister Fantastic sets up a brain transfer machine in order to help restore Doctor Doom's memories and knowledge, which is successful. When Kristoff wants to return the throne to him, Doctor Doom states that it is not time yet because of a promise he made to Valeria. When Mister Fantastic asks what promise Doctor Doom made to Valeria, Doctor Doom states that he made a promise to help defeat Mister Fantastic. Doctor Doom decides to hold a symposium on how to finally defeat Reed Richards. The Thing and the evolved Moloids give an invitation to the High Evolutionary. Dragon Man and Alex Power give an invitation to Diablo. Upon receiving an invitation from Spider-Man, Mad Thinker is convinced to take part in the event. Bentley 23 even gives an invitation to his creator, theWizard, along with two A.I.M. lieutenants. However, it is subsequently revealed that the 'Richards' they have been invited to defeat are actually members of the "Council of Reeds" (alternate versions of Reed who were trapped in this universe by Valeria a while back, possessing Reed's intellect while lacking his conscience). While Spider-Man and Invisible Woman make sandwiches for the kids, Mister Fantastic, Doctor Doom, Valeria, and Nathaniel Richards meet with the supervillain geniuses and Uatu the Watcher about what to do with the Council of Reeds

Its sort of the same thing that DC is currently doing with Sinestro in the aftermath of War of the Green Lanterns, but not really. I can swallow what's happening currently with Sinestro being a member of the Green Lantern Corps because its the fact that the ring chose him and neither he nor the other Green Lanterns want him to have the ring. However, I feel like further down the road, Sinestro is going to go back to being the villain of the story in an unexpected way and reactivate his own corps. Perhaps as a result of the coming of the "Third Army." Hopefully, its not too long before that happens, but not too soon either because having Sinestro become the villain so soon after becoming a "hero" will invalidate the current relationship that's forming between him and Hal. But hopefully, the current "bonding" period that these two are going through will make the inevitable continuation of their rivalry that much more meaningful. BTW, Sinestro is my favorite villain in all of comics.

The difference between the "why can't we be friends" Marvel face turns and what Geoff Johns did to Sinestro is that he was not as developed a character as the other three. When Emerald Dawn II Retconed him as a dictator who did not even realize who he had become, an over-zealous antihero of sorts, it worked quite well and so did his more recent quasi-face turn. Sinestro is not interested in power as such but as a way to protect people, if necessary through totalitarianism.

Edited by Zeeguy91

@DarthShap: Well, I think the "who's more developed" argument is kind of more a matter of opinion. Its whoever you find more appealing. And while Doom is my favorite Marvel villain, he's my #3 favorite comic book villain (Sinestro and Darkseid being my 1 and 2 respectively). However, I do agree with you on the direction Johns is taking with Sinestro. It is very much in line with his character and I think that this current dynamic will enhance the rivalry and relationship between Hal and him, therefore catapulting him up to become an even greater villain. Part of me still wants to see him be the bad guy again though, but I'm willing to wait for it.

Posted by mewmdude77

I'm suprised no one has said much on Spider-Man's villians. If you look at most of his villians, you could see in them what Peter would have been like if he hadn't been taught responsibility or taught to be a nice guy. So many of his enemies are just like that.

Posted by DarthShap

@Zeeguy91 said:

@DarthShap: Well, I think the "who's more developed" argument is kind of more a matter of opinion. Its whoever you find more appealing. And while Doom is my favorite Marvel villain, he's my #3 favorite comic book villain (Sinestro and Darkseid being my 1 and 2 respectively). However, I do agree with you on the direction Johns is taking with Sinestro. It is very much in line with his character and I think that this current dynamic will enhance the rivalry and relationship between Hal and him, therefore catapulting him up to become an even greater villain. Part of me still wants to see him be the bad guy again though, but I'm willing to wait for it.

What I meant was, before Emerald Dawn II, he had not been as explored and was not as used as the other three you mentioned. As a result, the DeMatteis Retcon I mentioned, which is basically being used as such by Johns, is a lot easier to accept, because unlike Loki, Doom and Magneto, there really were not that many great iconic Sinestro moments at that time and hence there was room to turn him into a more complex antihero.

And I would argue that he still is not a hero. He is basically back where he was when he got the ring for the first time. The only difference is, the corps changed since then and the Guardians are the ones who became so tyrannical Sinestro appears of a lesser concern to them. So Sinestro has his power back, what he always wanted, and this time no one to stop him.

Posted by enigma_2099

What makes a good comic book rivalry? Good writing.

Posted by EganTheVile1

damn was the news feed image of Joker horrific looking, And I mean that in the awesomely horrific sense!

Posted by Mega_spidey01

can't wait to check this out in tpb.

Posted by Gentleman_of_the_Bedchamber

Similarity's help in a rivalry, certainly, but I would like to point out a rivalry that has more fame in video games and may serve as an exception.

The Player and Gary (Mother****ing) Oak in the original Pokemon Red and Blue games and remakes.

From beginning till end Gary is taunting, jeering, showing up with Pokemon that are either stronger then yours or difficult to counter at rather inappropriate times, talking down to you with an air of superiority that even Lex Luthor might deem a little excessive (he is 10 years old), being always one step ahead (he became Champion before you did) and generally being the smug, magnificent bastard he is.

He's the classic "bully" archetype. The kid who always steals your favorite swing, kick's sand in your face, make's smug observations and tell's you and the whole world that he is better then you.

Do you have much in common with him? Probably not. Does that stop you from wanting to knock him of his high-horse ass? HELL. ****ING. NO.

Edited by DarthShap

@Gentleman_of_the_Bedchamber said:

Similarity's help in a rivalry, certainly, but I would like to point out a rivalry that has more fame in video games and may serve as an exception.

The Player and Gary (Mother****ing) Oak in the original Pokemon Red and Blue games and remakes.

From beginning till end Gary is taunting, jeering, showing up with Pokemon that are either stronger then yours or difficult to counter at rather inappropriate times, talking down to you with an air of superiority that even Lex Luthor might deem a little excessive (he is 10 years old), being always one step ahead (he became Champion before you did) and generally being the smug, magnificent bastard he is.

He's the classic "bully" archetype. The kid who always steals your favorite swing, kick's sand in your face, make's smug observations and tell's you and the whole world that he is better then you.

Do you have much in common with him? Probably not. Does that stop you from wanting to knock him of his high-horse ass? HELL. ****ING. NO.

Actually, the player and Prof Oak are the real jerks. Gary is just a young orphan looking for his grandpa's attention. Sure, he is a bit aggressive but really not that bad and all along the journey, he keeps giving you advice.

The player is a jerk. He can clearly see Gary is this sad kid but he never tells him to stop trying to fight him and all he does is beating him, taking his money and Oak's attention.

The grandpa is even worse. He does not care about how his orphaned grandchild feels. He clearly shows over and over that the player is his favorite, no matter how it may be affecting his grandchild. And anyway, he just wants to have impressionable children doing his work for him. Come on: "Gary, I am disappointed. I came when I heard that you beat the Elite Four but when I got here, you had already lost!" to a kid who is already fragile. What a jerk!

Posted by Outside_85

As worn down as it is, apparently, I'd like to see Raven/Trigons relationship deepened somewhat, just something a little more than the two being on opposite sides of the fence. With them it is worth remembering that Trigon doesn't actually hate her, he actually cares for her to a degree, the same however is not true the other way around.

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Posted by DarthShap

@Outside_85 said:

As worn down as it is, apparently, I'd like to see Raven/Trigons relationship deepened somewhat, just something a little more than the two being on opposite sides of the fence. With them it is worth remembering that Trigon doesn't actually hate her, he actually cares for her to a degree, the same however is not true the other way around.

I would say that it is already deep enough. Raven & Trigon stories tend to repeat themselves, a lot. The entire arc that led to her first heel turn was awesome, one of the best New Teen Titans stories (and I do love the entire Wolfman/Perez run). The others however...

Posted by SupremeHyperion

how does batwing and his brother not know that each other is their nemesis? is it that hard to recognize someones face when just their eyes are covered? Although I can see it would be harder to tell if he does that scratchy voice thing like the movie batman which totally makes it impossible.......

Posted by Makkaar1984

I'm kinda on the fence on this one. There are many villains and if they are good then they'll be memorable as well. But for a rivalry, an archnemesis, to be truly effective I think there can only be one. Some heroes have so many "archvillains" I think the field gets a little bit clustered and it diminishes the major villains that they're not the only one. But YMMV on that. Unfortunately I've also seen very little to advance a rivalry. An event in the past separated the hero and bad guy, but how does that relationship evolve or does it. Joker keeps doing new terrible things as does Doc Doom, but some baddies like Loki, Luthor, Norman, and Mags haven't done anything atypical in a while. The rivalry is stuck in a rut and needs to go somewhere or make way for a new foil for our hero.

Posted by Ijan092

Or like Tim Drake and Jason Todd

Posted by DarthShap

@Makkaar1984 said:

I'm kinda on the fence on this one. There are many villains and if they are good then they'll be memorable as well. But for a rivalry, an archnemesis, to be truly effective I think there can only be one. Some heroes have so many "archvillains" I think the field gets a little bit clustered and it diminishes the major villains that they're not the only one. But YMMV on that. Unfortunately I've also seen very little to advance a rivalry. An event in the past separated the hero and bad guy, but how does that relationship evolve or does it. Joker keeps doing new terrible things as does Doc Doom, but some baddies like Loki, Luthor, Norman, and Mags haven't done anything atypical in a while. The rivalry is stuck in a rut and needs to go somewhere or make way for a new foil for our hero.

For Luthor, I disagree. He got his own arc a few months ago and...you know...became God. The rationale behind his reasons for abandoning this much power was actually pretty good and made a great use of his "rivalry".

Posted by Multiverse

I really enjoyed reading this article and the comments. I think similarity is good in hero-villain rivalries to the extent that it reveals something about the hero's psychology. For example, why hasn't Batman dealt with the Joker once and for all? I also think that a good rivalry should expose the hero's limitations. For example, Superman can't really defeat Lex Luthor with heat vision or super-strength. Finally, I think there should be a bit of a clearer distinction between minor villains who are defeated by the heroes and never heard from again and the few major threats who don't get themselves captured or defeated.

Posted by Hazlenaut

I think Characters like Gary Oak and Reggie Mantle. they are not evil they are just jerks but they can be helpful. rival should the the other character but they can set aside their difference if needed to solve major problem.

Posted by Yai_Inn

I'm a fan of rivalries where the characters represent a theme and their representations are in direct opposition.

Batman/Joker is probably the best one. The tragedy vs. comedy. Or order vs. chaos.

Superman/Luther though not as strong the basic premise would be brans vs. brains.

Spiderman/Goblin is another good one. Responsibility vs. corruption with blue collar vs. white collar in there.

When the premise of the hero-villain clash I feel that it adds a layer of depth to the writing, which to me makes a better rivalry.

Posted by The Impersonator

My favorite is Batman and Joker. An neverending battle between good and evil.

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Posted by Zeeguy91

I think Hal Jordan and Sinestro have one of the best rivalries in modern comics, especially the way its been developed under Johns. They have sort of the student-teacher relationship what with Sinestro being revealed to be Jordan's mentor when he first entered the Corps. Also its the simple fact that Sinestro basically agrees with the premise of the Green Lantern Corps, establishing order in the universe, but simply that he wants them to go the extra step and take absolute control and rule by fear. I think Sinestro Corps War is the story that best encapsulates this motivation of Sinestro's, because at the end he says that he still won the war because he made the Guardians codify the use of lethal force.

This relationship is still being deepened even though Sinestro is technically not the "villain" for now. We're essentially being given a sense that Sinestro has been right about the Guardians all along and that he only has the best interests of the Corps in mind. When he eventually does go back to being a bad guy, the fact that there was this moment where Hal and Sinestro had the chance to recapture their previous relationship as mentor and mentored or just simply as friends will deepen their rivalry. So, its a very complex relationship that I feel is a prime example of what a hero/villain relationship should be.

Edited by Zeeguy91

@DarthShap: Okay, very true what you're saying. But I think that Sinestro was the greatest enemy of Green Lantern long before DeMatteis or Johns got a hold of him. The very fact that Broome and Kane created Sinestro as a rogue Green Lantern speaks to an inherent connection he has to Hal and the rest of the Corps. He'll always be their greatest enemy because he was once one of them, but betrayed them and the Guardians.

Posted by Outside_85

@DarthShap said:

I would say that it is already deep enough. Raven & Trigon stories tend to repeat themselves, a lot. The entire arc that led to her first heel turn was awesome, one of the best New Teen Titans stories (and I do love the entire Wolfman/Perez run). The others however...

Well, isnt that just the shortcomings of the writer (Trigon was functionally dead from the end of Terror to Judds Titans) to make the story awesome rather than saying the relationship is bad. Like you could say the Batman/Joker relationship is equally flat, Joker makes a situation, Batman punches him in the head (eventually).

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Posted by Gentleman_of_the_Bedchamber

@DarthShap said:

@Gentleman_of_the_Bedchamber said:

Similarity's help in a rivalry, certainly, but I would like to point out a rivalry that has more fame in video games and may serve as an exception.

The Player and Gary (Mother****ing) Oak in the original Pokemon Red and Blue games and remakes.

From beginning till end Gary is taunting, jeering, showing up with Pokemon that are either stronger then yours or difficult to counter at rather inappropriate times, talking down to you with an air of superiority that even Lex Luthor might deem a little excessive (he is 10 years old), being always one step ahead (he became Champion before you did) and generally being the smug, magnificent bastard he is.

He's the classic "bully" archetype. The kid who always steals your favorite swing, kick's sand in your face, make's smug observations and tell's you and the whole world that he is better then you.

Do you have much in common with him? Probably not. Does that stop you from wanting to knock him of his high-horse ass? HELL. ****ING. NO.

Actually, the player and Prof Oak are the real jerks. Gary is just a young orphan looking for his grandpa's attention. Sure, he is a bit aggressive but really not that bad and all along the journey, he keeps giving you advice.

The player is a jerk. He can clearly see Gary is this sad kid but he never tells him to stop trying to fight him and all he does is beating him, taking his money and Oak's attention.

The grandpa is even worse. He does not care about how his orphaned grandchild feels. He clearly shows over and over that the player is his favorite, no matter how it may be affecting his grandchild. And anyway, he just wants to have impressionable children doing his work for him. Come on: "Gary, I am disappointed. I came when I heard that you beat the Elite Four but when I got here, you had already lost!" to a kid who is already fragile. What a jerk!

Fair enough. A lot depends on how one interprets the characters and so forth. I'd say that the stuff you mentioned for the players feelings are somewhat moot as the player's feeling's are... the players. Since the main character is a silent one I say that the player is more of a jerk by plot rather then character. And of course a lot of people did feel sorry for Gary by the end of it.

Prof. Oak might be as big of a jerk as you say but some may say that he's at least somewhat concerned by his grandsons lack of respect, that he probably doesn't know how to deal with it right (like Reed Richards, etc. of course that raise's the question of how he dealt with his own son) and that his favoritism is a misguided attempt to teach Gary some humility though is unaware of his insecurity (something that to what degree exist's also depends on interpretation). All that said Gary likely only has his sister for emotional support (who is probably too sweet to point out his flaw's.)

...Now that you mention it their is some creepily Freudian subtext in how the player and Gary compete for Oak's affection's as a father figure... 0_o

Oh well, just goes to show their is more to your basic school bully rivalry then meet's the eye and that Pokemon is totally serious business. XD

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